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Sumptuous Persian relics reveal legacy of cultural connections

Updated: 2024-01-23 06:12 ( China Daily )
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An Achaemenid-period golden rhyton. [Photo by Wang Kaihao/China Daily]

Elsewhere in the exhibition, a delicate gold rhyton (a conical drinking cup, sometimes used for ceremonial purposes) emblazoned with a winged lion is testament to the prosperity of his time.

"Before the Achaemenid Empire was established, the Iranian Plateau was home to numerous kingdoms and ethnic groups," Zhai explains. "This melting pot of cultures laid the groundwork for the country's rich and inclusive artistic heritage."

First referred to as Anxi (based on the Chinese pronunciation of Arsacid) in ancient documents during the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 24), Persia had a long history of exchange with China.

Throughout the exhibition, similarities between the two civilizations can be seen in the artifacts on display. For example, some of the richly painted pottery, which is thousands of years old, may remind visitors of early Chinese counterparts.

First made in the Zagros Mountains, pottery has an 8,000-year history in Iran. However, while China eventually turned to using high temperatures to produce porcelain, Iran favored the making of low-temperature glazed ware.

Lusterware, a type of ceramic with a metallic appearance, became characteristic in Iran after the 12th century.

"Persian traditions also provided space for the development of glass production due to the need to contain spices and food," Zhai says.

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