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Takht-e Soleyman Tile on Sotheby’s Auction


25 May 2004





An Iranian overglaze-painted gilded and relief-molded tile from the interior walls of Takht-e Soleyman, dating to the late 13th century (Ilkhanid period) and measuring 21x28 centimeters will be on auction in Sotheby’s in New York on June 9th.

According to an expert with Iran’s Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (ICHTO), Nemat Gorgani, if the piece was looted from the country, based on the 1970 convention, Iran can halt its auction and call for its repatriation by providing the necessary documents; if not and in case the tile was result of foreign excavations before the Islamic Republic, to take the heritage back, Iran can take part in the auction and bid on the lot.

Preliminary checks suggest the auctioned piece was not on Iran’s list of looted objects, said another expert of the ICHTO, Yadollahi.

The decoration combines minai and lajvardina techniques, molded in relief and painted in numerous colors against a turquoise ground; its background is decorated in gesso relief and is outline-painted with scrolling split- palmettes, with a similar motif in the raised border above.

It displays a scene from the Shahnama (the Book of Kings), depicting Bahram Gur, riding on horseback, and wearing high boots, cloak decorated with arabesques, and round cap, an attendant figure facing him at left, a dog between them.

Based on a Sotheby’s catalogue, the tile probably comes from the interior wall decoration of Takht-e Soleyman, once the summer royal palace of the Mongol ruler Abakha (r. 1265–82) in northwest Iran.

The item, the price of which is estimated between 5000 to 8000 dollars, has been introduced as belonging to Charles Dikran Kelekian, an American collector, and before that to Eloise Spaeth (1902-1998), a historian and art scholar.

Takht-e Soleyman, located near Takab, in northwestern Iran, is one of the country’s significant historical heritage inscribed on UNESCO’s List of World Heritage, where remains of life from the first millennium B.C. to the 11th century Hejira are found.


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