Bowl with Tendril Frieze

Unknown1st century B.C.

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles, United States

A ring of floral tendrils enclosed by a wave pattern decorates the interior of this Parthian silver bowl. Another ring of wave pattern runs around the interior just below the rim. The two areas of engraved decoration were gilded to contrast with the silver of the bowl's body. The floral tendril decoration and the inscription on the rim provide the clues to the bowl's origin.

The bowl was made in the area of present-day Iran in the first century B.C. Iran was part of the Achaemenid Persian Empire until Alexander the Great conquered it. After Alexander's death in 323 B.C., the Hellenistic Greek Seleucid dynasty, whose kingdom stretched from Turkey to Afghanistan, ruled this area. In the later 200s B.C., the Parthians, a group of semi-nomadic people from the steppes of south central Asia, began challenging the weakened Seleucid regime. By the mid-100s B.C., the Parthians had firm control of this area of Iran.

This complicated political history left its legacy in the art of the area. Although the floral tendril decoration of the bowl has its roots in Seleucid art, the inscription on the rim, giving the weight of the bowl in a Parthian unit of measure, reveals that the bowl's owner was probably Parthian.


  • Title: Bowl with Tendril Frieze
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 1st century B.C.
  • Location Created: Eastern Hellenistic Empire
  • Physical Dimensions: 5.2 × 22.2 cm, 0.5521 kg (2 1/16 × 8 3/4 in., 1 3/16 lb.)
  • Type: Bowl
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Silver with gilding
  • Terms of Use: Open Content
  • Number: 81.AM.84.13
  • Culture: Near Eastern (Parthian)
  • Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu, California
  • Creator Display Name: Unknown
  • Classification: Vessels (Containers)

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more

Flash this QR Code to get the app
Google apps