The Good Shepherd Motif on Sasanian Seals

Document Type : Original Research Article


1 Bu-Ali Sina Universty, Hamedan,Iran

2 Independent Researcher

3 Archaeology, Humanities, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran


The artistic background of the Good Shepherd motif can be traced to ancient eras of the East and the West. This motif later gained prominence in early Christian art. The ram-bearer (carrying a sacrificial or an offering animal) first appeared in Near Eastern art and later became an important motif in Greco-Roman art to represent certain roles of the god Hermes. This motif was considered by Christian converts as a symbol of Jesus Christ, as they represented him in the figure of a young shepherd caring for his flock. This theme can also be seen on some Sasanian seals, which can be considered as the Good Shepherd motif. In this article, the authors introduce the aforementioned motif depicted on these seals and examine their possible connection with the Christian communities. The motif of the Good Shepherd, as seen on the seals, demonstrates modifications in the original iconography. These changes can be observed in the longer dress of the ram-bearer or the engraving of celestial symbols. These modifications are probably a sign of the localization process of an imported motif in the Sasanian Empire.


Main Subjects

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Volume 3, Issue 4 - Serial Number 4
January 2023
Pages 33-47
  • Receive Date: 21 July 2022
  • Revise Date: 19 August 2022
  • Accept Date: 21 September 2022
  • First Publish Date: 30 October 2022