Transoxiana 8 - Junio 2004
The aesthetic language of art encompassing a vast historical period is very complex and can be difficult to read. In order to understand those artistic facets that make jewelry art from IV BC-IV AD unique we will utilize the following tools:
1. A set of major concepts used in applied art (i.e. a type of “dictionary”)1
2. A set of rules that define how these concepts can be blended and transformed within the “text” of the aesthetic language (i.e. “grammar”)
We will use this “dictionary” of concepts to identify, compare and contrast the artistic features of IV BC - IV AD art, as well as their refractions, “citations”, blending and transformation in the monuments of Central Asian jewelry art.
To identify the unique artistic features of the jewelry of a given time period, it is necessary to define already known styles and conventions (e.g. established schemes of form organization). Artistic style reflects the fundamental values of society2 and serves as a technical tool to convey the canons of universal artistic traditions3. We begin with what is known as the Achaemenian style, characteristic to the art of ancient Iran during the period of Achaemenian rule. Bactria, being one the Achaemenian satrapies (territories), fell under a strong cultural influence of this style. In some instances, this style is referred to as the “imperial” style, thus underlying its ideological significance.
The architecture and decorations of the grand palaces constructed in Pasargadi under Kir, and in Souza and in Persepol under Darii I, reflect the blend of artistic traditions from the conquered countries: Mesopotamia, Egypt, Anatolia and even Asian Greece. Such artistic amalgamation, ordered by these great monarchs, resulted in the creation of monuments meant to provide a framework for the “universal,” supra-national authority received by the above rulers from king Akhuramazda.4
To recreate such stylistic compositions in jewelry the presence of a center and a border are essential, because they represent the artistic ideals of classical art with its hierarchical ideology. An additional characteristic of this style is the emphasis on the flatness of surface. The image is spread on the surface almost like a relief, reflecting not only ideological influences, but also the diffusion between -and interaction with- other types of art, in this case relief, as well as sculpture, and architecture. Architectural decorations of palaces and temples from that time period are dominated by relief, and that is why not only principles of expression, but also entire scenes, were transferred from architectural decorations onto jewelry articles. Since the ideological circles and interests of ancient jewelers and contemporary architects and sculptors were closely related, their crafts show similar reflections of ancient culture, ideology and customs.
Among the most common motifs in jewelry articles of the given period (e.g. disks, brooches) are the images of lions and lion-gryphons, in some cases with a raised right paw and a turned-back head. The figures were arranged in a circle or were portrayed in pairs in a heraldic scheme, compositionally placed into an elongated rectangle - freeze. The above mentioned characteristics of the achaemenian style found their reflection in adornments from the Treasure of Oxus, e.g. bracelets, decorative disks and votive plaques that date back to IV-III centuries BC.
Man was portrayed by the ancient jewelers, both on separate adornments and on votive plaques, usually in profile (in the pose of a donor). The figures were sketched using flat contour lines. Most of the images were identical, the only exceptions being figures portrayed face front. The donors are portrayed in a variety of poses accompanied by their sacrifices. A man is portrayed holding a vessel in his left hand (the left hand was considered sacred in contrast to the right hand),5 another figure is shown holding a goblet with a vertical handle and a conical top; many other figures hold spears. The donors belong to different ethnic and social groups, conveyed by their clothing and hair styles. In some cases, the clothing is decorated with jewelry, which is represented by dome-shaped circles (possibly brooches and buttons). However, there are also figures in the nude.
No two plates are identical. Even in the presence of general similarities, the plates are very distinct in their details, allowing to examine the variety of artistic methods used to execute an existing canon. The poses and identities of the donors parallel those from a Persepol relief, on which the donors of the great Achaemenian empire can be seen. It is as if some of these donors “stepped onto” the votives of the Treasure of Oxus. It is possible that these images were executed by several masters, using various artistic styles and methods, even though the achaemenian style, which absorbed into itself artistic and cultural elements of ancient East, Asia Minor and Greece6 remained dominant, dictating its artistic vocabulary throughout the empire. The images were not just decorative, but carried a specific meaning, in accordance with the historical and cultural context of the given period. As a whole, the act of sacrifice shown on such plates represented the personification of the customer in the eyes of the donor. A miniature carriage from the Treasure of Oxus (a figure of a rider and a horse) could also be related to the votives, based on a comparison with an identical bronze carriage from Bisenzio (VII BC).7
It is interesting to note the parallels that exist between the articles from Treasure of Oxus and Etruscan Art, for example, in two golden heads from the treasure.8 In Etruscan art of the VII BC man was portrayed with high likeness to reality and despite the existence of a stylized canon, the images had portrait features.9 The aspiration of the ancients for realistic art can be also seen in the heads from the Treasure of Oxus. The face of the first, as O.Dalton writes10 resembles that of the inhabitants of Pamir and pre-Pamir area. Similar facial features are still present on the territory of modern Tajikistan. E.V. Zeimal states,8 that the technical, typological and chronological links that exist between the two heads suggest that they were made outside the achaemenian style and were probably brought into the temple of Oxus by native citizens.
