The J. Paul Getty Museum

Net Pattern Bowl

Object Details


Net Pattern Bowl




Near Eastern (Parthian)


Parthian Empire (Place Created)


1st century B.C.


Gilt silver and garnets

Object Number:



20 × 6 cm (7 7/8 × 2 3/8 in.)

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Object Description

Gilded and inlaid with gems, this small silver bowl demonstrates how artistic styles intermingled in the ancient Near East in the first century B.C. Flowers with garnets in their centers cover the interior. Each flower is placed in a pentagonal area, which forms the net pattern of the bowl. Most of the bowl's interior surface is gilded, but the bands separating the pentagons and four leaves of the central calyx retain their natural silver color for contrast. Stylistic features of the bowl suggest that it was made in Parthia. Today split among modern Afghanistan, Tadzhikistan, and Uzbekistan, Parthia was once part of the Persian Empire until Alexander the Great conquered it. After Alexander's death in 323 B.C., first the Hellenistic Greek Seleucid dynasty and then the Graeco-Bactrian Empire ruled the region. This Greek domination of the area ended in the late 100s B.C. under a wave of invaders from the central Asian steppes.

This complicated political history left its legacy in the art. Parthia was a prosperous and wealthy area, and its silversmiths incorporated Greek elements with Near Eastern ones in their work. On this bowl, the central calyx is Near Eastern, but the net pattern is Greek.

by 1985 - 1986

Maurice Tempelsman (New York, New York), sold through Robin Symes (London, England) to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1986.


"Acquisitions/1986." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 15 (1987), pp. 164-65, no. 21.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 3rd ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1991), p. 57.

Pfrommer, Michael. Metalwork from the Hellenized East. Catalogue of the Collections. (Malibu: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 1993), pp. 188-89, no. 72.

Towne Markus, Elana. Masterpieces of the J. Paul Getty Museum: Antiquities. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 70-71.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Antiquities Collection (Los Angeles: 2002), p. 95.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 7th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007), p. 39, ill.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Antiquities Collection. Rev. ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2010), p. 93.

Lapatin, Kenneth. Luxus: The Sumptuous Arts of Greece and Rome (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2015), pp. 97, 117, 240, pl. 70.

Thoresen, Lisbet. "Archaeogemmology and ancient literary sources on gems and their origins." In Gemstones in the first millennium AD : mines, trade, workshops and symbolism : International Conference, October 20th-22nd, 2015, Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum, Mainz. Alexandra Hilgner et al., eds. (Mainz: Verlag des Römisch-Germanischen Zentralmuseums, 2017), p. 161, fig. 1.