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Work Double cylindrical vase decorated with wickework and house with door and windows with curved lintels motifs

Department of Near Eastern Antiquities: Iran

Vase cylindrique double à décor de vannerie et de maison à porte et fenêtres à linteau courbe

© 1990 RMN / Gérard Blot

Near Eastern Antiquities

Herbin Nancie

This two-part chlorite vase has an unusual shape. It was probably imported from eastern Iran toward the middle of the 3rd millennium. The two parts are decorated differently. One side of the vase is sculpted with a wickerwork motif, the other features architectural motifs. Although a number of these vases have been found in Mesopotamia, they are of Iranian origin, and are an indication of the complex commercial exchanges between these two regions.

Chlorite tableware in the 3rd millennium

This vase is typical of the chlorite tableware made in eastern Iran in the 3rd millennium. Chlorite quarries have been found in the province of Kerman. Chlorite is a soft, green stone that is easy to work. It was at times replaced by serpentine. The objects made in this material were luxury items. The craftsmen were semi-nomadic Iranian sculptors. A number of their workshops have been explored at Tépé Yahya in southeastern Iran, where chlorite quarries have been discovered. Several examples were recently brought to light in the region of Jiroft.

Architectural motifs

The low relief decoration covering much of its surface places this vase among the "old" series of these works. Each pot is decorated in a specific manner: one is covered with wickerwork motifs, the other with architectural motifs, apparently a house with windows and doors with concave lintels. Architecture appears to have been one of the major sources of inspiration for craftsmen working with chlorite. This form of decoration is sometimes combined with decorative motifs such as loops, braids, scales and cabling. Some of these vases are also decorated with a "brick" pattern. The vases found at Susa rarely feature an animal decor. The double form of the vessel is also very rare.

Vases found in Iran and Mesopotamia

These objects were long thought to be of Mesopotamian origin, since the first specimens were found at Tello, Ur and even Mari. They represent an and exotic, apparently trans-Elamite culture, that is to say, one that originated in regions beyond Elam. This importation of this object shows that complex exchanges between the various regions of Iran and even with Mesopotamia had been established. The particularity of Susa is to have copied this craft in chlorite by transposing it to a local material, bitumen mastic.


Amiet Pierre, L'Âge des échanges inter-iraniens : 3500-1700 av. J.-C., Paris, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, coll. "Notes et documents des musées de France", 1986, p. 124 et p. 137, fig. 70, 1 à 9.
Amiet Pierre, Suse : 6 000 ans d'histoire, Paris, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, coll. "Monographies des musées de France", 1988, p. 66, fig. 28.
Borne interactive du département des Antiquités orientales.

Technical description

  • Vase cylindrique double à décor de vannerie et de maison à porte et fenêtres à linteau courbe

  • Stéatite

    H. 6.20 cm; Diam. 18.50 cm

  • Fouilles J. de Morgan, R. de Mecquenem

    Sb 2829

  • Near Eastern Antiquities

    Richelieu wing
    Ground floor
    Iran and Susa during the 3rd millennium BC
    Room 231
    Vitrine 4 : Importations exotiques à Suse, 2600 - 1700 avant J.-C. Suse IVB (2340 - 2100 avant J.-C.).

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Additional information about the work

Photo RMN no. 90EE1778