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Candlestick

Candlestick

  • Place of origin:

    Iran (western, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1220-1240 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Hammered brass, engraved and inlaid with silver and black composition; detail incised over silver foil after inlaying

  • Museum number:

    333-1892

  • Gallery location:

    Islamic Middle East, Room 42, The Jameel Gallery, case 2E

This fine 12-sided candlestick has a complex shape. It was probably inspired by a candlestick made of silver, which is easier to work than brass. The socket for the candle is a miniature version of the base, which has a central boss on each of its 12 sides. These are matched by the 12 roundels on the drip-tray.

In Islamic art, objects made from base materials were often transformed by sophisticated forms of decoration. Brassware, like this piece, was often decorated with inlaid surface ornament.

For larger motifs, metalworkers chiselled out small areas of brass and filled them with thin sheets of silver, gold and copper. They added details by chasing the surface of the softer metals and contrast by using a black filler.

The inlay technique first became popular in eastern Iran in the mid 12th century. It then spread westwards and by 1250 was in use across the Middle East. Its popularity declined after 1500. This candlestick was made when the technique was at its peak.

Physical description

Worked sheet brass candlestick (sham dan) with engraved decoration and silver inlay, with the conventional blessings to an early owner, 'Khwaja Raihan'.

Place of Origin

Iran (western, made)

Date

ca. 1220-1240 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Hammered brass, engraved and inlaid with silver and black composition; detail incised over silver foil after inlaying

Marks and inscriptions

Persian; Kufic; inscription on the shoulder is 'undeciphered'.; engraved

kufic; the inscription on the upper everted section of the body is 'undeciphered'.

Lasting might, helping destiny, A-L, joyous life, God's blessings in ternity, rising luck, sweeping victory, ascending luck, immune life, divine support, wide authority, might, lasting life, A, to its owner!
naskhi; upper inscription on the flat rim

Lasting might, growing, lasting, kneeling (?!)...success, joyous life, integral eternal divine blessings, rising luck, sweeping victory, A, ascending luck, divine support (?), immune life, A, authority, great [great] authority [sic]. A-L Lasting might, growing joyous [sic] success, eternal divine blessings, rising luck, sweeping victory, ascending luck, divine sup[port], (?)
naskhi; the base

Kh aje Reyhan, 'Master Reyhan'
An inscription incised later by a non-professional scribe.

Dimensions

Height: 23.8 cm, Diameter: 27.6 cm minimum, base, Diameter: 28.5 cm maximum, base, Diameter: 22.2 cm minimum, shoulder, Diameter: 22.4 cm maximum, shoulder

Object history note

Purcahsed for £25 from Zadig Eskenazi, 356 Grande Rue De Pera, Constantinople (Istanbul), 24 March 1892.

Historical significance: The Victoria and Albert twelve-facted candlestick is among the earliest Western specimens on record.

Historical context note

Apparently the object was reserved for the special use of one Reyhan living in a community - at a court, or in a religious circle.

Descriptive line

Brass candlestick with twelve sides, western Iran, 1220-40.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Melikian-Chirvani, A.S. Islamic Metalwork from the Iranian World, London:HMSO, 1982, p166-169, ISBN 0 11 290252 9
Baer, E. 'The Nisan Tasi', fig. 15, p.17, and mentioned as an example 'from about 1200'.

Labels and date

CANDLESTICK
Worked sheet brass, with engraved decoration and silver inlay
Western Persia; 13th century
The inscriptions consist of conventional blessings, sometimes in abreviated and garbled form; the name of an early owner of the piece is given: "Khwaja Raihan". [Used until c. 1982]
CANDLESTICK
Brass, raised and decorated with engraved champleve designs partly inlaid with silver, the ground filled with black composition.
WESTERN IRAN; 13th century.
[Museum no. given incorrectly as 333-1882] [Used c. 1982 to 11/2003]
Brass Candlestick
Western Iran
1220-40

The complex shape was probably inspired by a candlestick made of silver, which is easier to work than brass. The socket for the candle is a miniature version of the base, which has a central boss on each of its twelve sides. These are matched by the twelve roundels on the drip-tray.

Brass inlaid with silver and a black composition

Museum no. 333-1892 [Jameel Gallery]

Materials

Brass; Silver

Techniques

Hammered; Engraved; Inlaid

Categories

Islam; Lighting; Metalwork

Collection

Middle East Section

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