Mosque Lamp

1320-1330 (made)
Mosque Lamp thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Islamic Middle East, Room 42, The Jameel Gallery
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This mosque lamp was made for Qijlis, a high official who had been the sultan’s armourer. His emblem was a sword, which can be seen in the large roundels. Between the roundels is a quotation from the Qur’an that mentions ‘the mosques of God’.

Before the introduction of electricity, lighting was an expensive luxury. Providing lighting in an Islamic religious building was therefore seen as an act of generosity to the community that would be rewarded by God. Donors paid for lamps and the supply of oil and wicks they required. During Mamluk rule (1250-1517) in Egypt and Syria, donors commissioned lamps and lamp-holders of glass and metal that were often large and impressive. Inscriptions recorded the donors’ names.
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object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Glass, gilt and enamelled
Brief Description
Lamp made for the Mamluk official Qijlis, Egypt or Syria, ca. 1320-1330.
Physical Description
Enamelled and gilt glass mosque lamp.
Dimensions
  • Height: 28.9cm
  • Maximum width: 25.4cm
Style
Marks and Inscriptions
Inscription of Qur'an IX, 18 on neck and 'This is what was made a waqf by the servant yearning for God, the Exalted, hoping for the pardon of his generous Lord, Qijlis (officer), of al-Malik al-Nasir' and three medallions on neck bear coats of arms - emblems of the armour-bearer. (Decoration)
Gallery Label
  • Jameel Gallery Lamp of Qijlis Egypt or Syria 1320-30 The lamp was made for Qijlis, a high official who had been the sultan's armourer. His emblem was a sword, which can be seen in the large roundels. Between the roundels is a quotation from the Qur'an that mentions 'the mosques of God'. Glass, gilded and enamelled Museum no. 580-1875(Jameel Gallery)
  • MOSQUE-LAMP Glass enamelled and gilt. Inscribed with a dedication to Saif ad-Din Qijlis an-Nasiri, Arms -bearer to the Sultan an-Nasir Muhammad. Said to come from a monastery near Damascus. SYRIAN; perhaps made in 1313.(Old gallery label)
Object history
Said to have been found in Dair Saiyidinaiya, a monastry near Damascus, Syria. Qijlis was promoted arms-bearer to al-Nasir Muhammad, Mamluk Sultan of Egypt, in 1321, and died in 1331. His first state office was in 1317 when he was appointed leader of the pilgrimage.
Subject depicted
Summary
This mosque lamp was made for Qijlis, a high official who had been the sultan’s armourer. His emblem was a sword, which can be seen in the large roundels. Between the roundels is a quotation from the Qur’an that mentions ‘the mosques of God’.



Before the introduction of electricity, lighting was an expensive luxury. Providing lighting in an Islamic religious building was therefore seen as an act of generosity to the community that would be rewarded by God. Donors paid for lamps and the supply of oil and wicks they required. During Mamluk rule (1250-1517) in Egypt and Syria, donors commissioned lamps and lamp-holders of glass and metal that were often large and impressive. Inscriptions recorded the donors’ names.
Bibliographic Reference
L.A.Mayer, Saracenic heraldry: a survey (Oxford) 1933, p.190.
Other Number
6218 - Glass gallery number
Collection
Accession Number
580-1875

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record createdDecember 13, 1997
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