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