Bird-shaped oil lamp

Object Name: Oil lamp

Date: late 12th–early 13th century

Geography: Attributed to Iran, Khurasan

Medium: Bronze; cast, engraved, inlaid with silver and copper

Dimensions: H. 8 in. (20.3 cm)
W. 11 13/16 in. (30 cm)
L. 9 3/8 in. (23.8 cm)

Classification: Metal

Credit Line: Purchase, Friends of Islamic Art Gifts and Harvey and Elizabeth Plotnick Gifts, 2001

Accession Number: 2001.470


The bird‑headed handle of this lamp was cast separately from its three‑spouted body. Oil was poured into the lamp through the large opening, once covered with a lid, as indicated by the surviving hinge. A tab on the base and keyholes on the body demonstrate that the lamp could either rest on a stand or hang from a chain. The inscription conveys good wishes, and the absence of a dedication suggests that the piece was made for the market rather than as a private commission.