Mosque lamps made of opaque, rather than translucent or pierced, materials functioned as symbolic ornaments rather than practical lighting devices. This piece bears a signature associating it with the famous workshop of Ghaibi, who was active in Syria and later in Egypt. The dense spirals etched through the black underglaze pigment are especially characteristic of Ghaibi’s wares.
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Title:Ceramic Mosque Lamp
Maker:Ibn al-Ghaibi al-Tabrizi
Geography:Made in probably Egypt or Syria
Medium:Stonepaste; polychrome-painted under transparent glaze
Dimensions:H. 13 13/16 in. (35.1 cm) Diam. 9 3/8 in. (23.8 cm)
Credit Line:Edward C. Moore Collection, Bequest of Edward C. Moore, 1891
The globular body, wide mouth, and high foot of this example constituted a favorite shape for hanging or portable lamps in the Islamic world during medieval times. Such objects are called "mosque lamps" after the enameled glass examples that the Mamluks commissioned for their mosques, tombs, and other monumental buildings in Cairo (cat. 121 in this volume [91.1.1539]). The present lamp has an overall black glaze with white incised spiral and floral designs. Five thin blue glazed bands divide it into sections; two on the neck, two on the body, and one on the foot. The main decoration consists of a bold cursive benedictory inscription of good wishes in white placed on the neck and body. Large flowers outlined in white against a blue background decorate the lower body and foot.
Mosque lamps made of opaque rather than translucent or pierced materials, such as this ceramic example, functioned as symbolic ornaments rather than practical lighting devices. The ceramist whose signature appears on the underside of the lamp, Ibn al-Ghaybi al-Tawrizi, is associated with the famous ceramic workshop of Ghaybi, which was active in Syria and Egypt during the fifteenth century. The latter has been linked with the master Ghaybi al-Tawrizi, who probably had emigrated from the Iranian city of Tabriz to Syria. Here, the dense spirals etched through the black underglaze pigment are especially characteristic of Ghaybi’s wares. Moore was probably attracted by the characteristic contrasting colors and dense ornamentation of this ceramic lamp, which is among several objects that he acquired from the renowned French collector Charles Schefer.
Deniz Beyazit in [Higgins Harvey 2021]
1. For lighting devices, see Deniz Beyazit in Canby, Sheila R., Deniz Beyazit, Martina Rugiadi, and A.C.S. Peacock. Court and Cosmos: The Great Age of the Seljuqs. Exh. cat. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2016, pp. 88–91, no. 21a–c.
2. See Ellen Kenney in Ekhtiar, Maryam, Priscilla Soucek, Sheila R. Canby, and Navina Najat Haidar, eds. Masterpieces from the Department of Islamic Art in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2011, pp. 150–51, no. 98. See also the entry "Ghaybi" in Bloom, Jonathan and Sheila Blair, eds. The Grove Encyclopedia of Islamic Art and Architecture. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009, vol. 2, p. 107.
3. In an early Moore collection inventory in the Metropolitan Museum Archives (see "Complete List, E. C. Moore Collection, Belonging to the Dr. I. H. Hall Office," undated [1891–96], Edward C. Moore Collection files, Office of the Secretary Records), this lamp, listed as no. 2588, is attributed to Damascus and said to be from the collection of Charles Schefer.
Signature: Ibn al-Ghaibi al-Tabrizi
? Charles H.A. Schéfer, Paris; Edward C. Moore (American), New York (until d. 1891; bequeathed to MMA)
Dimand, Maurice S. A Handbook of Mohammedan Decorative Arts. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1930. pp. 166–67, ill. fig. 102 (b/w).
Dimand, Maurice S. A Handbook of Muhammadan Art. 2nd rev. and enl. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1944. p. 216, ill. fig. 142 (b/w).
Lane, Arthur. Later Islamic Pottery: Persia, Syria, Egypt, Turkey. London: Faber and Faber, 1957. p. 31, ill. pl. 17A.
Lukens, Marie G. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide to the Collections: Islamic Art. vol. 9. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1965. p. 24, fig. 35.
Higgins Harvey, Medill, ed. Collecting Inspiration : Edward C. Moore at Tiffany & Co.. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2021. no. 27, p. 194, ill.
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