A LARGE MAMLUK SILVER-INLAID BRASS CANDLESTICK
A LARGE MAMLUK SILVER-INLAID BRASS CANDLESTICK
A LARGE MAMLUK SILVER-INLAID BRASS CANDLESTICK
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A LARGE MAMLUK SILVER-INLAID BRASS CANDLESTICK
6 More
A LARGE MAMLUK SILVER-INLAID BRASS CANDLESTICK

EGYPT OR SYRIA, PERIOD OF SULTAN AL-NASIR AL-DIN MUHAMMAD BIN QALA'UN (1293-1341 AD), FIRST HALF 14TH CENTURY

Details
A LARGE MAMLUK SILVER-INLAID BRASS CANDLESTICK
EGYPT OR SYRIA, PERIOD OF SULTAN AL-NASIR AL-DIN MUHAMMAD BIN QALA'UN (1293-1341 AD), FIRST HALF 14TH CENTURY
Of typical form with tubular neck rising from a truncated conical base and surmounted by a sloping cylindrical mouth, the body with a tall band of honorific thuluth against a scrolling ground divided by two roundels containing birds, narrow bands of chevrons and strapwork above and below, the shoulder with a similar band of thuluth, the neck decorated with a lattice design, the mouth with a further band of thuluth divided by rosettes, drill hole to the shoulder, some silver inlay remaining and repairs to the shoulder
14 ¼in. (36cm.) high
Provenance
Private European collection since circa 1900, sold Christie's London, 26 April 2005, lot 26
Engraved
Around the body, al-maqarr al-'ali al-mawlawi al-maliki al-'alimi al-'amili al-maliki al-nasiri, 'High Authority, the Lordly, the Possessor, the Learned, the Diligent [the officer of] al-Malik al-Nasir'
Around the shoulder, al-maqarr al-'ali al-mawlawi al-amiri al-kabiri al-ghazi al-'alimi al-'amili al-maliki al-maliki al-nasiri, 'High Authority, the Lordly, the Great Emir, the Conqueror, the Learned, the Diligent, the Possessor, [the officer of] al-Malik al-Nasir'
Around the mouth, al-maqarr al-'ali a l-mawlawi al-maliki al-'alimi al-'amili al-nasir[i], 'High Authority, the Lordly, the Possessor, the Learned, the Diligent [the officer of al-Malik] al-Nasir'

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Lot Essay


The reign of Sultan Nasir al-Din Muhammad bin Qala'un, which spanned almost half a century, saw a remarkable blossoming of artistic achievement in inlaid metalwork in Cairo, both in the quality and the quantity of pieces produced. The figural compositions seen on earlier Mosul metalwork remained a feature, whilst the strong thuluth that came to characterize the Mamluk epigraphic style establishes itself fully (Esin Atıl, Renaissance of Islam: Art of the Mamluks, Washington, D.C., 1981, pp. 88-91).

A basin in the British Museum (acc. no. 1851,0104.1), also inscribed with inscriptions praising Sultan Nasir al-Din and attributable to his reign, shares a number of details with the present candlestick, including the pointed border here employed on the neck. It shares the feature of an inscription within a sun-like roundel, itself contained within a larger roundel consisting of floral decoration, with the famous Mamluk tray in the Victoria and Albert Museum (acc. no. 420-1854). This feature is not seen on the present candlestick. Instead, the finely woven arabesques contained in the similarly-placed roundels are more reminiscent of the Mosul school of metalwork and may be interpreted as a more conservative design.

A candlestick in the Islamic Art Museum Malaysia (acc. no. 2022.5.12; Heba Nayel Barakat et al. A Journey Through Islamic Art, Kuala Lumpur, 2023) is of identical form to the present candlestick and shares many of its decorative motifs as well as its overal lay-out. The motif of the waterfowl in flight is also seen on a ewer in the Museum of Islamic Art, Cairo, attributed to circa 1300 (acc. no. 15089; Esin Atıl, op. cit., pp. 72-73). The far-reaching impact of Cairo for the production of fine inlaid metalwork is underscored by a brass tray made by Ahmad bin Husayn al-Mawsili for Da'ud, the Rasulid Sultan of Yemen (Esin Atıl, op. cit., pp. 80-81), as well as a magnificent pen-box made for the governor of Hama, 'Imad al-Din Abu'l-Fida Isma'il in the Museum of Islamic Art, Cairo (acc. no. 15132; Esin Atıl, op. cit., pp. 84-85).

Examples of inlaid metalwork from the reign of Sultan Nasir al-Din Muhammad bin Qala'un have been offered at auction in recent years. A candlestick made for a standard bearer of the Sultan was sold at Sotheby's London, 5 October 2010, lot 92, and another candlestick attributable to his reign was sold in these Rooms, 5 October 2010, lot 24. A candlestick particularly close in form was sold in these Rooms, 25 April 2013, lot 89, and was tentatively attributed to Damascus by James Allan on the basis of historical references to a flourishing candlestick industry in the city during the 1290s (Toby Falk (ed.), Treasures of Islam, exhibition catalogue, Geneva, 1985, no.288, p.278).

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