Name of Object:

Mosque lamp

Location:

London, England, United Kingdom

Holding Museum:

The British Museum

About The British Museum, London

Date of Object:

About hegira 750–61 / AD 1350–60

Museum Inventory Number:

1881.9-9.3

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Enamelled glass.

Dimensions:

Height 37 cm (max.), Diameter 23.6 cm

Period / Dynasty:

Mamluk

Provenance:

Egypt.

Description:

A glass mosque lamp with a rounded body, flared neck and attached splayed foot. The lamp is almost intact apart from the neck which has been repaired. Attached to the body of the lamp are six loops used to suspend the lamp from the ceiling. The lamp is covered in peonies outlined in red against a blue background. On the neck and underside of the body are three circular medallions of a composite vegetal design. This is a fine example of the more unusual type of Mamluk mosque lamps without inscriptions. The small numbers of similar lamps that survive are all associated with buildings constructed under Sultan Hasan ibn Muhammad. Rows of these lamps, lit up, illuminating the floral designs against a blue background would have been a spectacular sight in a mosque interior.

View Short Description

An enamelled glass mosque lamp with rounded body, flared neck and attached splayed foot. Although typical of Mamluk mosque lamps in shape and technique, this lampis unusual as it has purely floral or vegetal decoration and no inscriptions.

How date and origin were established:

This lamp is one of a group of lamps without inscriptions, decorated with purely floral motifs, produced in about the mid-7th / 14th century. They are associated with buildings commissioned by Sultan Hasan ibn Muhammad (r. between 747–51 / 1347–51 and again in 754–62 / 1354–61). Two similar lamps, now in the Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo, were found in the Madrasa of Sultan Hasan built in 756 / 1356. Another lamp in the same museum in Cairo is inscribed with the name of Sultan Hasan.

How Object was obtained:

Bequeathed to the British Museum by Sir Augustus Wollaston Franks in 1881.

How provenance was established:

This lamp bears close resemblance to others produced for buildings in Egypt that were commissioned by Sultan Hasan.

Selected bibliography:

Carboni, S., and Whitehouse, D., Glass of the Sultans, New York, 2001, p.237–38, cat. no. 118.
Harden, D., Painter, K., Pinder-Wilson, R., and Tait, H., Masterpieces of Glass, London, 1968, p.121, cat. no. 159.
Pinder-Wilson, R., "The Islamic Lands and China", in Five Thousand Years of Glass(ed. H. Tait), 1991, p.134, cat. no. 170.

Mamluk Art: The Splendour and Magic of the Sultans, p.76, reg. no. 270.

Citation of this web page:

Emily Shovelton "Mosque lamp" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;uk;Mus01;23;en

Prepared by: Emily ShoveltonEmily Shovelton

Emily Shovelton is a historian of Islamic art. She studied history of art at Edinburgh University before completing an MA in Islamic and Indian art at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London. Since graduating she has worked on a number of projects at the British Museum. Other recent work includes editing and writing for a digital database of architectural photographs at the British Library. She is currently working on a Ph.D. on “Sultanate Painting in 15th-century India and its relationship to Persian, Mamluk and Indian Painting”, to be completed at SOAS in 2006. A paper on Sultanate painting given at the Conference of European Association of South Asian Archaeologists, held in the British Museum in July 2005, is due to be published next year.

Copyedited by: Mandi GomezMandi Gomez

Amanda Gomez is a freelance copy-editor and proofreader working in London. She studied Art History and Literature at Essex University (1986–89) and received her MA (Area Studies Africa: Art, Literature, African Thought) from SOAS in 1990. She worked as an editorial assistant for the independent publisher Bellew Publishing (1991–94) and studied at Bookhouse and the London College of Printing on day release. She was publications officer at the Museum of London until 2000 and then took a role at Art Books International, where she worked on projects for independent publishers and arts institutions that included MWNF’s English-language editions of the books series Islamic Art in the Mediterranean. She was part of the editorial team for further MWNF iterations: Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean Virtual Museum and the illustrated volume Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean.

True to its ethos of connecting people through the arts, MWNF has provided Amanda with valuable opportunities for discovery and learning, increased her editorial experience, and connected her with publishers and institutions all over the world. More recently, the projects she has worked on include MWNF’s Sharing History Virtual Museum and Exhibition series, Vitra Design Museum’s Victor Papanek and Objects of Desire, and Haus der Kulturen der Welt’s online publication 2 or 3 Tigers and its volume Race, Nation, Class.

MWNF Working Number: UK1 27

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