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Brass lamp on a stand


Height: 97.000 cm

Funded by Brooke Sewell Bequest

ME OA 1995.11-17.1

Room 34: The Islamic world

    Brass lamp on a stand

    Ottoman, around AD 1541
    Made in Istanbul, modern Turkey

    Commissioned for the mosque of Sultan Süleyman on the island of Benefshe

    Benefshe (modern Monemvasia), an important military island-town off the coast of Greece, was conquered by the Ottoman Turks in 1540. They allowed the islanders to leave with their possessions before settling a military garrison there and converting the church in the fortress to a mosque.

    An engraved inscription on the base of this lamp states that it was commissioned for the mosque at Benefshe by Rustem Pasha, the son-in-law of Sultan Süleyman (reigned 1520-66) and one of the most powerful members of his court, who became Grand Vizier in 1544.

    The lamp is not dated, but it must have been ordered shortly after the Ottoman conquest, when the newly converted mosque would have been in need of furnishings. It is a functional object which could be used as a lamp or candlestick. There is no surface decoration, but below the lamp is a tulip head typical of Ottoman art. It probably stood one side of the mihrab; the pair to it (without the inscription) is in the Nasser D. Khalili Collection, London.

    R. Ward, 'The Battle for Benefshe', British Museum Magazine: th-18, 26 (1996), pp. 11-13


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    On display: Room 34: The Islamic world

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