Name of Object:
Raqqada, Kairouan, Tunisia
Museum of Islamic Art
Date of Object:
Hegira, 4th–early 5th century / AD 10th–11th century
Museum Inventory Number:
Material(s) / Technique(s):
Diameter 31 cm, thickness 1 cm
Period / Dynasty:
This chandelier belongs to a series of eight found in the Great Mosque of Kairouan, and which are dispersed today among four Tunisian museums (Raqqada, the Bardo, Mahdiyya and Monastir).
View Short Description
Inspired by Byzantine art, this piece was one of a group of eight used in the Great Mosque of Kairouan. The Muslim artist has replaced the cross in Byzantine and Coptic chandeliers with a trilobed fleuron and some geometric motifs consistent with the Islamic creed.
How date and origin were established:
The seven other chandeliers with which this one was kept probably date from before the Hilalian invasions of 449 / 1057. There are stylistic similarities to chandeliers from Egypt, Syria and Spain dating from the 4th / 10th century.
How Object was obtained:
This chandelier was displayed from 1956 at the museum of the Great Mosque of Kairouan before its acquisition by the Museum of Islamic Art at Raqqada in 1986.
How provenance was established:
This chandelier was part of the furniture of the Great Mosque of Kairouan. Along with seven other pieces, it was kept as a relic in the old library of the Great Mosque. They all date from before the Hilalian invasions in 449 / 1057. Furthermore, it can be compared to other pieces from Egypt, Syria and particularly from Elvira in Spain. Archaeological digs at the ruins of the Great Mosque in this town have revealed a chandelier dating from the 4th / 10th century whose overall design and internal rosette of horseshoe arches bear a striking resemblance to the Kairouanese chandelier. This convincing evidence unmistakably dates the Kairouanese chandelier from the same period.
De Carthage a Kairouan (exhibition catalogue), Paris, 1982, p.219.
Citation of this web page:
Mourad Rammah "Circular chandelier" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2019. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;tn;Mus01;14;en
Prepared by: Mourad Rammah