Peroz Pearl...Was it Cast Away?

Or, was the Peroz Pearl even beyond the purchasing power of Justinian the Great?

The historian Procopius, ("Historia," Lib.I, c. 4, ed. Niebuhr, bonnae, 1833) of the sixth century, tells of a magnificent pearl which belonged to Peroz, or Firz (459-484), one of the Sassanian kings of Persia. In the course of his disastrous battle with the White Huns, in which both he and his sons perished, Peroz, having a presentiment of the misfortune about to befall him, took the pearl from his right ear and cast it away, lest any one should wear it after him. The pearl is described as being "such as no king had ever worn up to that time." Procopius, however, thinks it more probably that the ear of Peroz was cut off in the combat, and he states that the emperor (Zeno, 426-491) was very anxious to buy the gem from the Huns, but that all search for it was in vain. Nevertheless, a rumor was current that it was recovered later, but that another pearl was substituted for it and sold to Kobad, a successor of Peroz.

Second Possible Senario for Peroz Pearl

A different version is given by Panciroli, (Panciroli, "Rerum Memorabilium, libri duo," Grankfort, 160, Pt I, p.44. We have been unable to find this statement in the annals of Zonaras; it was possibly derived from some gloss or annotation.) who quotes Zonaras, a byzantine historian of the twelfth century, as his authority.

According to this version Justinian the Great, who succeeded to the throne forty-three years after the death of Peroz, offered one hundred pounds of gold for the pearl, but the barbarians refused to part with it, preferring to keep it as a memorial of Persian folly. On the coins of Peroz he is represented wearing an earring with three pendants one of which may have been this wonderful pearl.

As recorded by George Kunz and Charles Stevenson in The Book of the Pearl.

Go to main famous pearls and collections after Peroz Pearl.


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