The “zoomorphic style” was the other widespread artistic style of the ancient period and its manifestations can also be seen in the jewelry art of Central Asia. Even O. Dalton noted the non-homogeneous composition of the Treasure of Oxus, attributing its various articles to different time periods. Tolstoy and Kodak distinguished several articles in close relation to art of the Skiffs, also known as the “zoomorphic style”. The zoomorphic style represented the unity of aesthetic, social and religious values and was characterized by expressive portrayal of animals, with emphasis on fitting all the details into a given geometrical shape, i.e. circle, square, rectangle, semi-circle. This style existed in parallel with the achaemenian and went in two directions of improvement and development: the ancient East and the skiffs of the Black sea region.
V.A. Ilyinskaya states that it is hard to find researchers who would refute the significance of ancient Eastern art in the development of the zoomorphic style in the art of skiffs from the Black sea region. This influence manifests itself in the emergence of such motifs as a mountain goat with a turned-back head and tucked- under legs (as well as other animals found in similar positions: horses, elks, etc.); the motive of the gryphon and other sincretic beasts; heraldic lions, and birds spreading their wings.11 The “zoomorphic style” is also characterized by scenes of animal “torture”, conveying the battle between light and darkness, goodness and evil. In most depictions, the eyes of predators have an elongated shape, while the fish and the birds have round eyes. The ears are short and round in representations of some animals; they are long and pointed, sometimes curved at their ends in other animals (mostly the predators). The shape of the body is conveyed using “dots and comas,” the horns are shown by crossing and etched lines.
Composition symmetry, especially mirror-symmetry, is typical of this style, because the aspiration for symmetry is one of the major defining characteristics of ancient Central Asian art. This phenomenon may be explained either in terms of the continuous search for balance between two extremes, that permeates myth and traditions,12 or by the presence of dualism in the mentality of the period. This balance results in amalgamation of two things into one whole. A great example of the “zoomorphic style” is the egret from the Treasure of Oxus. The egret is a convexly-bend plate in the form of a stretched out lion-gryphon. The legs are tucked under, the body rendered in profile, while the head faces forward with open jaws. On both sides of a massive neck are raised wings (with bent ends), prolonged ears with sharp ends and bent-back horns with golden spheres at their ends (similar spheres can be found at the base of the ears). The tail is twisted into two loops and ends with a large “leaf”. The egret, a head adornment worn by men, was a symbol of strength, power and fearlessness. The expressive manner in which the lion-gryphon is portrayed resembles articles from the Siberian collection of Peter the Great.13 The fusion of a variety of artistic principles and methods in one article (motive of a lion-gryphon and a deer, the use of relief and round sculpture; emphasis of the “node” points of the body in metal, incrustation and filigree) suggest that the egret could have only been made on the verge of epochs and diverse artistic traditions.14
It is possible that the egret was an article of the Bactrian school, established on symbiosis of ancient artistic traditions. Analogies to the above depiction of a beast exist in a temple suspension (V BC) found in Cyprus, confirming the widespread use of established traditions.15 The egret from the Treasure of Oxus is distinct in its greater amount of decorations, while the egret from Cyprus has delicate modeling (the whiskers are indicated by thin lines, while the whiskers on the egret from the Treasure of Oxus are ornamental). Given a predetermined form, the jeweler had to place the image of the animal into a “framework”, for example a disk with a relief image of two lying boars and two wild goats is a semicircle, where the figures of the animals are placed together in mirror-image symmetry. Here again we see the use of cross-etched horns, made with a chisel.
Aside from the above mentioned style, the art of the given period is also permeated by Greek influence. A combination of the zoomorphic and Hellenistic styles can be seen in the figure of a wild goat from the Treasure of Oxus, its front legs tucked and leaning on a bent plate (attached to a vessel and decorated on the outside with engraved palmetto - a Greek element), while the back legs are attached to the body of the vessel. The fleece of the goat is conveyed by gold coating and engravings: a wide line on the back and the chest, arched lines on the shoulders, and closely situated and symmetrical locks on the forehead. The horns are coated with gold and are divided into six parts by crossing relief girdles. Gold-plated circles on the hips and drop-like gold ornaments with split ends above the knees of the front legs are made in low relief. The ribs are indicated by a series of parallel lines on the sides. The ears, eyes and hoofs are also gold-plated. The depiction of the body resembles images on the stamps from Mokhendjadaro and Kharrapa,16 as well as the beasts from the Persepol relief, the well-known sources of the “zoomorphic style” in ancient East.
The tendency of the ancients to decorate the handles of vessels shows their great sense of style. It should also be noted that the images of animals had sacred properties and were meant to guard the contents of the vessel. A handle on a gold vessel from the Treasure of Oxus is decorated with head of a lion, its jaws “squeezing” the edge of the vessel. Analogous decorations can be seen on the handles of vessels from Crete, Etruria, Greece and Persia.17 The use of palmetto on the outer side of the plate is a sign of Greek influence. The scenes on the sheath of an akinak are executed in the style of Assyrian reliefs. Stylistically they are also close to other articles from the Treasure of Oxus, for example a silver disk or the image of a rider. The figures of lions on the sheath are similar to the lions on a shallow cup, but in the latter, the image is simplified and differs in meaning. Here the figures of lions are moving as if “in a dance,” symmetrically portrayed in pairs around the circle. This points not only to the widespread of artistic traditions, but also to their refraction. The articles of the Treasure of Oxus, as a whole, continue the traditions of ancient East Asian art.18
Differences exist in the quality of articles from the treasure, allowing us to conclude the following:
1. Several stylistical directions were present within one artistic tradition
2. Close contacts and relations existed among nations and resulted in mutual penetration of different cultures
3. Throughout their work, the artists attempted to master a variety of stable traditions.
One should not think that the imperial achaemenian style disappears from jewelry art.
