Our main aim with this project was to recreate the silk pattern of the kaftan worn by one of the ambassadors in the famous Afrasiab mural. The three iconic ambassadors are wearing silk robes, each with a different pattern. Previously we created a boar pattern similar to the left ambassador, created Sogdian bird patterns as well, but never created a so called Senmurv pattern which would fit this period perfectly.
Our first attemp was to use only the mural to recreate the pattern, but after the first results we considered that the depiction alianates from the picture we are familiar with from the extant textile finds. This is likely because the motifs and patterns always differ a little when they are represented in a different and new carrier surface - in this case a mural.
So we considered to bring in a different methold, and try top create a more realistic pattern with the use of textile finds.
Senmurvs from other textiles fiting the age
We decided to use a pattern visible on the sleeves of a Sotheby's auction robe. We puzzled the pieces together to gain a fuller picture of the creature.
The creature what we call nowadays Senmurv was a mythological beast, what researchers identify with the creature known form the Persian Book of Kings – Senmurv. There are debates that if this identification is accorate or not, however the figure of the animal definately comes from the same place: it has a Sassanian origin. The picture of the Senmurv remained to us not only the Iranian artefacts (for example silver palates, rock reliefs), but it was defiantely a well known and “used” beast in the Medieval period. It appears in various textiles found in Europe trought the centuries. Even a Hungarian pouch plate or an Italian sarcophage preserved the figure for the eternity.
Main consultant and expert during the recreation of the pattern: Nadeem Ahmad, leader of Eran ud Turan
Artwork: Balázs Szakonyi