Name of Object:
Museum of Islamic Art
Date of Object:
Hegira 8th century / AD 14th century
Museum Inventory Number:
Material(s) / Technique(s):
Marble engraved in high relief.
Height 60 cm, length 36 cm
Period / Dynasty:
A marble plaque, approximately rectangular in shape, the apex of which is an ornamented crown. In the centre of the plaque is a mosque lamp, carved in high relief and suspended from the crown by thick ropes. Flanking either side of the lamp, at the bottom of the composition, there are engraved carvings of two candlesticks with tapering wicks. The neck and base of the lamp are embellished with vegetal motifs and braided bands; in the centre of the body is an inscription that states: 'God is the Light of the Heavens and the Earth'. Vegetal decorations appear above and below the carved inscription, which is contained within a rectangle and delineated by two beaded borders.
View Short Description
This example of Mamluk-period marble engraving depicts a mosque lantern (mishkah), two candlesticks and an inscription saying 'God is the Light of the Heavens and the Earth'. Such marblework bears witness to the skill of the craftsmen in that era.
How date and origin were established:
The object is known to date to the 8th / 14th century because it was made for the Madrasa Bedeiriyya in Cairo, built during this time period.
How Object was obtained:
The plaque was found on site at the Madrasa Bedeiriyya. The Council for the Preservation of Arab Monuments undertook the preservation of the plaque in the eastern court of the mosque of al-Hakim bi Amrillah in 1880, where the first acquisitions of the Museum of Islamic Art were housed before they were transferred to the present Museum building in 1903.
How provenance was established:
This plaque was found in the Madrasa Bedeiriyya, which lies in the neighbourhood of the Madrasa Salihiyya al-Najmiyya in the Fatimid Street Al-Muizz Li-Din Allah in Cairo. The Madrasa Bedeiriyya was founded in 758 / 1357 by Nasir al-Din Muhammad ibn Bedeir al-'Abbas who worked as a lecturer of fiqh (jurisprudence) of the Shaf'i school. It is likely that the plaque was produced in Cairo for the madrasa.
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:
Al-Sayyed Muhammad Khalifa Hammad "Marble plaque" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2019. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;eg;Mus01;5;en
Prepared by: Al-Sayyed Muhammad Khalifa Hammad