Научная статья на тему 'Hellenistic art on the Iranian plateau: movement of objects, movement of people'

Hellenistic art on the Iranian plateau: movement of objects, movement of people Текст научной статьи по специальности «Языкознание и литературоведение»

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Ключевые слова
IRAN / HELLENISTIC ART / CRAFT TRADITION / IMPORT / WORKSHOPS / MOBILITY

Аннотация научной статьи по языкознанию и литературоведению, автор научной работы — Callieri Pierfrancesco

The complex theme of mobility is well illustrated by the spread of artefacts of Hellenistic technical and stylistic character on the Iranian plateau. This spread has its origins both in the movements of objects, linked to the trade on international routes, and in the movements of craftsmen, following upon the establishment in the Asiatic satrapies of art workshops using the Hellenistic language. The stylistic language of the Hellenistic Mediterranean koinè can, in fact, be mastered only through direct craft transmission for, unlike iconographic models, avoiding simple imitation. From sculpture to numismatics and glyptics, artefacts using this language are consistently of a high technical level and show a naturalistic vision marked by a peculiar illusionistic conception of space, quite different from artefacts stemming from other traditions in local languages, not only in Asia but also in the Mediterranean basin. The association of these artefacts with the political and social élites, evidenced by their undeniably elite character, is in fact to be considered one of the fundamental elements for the correct evaluation of this ‘lingua franca', that recognizes neither ethnic nor cultural boundaries. On the Iranian plateau also, therefore, the presence of Hellenistic art is largely linked to the courtly clients for the Greco-Macedonian élite as well as the Iranian ruling classes, who acknowledged the exceptional role of this expression as the language of power until the end of the 1st millennium BC. It is sometimes possible to attribute the presence of a Hellenistic artefact on the Iranian plateau to import or to a local workshop. The author gives an overview of the problem and illustrates some of the representative samples of different types of mobility. He insists on the concept of craft tradition, which plays a fundamental role in the spread of the approach employing the naturalistic style.

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Текст научной работы на тему «Hellenistic art on the Iranian plateau: movement of objects, movement of people»

ДРЕВНИЙ ВОСТОК

HELLENISTIC ART ON THE IRANIAN PLATEAU: MOVEMENT OF OBJECTS, MOVEMENT OF PEOPLE

Сложная тема мобильности хорошо иллюстрируется распространением на Иранском плато артефактов эллинистического технического и стилистического характера. У этого распространения есть свое происхождение как в движении объектов, связанных с торговлей на международных путях, так и в перемещении мастеров, следовавших за основанием в азиатских сатрапиях художественных мастерских, использовавших эллинистический язык. Стилистический язык эллинистического средиземноморского коте может, фактически, быть освоен только через прямую передачу ремесла, в отличие от иконографических моделей, избегающих простой имитации. От скульптуры до нумизматики и глиптики, артефакты, использующие этот язык, последовательно имеют высокий технический уровень и демонстрируют натуралистическое видение, отмеченное специфической иллюзионистской концепцией пространства, совершенно отличные от артефактов, происходящих от других традиций в местных языках, не только в Азии, но также и в Средиземноморском бассейне. Связь этих артефактов с политической и социальной элитой, подтверждающая их бесспорно придворный характер, следует, фактически, считать одним из фундаментальных элементов для правильной оценки этого «лингва франка», не знающего ни этнических, ни культурных границ. Поэтому на Иранском плато присутствие эллинистического искусства в основном связано с изысканными клиентами из греко-македонской элиты, а также представителей иранского правящего класса, признавших исключительную роль этого выражения как языка власти в конце I тыс. до н.э. Иногда присутствие эллинистических артефактов на Иранском плато можно отнести к импорту или на местной мастерской. Автор дает обзор проблемы и приводит некоторые наиболее представительные образцы различных типов мобильности. Он настаивает на понятии ремесленной традиции, играющей фундаментальную роль в распространении подхода, использующего натуралистический стиль

Ключевые слова: Иран, эллинистическое искусство, ремесла, традиции, импорт, мастерские, мобильность

Pierfrancesco Callieri — professor, Universita di Bologna. E-mail: pierfrancesco.callieri@unibo.it

© 2015

P. Callieri

The conquest by Alexander the Great brought to the territories of the former Persian empire direct representation of Hellenistic art associated with the new lords. The Achaemenid period had indeed seen some imported Greek art, for which the emblem can be considered the so-called Penelope from Persepolis, in the framework of the multicultural approach which characterized the Persian court: a mid-5th century Greek marble sculpture1.