It returns in the following centuries,19 with some of its elements present in Central Asian adornments at all times. This phenomenon may be explained in terms of the logic in the immanent process of artistic evolution. An entire series of artistic principles and methods, skills of the ancient art, not to mention the techniques of making and decorating jewelry articles were inherited by the subsequent generations. Similar observations can be made about the immense richness of ornamental motives present throughout the first centuries AD, that continued to resurface in the early middle ages and in later periods, and were carried into contemporary art. Prominent examples include the images of a leaf, a roset, a moon, tooth-like and dot ornaments, as well as other ancient motives that probably retained their symbolic meaning as cosmic emblems throughout the ages.
Although some of the famous architectural monuments have been only partially preserved, these fragments, in parallel with decorative art, show clear influences of Acheamenian and Hellenistic art, as exemplified by the palaces of Kalalagir and Ai-Khanum. Reconstructions allow to envision their grandeur, volume, and rich ornamental decor. The aspirations of the builders were also directed toward artistic expression in such constructions. As mentioned above, the close relationship between art and architecture can be easily seen in the utilization of identical decorative elements. For example, the engraved palmetto on the handle of a vessel from the Treasure of Oxus is very similar to the palmetto on an antephics at the palace Ai-Khanum.20 The protoms of the bulls on one of the bracelets from the treasure21 were a characteristic detail of the ancient Persian capitol. The versatility of monumental sculpture also shows the influence of the above mentioned styles. The sculpture of Ai-Khanum is made in Greek traditions, same is true for Nise. Ubiquitously present, Hellenism was the international style, a clear sign of the contemporary culture.22
Monuments of ancient art attest to the deep synthesis of artistic styles, their correlation and mutual influence. In our opinion jewelry art, like no other type of art, had accumulated in itself all of the advances of the material culture. Thus, the study of adornments allows us to examine not only the achievements of jewelers, but also those of sculptors and architects of the ancient East, especially Central Asia. Traditions of the ancient East and the world of the skiffs can be seen not only in the Treasure of Oxus, but also in a series of findings from the various regions of Central Asia, e.g. on the metropolis of ancient Samarkand and the metropolis of Chirik-rabat. These traditions are also present in the northern and western parts of Central Asia, e.g. findings from the burial Yigarak, and in burials from Pamir and the Seven-rivers region.23 The importance of the articles from the Treasure of Oxus in evaluation of Central Asian art of IV BC-IV AD is strongly supported by our background knowledge of other types of artistic monuments from that time period.
Another important monument in our research is the collection of adornments from Tillya-tepe. Unlike the Treasure of Oxus, the findings from Tillya-tepe are not separate articles, but rather complexes, ensembles of jewelry articles that are attributed to a later period than the Treasure of Oxus. This period is characterized by distinct artistic features that resulted in the formation of a unique style, significantly different from those preceeding. It is possible that the “push” for the formation of a different/new style in jewelry art was made by the nomads, in conjunction with the ever-present traditions of Hellenistic Greece, well known for their great mastery of portraying live nature. Most of the jewelry articles from Tillya-tepe have very “rough” edges, differing in their illusory volume created by the use of insertions and further characterized by reduction of proportions. Figurative images predominate, although it is still possible to find stylized images, e.g. freezes and circular compositions. Mythological content is very common and displays an overall increase in thematic diversity than the preceding periods. We encounter images of lions, boars, snakes, as well as fish and birds (see ill 14-18). The birds, as well as the four-legged animals, are portrayed in profile. People, on the other hand, were portrayed facing the spectator, in some cases in a half-turn, with specific gestures and in motion. All of these features reflect the new historical, political, economical and ideological events at the turn of the century.
All of the articles from Tillya-tepe demonstrate the mastery and development of variety of traditions which found their reflections in all types of art and architecture of the period. The rich architectural décor of the reliefs of Airtam,24 drawings and sculpture of Khalchayan,25 exerted a strong influence on the development of jewelry art of the period, as evident by the great resemblance between architectural reliefs and some jewelry articles - disks, suspensions.
A distinct feature of jewelry articles from Tillya-tepe is that they no longer appear as separate adornments, but represent complexes (ensembles), where all types of articles are united both thematically and rhythmically. For example, in the VI burial all of the adornments are related by the theme of love and fertility, while the adornments from the IV burial are made in the same rhythm, repetition of an oval. Even in the first burial it is easy to find an ensemble consisting of a pectoral, a temple pendant, a small ring and variety of disks.
