Indo Sassanian 1.1 - A small piece of the puzzle, or, Stick A Flower Behind Your Ear

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Finn235, Jan 16, 2022.

  1. Finn235

    Finn235 Well-Known Member

    This is something that I noticed a while but did not click for me until very recently.

    First off, apologies for what I am sure will be a rambling thread, but do bear with me. I will be diving right in to the meat of my thread, so if you have no idea what the heck an "Indo Sassanian" is, check out


    Deep dive on series 1.1 (last updated a couple years ago; I have a lot more now that are making me think I need to re-visit my scheme)

    Series 1.1 is one of my favorites not only because of the wild and wacky styles, but because no matter how many examples I acquire (and I am up to something like 200-250) I never seem to get any closer to understanding how the evolutionary tree works.

    Enter a recent purchase of mine -
    ZomboDroid 22092021113244.jpg

    A beautiful early type, but I noticed a quite prominent something above the hair bun and behind the ear. It looks like it could be a feather or some sort of plant, and knowing Indian art, a flower seems most likely.

    It was not on any official coins of Peroz, nor on the earliest imitations of the series
    ZomboDroid 22092021113145.jpg

    Another purchase from very late 2020 also shows it, albeit a little smaller
    ZomboDroid 31122020131658.jpg

    That got me thinking that I needed to check the rest of my series 1.1 to see how many / if any of the other ones have this feature

    It appears on this one which I had assigned to 1.1.1, being the first series to have both the herringbone dresses and 3 horizontal lines in the upper ribbon

    It appears only on one that I had assigned to 1.1.2, here it has shifted significantly down, to right above the hair bun
    ZomboDroid 03012020173444.jpg

    It is not present on any other 1.1.2
    ZomboDroid 03012020173524.jpg

    It does however show up on some examples 1.1.4, indicating that series is much earlier than I had initially placed it (or else that I had simply mis-categorized them)

    But by far the most important discovery is that it is a near universal feature in both varieties of 1.1.6 - by far the most common series of all 1.1

    Variety A - detached cheek
    ZomboDroid 29012020215340.jpg

    Variety B - Cheek connected to headgear
    ZomboDroid 11022020141724.jpg

    And finally (as I am out of photo slots for the first post of this thread) a very recent purchase that isn't even here yet, proving that the flower was present at least at the *very* start of Series 1.1.7, a similarly common type marked by a tall, skinny head and angled eyebrow - Seller's photos as I probably will not have this one in hand until nearly March
    ZomboDroid 16012022170530.jpg

    I have not observed the flower on any of the "late" types after 1.1.7.

    My primary takeaway from all this is that my theory is confirmed - that there is no linear track running through any one series, except for whatever series eventually morphed into 1.2. It appears that most series within 1.1 are dead-ends, indicated by the disappearance of this flower.

    Running short on time, but stay tuned for more!
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  3. Ryro

    Ryro Trying to remove supporter status Supporter

    Very cool find. On your newest example it certainly looks like a rose/flower with a twirling stem.
    On this degraded type it appears as lines and an S:
    TIF, Marsyas Mike, Spaniard and 2 others like this.
  4. dltsrq

    dltsrq Grumpy Old Man

    It appears to me that the engraver of the first coin above misunderstood the function of the long diadem ties and added a set of short ties at the back of the headband. I'm not suggesting a connection with Rome in any way but compare the coin below solely in terms of the diadem ties (image courtesy CNG):
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2022
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  5. Finn235

    Finn235 Well-Known Member

    @dltsrq good idea - checking my collection of original Peroz drachms, I found these two

    This one has a pellet above the hair bun
    ZomboDroid 19012022114658.jpg

    This one has a Crescent
    ZomboDroid 19012022114624.jpg

    Göbl mentioned that his 3rd crown incorporated a diadem, so it could be part of that. I'll need to check some more examples later.

    It should be noted that what distinguishes the Indo Sassanian from other "Peroz imitations" is that the original motifs were modified to appeal to Indian religious/cultural preferences (ironically, as all but 4 types preserve the fire altar motif). The flower was a recurring theme in Indian numismatics, usually in association with Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, although on this Kumaragupta drachm it appears almost identically to 1.1.4, albeit on the front instead

    Similar flowers make numerous appearances within Indo Sassanian coinage

    At the beginning of Track 2, the engravers chose to interpret the Crescent on the front of Peroz's crown which terminates near some Pahlavi legend as a flower
    Indo Sassanian early Pratihara type.jpg

    Before the Sri X legends were added, an additional three-petaled flower was added before the bust
    ZomboDroid 17032021154921.jpg

    On this one it is more feathery in appearance, like the one on my first coin in the OP
    ZomboDroid 08092019164815.jpg

    The flower is present in some form on most types within track 2
    ZomboDroid 22032021133806.jpg

    Also back at the very end of Track 1, a 3 petaled flower is one of the "eye" types found on Omkara drachms
  6. dltsrq

    dltsrq Grumpy Old Man

    @Finn235 Just to clarify what I was getting at, virtually all of the Sasanian crowns incorporate a diadem with a tie at the back, represented as anything from a little knot or triangle, to ribbons, to long streamers (see attached chart). The streamers that emerge from behind the shoulders on Peroz's coins are actually long ties attached at the back of the crown/ diadem. Similar streamers are shown in full in the hunting scene plate below. Whether Peroz's crown had both small functional and long ornamental ties, how they worked together and how the whole thing may have been interpreted centuries later in a copy of a copy of a Peroz drachm, I can't say. Interesting stuff. Thanks for sharing your collection!

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jan 20, 2022
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