Name of Object:

Mosque lamp


Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Turkey

Holding Museum:

Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts

About Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, Sultanahmet

Date of Object:

first half of hegira 8th century / AD 14th century

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

glass; painted and enamelled in dark-blue, white, red, and gilding.


Height 27 cm, diameter (of mouth) 21 cm

Period / Dynasty:



A hanging mosque lamp, with a fat body and a long neck, that widens towards the top. Six loops are attached for hanging up the lamp from chains. The entire surface of the lamp's body, which is painted green on the inside, is decorated with compositions in dark-blue, white, red, and gilding which form inscription bands and geometric and floral designs. Since the decoration is enamelled, its raised appearance gives the lamp's body a sense of depth.

The body features floral decoration in red and white medallions with pendants, while the neck has a border of arabesques and bears verses from the 'Light' chapter of the Qur'an (sura 24). Amid the inscription bands are round medallions showing polo sticks depicted in white on a dark-blue ground, a characteristic motif of the Mamluk period.

View Short Description

Hanging glass lamps were produced for lighting the holy areas and they were a divine symbol of the light. The glass lamps of the Mamluk period are decorated with the blazons of the rulers, which symbolise the power of the state.

Original Owner:

Sayf al-Din Ilmalak, Jaukandar (polo-chief) of Mamluk sultan al-Nasir Muhammad (his third reign: 709-740 /1310-1340)

How date and origin were established:

The polo sticks, painted in white on a dark-blue background within round medallions, are characteristic of the Mamluk period. The inscriptions on the neck also indicate that the lamp was made for the Jaukandar Sayf al-Din Ilmalak, who served the Mamluk sultan al-Nasir Muhammad, and who built a madrasa in Cairo in 1319. Therefore, the lamp is dated to the first half of the 14th century.

How Object was obtained:

The item was brought from the Mevlana Tomb in Konya to the Tiled Pavilion (Çinili Köşk), Istanbul, in 1898 and then transferred to the Museum in 1911.

Selected bibliography:

Kühnel, E.- M. A. Ogan, İstanbul Arkeoloji Müzelerinde Şaheserler, Vol. III, Çinili Köşk'de Türk ve İslam Eserleri Koleksiyonu, Berlin ve Leipzig, 1938, Tafel 28.

Ölçer, N., et al, Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art, Istanbul, 2002, p.182.

Citation of this web page:

Cihat Soyhan "Mosque lamp" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2022.;ISL;tr;Mus01;23;en

Prepared by: Cihat SoyhanCihat Soyhan

Cihat Soyhan was born in 1940. He graduated from the Department of Art History of the Faculty of Letters, Istanbul University. He lectured at the 14th Art History Courses organised for teachers of art history at Haydarpaşa High School, Istanbul, in 1976. He was the ministerial commissar at the Tekfur Palace surveys in 1976 and the Iznik excavations in 1987. He published on Turkish tile art for the exhibition on 'Islamic Arts in the 15th Century of the Hijra' in 1983 and for other occasions. He retired from his post as an expert at the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts in Istanbul in 2005 and passed away in early 2006.

Translation by: Barry WoodBarry Wood

Barry Wood is Curator (Islamic Gallery Project) in the Asian Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. He studied history of art at Johns Hopkins University and history of Islamic art and architecture at Harvard University, from where he obtained his Ph.D. in 2002. He has taught at Harvard, Eastern Mediterranean University, the School of Oriental and African Studies, and the Courtauld Institute of Art. He has also worked at the Harvard University Art Museums and the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. He has published on topics ranging from Persian manuscripts to the history of exhibitions.
, İnci Türkoğluİnci Türkoğlu

İnci Türkoğlu has been working as a tourist guide and freelance consultant in tourism and publishing since 1993. She was born in Alaşehir, Turkey, in 1967. She graduated from the English Department of Bornova Anatolian High School in 1985 and lived in the USA for a year as an exchange student. She graduated from the Department of Electronic Engineering of the Faculty of Architecture and Engineering, Dokuz Eylül University, Izmir, and the professional tourist guide courses of the Ministry of Tourism in 1991. She worked as an engineer for a while. She graduated from the Department of Art History, Faculty of Letters, Ege University, Izmir, in 1997 with an undergraduate thesis entitled “Byzantine House Architecture in Western Anatolia”. She completed her Master's at the Byzantine Art branch of the same department in 2001 with a thesis entitled “Synagogue Architecture in Turkey from Antiquity to the Present”. She has published on art history and tourism.

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: TR 41


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Calligraphy Glass


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