The inscription around the body reads:
'izz li-mawlana al-sultan al-malik al-nasir nasir al-dunya wa al-din Muhammad (glory to our Lord the Sultan Malik al-Nasir Nasir al-Dunya w'al-din Muhammad).
The inscription around the neck is from the Qur'an, sura ix, v.18.
The reign of Sultan al-Nasir Muhammad was not only one of the longest of all during the Mamluk period, it was also the most prosperous, particularly in the years 1310-41. He was adept at achieving political solutions to disputes with the neighbouring countries, amongst others ending the long-standing feud with the Mongols. His court was visited by ambassadors from the Khans of the Golden Horde, the Rasulids of Yemen, the Ilkhanids of Iran, the Sultans of Delhi, the Pope, the Byzantine emperor, the kings of Aragon and France and others. Trade was actively encouraged which, coupled with the extended period of peace, meant that the country's coffers were brimming.
This wealth encouraged patronage of the arts, both by the Sultan and by his emirs who appear almost to have tried each to surpass the other in opulence. Numerous architectural commissions were started; works were also created to a remarkable level of decorative detail in the decorative arts, notably metalwork and glass. It is interesting to compare the present lot with the following lot, a very faithful copy of one of the most impressive of all the lamps to have survived from this rich period.
Various features stand out in lamps of this period when they are compared to those of later reigns. The colours are very clear; the blue continues its bright colour on the underside, a feature which later glassmakers appear to have found difficult. The calligraphy is outstanding, elegantly worked, contrasting with the delicate white spiralling vine background. It is however in the delicate gold and red bands that the quality of this lamp really stands out. The underside is a riot of individually drawn gold leaves joined by scolling tendrils, each of which is outlined in red and filled in gold. A few details are highlighted in coloured enamels. The band around the mouth is similar, yet even more detailed with a small enamelled dot picking out the base of each leaf. This feature appears to have been a popular adornment during this reign. It is found on a lamp made for the hospice of Karim al-Din (E. Atil, Renaissance of Islam, Art of the Mamluks, Washington, 1981, pp. 136-7, in a lamp made for the same sultan (G. Wiet, Catalogue général du musée arabe du Caire, Lampes et bouteilles en verre émaillé, Cairo, 1982, no. 4259, pl. XI), and on one made for the Emir Ymalak (G. Wiet, op.cit, no. 312, pl. X). dated inscription of which is from AH 698/1298-9 AD. dated inscription of which is from AH 698/1298-9 AD.