Oval gem with winged male figure holding idol

Near Eastern, Iranian, Persian
A.D. 400–600


Length: 34 x 26.42 mm (1 5/16 x 1 1/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


Asia, Jewelry, The Ancient World



Yellow carnelian (also called sard). Intaglio. Convex front and flat back. A large winged male figure stands in profile to left. He wears a kulaf, a cap or tiara that indicates high rank in Sasanian society, and is bearded. Strands of hair are visible beneath the kulaf, but no facial features are discernable. He wears a long tunic-like garment which is belted at the waist. The garment is patterned with vertical and diagonal stripes. He also appears to be wearing trousers. In one outstretched hand, he holds an idol, which is relatively large in scale compared to the male figure. He brings his other arm across his body and rests his hand on a prong of a trident-shaped object. Perhaps this is an altar of sorts. There is an inscription in Pahlavi on the right edge of the gem. The gem is in a modern ring setting.


By date unknown: with Bernheimers' Antique Arts, 44 Brattle Street, Cambridge, MA 02138; purchased by MFA from Bernheimers' Antique Arts, April 8, 1964

Credit Line

Theodora Wilbour Fund in memory of Zoë Wilbour