Height: 38.100 cm
Gift of C. Drury Fortnum
ME OA 1887.5-16.1
Room 34: The Islamic world
Ottoman, AD 1549
From Iznik, modern Turkey
Made for the Ottoman restoration of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem
This large hanging-lamp was found in Jerusalem in the nineteenth century. It has underglaze-painted decoration and three bands of inscriptions. The inscription on the base includes the name of the artist, 'the poor and humble Musli', the place of production and, very rarely for Iznik pottery, the date of manufacture, 1549. This makes it exceptionally valuable for establishing the chronology of Iznik pottery. It helps us to suggest likely dates for other objects that share decorative elements with this lamp, such as the distinctive clusters of three white tulip buds along a narrow blue border. The inscription around the base also includes a dedication to Esrefzade, a local saint of Iznik.
In the 1530s and 1540s, the Ottoman sultan Süleyman the Magnificent (reigned 1520-1566) ordered the refurbishment of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. The eighth-century mosaics of the sacred building were removed from the outside walls, and replaced with tilework from Iznik. The interior was decorated with fine hanging lamps such as this example. The Ottoman Sultans controlled all three of the holiest cities of Islam, Jerusalem, Mecca and Medina, where they provided new public buildings and sumptuous restorations of the sanctuaries of the Holy Places. This high profile building work was a monumental statement of the strength and wealth of the Ottoman dynasty at the heart of the Islamic world.
N. Atasoy and J. Raby, Iznik: the pottery of Ottoman (London, Alexandria Press, 1989)
J.M. Rogers and R. Ward, Suleyman the Magnificent (London, The British Museum Press, 1988)
J. Carswell, Iznik pottery (London, The British Museum Press, 1998)