71 • Tall Goblet with Hunting Scenes

Size: 17.5 cm

This goblet presents a particularly rich iconography, but one which remains difficult to interpret unless one sees it as recording a specific event. Two of the facets show pairs of kneeling archers shooting arrows at each other. A third shows a herd of animals, five sheep and two goats. The fourth side is more mysterious. It shows a naked couple on the ground, apparently a woman comforting a wounded man. Above them a buried corpse, scored with cross-hatching to indicate that he is buried, one assumes. There have been different interpretations, but finally it remains a Rubik’s Cube of possibilities that awaits resolution.


Ancient Bactria, late 3rd–early 2nd millennium BC

Published: O. Bopearachchi, C. Landes, C. Sachs, De l’Indus à l’Oxus. Archéologie de l’Asie Centrale, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Montpellier, 2003

Provenance: Private collection, UK