Mosque Lamp

ca. 1468-1496 (made)
Mosque Lamp thumbnail 1
Mosque Lamp thumbnail 2
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This enormous hanging lamp holder was originally made for the Mamluk sultan Qa'itbay (1468-96). The central medallions carry blazons that read, ‘Glory be to our master the Sultan al-Malik al-Ashraf Abu'l-Nasr Qa'itbay, may his victories be glorious’. Except for their size, the two inscriptions in inlaid silver in the upper and lower bands are identical. They read:

Glory to our lord the Sultan, the most noble ruler, sultan of Islam and the Muslims, reviver of justice in the world, suppressor of the immoral and rebellious, sultan of the Arabs and Persians, lord of the two seas, servant of the Two Holy Shrines, master of kings and sultans, Commander of the Faithful, Abu'l-Nasr Qa'itbay, may God Almighty make his reign long!

These triumphs of the calligrapher's and metalworker's art would have been invisible when the light was shining from inside the holder. But we can still appreciate the skill required to create them.

This lamp holder is very similar to one now in the Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 3 parts.

  • Lamp Holder
  • Chain
  • Lamp Holder
Materials and Techniques
Brass, pierced, inlaid and engraved
Brief Description
Hexagonal brass lamp-holder made for the Mamluk sultan Qa'itbay, Egypt (probably Cairo), 1468-1496.
Physical Description
Hexagonal brass mosque lamp, tapering upwards and surmounted by a dome with a suspension hook in the form of a dragon. The sides of the lamp are pierced and engraved, and decorated with silver and gold inlay. Borders of Quranic inscriptions are at top and bottom of each side, and a large medallion at the centre bears the blazon of the Mamluk Sultan Qayit Bay (1468-1496). One side is open as the original door for accessing the candle is missing.



It is almost identical to a lamp now in the Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo, from the Mosque of Asal Bay (the wife of Qa'it Bay), also in Cairo. See The Arts of Islam. Exhibition held at the Hayward Gallery, 8 April-4 July 1976 (London : The Arts Council of Great Britain, 1976): cat.no.227, p.196.
Dimensions
  • Height: 176cm
  • Width: 74cm
  • 109 1 1888 height: 36cm
  • 109 1 1888 width: 9.8cm
Style
Marks and Inscriptions
  • (Arabic; cursive; medallions on each side of lamp)
  • (Arabic; bands at top and bottom (same text in both places))
Gallery Label
Jameel Gallery Lamp-Holder of Sultan Qa'itbay Egypt, probably Cairo 1468-96 This huge lamp-holder was once suspended in a mosque built for Sultan Qa'itbay, who is named in all of the inscriptions. Later it was damaged in a fire and then buried, and only the sides survive. Originally it had a domed top and, at the bottom, a tray pierced with holes that held small glass lamps. Brass inlaid with gold, silver and a black composition. Museum no. 109-1888(Jameel Gallery)
Production
Made for a mosque in Cairo built by the Mamluk Sultan Qa'itbay (r. 1468-1496).
Summary
This enormous hanging lamp holder was originally made for the Mamluk sultan Qa'itbay (1468-96). The central medallions carry blazons that read, ‘Glory be to our master the Sultan al-Malik al-Ashraf Abu'l-Nasr Qa'itbay, may his victories be glorious’. Except for their size, the two inscriptions in inlaid silver in the upper and lower bands are identical. They read:



Glory to our lord the Sultan, the most noble ruler, sultan of Islam and the Muslims, reviver of justice in the world, suppressor of the immoral and rebellious, sultan of the Arabs and Persians, lord of the two seas, servant of the Two Holy Shrines, master of kings and sultans, Commander of the Faithful, Abu'l-Nasr Qa'itbay, may God Almighty make his reign long!



These triumphs of the calligrapher's and metalworker's art would have been invisible when the light was shining from inside the holder. But we can still appreciate the skill required to create them.



This lamp holder is very similar to one now in the Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo.
Bibliographic References
  • Baker, Malcolm, and Brenda Richardson (eds.), A Grand Design: The Art of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London: V&A Publications, 1999.
  • Tim Stanley (ed.), with Mariam Rosser-Owen and Stephen Vernoit, Palace and Mosque: Islamic Art from the Middle East, London, V&A Publications, 2004pp.24, 28, 98
Collection
Accession Number
109-1888

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record createdApril 3, 2003
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