Historical period(s)
Saljuq period, ca. 1150-1200
Brass, hammered and chased, inlaid with copper, silver, and black organic material
H x W x D: 40.3 x 47.7 x 47.7 cm (15 7/8 x 18 3/4 x 18 3/4 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Freer Gallery 03: Engaging the Senses
Furniture and Furnishing, Metalwork


Afghanistan, lion, Saljuq period (1037 - 1300)
Provenance research underway.

This monumental candlestick is a tour de force of Persian metalwork technique.  Except for a cylindrical piece between the socket and the neck, its form was constructed from a single sheet of brass that was hammered from both the front and the back.  The relief decoration was also raised from the back in a technique known as repousse.  Details were added to the surface by cutting grooves and recesses into the brass (chasing) and then inlaying them with pieces of copper and silver.

The development of this form of surface decoration, which originated in eastern Iran during the twelfth century, was one of the most important technical and artistic achievements of the Seljuq period (1038-1194).  It allowed for the transformation of brass vessels into luxury wares, which could then compete with the finest vessels fashioned in gold and silver.

Published References
  • Sheila Blair. Text and Image in Medieval Persian Art. Edinburgh Studies in Islamic Art Edinburgh. .
  • Dr. Esin Atil. Exhibition of 2500 Years of Persian Art. Exh. cat. Washington, 1971. cat. 60, p. 18.
  • Eva Baer. Metalwork in Medieval Islamic Art. Albany. pp. 26-27, fig. 21.
  • Dr. Esin Atil, W. Thomas Chase, Paul Jett. Islamic Metalwork in the Freer Gallery of Art. Washington, 1985. cat. 13, pp. 95-101.
  • October Events at the Smithsonian: Smithsonian Highlights. vol. 16, no. 7 Washington, October 1985. p. 225.
Collection Area(s)
Arts of the Islamic World
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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