Name of Object:

Oil lamp


Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom

Holding Museum:

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow Museums

About Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow Museums, Glasgow

Date of Object:

Hegira 6th century / AD 12th century

Museum Inventory Number:

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Stone-paste (fritware), with an opaque turquoise glaze.


Height 9 cm, length 13 cm

Period / Dynasty:



Fustat, Egypt.


A stone-paste (fritware) oil lamp with a long, open spout, cylindrical neck, looped handle and spherical body; an opaque turquoise glaze covers the whole lamp, inside and out. In style, this lamp is typical of AH 6th- / AD 12th-century Fatimid Fustat pottery. Fustat was one of the wealthiest cities in the Islamic world at that time, and was quite populous with many of its dwellings comprising of five to seven levels.

This lamp and many others like it lit the interiors of Fustat's buildings, and testify to its position as one of the leading cities of the Middle East during the Fatimid period (AH 296–566 / AD 909–1171). A busy port, the residents of Fustat included tradesmen who dealt with a wide variety of goods that arrived from all over the world, from places as far away as China. Fustat was also an important manufacturing centre, accommodating craftsmen who produced fine ceramics, glassware, steel and copper products and textiles.

View Short Description

The shape of this lamp is typical of those found at the city of Fustat in Fatimid Egypt. Fustat was a densely populated city, with craftsmen and artisans' workshops catering for the local and export markets. They were exposed to a wide range of artistic styles that came through goods from far lands.

How date and origin were established:

Stylistic analysis: comparable examples have been found at Fustat, Egypt, dating back to the 6th / 12th century.

How Object was obtained:

Purchased by the Museum in 1919.

How provenance was established:

Comparable examples have been found at Fustat, Egypt, dating back to the 6th / 12th century.

Selected bibliography:

Fehervari, G., Ceramics of the Islamic World in the Tareq Rajab Museum, London, 2000.

Philon, H., Early Islamic Ceramics: Ninth to Late Twelfth Centuries, Athens, 1980.

Citation of this web page:

Noorah Al-Gailani "Oil lamp" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2018.;ISL;uk;Mus04;21;en

Prepared by: Noorah Al-GailaniNoorah Al-Gailani

Noorah Al-Gailani is Curator for Islamic Civilisations at Glasgow Museums, Scotland. With a BA in Interior Design from the College of Fine Arts, Baghdad University and three years' experience in design and folk art preservation, she moved to the UK in 1992. On completing her MA in Museum Studies at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London in 1994, she worked as Project Officer at the Grange Museum of Community History documenting the presence of Muslim communities in the London Borough of Brent. In 1995 she was Assistant Curator, Ancient Monuments Laboratory, English Heritage, and in 1996 became Curator for John Wesley's House and the Museum of Methodism in London. She co-authored The Islamic Year: Surahs, Stories and Celebrations (Stroud: Hawthorn Press, 2002) for non-Muslim children. Since 2003 she has been based at The Burrell Collection in Glasgow, working across the city's museums to interpret Islamic art and culture, ancient and modern, through research, exhibitions and educational activities.

Copyedited by: Mandi Gomez

MWNF Working Number: UK4 26


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