Artistic Handcraft - Candlestick

Brass, engraved and inlaid with silver and niello
Size: Diameter: 31.5 cm, H 35 cm
Origing and time: Mameluke, early 14th century, Egypt or Syria
Catalogue: Schätze des Aga Khan Museum
Inv. No. AKM 00736

The Arabic inscriptions read:
(Socket) "The High Authority, the Lordly, the Possessor, the Diligent, the Leader, the Holy Warrior, [the Amir of] al-Malik an-Nasir”
(Shoulder) “The Honourable Authority, the Lofty, the Lordly, the Possessor, the Wise, the Diligent, the Just, the Conqueror, the Holy Warrior, the Defender, [the Amir of] al-Malik an-Nasir”
(Base) “The Honourable Authority, the Lofty, the Lordly, the Possessor, the Wise, the Diligent, the Holy Warrior, [the Amir of] al-Malik an-Nasir”
(Interior) (Ottoman note of ownership added later in the form of a Tughra) “For poor Ahmad ibn as-Sarim in the year 961 [1553-54 AD]”

Due to the active patronage of the Mameluke sultans and their amirs, the art of Mameluke metalwork reached its climax between the late 13th and the mid-14th centuries. Its distinguishable feature lies in the development of the figured style and the epigraphic style (Atil 1981, p. 51). This period falls under the rather long reign of Sultan an-Nasir Muhammad (who ruled between 1293 and 1341 with interruptions), a particularly enthusiastic patron of art and architecture. The candlestick illustrated here was probably made for one of an-Nasir’s amirs, as suggested by the inscriptions around the socket, the shoulder, and the neck. The dominant Thuluth-Duktus, the preferred writing style among the Mamelukes, evolved during this period. The truncated conical socket is divided by a decorative motif consisting of eight-petalled whirling rosettes. Although the rosette motif was not a family crest, it does seem to have been connected to some Mamelukes, including an-Nasir Muhammad. The motif is repeated six times in a six-petalled form on the neck, enclosed within and between three large roundels filled with vines and bordered by an abstract design of stylised overlapping leaves. The largest inscription extends over the body against a dense background of foliage composed of spiralling leaf scrolls; it is bordered by ridges above and below. A tughra inscribed on the interior of the socket indicates that the object later came into the possession of another person, perhaps an Ottoman official, in the mid-15th century, when Egypt and Syria came under the Ottoman rule. Similar candlesticks can be found in the collection of the Musée du Louvre, Paris (inv. no. AO 5005), as well as in the Museum of Islamic Art, Cairo (inv. nos. 4043 and 3982). LA