Mamluk Emblems

Mamluk cup-bearer emblem, Egypt, 14th century Mamluk cup-bearer emblem, Egypt, 14th century Courtesy Museum of Islamic Art, Cairo, Egypt.

The medieval Mamluk rulers (1250-1517) of Egypt developed a system of emblems to signify and identify the role of courtiers serving under the various sultans. Some of the emblems are very simple, others are complex. They were used to decorate a variety of different materials, such as glass, metal, paintings, stone, stucco, as well as textiles (appliqué, embroidered, woven forms).

Basically, each emblem identifies the holder of a particular offices by the devices, type of shield and the colours used. There are, for example, about fifty different devices known, including animals (eagle, horse, lion, etc); signs of the office (bow, cup, sword, etc), as well as more obscure geometrical and abstract shapes (bar, crescent, diamond, etc). Different combinations of these devices were sometimes placed on grounds known as shields, which varied in shape (round, ovoid, square etc). These shields were often divided into two or three separate fields.

See also: appliqué Mamluk emblem; leather Mamluk emblem

Source: BIERMAN, Irene B. (1998), 'Art and architecture in the medieval period,' in: Carl F. PETRY (ed.), The Cambridge History of Egypt, vol. 1, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 372-373.

Digital source of illustration (retrieved 5 June 2016).


Last modified on Wednesday, 10 August 2016 11:44
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