17th century stained glass from Damascus
Why Is It Important?
This stained glass was collected for Leighton in Damascus by William Wright, a Presbyterian missionary and friend of Leighton. Wright commented in 1896, "I procured the coloured glass windows from a mosque in Damascus".
Of the four window panels in the dome, only one (perhaps the West facing window) now has the original Syrian glass. The rest were broken in transit and Leighton had replicas made in London.
The patterns are similar to those that appear in the Great Mosque of Damascus (built 705-714 CE) by the first Islamic dynasty, the Umayyads (662 – 750 CE). Their capital was Damascus and their Great Mosque became the template for all future mosque designs both structurally and decoratively. The Islamic calligraphy carved into the timber work probably denotes their religious function.
Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth; his light is like a niche in which is a lamp.
Qur'an, Sura 24: 35f.
The use of coloured light to denote spiritual substance has particular importance within most religions. The technique of European glass making originated in Venetian workshops who in turn acquired their skills from trade with Syrian producers.
Next : Fountain circa 1879-1880.
Previous : Figurative Persian tiles, 17th Century.
End Arab Hall Tour.