The variety of figurative and decorative elements in rendition of sew-on articles is extraordinary in originality, mastery of execution and utilization of different techniques (see ill.10,12)
The ensemble of the II burial consist of head adornments including hair pins, beautifully made temple suspensions, clasps in the form of Cupids on dolphins, as well as arm bracelets with heads of antelopes on ends, a chest pendant in the form of Aphrodite, a ring, a necklace, a pair of anklets and of course sew-on adornments (see the supplement).26 All of the articles are tied into an ensemble by a unifying theme of fertility. The articles, however, are very different stylistically (it has been suggested that these differences may be due to the fact that some of the articles were obtained by the nomads during raids). For example, some articles are made in Hellenistic traditions, while others (e.g. bracelets) in the traditions of the “zoomorphic style”. The style of the hair pins (see ill 31) is closer to Chinese art. It is also possible that the jewelers were using “citations” from several artistic styles. The bracelets of the given burial were made in accordance with the greatest ancient traditions (see bracelets from Treasure of Oxus). The amazingly realistic portrayal of antelope heads (the eyes of the animals contain insertions of turquoise and garnet) convey the animal’s natural gaze. The ears are closely pressed and the legs are bent as if the animal is ready to jump (see ill.19).
A cast miniature figure of Aphrodite (see ill.20) is made in high relief and appears to be a dominant theme in chest adornments. In the XVIII-XX centuries tajiks wore an analogous chest adornment, known as the “khaikal”. In Arabic “khaikal” is a sculptural figurine/image,27 suggesting the existence of analogous adornments throughout historical periods. The goddess of Tillya-tepe stands in a niche, with Cupid, clinging to her from the right. Her voluptuous body is the embodiment of the sensual beginning, her chest emphasized by girdles and the prominent abdomen clearly outlined. The face shows a unique ethnic type, typical of the adornments from Tillya-tepe: almond-shape eyes, a slight hunch on the nose and wide eyebrows. Thematically the figure o Aphrodite is related to the Cupids on dolphins (the images on the clasps). Monotypic, with different sides turned to the spectator, these (hollow) figures of Cupids are cast using the gorelief technique. The Cupid is sitting upon a fish with features of a dolphin. Splendid, tri-toothed sultans cover the heads of dolphins, while their bodies are covered by indentations meant to indicate fish scales. The masters who made this adornment, seem to have known about dolphins only through stories and depicted them in accordance with their imagination. A brooch, Tunagish fish-dolphin, was found at the beginning of the XX century in Tashkent.28 The heads of the winged Cupids with round, “frozen” faces are decorated with wreaths. From under the wreath small locks fall onto the neck, a hair style characteristic of those belonging to the high levels of society, e.g. figure of an “achaemenian king” from the Treasure of Oxus (see ill.46). Images of Cupids are also known from treasures of Nise, where in the treasury of the arshakian kings an analogous silver statue was found.29 The full-bodied figures of Cupids from Tillya-tepe, the girdles on their chests and their facial features, resemble the image of Aphrodite suggested that they were made by the same master in one artistic tradition. Clasps served as a unique (rhythmical) transition from the temple suspensions to the figure of Aphrodite.
Temple suspensions with a theme convincingly described by G.A. Pugachenkova and L.I. Rempel as the image of the “mistress of dragons” or goddess - guardian of cities (man’s tunic, wall-like crown), have analogies both in sculpture and embroidery.30 Especially interesting is an identical motive of a goddess with dragons on a silk embroidery dating to the III-IV centuries AD from the burial Kara-Bulack in Kirgiziya (cloth covered the face of the deceased).31 It seems that here, the burial customs were similar to those of Tillya-tepe: the bodies of the deceased were covered by cloths with ornaments embroided in gold. On the cloth from Kara-Bulak a woman, in a long dress and a crown, is portrayed holding in her extended arms, two dragons with long noses, open jaws, two front and one back legs. A goddess holding snake-like and other living organisms is a widespread motif in the ancient world, its territory stretching from the Mediterranean all the way to the south-eastern Asia (for example, see goddess from the island of Crete, a suspension from the Treasure of Aegin).32 The suspensions are grandiose. The images of the beasts resemble those on the adornments from the Treasure of Oxus. Their casting required great mastery, both in making the model and its details. The composition is ‘written’ into an almost square form. A specific emotional state conveyed by the incrustations of turquoise and almadin. After achieving the desired form of the gem, removing uneven edges and inserting it into the article, the jeweler would finish the work on the gem with flat grinding and light polishing. The combination of red (garnet) and yellow (gold) created emotional tension offset by the delicate bluish color of turquoise. Although it is overloaded with details and incrustations, the heraldic composition is nevertheless harmonious and balanced as a whole. Dynamic, abrupt lines (of the beast) are in contrast with the delicate, smooth lines of the goddess’ figure; the flow from chains is interrupted by round forms of disks and rosets. The rendition of the goddess does not convey volume, even with active use of color insertions (see ill.18). However, in comparison with articles from the Treasure of Oxus a greater freedom of image can be felt here.
