London, England, United Kingdom
Victoria and Albert Museum
Between hegira 658–709 / AD 1260–1309
Brass inlaid with silver.
Height 35.7 cm, diameter 32.4 cm
Cairo or Damascus.
A brass candlestick of a standard shape. Most surface areas, including the neck, shoulder and body, are decorated with inlaid silver. The main ornament of the body is a superb inscription in a grandly flowing script which reads: 'Made for His Highness, the exalted personage, the man of lordly rank, the officer in the service of Rukn al-Din, Rukn al-Din Muhammad Ibn Qaratay al-Baghdadi'. Dividing the large inscription are three medallions with scalloped borders which extend the full height of the body. Within these medallions are curious designs in which a series of spiralling branches coil outward from a small face-like motif and sprout birds, animals and masks from their ends. Both these medallions and the large inscription they punctuate are set against a background of dense leafy arabesques. The neck is decorated with smaller versions of the medallions on the body, and the collar repeats in smaller letters the dedicatory inscription.
At some point in its history the candlestick was re-silvered, giving it a brighter and newer appearance than most candlesticks of this age. Also, a later owner engraved an inscription in Armenian into the top of the candlestick's body; the reading is uncertain but it seems to say, 'This candlestick is in memory of Temar, valiant son of Mkrtich [sic], who gave it to the Mother of God'. Although the identity of Temar and the church or monastery to which the candlestick was donated are unknown, this inscription is a fascinating glimpse into the life of a beautiful object.
A brass candlestick inlaid in silver with ornament whose main feature is a superb inscription naming the patron. Candlesticks of this shape are common in Islamic art of the medieval period. Later in its history this candlestick was also inscribed with a dedication in Armenian.
Rukn al-Din Muhammad Ibn Qaratay al-Baghdadi
The patron is described as in the service of Rukn al-Din. This can refer either to Sultan Rukn al-Din Baybars I al-Bunduqdari, (r. 658–76 / 1260–77), or to Sultan Rukn al-Din Baybars II al-Jashankir, who reigned only briefly (708–9 / 1309).
Bequest of George Salting in 1910.
Cairo and Damascus were the two most important centres of art production under the Mamluks.
Stanley, T., with Rosser-Owen, M. and Vernoit, S., Palace and Mosque: Islamic Art from the Middle East, London, 2004, p.28, and p.97, plate 30.
Barry Wood "Candlestick" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;uk;Mus02;23;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 Gomez
MWNF Working Number: UK2 26