Name of Object:
Museum of Islamic Art
Date of Object:
Hegira 694 / AD 1294
Museum Inventory Number:
Material(s) / Technique(s):
Brass; inlaid with gold and silver.
Height 14 cm, diameter (of the lip) 8.5 cm
Period / Dynasty:
A candlestick socket whose inscription is marked for its singularity as well as for its animated style. Most of the inscription, which runs around the lower end of the candlestick neck, assumes the forms of human figures, specifically those of warriors wielding swords, dressed in armour, and holding lances; some of the lettering is in the form of bird's heads. The inscription reads: 'To the Amir Katbugha, Glory, Long Life and Triumph over Enemies'. It is apparent from the inscription that the craftsman was offering glory to Katbugha, and wishing him a long life and victory over his enemies, specifically those who had in fact participated in the murder of the Sultan al-Ashraf Khalil ibn Qalawun. It appears that the craftsman deliberately employed ambiguous phraseology in his bid to avoid what might befall him at the hands of Katbugha's enemies if circumstances changed. In the upper zone of the candlestick neck, another inscription in Mamluk thuluth script unwinds, it reads: 'That which was intended for the treasury of his sublime Excellency, the lord al-Zayni Zayn al-Din Katbugha al-Mansuri al-Ashrafi'. Three decorative roundels filled with geometric designs and inlaid with gold, interrupt the inscription.
View Short Description
This is one of the most precious Islamic masterpieces due to its superb decoration, such as the inscription in the form of human figures, animals and birds. This style appeared in the late Ayyubid period and continued in the Mamluk. The candlestick was made for Amir Katbugha. The body of the candlestick is in the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, USA.
Amir Katbugha al-Mansuri al-Ashrafi (AH 639–702/ AD 1239–1302)
How date and origin were established:
In accordance with the above, the owner of this piece was Amir Katbugha al-Mansuri. Sultan al-Ashraf Khalil ibn Qalawun had drawn Katbugha into his closest circle of trusted companions and associates, conferring upon him the title nisba (attribution of close affinity or kinship), whereupon his name became Katbugha al-Mansuri al-Ashrafi. Following the murder of Sultan al-Ashraf Khalil ibn Qalawun, Katbugha ruled as proxy to Sultan al-Nasir Muhammad ibn Qalawun for two years until he relinquished the reins of power to Sultan Lajin. Katbugha died at the age of 63 in 702 / 1302, during the second reign of Sultan al-Nasir Muhammad ibn Qalawun.
How Object was obtained:
The candlestick socket was bought by the Museum in 1917.
How provenance was established:
The provenance for this object can be located with some certainty to Cairo in light of the evidence as mentioned above.
Al-Maqrizi, Al-mawā'iz wa'l-i'tibār bi-dhikr al-khiţaţ wa'l-āthār [Exhortations and Contemplation of the Recollection of Plans and Monuments], 2 Vols, Cairo, 1853.
Citation of this web page:
Salah Sayour "Candlestick socket" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;eg;Mus01;10;en