A rhythmic pause to this ensemble is provided by a gold necklace, distinct in its high quality of execution and artistic taste.33 The hollow beads are molded of thin sheets of gold and are incrusted with turquoise flowers. The ribbed surface of the beads gives the necklace a refined and airy quality. The necklace is also decorated with ivory, probably brought to Bactria from India. The multiple planes of the beads consist of rhombuses, in some case outlined by a double-ring of granulation. The conical clasps of the necklace are abundantly decorated with several rows of triangular shaped granulation, which in some cases make up a rhombus. All of the beads are placed onto leather lace. An analogous necklace is known from findings of the complex Babish-mulla (IV-II BC),34 confirming the popularity of this type of adornment.
A woman could have been in the III burial, for her ensemble (see supplement) includes a diadem, hair pins, suspensions in the form of horses’ protoms, a necklace, a fastening in the form of “Cupids on dolphins” (see drawing 21), clasps with the image of “warriors,” bracelets with flared ends, a torque, rings, and a variety of sew-on- adornments.35 The diadem was composed of four strips of gold connected by laces and resembles the kalafs of the skifs.36 Analogies to this diadem can be found in the art of Egypt, Lebanon and Crete, where such adornments were placed on the heads of the deceased.37
It is possible that the fastenings served as dividers among the various types of clothing. The fastening with cupids could have been placed on the neckline of a dress, while the clasps with warrior images decorated the top layers of clothing. The former, were made in a difficult technique of delicate casting. The reappearance of the images of Cupids on dolphins provide supporting evidence to the notion that gods of antiquity were a significant part of the Kushan pantheon, confirming the deep hellinization of the Central Asian population.38 The cupids are executed in the Bactiran rather than Hellenistic style, with already familiar facial features (almond-shaped eyes, etc.). Incrustation is used in abundance. Turquoise insertions on the bodies of the fish-dolphins are meant to convey their relation to water, as well as giving them all illusory volume, emphasizing the use of color in creation of form. The tails of the fish resemble a flower. The decorative elements that make up the tail of the fish are analogous to the so-called trees that flank the image of a “warrior,” suggesting that these adornments belong to the hand of one master, working within a determined artistic style (see ill.14-15).
Another article, a clasp with the image of warriors (see drawing 22), is one of the best examples of craftsmanship among the articles from Tillya-tepe, unique in mastery of execution, decorative completeness and image perfection. In the burial, the clasp was found next to a torque and probably served as a fastening for a cloak. The figures of “warriors” in full armor (helmet, spear, sword, shield) resemble the Greek god Ares. The image and clothing of the warriors (ruffled skirt, cloak, sandals) are analogous to the portrayals of gods on the reliefs of the temple of Bela in Palmire.39 The entire surface of the clasp is ornamental. The composition, slightly shifted off center, transmits inner motion and tension .The figure of the warrior is shown in relief, as if the master ‘removed excessive metal,’ revealing the hidden image. The scene resembles guards next to a gate. The central figure is surrounded by a “frame” ornament (hardly noticeable in the beginning) of a tree with small, winged dragons at its base. The extensively bent body of the dragon is leaning on its back paws, while the contours of the front paws are outlined (on the bottom) by small, slanting incisions that give the appearance of short hair. Similar incisions can be found on the body of a golden goat from the same treasure. These features confirm the existence of a unifying artistic system. Its framework included the above mentioned techniques of portraying animals, e.g. the indication of hair with the use of incisions. It is possible that the use of mirror symmetry in artistic imagery relates to the ancient twin cults.40 Other adornments, such as the torque and the bracelets with flared ends are very characteristic of the types of articles made by the nomads, because such ends, as noted by N.A. Avanesova, resemble the shepherd’s horn.41 The series of gold plates from this burial could have composed one ensemble of adornments, as for example in the complex of a female burial from Melitopol (IV century BC).42 Some of the neck adornments of the III burial are analogous to those found in the II burial. The beads were made using the casting technique, some of them with false granulation. Four beads have turquoise and glazed pottery incrustations (see drawing 23 and ill.19). A small gold ring, that concludes the jewelry ensemble of this burial, is analogous to a ring from the first burial. The series of adornments link the three burials, especially the last two, creating a distinct group of articles that make up an ensemble that includes hair adornments: diadems, hair pins, temple suspensions; neck adornments: torques, necklaces; chest adornments: a series of various sew-on brooches of various configurations that at one point made up a multi-level ornament; clasps/fastenings; hand/arm adornments: bracelets, rings; anklets. The entire complex has been preserved until the XX century due to the strength of traditions and the complex processing of metals.
The IV burial is a male burial and will be examined following the analysis of the female burials.
The V burial is not as rich in the number of adornments as the other burials. However, here we come into contact with original types of necklaces, bracelets and earrings (see supplement) that have not been previously encountered, although with some similarities to already known adornments (for example anklets with flared ends). Unique among these objects is a composite necklace with suspensions. Incrusted brooches are attached to a series of beads that alternate with X-like plates (see drawing 24) resembling horns; the third row of the necklace consists of disks that resemble coins. This is reminiscent of terracotta disks (made in imitation of roman coins) that were extensively used in India as adornments.43 A bracelet from this burial, with spiral winding (similar to that on the bracelets from Dalverzin-tepe)44 is also very original. The bracelet is a composite, consisting of three connected oval disks made of amber, blue stone (onto which an image of a standing woman is cut, compare with the image on the disks of a ring - Greece, IV century BC, Teronte Museum)45, and black and white stone. All sides of the disks are decorated with granulation. In its entirety the ensemble from this burial is stylistically similar to the adornments from the I, II and III burials.
