Safavid, 16th century CE
Materials and technique
Height 37.9 cm
This Safavid torch stand (mash'al, or pillar candlesticks) is profusely decorated with a combination of floral and vegetal motifs and inscriptions. The texts on it are verses of Persian mystical poetry, a motif which appeared earlier in fifteenth-century metalwork under the Timurids and continued to be used under the Safavids. The verses have profound mystical overtones and communicate the desire to be subsumed in the divine nature, like the moth who is so attracted to the candle’s flame he burns his wings. There are similar torch stands in major public collections, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, Metropolitan Museum, Musée des arts décoratifs and the Hermitage (see Melikian-Chirvani 1982).
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