Greek craftsmen had also been present in Persepolis, as we see from the graffito which a certain Pytharchos left engraved on the stone of the quarries at the Kuh-e Rahmat, the Mount of Mercy behind the Persepolis Terrace2. However, this craftsman, as surely many other from Ionia, Lydia and Caria mentioned in the Elamite documents from Persepolis, was one of the figures at work on that colossal architectural programme of celebration of the Achaemenid imperial ideology that took shape on the sites of Pasargadae, Persepolis, Susa, Naqsh-e Rostam and many other minor ones. The new architectural and artistic language that the Persian kings were able to create represented for all the peoples of the Empire the best form of proclamation of the political ideology of the Persian dynasty.

With the arrival of the Macedonian army on the Iranian plateau, the political élites now belonged to a new culture, and their ideology was also supported by a series of symbolic evidence linked to architecture and art. All too often scholars of the Classic world forget the huge Asiatic extension of the Seleucid kingdom, and I am glad to be able to mention the fundamental contribution that Gennadyj Andreevich Koshelenko has brought since long to correct evaluation of the extremely important cultural phenomenon of Hellenistic presence in the lands of Western and Central Asia3: these few remarks are dedicated to him as a token of deep esteem and friendship.

In 2007 I thought it useful to add to J. Wiesehofer's work on Post-Achaemenid Fars4 a sort of appendix by an archaeologist and took it upon myself, focussing on the archaeological evidence of this age in Iran and Fars in particular, which constitutes a complex challenge to interpretation given its fragmentary state. In my work I had the chance to collect a series of testimonies suggesting a picture very different from that usually depicted in the few existing textbooks of Pre-Islamic Iranian archaeology. I think that the main result of my work has been the demonstration that the scarcity of documents at our disposal does not depend on an original lack of interest for Iran on the part of the new élites of the Seleucid and Arsacid periods.

To illustrate the presence of Hellenistic architecture and art on the Iranian plateau we have a whole set of evidence of various types, for which I refer to my previous works5. I will only briefly mention coinage, both the Seleucid coinage but also the series issued by the Fratarakas in a purely Hellenistic style depicting an Iranian iconography; seals and sealings; silverware from various hoards; the marble heads from Fasa and Shami; the marble torso from the Bakhtiyari region; the Heracles rock relief and inscription at Bisotun; the Hamadan stone lion figure and the limestone head from the same town; the fragments of stone basin from Denavar; the bronze statues of a Hellenistic ruler

1 Olmstead 1950; Palagia 2008.

2 Pugliese Carratelli 1966, 31-34.

3 Koshelenko 1979.

4 Wiesehofer 1994.

5 Callieri 2007, with bibliography.

and of an Arsacid prince from Shami; the bronze statuettes from Nehavand/Laodikeia, even though of possibly later age. To this evidence from the Iranian plateau we have also to add the manifold Hellenistic artefacts from Parthian Nisa as well as those of the lowlands of Susiana.

The great opportunity for discussion offered by this situation consists in the fact that they may have had their origin in the movements both of objects and of craftsmen, following upon the establishment in the Oriental satrapies of art workshops using the Hellenistic language.

The success of the naturalistic language of Hellenism in Iran is evident beyond doubt, and confirmed by the artistic choices of the Iranian dynasty of the Arsacids, who seized power from the Seleucids. In addition to the characteristic of their coinage, the presence of reliefs in unbaked clay in the buildings of the dynastic centre of Old Nisa shows that, over and above appreciation of quality artefacts in the Hellenistic style, which might also be considered works imported from the Mediterranean given their limited dimensions, the Arsacids chose the naturalistic language of Hellenistic culture to celebrate their own lineage6. What is more important for our discussion, the extreme fragility of clay sculptures makes sure that they were produced in Nisa and not imported, opening the way for reconstructing a possible local production also for the other Hellenistic works found in the centre: A. Invernizzi has indeed proposed that the Arsacids created a dynastic art based on the Hellenistic stylistic canons.