The richest of the six burials is the VI. It is conventionally known as the burial of a ‘skifian queen’. Here we find a complete ensemble of adornments, probably worn by a married woman who belonged to upper class. The head was crowned by a diadem with temple suspensions, the ears decorated with clip-on earrings. We also find a necklace, figurative clasps attached to the clothing rings, wrist adornments and anklets.46 The diadem, cut out of sheets of gold and plentifully decorated with suspensions (in imitation of leaves), is one of the masterpieces of jewelry art of all periods. Its upper part is shaped like a tree with birds, while the bottom part has an appearance of a band-freeze composition with rosets, similar to hair pieces from Rhodus (see ill.33).47
A double row of temple suspensions serves as a rhythmic transition from hair adornments to neck and chest adornments. The first - analogous to the temple suspensions from the I Tillya-tepe burial; the second - analogous to the temple suspensions from the III burial (see ill.30). The suspensions are similar in the technique of execution; the latter ones are also thematically related to the ‘goddess with animals’. According to V.I. Sarianidi, it is the image of Anakhita- goddess of nature and all living beings. Analogies to these temple suspensions can be found in adornments from the ‘Tolstoi burial’.48 Despite the mirror-symmetry of images, already known from other findings, scenes depicted on the suspensions differ from each other in small details: on one - a slightly protruding hip of the goddess gives the figure the appearance of motion, while on another she is completely still (see ill.30). Clip-on earrings with images of cupids (see drawing 25) complement and conclude the decorations of the head and face of the deceased. All of the queen’s adornments put an accent on a sensual, erotic beginning. In similar fashion the themes of love and marriage are transmitted in a delicate fastening depicting the marriage of Dionysus and Ariadne (see drawing 26). The fastening consists of a symmetrical composition made up of two squares. The multi-figured scene is enclosed by a square and follows the shape of the article. Separate images, for example that of flying Nike, relate this article to the style of drawings from Dura-Evropos.49 The surface of the fastening, overloaded with turquoise, shows a closer resemblance to the art of cloth or carpet- making, then to sculpture or relief. Insets define the major lines of composition. In its entirety (both style and details), the image is close to similar items from Tillya-tepe, confirming their relation to one art school, one craft-shop. For example, the clothing is indicated using previously described methods (see the skirt of a warrior from clasps of the III burial), folds in the form of rectangles with turquoise insertions.50
Very unique in the method of execution is a necklace composed of large, oval and hollow gold beads. Each bead is decorated with very delicate five-petal rosets outlined with granulation, and incrusted with small turquoise insets. The necklace closed using two conic fastening, richly decorated with turquoise hearts outlined by small granulation (see ill.24). The making of such a fragile (sheet gold; incrusted with turquoise) necklace required a highly professional master. Here the mastery of the jeweler is brought to its highest level. The fact that necklaces were also found in the II and III burials, underlie the importance and possibly the necessity of this type of adornment in the aesthetic culture of the ancients. The complex ensemble of the queen is concluded by gold bracelets (on the wrists), oval shaped and open-ended, decorated with sculptured heads of imaginary animals. The open jaws of the animals are incrusted with turquoise. The sculptured heads are hollow and decorated at the base with almond relief bands. These bracelets, with lion heads ends resemble wrist bracelets from the II burial, as well as the bracelets from the Treasure of Oxus51 and the findings in Zivie.52
The analysis of adornments from the I, II, III, V and VI burials allows us to classify them as female burials. The similarities that exist among the adornments confirm the assumption that they were all made in one craft-shop in the traditions of Greeko-Bactrian art, represented by a mix of Greek, Indian and ancient Persian elements. These similarities allow to trace the close, mutual conditioning of all decorative elements, unified into one compositional whole.
