Rereading the Stucco Paintings of Hall in Bandian Fire Temple and a Response to Recent Criticisms

Document Type : Research Paper

Author

Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism, Tehran, Iran.

Abstract

During the last half of the 4th century CE, we recognize the presence of a desert-dwelling tribe called the Huns or the Hephthalites, who invaded the northeastern borders of Iran, killing and looting. These people, who had flowed from western China to Central Asia, invaded northern Khorasan from time to time. The presence of such a great enemy forced several Sassanid kings to sally to the east to defend this important border, among them was  Yazdgerd I, whose campaign to repel these invaders lasted seven years. The Dastgerd of Yazd Shaporan and the Bandian fire temple have been mentioned as Yazdgerd’s place of residence. Like Yazdgerd, Bahram V was also aware of the potential danger of nomads from the north and his presence on the front caused a heavy defeat for the Hephthalites. This is memorialized in the Bandian Dargaz, one of the fire temples of the Sassanid period. In the hall of this fire temple, the events of the war between Bahram V and the Hephthalite king are painted on stucco. In these stuccos, various scenes of Bahram V's departure from Ctesiphon to fight with the king of the Hephthalites has been shown in the form of successive motifs. The mentioned stuccos have been researched based on historical texts. In addition to the plaster motifs, the Sasanian Pahlavi inscriptions inscribed on the wall of the altar of the fire temple also provide additional context for some of these motifs. This fire temple, which was built during the time of Yazdgerd I, was developed further during the time of Bahram V, especially concerning the elaboration of stucco motifs. This fire temple was destroyed by the Hephthalites during the time of the Sasanian king Pirouz. Therefore, only a part of the lower part of the stucco remains. The present author's comments about some of the characters in this stucco have been criticized. We believe that this criticism, while welcome, has not been careful in matching motifs with some historical events.

Keywords


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  • Receive Date: 07 October 2021
  • Revise Date: 03 October 2022
  • Accept Date: 23 November 2021
  • First Publish Date: 23 November 2021