London, England, United Kingdom
Victoria and Albert Museum
Probably between hegira 757 / AD 1356 and AH 762 / AD 1361
Gilded and enamelled glass.
Height 35.6 cm, width 30.7 cm
A large glass mosque lamp with a flaring mouth, flattened lower section, and low folded foot. Six glass rings are attached for suspension chains. The lamp is decorated with gilding and enamelling which forms a design in several registers. The top section of the neck features a large inscription in bold blue letters. The inscription, which is divided into three sections by circular medallions praising the sultan, includes the beginning of the famous Light Verse from the Qur'an (24: 35): 'God is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The likeness of His Light is as a wick-holder wherein is a light …'. This verse was a popular inclusion on lighting implements such as mosque lamps. The lower part of the neck has a band of sketchy decoration in red, punctuated by small blue medallions. The main part of the lamp's body features a dramatic network of fine interlacing patterns outlined in red against a blue background with floral elements. The interlacing is left clear, so that when the lamp was lit the patterns would have glowed. The bottom section of the lamp, the area above the foot, repeats the circular medallions from the neck.View Short Description
A mosque lamp of typical Mamluk shape, decorated with a bold inscription around the neck and a complex interlace pattern on the body. The interlace pattern is in outline, so when the lamp was lit – supposedly in the mosque of Sultan Hasan in Cairo – the interlacing bands would have glowed.
Thought to have been made for the mosque and madrasa of Sultan Hasan (r. 748–52 / 1347–51 and 755–62 / 1354–61)
The lamp is said to have come from the mosque and madrasa of Sultan Hasan, which was built between 757 / 1356 and 762 / 1361.
Purchased by the Museum in 1900.
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.
Stanley, T., with Rosser-Owen, M. and Vernoit, S., Palace and Mosque: Islamic Art from the Middle East, London, 2004, p.28 and plate 14.
Barry Wood "Mosque lamp" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2017. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;uk;Mus02;43;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 Gomez
MWNF Working Number: UK2 54
Islamic Dynasties / Period
On display in
Virtual Visit Exhibition Trail
DownloadAs PDF (including images) As Word (text only)