Thus the term "Philhellen" (friend of the Greeks), chosen as one of the epithets to describe the Arsacid sovereigns, at least until the 1st century BC, thereby represents not only a shrewd political design to win the good graces of the economic and financial potentates of Graeco-Macedonian origin7 and to obtain a political and ideological acknowledgment among the Hellenistic dynasties8, but also the attesting to an artistic taste that is hardly surprising if we only think of the evidence offered by the classical historiographic sources, which show how far the cultural Hellenisation of the Arsacid kings actually went.

Coming to evaluation of Hellenistic art on the Iranian plateau, there is an assumption which underlies my discussion. The stylistic language of the Hellenistic Mediterranean koine can, in fact, be mastered only through direct craft transmission: all the various crafts involved are used at extremely high technical levels in order to express that very language.

I insist on this fact, stressing the difference between this phenomenon and the very different phenomenon of imitation of iconographic models.

In fact, with the spread of the Hellenistic culture, iconographies of Western origin also found circulation, transmitted in various ways but almost always with full awareness of their original significance, above all in the case of themes of a religious nature9; however, these motifs were frequently rendered in the stylistic language of the various areas of reception.

6 Invernizzi 1994; 1999.

7 Wolski 1983.

8 Wiesehofer 2000, 720.

9 The connections between these forms of iconographic transmission and the forms of contact and syncretism between the eastern religions and Olympian religion are complex and can not be treated in a brief note (cf. Callieri 2007, 78).

Fig. 1. Bisotun. Rock relief depicting Heracles Kallinikos recumbent on a lion skin, accompanied by a Greek inscription of 148 BC (photo Callieri)

Unlike iconographic models, which can more or less easily be imitated, the Hellenistic stylistic language eludes simple imitation.

What do I mean by "Hellenistic stylistic language"? Essentially, this is a language which is based on a naturalistic vision marked by a peculiar illusionistic conception of space, in which the observer has the impression that the image represented moves in the same space as that of the observer himself.

This feature is present in every medium using this language, from sculpture to coins and seals: the resulting artefacts are consistently of a high technical level. In the cases of coins and seals, it is the very technique itself that is extremely innovative as compared to the previous experiences of the Achaemenid period.

We have to stress one fundamental element for a proper understanding of the phenomenon: in the Mediterranean basin too, Hellenistic art is always characterized by a refined aspect which links it first of all to princely clients and to religious functions, not only for cultural but also for socio-economic reasons. The elevated technical level of the production of Hellenistic origin, which presupposed workshops with a high level of specialization in the various crafts, always implied concentration of these productions mainly in court and religious environments, not only in Iran but also in the Mediterranean basin.

In the Roman empire itself, Hellenistic art was very different from the local traditions of what used to be called "provincial art", so well illustrated by R. Bianchi Bandinelli10: his remarks can be applied to the Orient as well.

From the evidence I have presented, we can safely assume that there were indeed local workshops of the Hellenistic tradition, identified on the basis of both the use of local materials and local features in Hellenistic iconographies. Starting from the relief carved in the rock at Bisotun (fig. 1), of a very provincial Hellenism of Macedonian descent, we may also safely attribute the Lion of Hamadan and the basin from Denavar

10 Bianchi Bandinelli 1969.

(fig. 2) to local production on the basis of the dimensions and of the type of stone. For the marble torso from Malamir (fig. 3), as well as for the Tyche from Susa, Oriental production is suggested by iconographic features, with an uncertainty between Susa/ Seleucia on the Eulaios and the Syro-Mesopotamian area, but in any case not on the Iranian plateau. These were evidently the products of workshops originating in the times of the Graeco-Macedonian colonisation, and it would be interesting if we could single out the dynamics of that transmission of style, and indeed of iconography, to the Iranian world. Alas, however, we possess only isolated, uncertain scraps of evidence.