And finally the IV burial, the male burial. The main, dominating element of this ensemble is a belt of great mastery (see drawing 27). The neck was decorated by a pectoral (see drawing 28); the arms, by two bracelets (see drawing 29); on the legs, actually on the pants, clasps (see drawing 30).53 The costume was heavily decorated with brooches and other sew-on articles, which were probably meant to convey the owner’s status, similarly to the costume of a deceased from Issik.54 The golden belt served as a sign of distinction (more on significance of the belt can be found in the chapter “Types and forms”). The belt is composed of round relief brooches (nine of them, drawing 31) and a wide gold chain. The brooches are decorated with the image of the goddess Kibela, sitting on a lion, a motif that repeats nine times. However, neither poses nor gestures of the goddess are identical in each depiction, which gives the article a unique expression. Each hollow brooch was probably cast as an individual model, in high, almost round relief of a monotypic composition inscribed into a circle and slightly displaced off center. The image of the lion resembles Indian art, the images in numismatic. In the same burial, a coin with an analogous image of a “fearless lion” was found.55 As a whole, the ensemble of the IV burial is unified by the round form of all articles and their details, for example the center and the edge of a disk are separated by a chain of hollow spaces meant for inserts, identical to the chain of the pectoral from Dalverzin with Hercules on the intaglio.56 Similar are the round clasps (see ill.22) decorated by a composition with a displaced center. The circle (article form) is portrayed as a laurel wreath with an engraving of a scene of a traveling official. Harnessed into the carriage are imaginary beings, very characteristic in representation to the art of the period. The clasps were made according to the “laws” of mirror symmetry. Inscribed into the main circles is a rectangle, and in it the carriage with a figure of an official. The pose of the traveler, his gaze, the thrown back head transmit a moment of curious contemplation. The beasts are probably carrying the carriage on air (they are portrayed flying). The scene is very expressive and the abundance of turquoise increases the decorativeness of the clasps. The man in the carriage is wearing a long, folding cloak, is narrow-faced, with almond-shaped eyes, a small nose and braid outlined by relief; shorter hair is shown by incisions. V.I. Sarianidi notes the similarities of the clasps to Chinese Art (see supplement).57
The ability to inscribe a predetermined composition into geometric form (in this particular case a circle), the strict balance among its various parts, serve as evidence of artistic maturity and stylistic development. The circular form dominates this ensemble of articles, the form of the necklace is repeated in images; round are sheath of the sword, the falars, etc.58 The figure of a mountain ram (that crowns the head adornment) is also inscribed into round form.59 The intent to match jewelry articles with specific features and compositions of the costume led to the formation of unique forms and types of adornments. The masters beautifully felt the ornamental nature of adornments and their relation to costume, to the person’s body, something that found its reflection in the magnitude and rhythmic order of articles, in domination of vertical symmetry, arising from the structure of the human body. The clarity of sculptured forms, the expressiveness of delicate articles and understanding of decorative elements, all point to the high level of craftsmanship of the ancient jewelers.
The delicate harmony of color, the softness and sensuality of lines, bright polychromes, plasticity, rich sculptured modeling, the gracefulness of forms and technical methods that were sharpened and crystallized, were meant to create aesthetic pleasure and admiration. The complexity of artistic metal processing in the early Kushan period, the secrets of technology, styles, and methods, were transmitted by jewelers from generation to generation, deeply preserving traditions. Analysis of articles from Tillya-tepe showed that jewelry art of the surveyed period is characterized by a rich variety of types and forms, as well as methods and styles of artistic metal processing. The flourishing of monumental painting, sculpture and architecture were also important to that time period. Monumental statues, dedicated to “warriors” and native rulers, were erected.60 Decorative reliefs (see adornments from the Treasure of Oxus and reliefs of that time period) bear strong resemblance, in theme and character, to the images found in jewelry art. It should be noted that sculpture, relief images and painting all contain jewelry. A representative example is the Airtam relief, in which musicians are portrayed wearing distinct (both in type and form) jewelry articles.61 From monumental painting we shall mention the painting of Khalchayan62 and Dilberdjin.63 Preliminary comparisons of these monuments and articles of jewelry art confirm the existence of a unified art school that absorbed into itself a variety of styles.
This phenomenon reflects the general level of art development, but shows that just like other craftsmen, the jewelers drew inspiration from their time, living its interests, being the bearers of social tastes, providing answers to the demands of their time period. The circle of used images grew immensely in themes during that time period. These images include both mythological and apical subjects. Among the images of the divine it is important to note the continuous portrayal of Ares, Hercules and Aphrodite, possibly due to their wide worship during that time. These existed a strong relation between jewelry and other types of art such as poetry, literature, music, that can be traced into the later periods. For example, in lyrics, the description of the image of the beloved is followed either by description of her jewelry or by a comparison of female beauty to a beautiful wok of a jeweler.64 Jewelry art of the early Kushan period differs from adornments made during the period when the empire flourished. As a whole, the art of that time period demonstrates the amalgamation of motives distinct in origin into unique articles, absorbing into themselves the elements of tradition and bringing to life interesting monuments. The absence of a unifying cannon in the region despite the presence of close and various contacts among many schools, is an important feature not only of Central Asian torevtics, as B.I. Marshak writes,65 but is also a unique characteristic of jewelry art. It was possible for masters of various schools to work in one city, and for masters of the same school to work in different centers.66
The sources of gold in Bactria determined the development of gold-making in the area. Bactria introduced nomadic nations to the achievements of high Hellenistic culture. Greek cannons were quickly mastered, and were remade according to native tastes and artistic traditions.67 Hellenism, as V.M. Polevoi notes, in a certain way evened out the artistic cultures of the East and the ancient world.68
Through the analysis of the chosen chronological period it can be noted that by the beginning of the V century AD, an amalgamation of various artistic styles into a unified style occurred in Central Asian jewelry art. This style characterized the region, finding its brightest expression in adornments, for example Tillya-tepe, and confirming the high mastery of the ancients.
1 Ivanov VV. Toward a semiotic theory of the carnival as an inversion of dual opposites. Tartu University Press: Symbolic systems 1977; v. 411 p.103
2 Antonova EV. A cultural survey of ancient Asia Minor and Central Asia. Science, Moscow 1984; p.44
3 Chijova L. Cultural casting of the - elements of an ideological system. Proceedings of the II archaeological conference on the Skifo-siberian world 1984; p.154
4 Schlumberje D. The Hellenistic East. Art, Moscow 1985; p.25
5 Ivanov VV. Toward a semiotic theory of the carnival as an inversion of dual opposites. Tartu University Press: Symbolic systems 1977; v. 411 p.59
6 Votives of D’Ant from the Jerusalem museum
7 Amiet P. Splendeurs de l’or. Paris 1965
8 Zeimal EV….p.36-37
9 L’archeologie, Bruxelles 1980; v.40, p.61
10 Dalton O. The treasure of Oxus. London 1964
11 Ilyinskaya VA. The current state of questions on the “zoomorphic” style of the skiffs. Skifo-siberian style in the art of Eurasian people. Moscow 1976, p.26
12 Ivanov VV. Toward a semiotic theory of the carnival as an inversion of dual opposites. Tartu University Press: Symbolic systems 1977; v. 411 p.49
13 Artamonov MI. Treasures of the saks. Art, Moscow 1973; p.172
14 Zeimal EV….p.44
15 L’archeologie, Bruxelles 1980; v.40, p.56
16 Sidorova VC. The Art of Ancient India. Science, Moscow 1972; p.22
17 Lee SE. L’art Oriental. Bruxelles, 1966
18 Amiet P. Splendeurs de l’or. Paris 1965
19 See “Adornments from Tillya-Tepe”
20 Staviskii BY. Art, ill. 29
21 Zeimal EV…ill.28
22 Schlumberje D. The Hellenistic East. Art, Moscow 1985; p.15
23 Raspopova VI. Metallic…p.113
24 Trever KV. Monuments of Greeko-Bactrian Art. (tables 45-46)
25 Pugachenkova GA. Khalchayan. Fan, Tashkent 1966; p.144-216
26 Sarianidi VI. Bactrian Gold.
27 Pisarchik AK. The national decorative art…p.31
28 Fahretdinova DA. A song in metal. Tashkent 1986; p.206 ill.133
29 Pugachenkova GA. The Art of Turkmenistan. Art, Moscow 1967; p.66
30 Pugachenkova GA, Rempel LI. On the gold of the unknown kings of Tillya-Tepe. From: The history of cultural ties between the nations of Central Asia and India. Tashkent 1988; p.17-24
31 The History of Kirgiziya. Frunze 1984
32 Treasure of the British museum. 1975; p.135
33 Sarianidi VI. Bactrian Gold. p.230-236
34 Tolstov SP. On the ancient deltas of the Oxus and the Yaksart. Science, Moscow 1962; p.168
35 Sarianidi VI. Bactrian Gold. p.236-246
36 Kiev museum of historical antiquities. Kiev 1974; ill.36
38 Pugachenkova GA. Hercules in Bactria. VDI 1977; 2:77-93
Pugachenkova GA. On the cults of Bactria as reflected in archaeology. VDI 1974; 3:124-135
39 Schlumberje D. Ibid. p.80
40 Ivanov VV. Ibid. p.61
41 Avanesova NA. Unique features of central asian adornments from the bronze era. 1972; 218:97-111
42 Kiev museum of historical antiquities. ill.26,27
43 Sarianidi VI, Koshelenko GA. Coins from the excavations at the necropolis of Tillya-tepe//Ancient India. Science, Moscow 1982; p.307-318
44 Pugachenkova GA. Artistic treasures of Dalversin-tepe. ill.38
46 Sarianidi VI. Bactrian Gold…p.254-259
48 Kiev museum of historical antiquities. ill.35
49 Schlumberje D. Ibid. p.70
50 Sarianidi VI. Ibid. p.236-246
51 Dalton O. Ibid.
52 Dandamaev MA, Lukonin VG. Le tresor de Zivie-Haarlem. The culture and economy of ancient Iran. Science, Moscow 1950, 1980
53 Sarianidi VI. Ibid. p.246-252 (#1,2,3,10)
54 Akishev AK. Necropolis Issik. Art, Moscow 1978; p.48-52
55 see ill.32
56 Pugachenkova GA. Artistic treasures…ill.79
57 Sarianidi VI. Ibid.
58 Ibid. p.246-252
59 Ibid. p.246-252, #3
60 Pugachenkova GA. The art of Bactria during the Kushan period. Art, Moscow 1979; p.148
61 Trever KV. Ibid. tables 45,46
62 Pugachenkova GA. Khalchayan…
63 Kruglikova IT. Frescoes in the north-eastern building of the Dilberjin complex. Ancient Bactria, Moscow; 1979; v.2
64 see Rudaki, Bedil’, Khayam, etc.
65 Marshak BI. Materials on central-asian torevtics. SA 1976; 1:239
66 Marshak BI. Methodology of attributing central-asian torevtics. SA 1976; 4:212
67 Kuzmina EE. Bactria and the Hellenistic world in the pre-Alexander era. Antiquity and ancient traditions in art and culture of nations of the Soviet East. p.198-199
68 Polevoi VM. On the art of antiquity and the middle ages. Antiquity, p.55