Engraved Lamp Stand with a Cylindrical Body

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 199

This distinctive tall, cylindrical shape is characteristic of a group of Safavid lamp stands which share a similar silhouette and ornamentation. Many are covered with lyrical and mystical verses by celebrated poets of the period, reflecting the important relationship between Persian poetry and the visual arts.The rhythmic, scrolling vegetal arabesques serve as a background for the interspersed inscriptions in Persian nasta’liq script, which contain lines from the poem "The Moth and The Candle" by Sa’di:
"I remember a glance of your eye. I have heard that the moth said to the candle: I love you and if I shall be burned, so be it. My tears and burning give you pleasure. To holy men thy face is light and seeing thy face is my light. Like men of heart I see my light only when near thee. Thou art the aim of the world; without thee it is nothing."
This poem references the story of the moth and the flame, a sufi allegory in which the moth (the believer) is spellbound by the light of the beloved (God). According to the sufis, this may be understood as a spiritual metaphor in which the moth represents the human soul, drawn passionately to the divine light, longing to be reunited with God.

Engraved Lamp Stand with a Cylindrical Body, Brass; cast, engraved, and inlaid with black compound

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