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The Music RoadCoherence and Diversity in Music from the Mediterranean to India$
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Reinhard Strohm

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266564

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266564.001.0001

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Persian ‘Snap’: Iranian Dancers in Gandhāra

Persian ‘Snap’: Iranian Dancers in Gandhāra

(p.71) 4 Persian ‘Snap’: Iranian Dancers in Gandhāra
The Music Road

Ciro Lo Muzio

British Academy

A series of reliefs from ancient Gandhāra (Peshawar Valley and neighbouring areas, North Pakistan) show dancers in Iranian (sometimes Hellenistic) attire accompanied by musical instruments of western (Near Eastern, Iranian, Greek) origins. A distinctive trait of these figures is the fact that each of them joins his/her hands to produce a snap (the ‘Persian snap’), meant to mark the time. The Gandharan reliefs are the starting point of an overview of the iconographic evidence of similar dance scenes in diverse artistic traditions (first and foremost, in Classical vase painting and Hellenistic terracottas), in which Iranian-garbed dancers, captured in postures closely comparable to those witnessed in Gandhāra, perform the ‘Persian snap’ which, however, had never been recognised as such in previous studies.

Keywords:   Gandhāra, iconography, Iranian dance, oklasma, music iconography, Parthians

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