An artuqid candlestick from the al-Aqsa Museum: Object as document

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Abstract

This article discusses a particular candlestick that in its form, decoration, and inscriptions can be seen as a paradigmatic "document" that can help define and map an historical moment in southeastern Turkey. The candlestick is currently housed in the al-Aqsa Museum on the Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem. It is made of brass, inlaid with silver, and decorated all around with an arcade of pointed arches resting on columns. In the space between the arches appears an inscription identifying the patron as Artuq Arslan Ibn Ilghazi Ibn Artuq, who ruled the principality of Mardin in southeastern Turkey from 1201 to 1239 ce. To my mind, the arcade around the candlestick is greatly reminiscent of the hewn-stone blind arcade that decorated the facade of certain religious buildings in the principality of Mardin. The appearance of the ruler-patron's name on the candlestick might declare "Mardin-C'est moi," thus conveying a message of local identification. Viewed from this perspective, the candlestick could have been sent from Mardin to Jerusalem as a gift, a salute to the Muslim triumph over the Crusaders (perhaps upon the return of Jerusalem to Islam in 1244). The prolonged encounters between the Artuqid rulers and Jerusalem are well documented and imply the plausible participation of Mardin in such an event.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-88
Number of pages10
JournalArs Orientalis
Volume42
StatePublished - 2012

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