Several vessels were found near the village of Sludka (Слудка) in the Permskii County (Пермский Уезд), of the Perm Governorate (Пермская Губерния) of the Russian Empire in the 18th and 19th century. Sludka is located on the tip of a peninsula jutting into the 12.5 km-wide confluence of the Kama and Obva rivers. The Stroganov family owned this land, and thus, all of the objects moved through the family’s art collection.
The first recorded find, designated Sludka I, was a pitcher decorated with dancing women in 1750. A plowman from Sludka hit the vessel while tilling a field (Köhler 1853, 42). Alexander S. Stroganov received word of the find on his family’s land in 1753 and requested that the ewer be brought to Paris for study (Marshak 2000, 101, fn. 2). In Paris scientific illustrator Élisabeth Haussard etched the piece for its first publication by Charles de Brosses (de Brosses 1755/1764; 777). The vessel was still with Alexander Stroganov in Paris in 1775 but soon after lost or destroyed with the French Revolution (Smirnov 1909, 14, T XLI № 79).
Five more vessels were found near Sludka, designated Sludka II, in the sand on the shore of the Kama River. In 1780 children found the first plate, one decorated with the Greek story of the argument between Ajax and Odysseus over Achilles’ armor (Köhler 1853, 44). Soon thereafter (1780 or 1781) a horse plate, a goat plate, an Arabic inscribed plate, and a lobed bowl with dancers were found (Köhler 1853, 45-48). The Stroganovs purchased all of the vessels from the parents of the children who found them (Marshak 2000, 103). These five vessels were kept with the Stroganov collection in Saint Petersburg until the Stroganov palace was seized during the Revolution. All five vessels were then transferred to the State Hermitage Museum in 1925, where they still reside.
Two more vessels were found around the village of Sludka in the 1870s, designated Sludka III. Grigorii S. Stroganov purchased a plate decorated with a woman feeding a snake from a local in 1873 and this plate with a cross sometime in the 1870s. He took the plates to Rome where they were housed in his Palazzo Stroganoff. His daughter, Mariia Shcherbatova then gifted the plates to the Imperial Hermitage Museum in 1911 after her father’s death in 1910. The plates are still housed in the renamed State Hermitage Museum. This plate has the number ω-281.
Sludka is presently a village in the Il’inskii District (Ильинский Район), Perm Province/Krai (Пермский Край), Russian Federation.
Inscription & Other Marking Notes
Five control stamps– monograms and busts– on the base of the vessel, within the foot ring. The stamps date the vessel to the early reign of Heraclius (613-629/630) (Dodd 1961, 198).
Anthropomorphic and zoic imagery was later carved into the front of the plate (Leshchenko 1976, 177, 182). Two figures with their arms wrapped around their stomachs stand on the central roundel. One wears distinctive crenulated headgear and the second has two plaits. A third smaller figure rides an animal with an open mouth.
silver with gilding and niello / 26 cm diameter / 939 g weight
Major Eurasian Silver Publications
*Only discussed in the chapter by Vasilii Leshchenko, “Ispol’zovanie vostochnogo serebra na Urale,” within V. P. Darkevich, Khudozhestvennyi metall Vostoka VIII-XIII vv.: proizvedeniia vostochnoi torevtiki na territorii evropeiskoi chasti SSSR i Zaural’ia (Moscow: Nauka, 1976).
Dodd, Erica Cruikshank. Byzantine Silver Stamps. Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks, 1961.
Leshchenko, V. Iu. “Ispol’zovanie vostochnogo serebra na Urale.” In Khudozhestvennyi metall Vostoka VIII-XIII vv.: proizvedeniia vostochnoi torevtiki na territorii evropeiskoi chasti SSSR i Zaural’ia, by V. P. Darkevich, 176-188. Moscow: Nauka, 1976.
State Hermitage Museum Website
(1, 3) State Hermitage Museum Website
(2) Erica Cruikshank Dodd, Byzantine Silver Stamps (Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks, 1961), № 68.
(4) V. Iu. Leshchenko, “Ispol’zovanie vostochnogo serebra na Urale,” in Khudozhestvennyi metall Vostoka VIII-XIII vv.: proizvedeniia vostochnoi torevtiki na territorii evropeiskoi chasti SSSR i Zaural’ia, by V. P. Darkevich, 176-188 (Moscow: Nauka, 1976), ris. 23.