Naqsh-e Rajab refers to an ancient site comprised of series of rock-cut bas-reliefs depicting Ardashir I (founder of the Sassanid Empire ruled in 226-241 CE), Shapur I (the second king of the Sassanid Empire ruled in 241-272 CE), and Kartir (the most influential priest of the Sassanid Empire) that are located in 13 km of Marvdasht city and in about three km north of Persepolis, Fars Province.
The Bas-Relief of Ardashir I
This bas-relief shows a coronation ceremony in which Ardashir I receives his kingship ring with his right hand from Ahura Mazda while keeping his left hand above as a sign of respect.
The Bas-Relief of Shapur I
The first bas-relief of Shapur I in Naqsh-e Rajab is located on the right side of Ardashir I’s bas-relief, indicating that Shapur is appointed as the king and successor of Ardashir I by Ahura Mazda. In this scene, Ahura Mazda and Shapur I are depicted on the left and right sides of the bas-relief, respectively while both of them are on horseback.
The other bas-relief shows Shapur I is riding a big horse while wearing a crimping dress, a crown on his head, and his mass curly hair. Also, a dagger is hanging from his waist and he is holding the horse tack with his right hand. The picture of nine people can be seen behind him. Notably, the bas-relief has an inscription in three different languages about the king’s name, title, and lineage: Parthi (in four lines), Greek (in six lines), and Pahlavi (in five lines) languages engraved on a flat part of a cliff and in front of the king’s chest.
The Bas-Relief of Kartir
The fourth and last bas-relief of the site is related to Kartir, a high priest during the kingdom of five Sassanid kings (Ardashir, Shapur I, Hormizd I, Bahram I, and Bahram II) and the head of other priests. There is an inscription next to Kartir rockface which is written in Pahlavi (Middle Iranian language) in 31 lines. In this inscription, Kartir vaguely points out to his ascension.
He asks the readers of the inscription to be faithful to their religion like him and he precisely mentions that he has made so much endowment to temples and priests. He then points out to his various titles during the Sassanid kings from the period of Shapur I to Bahram II. This rockface is known as the fourth and last rockface of Kartir.