Volga-Bulgarian? Dish with mounted archer from Berezovskii u., Tobol'sk province

A larger image of this Volga-Bulgarian? Dish with mounted archer from Berezovskii u., Tobol'sk province

Dish with mounted archer.
Central Europe, ca. 10th c. (?) Silver. Dia. 24 cm. Purchased prior to 1894, Berezovskii u., Tobol'sk province.
Pub.: Smirnov no. 155.
Source: Silk Road Seattle

39. Flat bowl with a horse archer.

Silver, black, gilding. Diameter 24. Volga Bulgaria (?), XII - early. XIII centuries

Purchased in s. Muzhi (now the Yamalo-Nenets National District). Stored in the State Hermitage. Inv. No. S-211.

The bowl is forged from a sheet of silver. All lines of the drawing are filled with niello, as the masters of Volga Bulgaria did (cat. Nos. 36- [37] -38; Darkevich, 1975, tables 55, 8). N.V. Fedorova drew my attention to the "owl head" of the rider, reminiscent of the images of the Kama-Ob animal style (cf. cat. No. 14). The well-known primitivism of the drawing speaks for the Volga-Bulgarian attribution. A single figure of a rider who sits on a calmly standing horse and, turning back, shoots from a bow, possibly goes back to the Iranian model (compare the rider on the Khorasanian bronze kalamdan [Persian pen-box] at the turn of the XII-XIII centuries - SPA [Pope, Survey of Persian Art], v.VI, Pl. 1317D) ... However, the general shape of the bowl and especially its narrow bent edge, as noted by I. Weizmann-Fiedler, working in the Hermitage, very closely corresponds to the Western European standard in the mass production of bronze Romanesque bowls of the 12th-13th centuries, which are quite common among Eastern European finds (Weitzmann- Fiedler, 1981), although their decor is completely different. The runaway belt around the medallion finds too many analogies in the Byzantine circle of cultures and in Romanesque monuments to determine its origin. The wreath of palmettos on the lateral field, on the contrary, seems to be very peculiar. The gilding, highlighting the drawing, is not neatly laid. The combination of eastern, western and northern elements with the originality of the whole allows presumably attributing the bowl to the Volga-Bulgarian group, although it is not very similar to other vessels attributed to the same country (cat. Nos. 32, 33, 35- [36, 37] -38), in which just in the XII-XIII centuries developed its own style.

Literature: Smirnov, 1909, illustration 155.

Source: Plate 39, "Treasures of the Ob Basin." Formika. 1996.228

See also Horseman on silver dishes from "Magna Hungaria" (Ural region)
Illustrations of Hungarian Costume & Soldiers

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