Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Candlestick with Enthronement Scene

Object Name:
Candlestick
Date:
second quarter 13th century
Geography:
Attributed to Jazira, probably Mosul. Country of Origin Iraq
Culture:
Islamic
Medium:
Brass; engraved, incised, inlaid with silver
Dimensions:
H. 9 9/16 in. (24.4 cm) Diam. 14 1/2 in. (36.8 cm)
Classification:
Metal
Credit Line:
Edward C. Moore Collection, Bequest of Edward C. Moore, 1891
Accession Number:
91.1.563
Not on view
This sophisticated candlestick illustrates various scenes celebrating the sovereign’s power over both earth and cosmos: images of the planets appear alongside scenes of him slaying a lion and enjoying a royal feast. His authority becomes most evident in the enthronement scene. Here, a bearded figure bends to kiss the ruler’s right hand, alluding to the obligation of kissing the sovereign’s hand or the floor before him. This courtly display of obeisance demonstrated the ruler’s supremacy and the loyalty of his subjects.
This sophisticated candlestick, probably from Mosul, illustrates various scenes that celebrate the sovereign’s power over both earth and the cosmos: images of the planets appear alongside scenes of his slaying a lion and enjoying the pleasures of the royal feast. His authority becomes most evident in the enthronement scene, which appears in one of three large polylobed medallions that dominate the composition of the body. Typical for such scenes, the ruler sits atop a cushion on a takht, or throne, with high lateral finials. Symbols of his nobility include his fur hat, or sharbush, and the folded mandil, a precious cloth affordable only by the elite, which he grips in the hand that rests on his knee. His larger proportions in comparison to other figures further distinguish his superiority.

Specific to Jaziran inlaid metalwork is the combination of frontal, side, and three-quarter views, which adds dynamism and variation to the overall pictorial program while allowing for a focus on certain details. Note, for instance, the bearded figure bending to kiss the ruler’s right hand and the two standing figures — representative of the court officials, guards of honor, amirs, and viziers present at royal ceremonials — holding their symbols of office: the amir al-silah benches the sword around which a sashlike band draws an "eight" toward the ruler. The other figure extends a rectangular box toward the ruler; he is probably the dawadar (state secretary), holding a pen box. This scene alludes to the obligation of kissing the hand of or the floor before the sovereign, and other protocols such as the nawba ceremony, which must have been practiced in Mosul under the Zangids and during the reign of Badr al-Din Lu’lu’, as well as elsewhere in the Seljuq world. This courtly display of obeisance demonstrated both the ruler’s supremacy and the loyalty of his adjuncts when they came to pay him allegiance. In one account, related to the foundation of Aksaray, the Rum Seljuq sultan Kılıç Arslan II (r. 1156–92) seized Kayseri and "all the fortresses of that province and put them under the command of his amirs. . . . The Artuqids in Diyar Bakr read the khutba in the name of the sultan, and the rulers of Amid from the house of the Nisanids came to kiss the sultan’s hand. The rulers of Erzurum and Erzincan submitted to the sultan. In short he dominated all regions."

Deniz Beyazit in [Canby, Beyazit, and Rugiadi 2016]
Inscription: Arabic, on top; translation: "Praise [belongs to God;] (name of restorer) `Ali son of Ahmad, son of Al-`Abbas" (Trans. N. Martinovitch). This is the name of the repairer. "`Ali son of " is in smaller, rougher script, and may have been added later. There is a possiblitly that the word for praise should be read as the name Ahmad. (M. Sobernheim, 1913-4. HMcA 1940)
Copy of transcription and translation in curatorial file
Edward C. Moore (American, New York 1827–1891 New York), New York (until d. 1891; bequeathed to MMA)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Court and Cosmos: The Great Age of the Seljuqs," April 25, 2016–July 24, 2016, no. 72.

Dimand, Maurice S. A Handbook of Mohammedan Decorative Arts. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1930. p. 113, ill. fig. 52 (b/w).

Dimand, Maurice S. A Handbook of Muhammadan Art. 2nd rev. and enl. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1944. p. 146, ill. fig. 87 (b/w).

Baer, Eva. Metalwork in Medieval Islamic Art. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1983. p. 268, ill. fig. 218 (b/w).

Canby, Sheila R., Deniz Beyazit, and Martina Rugiadi. "The Great Age of the Seljuqs." In Court and Cosmos. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2016. no. 72, p. 142, ill. (color).



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