Silk fragment with a senmurv

Silk fragment with a senmurv

Silk fragment with a senmurv
Iran or Central Asia
700–800
Museum no. 8579-1863

This textile fragment shows a mythological creature called a senmurv. It has a dog's head, a lion's paws, a peacock's tail, and a palmette on its neck. The senmurv was a creation of Sasanian art, though it derived from more ancient Iranian cultures and may have symbolised royal luck. Senmurvs were a popular motif and appear for hundreds of years over a wide geographical area, not only on textiles but also in other media such as metalwork. It even appears in Venice in a 9th-century mosaic. However, in the West, the creature underwent a transformation from a fierce mythical beast, as seen here, to a tamer-looking creature.