Name of Object:

Mosque lamp


Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom

Holding Museum:

Royal Museum, National Museums of Scotland (NMS)

About Royal Museum, National Museums of Scotland (NMS), Edinburgh

Date of Object:

Hegira 742–54 / AD 1342–54

Museum Inventory Number:

A. 1900.153

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Enamelled and gilded glass.


Height 38.10 cm, diameter 26.67 cm

Period / Dynasty:





An enamelled glass and gilt mosque lamp with a wide funnel-shaped neck and a rounded rim. The lamp has a squat body, steeply sloping shoulder and a flattened base, and a tall pedestal foot with a pronounced pontil mark on the underside. Six trailed suspension loops are placed around the body at regular intervals. The lamp is decorated comprehensively with enamel decoration executed in red, blue and light-green, embellished with gilding. Around the neck is a wide band of thuluth script executed in blue enamel, surrounded by a floral border. An excerpt from the Qur’an (Sura 2; verse 256), the inscription is interrupted by decorative roundels rendered in gold, red and green, each of which contain a little cup in the centre. The lower neck and upper body are decorated with floral bands interrupted by roundels with individual floral motifs. On the main body, another inscription in thuluth script gives the titles of the official who commissioned the lamp: Zain al-Din Mubarak who, according to the blazon above, was cupbearer to the sultan, al-Malik al-Salih, who is also named in the inscription. There were two rulers with the same titulature, both of whom were the sons of Nasir Nasir al-Din Muhammad ibn Qalawun: the first, al-Malik al-Salih Isma’il (r. AH 742–5 / AD 1342–5); the second, al-Malik al-Salih Salih (r. AH 751–4 / AD 1351–4).

View Short Description

Glass mosque lamps with enamelled decoration were commissioned in large numbers by the Mamluk elite in Egypt and Syria. Decorated with Qur’anic inscriptions and the titles of the patron, they were destined for the numerous mosques and madrasas endowed by the Mamluks throughout Cairo and the empire.

How date and origin were established:

The appearance of the name of al-Malik al-Salih on this mosque lamp assigns the piece to the reign of either al-Malik al-Salih Isma’il (r. 742–5 / 1342–5) or to al-Malik al-Salih Salih (r. 751–4 / 1351–4).

How Object was obtained:

Purchased by NMS from the Major W. J. Myers Collection in 1900.

How provenance was established:

Mosque lamps of this type were made in large numbers in both Egypt and Syria during the 8th / 14th century.

Selected bibliography:

Carboni, S., and Whitehouse, D., Glass of the Sultans, New York, 2002 (for discussion on related mosques lamps and Mamluk glass).
Eremin, K., and Al-Khamis, U., ‘Mamluk and Pseudo-Mamluk Glass in the National Museums of Scotland’, in Annales du 15e Congrès de l’Association Internationale pour l’Histoire du Verre, New York, 2003.

Citation of this web page:

Ulrike Al-Khamis "Mosque lamp" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2022.;ISL;uk;Mus03;16;en

Prepared by: Ulrike Al-KhamisUlrike Al-Khamis

Ulrike Al-Khamis is Principal Curator for the Middle East and South Asia at the National Museums of Scotland in Edinburgh. She began her academic career in Germany before completing her BA (1st class Hons) in Islamic Art and Archaeology at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London in 1987. The same year she moved to Edinburgh, where she completed her Ph.D. thesis on “Early Islamic Bronze and Brass Ewers from the 7th to the 13th Century AD” in 1994. From 1994 to 1999 she worked as Curator of Muslim Art and Culture for Glasgow Museums and, in 1997, was one of the main instigators of the first ever Scottish Festival of Muslim Culture, SALAAM. Since 1999 she has been based at the Royal Museum in Edinburgh, where she has curated several exhibitions and continues to publish aspects of the collections. In addition to her museum work she has contributed regularly to the teaching of the Fine Arts Department at the University of Edinburgh.

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: UK3 16


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