Relief with Horse Riders & Wrestlers,
Dagestan, Caucasus, 12th-14th century
State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg
A larger image of this Relief with Horse Riders & Wrestlers, Dagestan.
Fig. 25. Pastime performance. Bas relief from Daġestan
As for the rider contest on the basin in Játiva,
there are, it seems, some similar representations in the Islamic context which,
not only in their formal relationship but also in their meaning,
come closer to the Játiva relief than the Sasanian figures referred to by Kühmel.
We should like to mention, for instance, a Saljuq bas relief in Daġestan which was published by A. Salmony (fig. 25)46.
This rectangular unfortunately broken panel has three figural representations. To the left, a pair of contending horsemen;
in the centre two wrestlers, and to the right a game of archery.
In his discussion of these reliefs Salmony convincing suggested that the archer and the wrestlers depicted represent royal entertainers performing games
practised among the Turkish tribes already in pre-Saljuq times.
Since the three fragments originally seem to have composed a single frieze, the two contending lancers, too,
almost certainly perform a game in compliance with the other scenes.47.
Another representation of this subject occurs on a well known
twelfth century stucco panel from Iran,
now in the Seattle Art Museum (fig. 26)48.
It again shows a combat of two lancers, depicted in its upper register,
and a pair of peacocks with intertwined and colliding beaks in the central medallion.
The precise origin of this panel is not known.
Yet one is probably not wrong by regarding it as remains of a wall decoration of a Saljuq palace or summer residence.
As for the peacocks, we have just seen that the same motif is also shown at the opposite end of the frieze from Játiva,
a coincidence which may not be accidental.
Variations of the jousting scene, though rendered in a different, much more static style,
occur again in two medallions on the Spanish Umayyad ivory casket from Pamplona which,
in addition, depicts on its front a seated dignitary flanked by two attendants as well as other activities associated with princely pastime49.
Source: The 'Pila' of Játiva.
A Document of Secular Urban Art in Western Islam by Eva Baer in Kvnst des Orients Vol. 7, H. 2 (1970/71), pp. 142-166.
46 A. Salmony, Daghestan sculpture, ArsIsl 10 (1943) 153-163, fig. 6.
47 Wrestling (sirāt), lance games, shooting with crossbows etc. are only some of the various branches of the furūsiyya in Mamluk Egypt. Cf. D. Ayyalon, Furūsiyya exercices and games in the Mamluk sultanate, Scripta Hierosolmitana IX (1961) esp. 47-53.
48 After A. U. Pope (ed.), A Survey of Persian art V, (1939) Pl. 515.
49 Jousting seems to have become popular mainly after the fall of the Umayyad dynasty in Spain. Cf. E. Lévi-Provençal Histoire de l'Espagne Musulmane, 3 vols. (Paris 1950-1953) III; 443.
Relief with archer, 12th-13th centuries AD, Dāghistānī, Hermitage, Leningrad,
Bronze Cauldron with Cavalryman, Daghestan, State Hermitage Museum, Leningrad, 13th century,
Tympanum with a Horse and Rider, Second half of the 14th century, Caucasus, probably Kubatchi, Dagestan
and Tympanum with a Horse Rider & an Infantryman with Standard, 14th-15th century, Kubatchi, Dagestan, Caucasus
12th Century Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers