Mosque-lamp-shaped Vessel with Arabic Inscriptions

Object Name: Mosque lamp

Date: 1525–40

Geography: Made in Turkey, Iznik

Medium: Stonepaste; painted in blue under transparent glaze

Dimensions: H. 6 11/16 in. (17 cm)
Max. diam. 5 13/16 in. (14.8 cm)

Classification: Ceramics

Credit Line: Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1959

Accession Number: 59.69.3


Earthenware ceramics were made in Iznik as early as the second half of the fourteenth century, but it was not until about one hundred years later that this center began to manufacture pottery in stonepaste. The earliest stonepaste ware made in Iznik was distinguished by an underglaze-painted blue decoration on a white ground. Among the principal characteristics of this ware, known as Abraham of Kutahya (after the artist whose signature appeared on only one piece), are ornately contoured panels with small, highly detailed vegetal patterns.

A variant of the Abraham of Kutahya type, represented by this small mosque lamp, is characterized by a ground completely covered with delicate spiraling stems bearing small flowers. This motif serves as a backdrop for two beautifully executed Arabic inscriptions: "Power belongs to God, the One" (repeated three times on the body of the object) and (on the flaring upper section) "there is no hero except ’Ali; no sword except dhu-l-faqar [’Ali's sword]." During this period in Turkey, pottery continued to imitate metalwork in shape as well as in design. This lamp, however, is one of a number made at this time that have a glass prototype.