Name of Object:

Mosque lamp


London, England, United Kingdom

Holding Museum:

Victoria and Albert Museum

About Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Date of Object:

Probably around hegira 740 / AD 1340

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Enamelled glass, gold.


Height 33 cm, width 23 cm

Period / Dynasty:



Probably Cairo.


A mosque lamp of typical size and shape for Mamluk lamps, with flaring neck, wide body and high foot. Thick glass loops are attached for the suspension cords. It is decorated with enamelling, mostly in blue and red, with some highlights added in green, white and gold. The majority of the decoration is calligraphic. A prominent inscription states that 'This is one of the objects made for His High Excellency, our lord the great Amir, Sayf al-Din Aqbugha 'Abd al-Wahid [officer of] al-Malik al-Nasir'. The areas in and around the calligraphy are decorated with floral motifs and arabesques. Sayf al-Din Aqbugha's blazon, a diamond (napkin) on a rectangular field, appears in roundels on the neck. Aqbugha built an important madrasa at the Mosque of al-Azhar in Cairo (the Madrasa al-Aqbughawiyya) in AH 740 / AD 1340, and this lamp was probably suspended from the ceiling in that building, possibly with the very cords that are still attached to it.

View Short Description

A lamp of typical Mamluk shape, decorated with enamelled glass forming inscriptions, floral decoration, and blazons. The patron, Sayf al-Din Aqbugha, founded a madrasa (religious school) at the Azhar mosque complex in Cairo in AH 740 / AD 1340, and this lamp may originally have hung there.

Original Owner:

Sayf al-Din Aqbugha

How date and origin were established:

It is likely that the lamp was made for the Madrasa al-Aqbughawiyya, built by Sayf al-Din Aqbugha in 740 / 1340.

How Object was obtained:

Purchased by the Museum in 1869 from the collection of Dr Meymar.

How provenance was established:

It is assumed that glass lamps like this were made in Cairo, as it would have been easier and safer than making them elsewhere and then transporting them.

Selected bibliography:

Lamm, C. J., Mittelalterliche Gläser und Steinschnittarbeiten aus dem Nahen Osten, Berlin, 1930, p.440.

Lane-Poole, S., The Art of the Saracens in Egypt, London, 1886, pp.215–16.

Watson, O., "Glass from the Islamic World", Glass (ed. R. Liefkes), London, 1997, p.35.

Citation of this web page:

Barry Wood "Mosque lamp" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2021.;ISL;uk;Mus02;11;en

Prepared 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.

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: UK2 11


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