Furniture and furnishing, lighting / heating equipment, mosque lamps
Islamic Period (641-1517)
Upper Egypt, Cairo (Sultan Hassan Mosque)
Man made material, glass
Islamic Antiquities, showcase 30
A "mishkah" or hanging lamp from the Mameluke period covered with decorative writings from the Holy Koran, the Light Sura, Verse 35: Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth, a likeness of His light is a mishkah with lighting. Naskh script in bands adorns the mishkah as well. It also states the titles of Sultan Hassan who ruled Egypt twice: the first time from 748 to 752 Hejira (1347-1351 CE) and the second time from 755 to 762 Hejira (1354-1361 CE).
The mishkah was devised by the Muslims for lighting. It is made of glass to protect the lamp (misbah) inside from being blown out by the wind and to diffuse the light. The lamp, to which an aromatic oil was added, was fixed inside the mishkah via wires attached to its rim. The body of the mishkah was made of glass. The mishkah had between three to six handles around its body that allowed it to be hung to the ceiling via copper or silver suspension chains. The chains were gathered at the top inside an oval ball made of glass, ceramic or wood to act as a counterweight providing balance for the mishkah.
The general shape of the mishkah is that of a flower vase. Its body is rounded and the top is in the shape of a wide funnel, while the bottom is like a stand. It was usually decorated with gilded enamel. The gilding (using gold leaf) was added at the final stage of decorating the enamel.
The most important decoration of the mishkah was the Arabic script, particularly the Naskh script over a floral background. The text was either a Koranic verse or a commemoration based on historical and social facts.
The information given here is subject to modification/update as a result of ongoing research.
- حسن الباشا. موسوعة العمارة والآثار والفنون الإسلامية. بيروت: أوراق شرقية، 1999.
- سعاد ماهر محمد. الفنون الإسلامية. القاهرة: الهيئة المصرية العامة للكتاب، 1987.