Name of Object:

Oil lamp



Holding Museum:

Islamic Museum, al-Aqsa Mosque / al-Haram al-Sharif

About Islamic Museum, al-Aqsa Mosque / al-Haram al-Sharif, Jerusalem

Date of Object:

Hegira 712–40 / AD 1312–40

Museum Inventory Number:

أ/ ز/1

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Painted, enamelled and gilded glass.


Height 33 cm, diameter (of mouth) 18 cm

Period / Dynasty:



Probably Damascus or Cairo.


A glass lamp composed of three sections: base, body and the neck, and completely covered with vegetal decoration beautifully and skilfully executed. It is painted with a variety of colours, with enamel and with profuse gilding. In addition it is adorned with written inscriptions and the blazon of the endower. The neck of the lamp is wide and narrows as it moves in closer to the body, thus taking the form of a conic glass. The neck is adorned with both vegetal motifs that fill the surface, and with an inscription band in Mamluk thuluth script. The inscription, 8 cm high, rendered in dark-blue, includes part of a verse from the Qur'an, “al-Tauba” (“the Repentance” 9: 18): “The Mosques of Allah shall be visited and maintained by such as believe in Allah and the Last Day”.The verse is intercepted by three circular medallions with a red circle at the centre, within which is a gilded goblet, the blazon of Amir Tankaz al-Nasiri. A decorative band is located between the body of the lamp and its neck formed from eight consecutive lotus flowers. The body is decorated with a relatively large gilded inscription band, against a dark-blue background, it reads: “This has been ordered by the Sublime, our lord, the amir, al-Saifi Tankaz supporter of the honourable and protected Mamluks in al-Sham [Syria]”. The inscription is interrupted by six suspension loops that are used to attach the chains for hanging the lamp. There is decorative band below that containing the inscription this is adorned with vegetal motifs. The lower area of the body, before transferring to the base, contains six medallions, three of which contain blazons and the remaining three of which are filled with vegetal motifs. The base of the lamp is 4 cm high; it is wider at the bottom than the top. The base is adorned with three bands filled with gilded vegetal decoration.

View Short Description

The glass lamp is completely covered with intricate and skilful vegetal decoration and is painted in a variety of colours, with enamel and gilding. The body bears a gilded inscription and the blazon of its endower, Amir Tankiz al-Nasiri, against a dark-blue background. The lamp has a number of decorative medallions.

Original Owner:

Amir Tankaz al-Nasiri who occupied the position of a representative of the Sultanate in al-Sham (Great Syria) region in AH 712–40 / AD 1312–40. This was during the rule of the Mamluk sultan, al-Nasir Muhammad bin Qalawun (who ruled three times: AH 693–4, 698–708 and 709–41 / AD 1294–5, 1299–1309 and 1309–40)

How date and origin were established:

The lamp was dated based on the written inscriptions on it, which mention the name of its owner, Amir Tankaz al-Nasiri.

How Object was obtained:

The lamp was transferred from al-Haram al-Ibrahimi (the Ibrahimi Mosque) in Hebron (al-Khalil) to the Islamic Museum in Jerusalem in 1967.

How provenance was established:

Lamps, similar to that exhibited here, were renowned during the Mamluk period. They were typically produced in either Cairo or Damascus, so it is likely that this piece was made in Damascus in view of the fact that Amir Tankaz was a deputy there.

Selected bibliography:

Abu Khalaf, M., Islamic Art Through the Ages: Masterpieces of the Islamic Museum of al-Haram al-Sharif, Jerusalem, 1998.

Citation of this web page:

Nazmi Al-Ju'beh "Oil lamp" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2022.;ISL;pa;Mus01;25;en

Prepared by: Nazmi Al-Ju'behNazmi Al-Ju'beh

Nazmi Al-Ju'beh is an archaeologist and historian and Co-Director of RIWAQ, Centre for Architectural Conservation in Ramallah, Palestine. He studied at Birzeit University in Palestine and at Tübingen University in Germany. He taught at Birzeit University and at al-Quds University. He was Director of the Islamic Museum, al-Haram al-Sharif, Jerusalem, and directed various cultural heritage projects in Palestine, including surveys of archaeological and architectural sites. He was a major contributor to Pilgrimage, Sciences and Sufism: Islamic Art in the West Bank and Gaza (Vienna: MWNF, 2004) and is the author of numerous publications on the history, archaeology and cultural heritage of Palestine.

Copyedited by: Majd Musa
Translation by: Amal Sachedina (from the Arabic).
Translation 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: PA 25


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