• Art of the Islamic and Indian  auction at Christies

    Sale 7751

    Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds

    6 October 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 210

    A LARGE GILT-COPPER (TOMBAK) CANDLESTICK

    COMMISSIONED BY A COURTIER OF SULTAN SULEYMAN, OTTOMAN TURKEY, DATED DHU'L HIJJA AH 945/MAY 1529 AD

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    A LARGE GILT-COPPER (TOMBAK) CANDLESTICK
    COMMISSIONED BY A COURTIER OF SULTAN SULEYMAN, OTTOMAN TURKEY, DATED DHU'L HIJJA AH 945/MAY 1529 AD
    Heavily cast with flaring cylindrical body, the straight shoulder supporting a banded neck rising to a tapering banded mouth, a finely incised inscription in elegant thuluth around the base, rubbed
    18 3/8in. (46.9cm.) high


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    The inscription reads: Waqf-e rawza-ye hazrat-e sultan al-anbiya 'ala sakinuha afdal al-thanaya waqafahu al-'abd al-muhtaj usta Ibrahim Surri (?) Qarakhaniyan bandha-ye Sultan Suleyman Khan tarikh-e sana 945 fi awasit dhu'l hijja ghafara allah lahu ([It was] endowed to the tomb of the Sultan of [all] prophets - may there be the best of praises upon its resident - it was endowed by the needy servant (of God) Master Ibrahim Surri Qarakhaniyan, the servant of Sultan Suleyman Khan in the year 945 around the middle of Dhu'l Hijja (Early May 1529), may God have mercy on him).

    Monumental tombak candlesticks such as the present were usually created in pairs and were designed to flank mihrabs in mosques or adorn other religious monuments. The Mosques of Rüstem Pasha and Sokollu Mehmet Pasha and the Mausoleum of Suleyman the Magnificent all have examples.

    The building or monument to which the present candlestick was endowed is unknown. Although the candlestick carries the name of Sultan Suleyman, and is endowed to the 'tomb of the Sultan of [all] Prophets', Suleyman died thirty seven years after its completion. Nor could it have been designed for the tomb of Sultan Selim I who died in 1520, 9 years before its completion. Furthermore the size, which is 46.9cm high in contrast to the 70-90 cm. of those known to flank mihrabs perhaps suggests either a smaller, non-Royal commission or perhaps a purpose not necessarily associated with architectural ornamentation.

    It has not been possible to trace Ibrahim Surri (or Sirri) Qarakhaniyan (or Gharakhanian). There is a chance that he may have been an ancestor of well known Sirri Pashas of the 19th and 20th centuries. A Benderli Selim Sirri Pasha was Ottoman Grand Vizier between 1824-28. Another, Husayn Sirri Pasha was Prime Minister of Egypt on three occasions between 1940-1952.

    Two very similar candlesticks are in the Islamic Museum in Cairo (Gaston Wiet, Catalogue Général du Musée Arabe du Caire. Objects en Cuivre, Cairo, 1984, nos. 4395 and 4396, pp. 118-120, pl. XXXV). Each has a similar inscription around the base stating that they were made waqf to the Mosque of Suleyman Pasha al-Khadim (the first Ottoman mosque in the Citadel complex of Cairo, built in 1528) in Jumada I AH 947/September 1540 AD by Suleyman Pasha (who governed Egypt between AH 933/1527 to AH 945/1538-39). It is in fact likely that the tughra found on both examples predates the waqf inscription as Suleyman Pasha in fact left Cairo in 1539. James Allan and Julian Raby wrote that these were almost certainly produced in Istanbul (Yanni Petsopoulos (ed.), Tulips, Arabesques and Turbans, London, 1982, p. 38). Two further candlesticks of very similar form though larger and lacking inscription are in the Khalili Collection (J.M.Rogers, Empire of the Sultans, Geneva, 1995, no. 7, pp. 37-39).

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    VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium