The silver bust presented here may be the only extant portrait bust of a Sasanian royal woman. Art historical analyses complemented by metallurgical analyses date the piece to the late Sasanian or early Islamic era, fitting it into the known corpus of Sasanian and related metalwork based on stylistic and iconographic analysis. While an exact identification of the woman in this unique bust remains elusive, the portrait can be associated with the family of Ḵosrow II and may represent his wife, Širin; one of his daughters, Bōrān or Āzarmīgduxt; or even his legendary great-granddaughter Šahrbānū. The possibilities for identification reveal much about the roles of women and the use of art as a tool to promote status and legitimacy in the Sasanian and early Islamic eras. Despite looking odd or even inauthentic at first glance, the portrait fits well within the framework of Sasanian and Sasanian-inspired metalwork that emulated the art of the Sasanian court and reflects the artistic syncretism between the Sasanian, Byzantine, and early Islamic luxury arts.


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