Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

The God with Clipped Wings

A great god is Ahuramazda, who created this earth, who created heaven, who created man, who created happiness for man, who made Xerxes king, one king of many kings . . .

This relief fragment of the god Ahuramazda in a winged disk was originally located high inside a doorway to a great hall at Persepolis, a capital of the Achaemenid Persian empire in Iran. Echoing the above inscriptions of King Xerxes I (r. 486–465 BCE), Ahuramazda hovered above an image of the enthroned king, who was supported by representatives of the empire’s subject peoples, lending divine legitimacy to Achaemenid rule.

Most of the doorway remains at Persepolis. The story of this fragment is told by its edges: smooth at top and bottom, where the original block joined others, and ragged on the sides, where it was trimmed to create a collector’s item. By restoring some sense of Ahuramazda’s soaring power, this installation acknowl-edges the damage and loss of context resulting from the often clandestine removal of antiquities from Middle Eastern sites that have ended up in western museums. More fragments from Persepolis are displayed in the gallery next door (3440).

Identification and Creation
Object Number
1943.1062
Title
Relief Fragment: Ahuramazda in the Winged Disk
Classification
Sculpture
Work Type
sculpture
Date
reigns of Xerxes I and Artaxerxes I, 486-460 BCE
Places
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Asia, Persepolis (Persia)
Period
Achaemenid period
Culture
Achaemenid
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/291721
Location
Level 3, Room 3460, Ancient Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Art, Art of the Ancient Mediterranean and Middle East
View this object's location on our interactive map
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Limestone, traces of blue, green, and red paint
Technique
Relief
Dimensions
73 cm h x 44.3 cm w x 10 cm d (28 3/4 x 17 7/16 x 3 15/16 in.)
Provenance
From the Hall of 100 Columns (west side of southeast doorway), Persepolis (Iran). [E. Sassoon, Paris,(by 1931)], sold; to [Brummer Gallery, Inc, New York, (1931-1932)], sold; to Grenville L. Winthrop, New York, NY, (1932-1943), bequest; to Fogg Art Museum, 1943.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop
Accession Year
1943
Object Number
1943.1062
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
THIS WORK MAY NOT BE LENT BY THE TERMS OF ITS ACQUISITION TO THE HARVARD ART MUSEUMS.
The Harvard Art Museums encourage the use of images found on this website for personal, noncommercial use, including educational and scholarly purposes. To request a higher resolution file of this image, please submit an online request.
Publication History

Eric Schroeder, "Relief Sculptures from Persepolis", Bulletin of the Fogg Art Museum (1943), Vol. 10, No. 2, 44-45, p. 44-45, fig. 3.

Arthur Upham Pope and Phyllis Ackerman, A Survey of Persian Art From Prehistoric Times to the Present, Oxford University Press (NY) and Oxford University Press (UK) (London, England and New York, NY, 1967), Vol. I, p. 333; Vol. VII, pl. 96c.

Dorothy W. Gillerman, ed., Grenville L. Winthrop: Retrospective for a Collector, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, 1969), p. 256 (checklist).

Judith Lerner, The Achaemenid Relief of Ahura Mazda in the Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Bulletin of the Asia Institute (Shiraz, 1971), no. 2, pp. 19-35, pp. 19-35

Judith Lerner, "A Painted Relief from Persepolis", Archaeology, Archaeological Institute of America (New York, April 1973), vol. 26, no. 2, pp. 116-22, pp. 116-22, ill.

George M. A. Hanfmann and David Gordon Mitten, "The Art of Classical Antiquity", Apollo (May 1978), vol. 107, no. 195, pp. 362-369, fig. 3.

Kristin A. Mortimer and William G. Klingelhofer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums and Abbeville Press (Cambridge and New York, 1986), p. 97, no. 107, ill.

Exhibition History

Gods in Color: Painted Sculpture of Classical Antiquity, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/22/2007 - 01/20/2008

32Q: 3460 East Arcade, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/04/2021 - 01/01/2050

32Q: 3440 Middle East, Harvard Art Museums, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

Google Art Project

Collection Highlights

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu