Art/ Collection/ Art Object
{{img.publicCaption}}

Mosque Lamp of Amir Qawsun

Maker:
'Ali ibn Muhammad al-Barmaki ?
Object Name:
Mosque lamp
Date:
ca. 1329–35
Geography:
Attributed to Egypt
Medium:
Glass, colorless with brown tinge; blown, blown applied foot, enameled and gilded
Dimensions:
H. 14 1/8 in. (35.9 cm) Max. diam. 10 1/16 in. (25.6 cm) Diam. with handles 10 5/16 in. (26.2 cm)
Classification:
Glass
Credit Line:
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Accession Number:
17.190.991
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 454
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.
Large and impressive glass lamps such as this one in the shape of footed vases with enameled decoration and suspension rings attached around their body were commissioned by sultans and members of their court for mosques, madrasas (Qur'anic schools), tombs, hospices, and other public buildings in 14th-century Mamluk Cairo.

Dedicated to Qawsun (d. 1342), an emir of Sultan al-Nasir Muhammad ibn Qalaun (r. 1293–1341 with brief interruptions), this lamp was probably intended for one of his two architectural commissions in Cairo: the mosque (completed in 1329 and now mostly in ruins) or the tomb-hospice complex completed in 1335, of which only the minaret survives. The lamp's decoration is organized in registers. The neck bears part of the verses from the Qur'an's "Chapter of Light," which aptly uses the metaphor of a glass lamp to describe the divine light of God. The body features formulaic and benedictory inscriptions in bold cursive thuluth script, which recalls the inlaid metalwork with epigraphic decoration popular during the long reign of al-Nasir Muhammad.[1]. This lamp bears the name of the patron, Amir Qawson, states his office as "Cup-bearer" (saqi), and includes the name of the sultan he served. Heraldic symbols indicating rank in the Mamluk hierarchy also appear on objects and architecture from the period of al-Nasir Muhammad, and in this case a blazon with a cup, the symbol of Qawsun's highest office, is repeated six times on the neck and underside of the lamp. An unusual feature of this lamp is the artist's signature inscribed around the foot, which may belong to the glassmaker, the painter, or both. The nisba (patronymic or place of origin) of the craftsman, about little is known, is ambiguously written, and thus has given rise to varied interpretations.[2] A silmilar lamp in Cairo, which is contemporaneous with this one, bears the same signature.

Glassmaking in Mamluk Cairo peaked in the 14th century and a decline in quantity and quality began already by the early 15th century. The main centers of enameled glass production shifted to Europe, especially Venice and Barcelona,[3] by the end of the century, and in the 16th century, "mosque" lamps became popular export items from Venice to the Near East.

Qamar Adamjee and Stefano Carboni in [Carboni 2007]

Footnotes:

1. Esin Atil, Renaissance of Islam: Art of the Mamluks. Exh. cat., Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., 1981, nos. 25–32.

2. Stefano Carboni, Glass from Islamic Lands. The Al-Sabah Collection, Kuwait National Museum. New York, 2001, p. 234.

3. Stefano Carboni. "Fifteenth-century enameled glass and gilded glass made for the Mamluks: the end of an era, the beginning of a new one," Orient, 39, 2004, pp. 72–76.




Inscription: Around neck in Arabic:
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."

Around the body:
Qur'an, sura 24 ("Surat al-Nur"), beginning of verse 35: "God is the light of the heavens and the earth, the likeness of his Light is as a wick-holder[wherein is a light (the light in a glass, the glass as it were a glittering star)]"
(from Stefano Carboni, Venice and the Islamic World, 2007, p. 340)

Around 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)
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).



Related Objects

Mosque Lamp for the Mausoleum of Amir Aydakin al-'Ala'i al-Bunduqdar

Date: shortly after 1285 Medium: Glass, brownish; blown, folded foot, applied handles; enameled and gilded Accession: 17.190.985 On view in:Gallery 454

Enameled and Gilded Bottle

Date: late 13th century Medium: Glass, greenish; blown, folded foot; enameled and gilded Accession: 41.150 On view in:Gallery 450

Mosque Lamp

Date: 14th century Medium: Glass, colorless with yellow tinge; blown, applied blown foot, enameled and gilded Accession: 91.1.1539 On view in:Gallery 454

Mosque Lamp of Amir Ahmad al-Mihmandar

Date: ca. 1325 Medium: Glass, colorless with brown tinge; blown, folded foot, applied wick holder and handles, enameled and gilded Accession: 91.1.1534 On view in:Gallery 454

Brazier of Sultan al-Malik al-Muzaffar Shams al-Din Yusuf ibn 'Umar

Date: second half 13th century Medium: Brass; cast, chased, inlaid with silver and black compound Accession: 91.1.540 On view in:Gallery 454