Hanging oil-lamps were used widely in mosques in the Islamic world and would have been hung from metal chains attached to the three glass handles. As with this example, such lamps were often decorated with part of a famous verse (Verse 24:35, The Light Verse) from the Qur’an, illustrating the importance of both light and lamps. In this case, it appears around the flaring mouth of the lamp.
This lamp was commissioned for a religious building by Sultan Muhammad ibn Qala’un, ruler of Egypt and Syria from about 1294 to 1340 AD (with interruptions), whose name appears around the body of the lamp.
The art of glassmaking originated in Syria and it was here that much of the best Roman glass was created. Enamels or precious metals were applied to the glass in an oil-based medium using either a brush or reed pen. Because different substances required different temperatures to fix them permanently to the glass, a procedure was developed whereby all the colours could be fired together to avoid the possibility of deforming vessels through repeated heating.
Newby, Martine S., Glass of Four Millennia, Ashmolean Handbooks (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2000), no. 31 on p. 40, p. 44, illus. p. 41 fig. 31
Piper, David, and Christopher White, Treasures of the Ashmolean Museum: An Illustrated Souvenir of the Collections, revised edn (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 1995), no. 42 on p. 45, illus. p. 45 fig. 42
Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 24 May 2006-23 December 2008, Treasures: Antiquities, Eastern Art, Coins, and Casts: Exhibition Guide, Rune Frederiksen, ed. (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2006), no. 153 on p. 55, illus. p. 55
Objects are sometimes moved to a different location. Our object location data is usually updated on a monthly basis. Contact the Jameel Study Centre if you are planning to visit the museum to see a particular object on display, or would like to arrange an appointment to see an object in our reserve collections.