Islamic Museum, al-Aqsa Mosque / al-Haram al-Sharif
Hegira 597–637 / AD 1201–39
Copper inlaid with gold and silver formed with hammering and carving.
Full height 39 cm, height (of neck) 20 cm, diameter (of base) 31 cm
A skilfully made copper candlestick consisting of a base, body and neck. The base is polygonal with a thin decorative band that is inlaid with gold that wraps around the lower section. Around the upper section of the base is a series of protruding arches. The body of the candlestick is adorned with a series of arches supported by pillars that have bases and capitals, and all of which are embossed and in high relief. Within these arches there is an inscription band that has been engraved and inlaid with silver in large thuluth script, it reads: “Strength to our master, the sovereign ruler, the just, the helper, the victorious, the triumphant, protector of the world and religion, leader of Islam and Muslims, Artuq Arslan Ibn Ilghazi Ibn Artuq, commander of the faithful, May God prolong his life and strengthen his victory.” The upper section of the candlestick body is decorated with a series of raised, pointed arches filled with vegetal decoration. The neck, which is not original but was replaced at a later period, begins with a wide circular cross section where it meets with the body. It then narrows by degrees, thus resembling an inverted funnel with a wide neck; it is splayed at the top to hold the candle. The neck has no decorative details leading one to conclude that it is not original. It is commonplace to see candlesticks with detachable necks, the Islamic Museum in Jerusalem holds several.
This candlestick by virtue of its shape and type is considered very rare. How it was transferred to Jerusalem remains a puzzle. It was probably part of an endowment (waqf) either to al-Aqsa Mosque or to the Dome of the Rock but it was not obviously made for either of them. The inscriptions on it do not indicate that it was made specifically for a religious institution, thus strengthening the possibility that it was brought to Jerusalem for another reason. Based on the inscriptions it is clear that it remained in the possession of its owners for two generations.
This is a skilfully crafted copper candlestick with a decorated base and inscriptions inset with gold and silver. The neck has no decoration. It was commissioned by the ruler, Artuq Arslan. Its form and type are extremely rare and it is not known how it got to Jerusalem. Its inscriptions do not indicate any relationship to al-Aqsa Mosque or the Dome of the Rock.
Artuq Arslan Ibn Ilghazi Ibn Artuq (ruled in Mardin in around AH 597–637 / AD 1201–39); then seceded to his son, Najm al-Din Ghazi
The object was dated by the inscriptions on it which name the ruler who commissioned it.
This piece was transferred from the Haram al-Sharif to the Islamic Museum at an unknown date.
The inscriptions on the candlestick do not clarify where it was produced. The ruler of the Artuqid Dynasty with which the piece is associated was the original owner, and he ruled in Mardin and Mayyafariqin. It is possible that the piece was made in one of these cities, but it may also have been made in Mosul, since its method of production does resemble some other pieces from there. In view of this it is not possible to investigate either of these suppositions as similar pieces do not offer reliable comparisons.
Abu Khalaf, M., Islamic Art Through the Ages: Masterpieces of the Islamic Museum of al-Haram al-Sharif, Jerusalem, 1998.
__________, “Three Candlesticks from the Islamic Museum of al-Haram al-Sharif”, Levant, No. 20, 1988.
Nazmi Al-Ju'beh "Candlestick" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2018. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;pa;Mus01;17;en
Prepared by: Nazmi Al-Ju'behNazmi Al-Ju'beh
Nazmi Al-Ju'beh is an archaeologist and historian and Co-Director of RIWAQ, Centre for Architectural Conservation in Ramallah, Palestine. He studied at Birzeit University in Palestine and at Tübingen University in Germany. He taught at Birzeit University and at al-Quds University. He was Director of the Islamic Museum, al-Haram al-Sharif, Jerusalem, and directed various cultural heritage projects in Palestine, including surveys of archaeological and architectural sites. He was a major contributor to Pilgrimage, Sciences and Sufism: Islamic Art in the West Bank and Gaza (Vienna: MWNF, 2004) and is the author of numerous publications on the history, archaeology and cultural heritage of Palestine.
Copyedited by: Majd Musa
Translation by: Amal Sachedina (from the Arabic).
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: PA 17
Islamic Dynasties / Period
On display in
Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)The Atabegs and Ayyubids | Court Life
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