MONUMENTAL SAFAVID ENGRAVED BRASS TORCH-STAND
Persia, Circa 1560, Height: 47 cm., Later date: 18 January 1578 (Recorded in Armenian inscription incised around the rim), Owner’s name: Marut’s son Matheos (Recorded in Armenian inscription incised around the rim)
Of faceted columnar form on flaring foot with upper cylindrical band, the main band with very elegant interlaced arabesques and flowering vine around a meandering cusped band of poetry in elegant nasta’liq script, a similar band of nasta’liq around the mouth between meandering vine and arabesque bands, multiple interlaced arabesque and linked palmette bands around the foot, all on a cross-hatched, nielloed ground.
Two texts have been written on the torch-stand. The first, located on the upper part in nasta’liq script, is a poem consisting of four lines, from poet Katebi Torshizi (Please see: Assadullah Souren Melikian-Chirvani, Victoria and Albert Museum Catalogue – Islamic Metalwork from the Iranian World – 8th-18th Centuries, London, 1982, p. 315):
“On the night when your moon-like face became the light of our solitude The candle melted down, unable to bear our companionship. The moment you tear off the mask from your moon-like face,
There rises the sun of our good fortune.”
The second poem, located in the middle zigzag band around the body and the base, is from poet Ahli Torshizi (Please see: Assadullah Souren Melikian-Chirvani, Victoria and Albert Museum Catalogue – Islamic Metalwork from the Iranian World – 8th-18th Centuries, London, 1982, p. 327):
“The lamp of those who have heart, I see, is brightened by your face
I see, all those who have a soul turn towards you
You, O purpose of the World’s existence (Prophet Muhammad), may not one hair fall from your head,
For I see the whole World equal to a thread of a single hair from your head.”
A comparable but smaller Safavid brass torch stand with similar decorative layout with arabesques and bands of the same poem around the neck and base in sharp nasta’liq, is in the Hermitage Museum, in St. Petersburg. Please see: Mikhail Piotrovsky’s On Islamic Art – The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, 2001, p. 32. Comparison should also be borne with an example from the Wildenstein Collection, sold by Christie’s 14-15 December 2005, lot: 381.
This is a truly rare and remarkable example of Safavid metalwork. It is the largest recorded Safavid torch-stand, surpassing all its published counterparts in major museums.
Provenance: Private German Collection