Even the use of marble of Mediterranean provenance should not rule out local production, since raw or semi-finished marble may have been imported, as for the Malamir torso. A special case is that of Nisa, where the source of the local productions is to be sought in the context of the Arsacid kings and their iconographic policy, establishing a series of workshops producing clay sculptures, ivory rhytà, stone sculptures and possibly bronzes.

This has a great relevance too on the discussion recently raised by G. Rougemont on the possible cultural interactions between Greeks and non Greeks on the basis of the evidence from the Greek inscriptions from Iran and Central Asia11, keeping in mind the necessary distinctions between the two sets of evidence. On one side, craftsmen of Hellenistic tradition needed not necessarily to have been Greeks, and what really counted was the training in that tradition; on the other, a work of art was less openly linked with Greek cultural identity than inscriptions were. While a well-trained native craftsman could have produced an artefact in a purely Hellenistic style even if he could not speak Greek, the same could not have been possible with the author of an inscription.

Hellenistic art succeeded in maintaining this high level only through a direct transmission, in which the necessary knowledge was transmitted from teacher to pupil. This direct tradition remained alive as long as there were clients, princely or wealthy, prepared to invest considerable resources in it. It is therefore likely that the scanty amount of Hellenistic art in Iran known to us has to do with our ignorance of the centres of power or religion where these élites, Greco-Macedonian or Iranian, placed these images. As A.S. Melikian Chirvani correctly observed, Iranian Hellenism is a "royal affair"12.

This is the reason why the production of Hellenistic training in Iran did not succeed in finding a permanent place in the local craft tradition: when the élites, for reasons of various natures, ceased to be interested in it, the flow of vital sap feeding it was interrupted, and the tradition dried up.

This phenomenon had an antecedent in the art production stemming from the Achaemenid court, the great refinement of which seems to have come to an end with the end of the dynasty.

At the same time, diffusion of the Hellenistic language was not confined to court production alone, however, but also found attestation in other spheres, and particularly in the religious sphere. A number of artefacts datable between the 3rd century BC and the 1st century AD bear traces of more or less marked and direct persistence of a Hellenistic heritage coming together with the local traditions in what seems to be a non-courtly environment.

11 Rougemont 2014. For a partly different view see Traina 2005.

12 Melikian-Chirvani 1998, 179.

Fig. 2. Fragment of limestone basin from Denavar. Tehran, National Museum of Iran

(photo Callieri)

Fig. 3. Marble torso from Malamir. Tehran, National Museum of Iran (photo Callieri)

It may well be significant that some of the female images in marble represent female iconographic types that seem to suggest local deities, only in part associable with Aphrodite or Artemis: thus the craftsmen of Hellenistic tradition were ready to translate the religious contents of the local tradition into their own language.

Incidentally, we may also observe that at the same time the presence of such images in the Iranian world of the Hellenistic period cannot simply be interpreted as evidence that Hellenistic sculptural qualities were appreciated, but probably also confirms the diffusion of cult images brought by Hellenism into the Iranian world, where divinities were originally worshiped in the form of natural elements.

A real understanding of the cultural dynamics involved in the encounter between Hellenism and Iranism can only be achieved with a clear picture of the diachronic evolution over successive stages of history. As we have seen in the datings proposed for the various artefacts, the phenomenon of Hellenistic art in Asia must be carefully evaluated for its long duration. For this reason A. Invernizzi has proposed attributing Greek art in Asia with the status of lingua franca, for after almost two centuries of direct presence there it could not be considered as foreign13.

Alongside the possibility that there existed true production centres, we may reasonably conjecture the import of Hellenistic artefacts produced elsewhere, particularly if our finds come from a remote or rural area, where the existence of Hellenistic workshops is less likely: Hellenism in Asia remains a phenomenon linked to the urban environment of the Greek poleis. As the source of Hellenistic artefacts imported in Iran, we should not limit our attention to the Mediterranean basin, since some iconographic elements of the existing artefacts point to the Syro-Mesopotamian region.

