Egypt, enamelled and gilded glass, 31 cm high, early 14th century.
The techniques of enamelling and gilding on glass, developed in Syria in the twelfth century, reached their apogee in Egypt in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The traditional form of hanging lamp was transformed from a plain transparent object into one of great splendour and beauty. Rows of similar lamps would be used to decorated mosques and tombs of the Sultans and their senior officials This lamp was made for a religious building of the Mamluk Sultan of Egypt Muhammad ibn Qala'un (1294–1340) and is inscribed with his name. Enamelling on glass died out in the Islamic world in the fifteenth century, possibly because of competition from the Venetian glassmakers of Italy who had learned the Islamic technique and developed a great export industry, supplying all Europe as well as the Middle East. [Acquired with the aid of the Friends of the Ashmolean, EA1972.0005].