Eastern Art Online, Yousef Jameel Centre for Islamic and Asian Art

Ashmolean − Eastern Art Online, Yousef Jameel Centre for Islamic and Asian Art

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Hanging lamp

  • Description

    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.

  • Details

    Associated place
    Africa Egypt (possible place of creation)
    Asia Syria (possible place of creation)
    1299 - 1340
    Mamluk Period (1250 - 1517)
    Associated people
    Sultan al-Nasir Muhammad ibn Qala'un (ruled 1293 - 1341) (commissioner)
    Material and technique
    glass, blown, with polychrome enamels and gilding
    29.6 cm (height)
    30 cm estimated, max. (diameter)
    at mouth 27.7 cm (diameter)
    Material index
    Technique index
    Object type index
    No. of items
    Credit line
    Purchased with the assistance of the Friends of the Ashmolean Museum, 1972.
    Accession no.
  • Further reading

    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


    • First floor | Room 31 | Islamic Middle East

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