Name of Object:

Mosque lamp


London, England, United Kingdom

Holding Museum:

Victoria and Albert Museum

About Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Date of Object:

Between hegira 716–31 / AD 1317–31

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Enamelled glass with gilding.


Height 28.9 cm, width 25.4 cm

Period / Dynasty:



Cairo or Damascus.


A mosque lamp of typical size and shape for Mamluk lamps, with flaring neck, wide body and high foot. Thick glass loops are attached for the suspension cords. The body is decorated with a large inscription which reads, 'This is what was made a waqf by the servant yearning for God the Exalted, hoping for the pardon of his generous Lord, Qijlis, [officer] of al-Malik al-Nasir'. The neck carries a verse from the Qur'an (9:18) and three medallions with the Mamluk blazon indicating the owner's rank, in this case a sword telling us that Qijlis was amir silah (arms-bearer) to the sultan. The lamp is said to have come from a monastery in Seidnaya, a village near Damascus.

View Short Description

A mosque lamp of typical Mamluk form, with bold inscriptions and three medallions with the patron’s blazon, a sword. The patron was one Amir Qijlis, arms-bearer to the sultan, who commissioned this lamp as a pious donation to an unknown mosque.

Original Owner:

Sayf al-Din Qijlis al-Nasiri, an officer of the Mamluk Sultan al-Nasir Muhammad between AH 716–31 / AD 1317–31

How date and origin were established:

The inscription mentions Sayf al-Din Qijlis al-Nasiri, who was promoted to amir silah of Sultan al-Nasir Muhammad in 716 / 1317 and died in 731 / 1331.

How Object was obtained:

Purchased by the Museum in 1875.

How provenance was established:

Cairo and Damascus were the two most important centres of art production under the Mamluks.

Selected bibliography:

Lamm, C. J., Mittelalterliche Gläser und Steinschnittarbeiten aus dem Nahen Osten, Berlin, 1930, p.439.

Citation of this web page:

Barry Wood "Mosque lamp" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020.;ISL;uk;Mus02;19;en

Prepared by: Barry WoodBarry Wood

Barry Wood is Curator (Islamic Gallery Project) in the Asian Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. He studied history of art at Johns Hopkins University and history of Islamic art and architecture at Harvard University, from where he obtained his Ph.D. in 2002. He has taught at Harvard, Eastern Mediterranean University, the School of Oriental and African Studies, and the Courtauld Institute of Art. He has also worked at the Harvard University Art Museums and the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. He has published on topics ranging from Persian manuscripts to the history of exhibitions.

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: UK2 20


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