We have probable imports in the two marble heads from Fasa and Shami, as well as the bronze head from Shami, unless a workshop in Susa is hypothesized, and indeed the statuettes from Nehavand, particularly if they are of a very late date. The first Fratarakas may have imported their coins, while the Arsacids must have got hold of the existing Se-leucid mints. Also in this case the clients have to be identified if we are to understand the reason for the import. For the Seleucid period the mind turns immediately to the élites of the Greco-Macedonian colonists, which must have been numerous if, according to Polienus, on one occasion when they clashed with the Persians they numbered 3,000 persons. For the following periods, we can consider the case of colonists who remained in these regions after the end of the Seleucid domination, as well as local nobles who had started to appreciate Hellenistic art during the Seleucid domination: such is the case of the Fratarakas, who despite their nationalistic attitude were perfectly happy to order splendid Hellenistic coinage, and the Arsacids, who looked to the canons of Hellenism for the inspiration of their dynastic art.

In order to dispose of a full picture of the various types of mobility, it is also important to verify the state of craft productions concerning everyday life.

The pottery — the most widespread and at the same time the humblest field of craftsmanship, where local traditions generally constitute a heritage that foreign influences can affect only slowly and in small doses — offers striking evidence of the diversity of Hellenistic penetration among the Graeco-Macedonian colonies and the other areas of the vast Seleucid domain. On the western fringes of the Iranian area the Greek colonies of Seleucia on the Tigris and Failaka show pottery production centres clearly

13 Invernizzi 2005, 78.

following the Greek tradition, as does Ai Khanum in Bactria, where trends in this craft production can best be followed given the more plentiful documentation. Despite the great geographical distance, the connection Ai Khanum shows with the Mediterranean basin is surprisingly vital, local production developing with a lag of a mere fifty years on the various stages of evolution reached by the Mediterranean centres, thus leaving no doubt that potters of Greek tradition had workshops here. Indeed, it might well have been that similar workshops were involved in the production of grey-black pottery showing features close to the black-painted pottery of Hellenism in the North-East of the Iranian plateau from the first half of the 3rd to the 1st century BC. In other regions, such as for example Fars, as far as we can tell by the scant evidence, no sharp break with the Achaemenid period is to be seen in the pottery, apart from the spread of the so-called plats à poisson (fish-plates) of Mediterranean derivation and of few other forms which add to the Late Plain Ware of Iron Age IV tradition14.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bianchi Bandinelli R. 1969: Roma. L'arte nel centro del potere. Milano.

Callieri P. 2007: L'archéologie du Fars à l'époque hellénistique. Quatre leçons au Collège de France 8, 15, 22 et 29 mars 2007 (Persika, 11). Paris.

Invernizzi A. 1994: Die hellenistischen Grundlagen der frühparthischen Kunst // Archäologische Mitteilungen aus Iran. 27, 191-203.

Invernizzi A. 1999: Sculture di metallo da Nisa. Cultura greca e cultura iranica in Partia // Acta Iranica. 35. Lovanii.

Invernizzi A. 2005: Representations of Gods in Parthian Nisa // Parthica. 7, 71-79.

Koshelenko G. A. 1977: Rodina parfjan. Moskva.

Koshelenko G. A. 1979: Grecheski polis na ellinisticheskom Vostoke. Moskva.

Melikian-Chirvani A. S. 1998: Rostam and Herakles, a Family Resemblance // Alexander's Legacy in the East. Studies in Honor of Paul Bernard // Bulletin of the Asia Institute. 12 / O. Bopearachchi, C. Altman Bromberg, F. Grenet (eds.), 171-199.

Olmstead C. M. 1950: A Greek Lady from Persepolis // American Journal of Archaeology. LIV, 10-18.

Palagia O. 2008: The Marble of the Penelope from Persepolis and Its Historical Implications // 1st International Conference "Ancient Greece and Ancient Iran. Cross-Cultural Encounters", Athens, 11-13 November 2006 / S.M.R. Darbandi & A. Zournatzi (eds.). Athens, 223-237.

