Sasanians created more than thirty rock reliefs during their reign, most of which are loacated in their homeland of Pars. The study of Sasanian monumental rock reliefs has a long tradition ...
Sasanians created more than thirty rock reliefs during their reign, most of which are loacated in their homeland of Pars. The study of Sasanian monumental rock reliefs has a long tradition and these fascinating monuments have been subject of scrutiny from many different perspectives. Nevertheless, one major issue still remains relatively unattended: how did these reliefs appear to ancient viewers? This broad question can be considered from at least two different angles: firstly, the relationship between the reliefs and their built and natural environment and secondly the original appearance of the reliefs, which now appear as grey rocky surfaces to us, when they were created and during their time of splendor. While the issue of polychromy in the Achaemenid rock art and architecture has been subject of intensive studies, apart from few brief references, this subject has not attracted much attention among scholars of Sasanian art and archaeology. Were these monuments decorated with color in their original form? If so, what colors were most commonly used? Can we reconstruct the colorful appearance of these reliefs? While empirical evidence of coloring has not been thoroughly documented on Sasanian reliefs yet, examination of several literary evidence as well as application of polychromy in other forms of Sasanian art, such as wall paintings, textiles, mosaics and stucco decorations can provide valuable indirect data on the subject and elucidate the Sasanian palette. Based on a such variety of evidence, as well as the long tradition of polychromy in ancient Iran at least from the Neo-Elamite period up to the Qajar era, it seems fairly rational that Sasanian rock reliefs were indeed colorful images standing out against their rocky background. Considering the close relation between three domains of wall painting, stucco decorating and rock reliefs, colorful appearance of Sasanian rock reliefs can be reasonably reconstructed