Four Eurasian silver vessel hoards have been found near the present-day village of Bol’shaia Anikovskaia (Большая Аниковская) in the Cherdynskii District (Чердынский Район) of the Perm Province/Krai (Пермский Край) of the Russian Federation. The village is about 20 kilometers south of the city of Cherdyn’, on the right bank of the Vishera River, a tributary of the Kama River. Under the Russian Empire and the early Soviet Union, the village was simply called Anikovksaia (Аниковская). Sometime in the first half of the twentieth century, the village split into a Bol’shaia Anikovskaia and a Malaia Anikovskaia, which corresponded, respectively, with the part of the village above and below the Shchugor River, a tributary of the Vishera. Present-day Bol’shaia Anikovskaia continues to be inhabited but Malaia Anikovskaia has more or less become a geographical landmark, an ‘urochishche’.
The first hoard, designated Bol’shaia Anikovskaia I, was discovered in 1909, when the village was known as Anikovskaia in the Cherdynskii County (Чердынский Уезд), of the Perm Governorate (Пермская Губерния) of the Russian Empire. On the left bank of the Shchugor River, about 200 meters from the Vishera, Anna Filippovna Iakutova found a bowl decorated with a human-headed bird, a cup with Arabic inscriptions, 3 torcs (grivnas), and 2 large ingots (weighting 537 g and 346 g) all set in a plate decorated with a fortress (Darkevich 1976, 28; Talitskaia 1960, 160). Iakutova received 200 rubles from the Cherdyn’ authorities; the vessels were sent to the Imperial Hermitage Museum from the Imperial Archaeological Commission in 1913 (Lunegov 1979, 35). The vessels are still housed in the renamed State Hermitage Museum.
The second hoard, designated Bol’shaia Anikovskaia II, was discovered in 1936 when the village was known as Anikovskaia in the Cherdynskii District (Чердынский Район) of the Perm Oblast’ (Пермская Область) of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. While plowing, a farmer, Ivan Stepanovich Mogil’nikov, found three vessels– a plate decorated with a hunting scene, this plate with an eagle carrying a woman, and a lobed bowl decorated with a deer– on a field known as ‘Uzhaikova’ of the collective farm of Batrak (Trever and Lukonin 1987, 126). The items were first brought to the Cherdyn’ Regional Museum but quickly sent to the State Hermitage Museum a month later, in July 1936, where they are still housed today. This plate has the number S-217.
The third hoard, designated Bol’shaia Anikovskaia III, is a fragmented pitcher that was found in 1959 (in the Cherdynskii District of the Perm Oblast’, which was recently changed back after 17 years of being called the Molotov Oblast’). Nikolai Nikolaevich Kolmogortsev found the pieces while constructing a new pigsty in then Malaia Anikovskaia, located on the right bank of the Shchugor River (Lunegov 1979, 35). Kolmogortsev brought the crumpled neck and handle to the Cherdyn’ Regional Museum. A year later, a construction worker brought another piece of the pitcher belonging to the vessel body to a local archaeologist. All three pieces are housed in the Cherdyn’ Regional Museum (Lunegov 1979, 35; Cherdyn’ Regional Museum).
The fourth hoard, designated Bol’shaia Anikovskaia IV, is a single plate decorated with a hunting scene that Tais’ia Iakovlevna Mogil’nikova found while gardening. She and her husband Mikhail Andreevich dug deeper to see if anything else accompanied the plate but it was deposited alone. The Mogil’nikovs immediately wrote to the Cherdyn’ Regional Museum and former director Il’ia Alekseevich Lunegov traveled down to see the plate and talk with the Mogil’nikovs. The couple donated the plate to the Cherdyn’ Regional Museum, where it is still housed (Lunegov 1979, 35; Cherdyn’ Regional Museum).
silver with gilding / 22 cm diameter x 2.9 cm height / 828.6 g weight
For an in-depth technical analysis, see Trever and Lukonin 1987, Tablitsa XX.
Major Eurasian Silver Publications
Trever, K. V., and V. G. Lukonin. Sasanidskoe serebro: sobranie Gosudarstvennogo Ermitazha: khudozhestvenniia kul’tura Irana III-VIII vekov. Moscow: Iskusstvo, 1987. [T. 57-58 № 22]
Lunegov, I. A. “Anikovskie klady.” Ural’skii Sledopyt 12/1979 (1979): 35.
Lukonin (Loukonine), V. and A. Ivanov. Lost Treasures of Persia: Persian Art in the Hermitage Museum. Washington, D.C: Mage, 1996).
Overlaet, Bruno, ed. Splendeur des Sassanides: l’empire perse entre Rome et la Chine, 224-642. Brussels: Musées royaux d’art et d’histoire, 1993.
Trever, K. V. Novye Sasanidskie Bliuda Ermitazha. Leningrad: Academy of Sciences of the SSSR and the State Hermitage, 1937.
(2) Author’s own photograph