News ID: 318655
Published: 1118 GMT December 12, 2021

Winged figure, a mysterious relief in Pasargadae complex in south Iran

Winged figure, a mysterious relief in Pasargadae complex in south Iran

Iranica Desk

The winged figure relief in the Pasargadae World Heritage complex in the southern province of Fars is a beautiful stonemasonry work dating from the early Achaemenid Era (550–330 BCE), in the reign of Cyrus the Great.

The royal figure carved on a stone pillar stands on the small northern gateway.

Three meters high, this artwork is the most distinctive feature of the complex. It is believed that the figure is that of Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Achaemenid Empire.

In an exclusive interview with Iran Daily, an expert from the Pasargadae World Heritage Site, Fattaneh Shahvand, said that in the old days, Western travelers have described an inscription above the relief, which contained the phrase, “I am the Achaemenid King”.

This relief is carved on the wall of a part of the Pasargadae complex, known as the Gate Palace, and is the only complete surviving relief of Pasargadae, she said.

Similar to today’s lobbies, the Gate Palace was the main entrance to the Pasargadae area at the time of Cyrus. People had to wait here to be allowed to enter other parts of the palace, Shahvand said.

According to Shahvand, the Gate of All Nations in the Persepolis complex was inspired by the Gate Palace of Cyrus during the reign of the later kings of the Achaemenid Dynasty in a place now known as Marvdasht.

Elaborating on the various parts of the winged figure, she said the winged human relief has a special mysterious sign; above the head of the winged man are two twisted horns of a ram and two snakes, in the middle of which are three cups, on which can be seen three globes resembling the Sun.

The horns on the relief are a sign of strength and greatness, the official said.

The figure on the relief is barefoot, and his hands are in a state of prayer. The bearded man wears a strange crown and a full-length robe that passes over his right arm. He also has four wings, two of which are facing the ground and two of which are facing the sky, she said, adding that this mode shows Cyrus’s concern for earth and sky.

Comparing the Persepolis complex with Pasargadae, Shahvand said the viewer in Persepolis sees the grandeur of great transcendence in the reliefs and the whole complex, while Pasargadae has a simpler and at the same time more spiritual atmosphere.

The reliefs of the kings carved in Persepolis all have crowns, while the relief of the winged man does not, said the expert of the Pasargadae World Heritage Site.

She said the relief of the winged figure was restored in 2002, adding that in 2018 it was restored with the help of UNESCO experts.

Pasargadae was the capital of the Achaemenid Empire under Cyrus the Great. It is one of Iran’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, about 90 kilometers to the northeast of Shiraz.

It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2004. The site consists of the mausoleum of Cyrus, the fortress of Tol-e Takht, which sits on top of a nearby hill, and the remains of two royal palaces and gardens. In 2006, the remains of the tomb of Cyrus’s son and successor, Cambyses II, was also found and identified in Pasargadae, near the fortress of Tol-e Takht.





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