Oil lamp with flattened globular body on a
cylindrical splayed foot, long open spout
terminating in a flat and pointed rim; rectangular
handle with a ring on its top, capped by a large
lotus bud and hinged domed lid with small
pomegranate knob. The sides are decorated with
a large palmette design in low relief. Made of
high tin bronze alloy such lamps were cast in
separate pieces then soldered together. This
alloy (also called quarternary bronze, an alloy of
copper and about 20% tin), was known in early
Islamic times as 'white copper' and was used for
the production of bowls, stemed bowls, dishes,
ewers and candlesticks. One of the particular
properties of high tin bronze is that it can be
red-hot forged, like iron, and if quenched, it
becomes reasonably malleable. If though left to
cool slowly and then hammered, it shatters.
There were three centres of quarternary bronze
manufacture as recorded in Islamic texts of the
10 th-11th century: Rabinjian near Bukhara,
Hamadan in north-western Persia and the Sistan
province in eastern Persia.
Iran or Central Asia, 12th – 13th century.