Name of Object:

Mosque lamp


London, England, United Kingdom

Holding Museum:

Victoria and Albert Museum

About Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Date of Object:

Probably between hegira 757 / AD 1356 and AH 762 / AD 1361

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Gilded and enamelled glass.


Height 35.6 cm, width 30.7 cm

Period / Dynasty:



Possibly Cairo.


A large glass mosque lamp with a flaring mouth, flattened lower section, and low folded foot. Six glass rings are attached for suspension chains. The lamp is decorated with gilding and enamelling which forms a design in several registers. The top section of the neck features a large inscription in bold blue letters. The inscription, which is divided into three sections by circular medallions praising the sultan, includes the beginning of the famous Light Verse from the Qur'an (24: 35): 'God is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The likeness of His Light is as a wick-holder wherein is a light …'. This verse was a popular inclusion on lighting implements such as mosque lamps. The lower part of the neck has a band of sketchy decoration in red, punctuated by small blue medallions. The main part of the lamp's body features a dramatic network of fine interlacing patterns outlined in red against a blue background with floral elements. The interlacing is left clear, so that when the lamp was lit the patterns would have glowed. The bottom section of the lamp, the area above the foot, repeats the circular medallions from the neck.

View Short Description

A mosque lamp of typical Mamluk shape, decorated with a bold inscription around the neck and a complex interlace pattern on the body. The interlace pattern is in outline, so when the lamp was lit – supposedly in the mosque of Sultan Hasan in Cairo – the interlacing bands would have glowed.

Original Owner:

Thought to have been made for the mosque and madrasa of Sultan Hasan (r. 748–52 / 1347–51 and 755–62 / 1354–61)

How date and origin were established:

The lamp is said to have come from the mosque and madrasa of Sultan Hasan, which was built between 757 / 1356 and 762 / 1361.

How Object was obtained:

Purchased by the Museum in 1900.

How provenance was established:

It is assumed that glass lamps like this were made in Cairo, as it would have been easier and safer than making them elsewhere and then transporting them.

Selected bibliography:

Stanley, T., with Rosser-Owen, M. and Vernoit, S., Palace and Mosque: Islamic Art from the Middle East, London, 2004, p.28 and plate 14.

Citation of this web page:

Barry Wood "Mosque lamp" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2021.;ISL;uk;Mus02;43;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 54


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