Pugliese Carratelli G. 1966: Greek Inscriptions from the Middle East // East and West. 16/1-2, 31-36.

Rahbar M., Alibaigi S., HaerinckE., Overlaet B. 2014: In Search of the Laodike Temple at Laodikeia Media — Nehavand // Iranica Antiqua. XLIX, 301-329.

Rougemont G. 2014: Grecs et non Grecs dans les inscriptions grecques d'Iran et d'Asie centrale // Studia Iranica. 43, 7-39.

Schmidt E. F. 1957: Persepolis. II. Contents of the Treasury and Other Discoveries // Oriental Institute Publications. LXIX. Chicago.

Traina G. 2005: Notes on Hellenism in the Iranian East (Classico-Oriental Notes 6-8) // Iran and the Caucasus. 9.1, 1-14.

Wiesehöfer J. 1994: Die, dunklen Jahrhunderte' der Persis // Zetemata. 90. München.

14 The recent investigations at the site of the ancient Laodikeia in Media/Nehavand, one of the few Hellenistic cities in Iran which has safely been identified, arise hopes that our knowledge of pottery of the Hellenistic period in Iran will make considerable progresses in the future (Rahbar et al. 2014).

Wiesehöfer J. 2000: "Denn Orodes war der griechischen Sprache und Literatur nicht unkunding ...". Parther, Griechen und griechische Kultur" // Variatio Delectat. Gedenkschrift für Peter Calmeyer / R. Dittmann et al. (eds.). Münster, 703-721.

Wolski J. 1983: Sur le "philhellénisme" des Arsacides // Gerion. 1, 145-156.

HELLENISTIC ART ON THE IRANIAN PLATEAU: MOVEMENT OF OBJECTS,

MOVEMENT OF PEOPLE

P. Callieri

The complex theme of mobility is well illustrated by the spread of artefacts of Hellenistic technical and stylistic character on the Iranian plateau. This spread has its origins both in the movements of objects, linked to the trade on international routes, and in the movements of craftsmen, following upon the establishment in the Asiatic satrapies of art workshops using the Hellenistic language. The stylistic language of the Hellenistic Mediterranean koinè can, in fact, be mastered only through direct craft transmission for, unlike iconographic models, avoiding simple imitation. From sculpture to numismatics and glyptics, artefacts using this language are consistently of a high technical level and show a naturalistic vision marked by a peculiar illusionistic conception of space, quite different from artefacts stemming from other traditions in local languages, not only in Asia but also in the Mediterranean basin. The association of these artefacts with the political and social élites, evidenced by their undeniably elite character, is in fact to be considered one of the fundamental elements for the correct evaluation of this 'lingua franca', that recognizes neither ethnic nor cultural boundaries. On the Iranian plateau also, therefore, the presence of Hellenistic art is largely linked to the courtly clients for the Greco-Macedonian élite as well as the Iranian ruling classes, who acknowledged the exceptional role of this expression as the language of power until the end of the 1st millennium BC.

It is sometimes possible to attribute the presence of a Hellenistic artefact on the Iranian plateau to import or to a local workshop. The author gives an overview of the problem and illustrates some of the representative samples of different types of mobility. He insists on the concept of craft tradition, which plays a fundamental role in the spread of the approach employing the naturalistic style.

Key words: Iran, Hellenistic art, craft tradition, import, workshops, mobility

© 2015

F. Grenet

37 ANS APRÈS ''RODINA PARFJAN'': QUELQUES REFLEXIONS SUR LA FONCTION DES MONUMENTS DE VIEILLE NISA

В своей книге «Родина парфян» (Москва, 1977 г.) Геннадий Андреевич Кошелен-ко инициировал новый этап в размышлениях о городище Старая Ниса, внимательно и критически пересмотрев выводы, приведенные в «Трудах ЮТАКЭ», опубликованных в 1950-х гг. Поль Бернар, несмотря на несогласие с некоторыми его выводами, опубликовал хвалебную рецензию в "Studia Iranica". С тех пор, благодаря полевым

Grenet Frantz — professor Collège de France. E-mail: frantz.grenet@college-de-france.fr

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