Large glass lamps of this type were commissioned by sultans and members of their court for mosques, madrasas (Qur'anic schools), tombs, hospices, and other public buildings in fourteenth-century Mamluk Cairo. This example bears the name of its patron, Qawsun (d. 1342), amir of the Sultan al-Nasir Muhammad ibn Qalaun (r. 1293–1341 with brief interruptions), and was probably intended for one of his two architectural commissions in Cairo—a mosque or a tomb-hospice complex.
Inscription: On neck: Verse from the Qur'an, ch. 24 "Surat al-Nur" ('The Light'), beginning of verse 35. "God is the light of the heavens and the earth. The semblance of His light us that of a niche in which is a lamp." (Translation from al-Qur'an by Ahmed Ali, 1984, p. 301)
On body: 'That which was made for his excellency, the exalted, the lord, the royal, the well-served Sayf al-Din Qawsun, the Cupbearer of al-Malik al-Nasir."
On foot: "The work of the poor slave [of God] Ali ibn Muhammad al-Barmaki[?], may God safeguard him." (Translation by Stefano Carboni, Glass of the Sultans, 2001, pp. 232-33)
On body: "Of what was made by order of his Excellency, the Exalted, the Lord, the Sovereign, the Well-Served, As-Seifi, Kusun-el-Saki, the King, the Victorious."
On base: "Work of the poor slave Ali ibn Muhammad al-Ramaki (or Zamaki)." (Translation by N. Martinovitch)
On body: "This is one of the objects made for His High Excellency, our Lord, the Royal, the Well-Served, Saif-ad din Qausun, the cup-bearer of al Malik an Nasir." (Translation by L.A. Mayer in Saracenic Heraldry, 1933, p. 186)
On foot: "Made by the humble servant Ali son of Muhammed son of Makki (MK) God have mercy upon him." (Translation by H. McAllister(?), 1954)
Charles Mannheim, Paris (by 1898–d. 1910; his sale, Galerie Georges Petit,Paris, 1910, no. 133); J. Pierpont Morgan, New York (until d. 1913; his estate 1913–17; gifted to MMA)
Mexico City. Colegio de San Ildefonso. "Arte islamico del Museo Metropolitano de Arte de Nueva York," September 30, 1994–January 8, 1995, no. 70.
Corning, NY. Corning Museum of Glass. "Glass of the Sultans," May 24, 2001–September 3, 2001, no. 116.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Glass of the Sultans," October 2, 2001–January 13, 2002, no. 116.
Athens, Greece. Benaki Museum. "Glass of the Sultans," February 20, 2002–May 15, 2002, no. 116.
Paris. Institut du Monde Arabe. "Venice and the Islamic World, 828–1797," October 2, 2006–February 18, 2007, no. 152.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Venice and the Islamic World, 828–1797," March 26, 2007–July 8, 2007, no. 152.
Venice. Musei Civici Venezani. "Venice and the Islamic World, 828–1797," July 28, 2007–November 25, 2007, no. 152.
Venice. Sala dello Scrutinio of the Doge's Palace. "Venezia e L'Islam, 828–1797," July 28, 2007–November 25, 2007, no. 122.
New York. Brooklyn Museum. "Light of the Sufis: an introduction to the mystical arts of Islam," June 5, 2009–September 7, 2009, no. 2.
Houston. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. "Light of the Sufis: an introduction to the mystical arts of Islam," May 16, 2010–August 8, 2010, no. 2.
Seville. Fundación Focus-Abengoa. "Nur," October 26, 2013–February 9, 2014, not in catalogue.
Dallas. Dallas Museum of Art. "Nur," March 30, 2014–June 29, 2014, not in catalogue.
Nickel, Helmut. "A Mamluk axe." In Islamic Art in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, edited by Richard Ettinghausen. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1972. p. 217, ill. fig. 6 (b/w).
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Daniel S. Walker, Arturo Ponce Guadián, Sussan Babaie, Stefano Carboni, Aimee Froom, Marie Lukens Swietochowski, Tomoko Masuya, Annie Christine Daskalakis-Matthews, Abdallah Kahil, and Rochelle Kessler. "Colegio de San Ildefonso, Septiembre de 1994-Enero de 1995." In Arte Islámico del Museo Metropolitano de Arte de Nueva York. Mexico City: Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, 1994. no. 70, pp. 184-185, ill. p. 185 (color).
Carboni, Stefano, David Whitehouse, Robert H. Brill, and William Gudenrath. Glass of the Sultans. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001. no. 116, pp. 232-234, ill. (color).
Carboni, Stefano, ed. Venezia e l'Islam, 828–1797. Venice: Marsilio Editori, 2007. no. 122, pp. 275, 353, ill. p. 275 (color).
Carboni, Stefano, ed. Venice and the Islamic World, 828–1797. New York and New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007. no. 152, pp. 254, 340, ill. p. 254 (color).
Akbarnia, Ladan, and Francesca Leoni. "The Mystical Arts of Islam." In Light of the Sufis. Houston: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 2010. no. 2, pp. 14-15, ill. p. 15 (color).
Wypyski, Mark. Metropolitan Museum Studies in Art, Science, and Technology. vol. 1. New York, 2010. pp. 122-3.
Ekhtiar, Maryam, and Claire Moore, ed. "A Resource for Educators." In Art of the Islamic World. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012. pp. 50-51, ill. pl. 6 (color).