Brass; cast, engraved, and inlaid with black compound and applied cinnabar
H. 18 5/8 in. (47.3cm)
Edward C. Moore Collection, Bequest of Edward C. Moore, 1891
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 462
This distinctive tall, cylindrical shape is characteristic of a group of Safavid lamp stands which share a similar silhouette and ornamentation. Many are covered with lyrical and mystical verses by celebrated poets of the period, reflecting the important relationship between Persian poetry and the visual arts. Rhythmic, scrolling vegetal arabesques serve as a background for the interspersed verses in Persian nasta’liq script from Sa`di’s "The Moth and the Candle", which read: "I remember a glance of your eye. I have heard that the moth said to the candle: I love you and if I shall be burned so be it. My tears and burning give you pleasure; I am the moth and it is my destiny to be burned; my heart is not quiet if I am not burned." This poem references the story of the moth and the flame, a sufi allegory in which the moth (the believer) is spellbound by the light of the beloved (God). According to the sufis, this may be understood as a spiritual metaphor in which the moth represents the human soul, drawn passionately to the divine light, longing to be reunited with God.
Signature: Abdullah Haidar al-Husaini
Inscription: Inscription in Persian, in horizontal bands on shaft; translation (text comes from the poem "The Moth and the Candle"): "I remember a glance of your eye. I have heard that the moth said to the candle: I love you and if I shall be burned so be it. My tears and burning give you pleasure; I am the moth and its is my destiny to be burned; my heart is not quiet if I am not burned."
At the top in nasta’liq script Persain poem by Sa’di:
شبي یاد دارم که چشمم نخفت شنیدم که پرونه با شمع گفت
عبده حیدر الحسیني
Middle register the above poem is continued in nasta’liq script:
که من عاشقم گر بسوزم رواست ترا گریه و سوز باري چراست
Below is a poem by Muhtasham Kashani in nasta’liq script:
پروانه ام و عادت من سوختني خویش تا پاک نسوزم دلم آسوده نگردد
Edward C. Moore, New York (until d. 1891; bequeathed to MMA)
Melikian-Chirvani, Assadullah. "L'Art de l'Iran Safavide 1501–1736." In Le Chant du Monde. Paris: Musée du Louvre, 2007. no. 184, pp. 452-53, ill. (color).