129 Bronze Timurid candle stand with dragon head

129 • Bronze Timurid Candle Stand with Dragon Head

15th century AD
Size: 32 cm high

When the Emperor Constantine established Constantinople as his capital in the early 4th century, he pillaged many monuments of the Ancient World for monumental works of art with which to decorate his city. Among other things he brought back was the ancient Greek bronze symbol of the Oracle of Delphi (the Sybil), in the form of three intertwined serpents, which was installed in the Hippodrome. It is often depicted in Turkish miniatures painted until the 17th century, but it was then used as a target for the canons of rebelling Janisseries in the 18th century. Its sadly reduced stump is still there today opposite the Blue Mosque.

The mysterious origin and form of the serpents provided inspiration for many artists and craftsmen in Ottoman times, partly because the serpentine form was familiar from the artistic repertoire of the Turks from the Seljuk period. With the emergence of the ‘international Timurid style’ in the 15th century a similar language of design stretched from Istanbul to Herat, of which the Dragon Candlesticks are superb examples. The few known examples are today in major museums across the world.