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:: year 6, Issue 21 (12-2022) ::
Parseh J Archaeol Stud 2022, 6(21): 167-188 Back to browse issues page
A Typological Study on Iranian Ceramic Oil Lamps from Early and Middle Islamic Periods According to Kumar Vyas’s Model for Studying Design History
Thaer Rezazadeh
Assistant Professor of Art Department, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran. , tahirrizazadeh@gmail.com
Abstract:   (100 Views)
Abstract
Abstract: This essay attempts to do a typological study on one of the most applicable lighting devices -i.e. Oil Lamps- of the early Islamic period from Iran. Although introduction of Iranian ceramic Oil Lamps goes back to the pre Islamic period of Iran, the most remarkable changes in the design process of these products appeared during this period. Therefore, the main goal of this research is to study and follow design process of Iranian ceramic Oil Lamps of early Islamic period. This essay enquires about the most important developments on the history of Oil Lamps design. In order to reach the goal of this study and to do this research I have used descriptive analytical methodology of research and collected a great deal of needed information by desk study methods of data gathering. In addition, in order to delineate as good as possible the changes and developments appeared on various types of Iranian ceramic Oil Lamps from early Islamic period, here in this study I decided to use a specific framework for systematically studying history of objects’ design suggested by an Indian university professor named Kumar Vyas. According to Vyas, in order to be a major landmark a moment in the history of an object should indicate five kinds of changes: changes in design and structure of devices; changes in appearance of them; changes in methods of manufacturing; changes in the ways they have been used; and finally changes in objects’ relationship with their users. Therefore, one can categorize the most important developments in designs and types of Iranian ceramic Oil Lamps in three main groups. The first group includes those ceramic Oil Lamps with open, bowl shaped bodies and projected wick holders; Second group have globular enclosed bodies with elongated tubular wick holders. Finally, footed lamps with central stem on a plate shaped stand recognize the last group of our typology of Iranian ceramic Oil Lamps from early Islamic period. 
Keywords: Islamic Pottery, Iranian Pottery, Ceramic Oil Lamps, Lighting Devices. 

Introduction
Oil Lamps or “chiraghs” were one of popular lighting devices of early Islamic period in Iran. They were kind of a container that simply worked with a vegetal wick and animal oil and thus answered their users’ needs. Although introduction and application of Iranian ceramic Oil Lamps goes back to the pre Islamic and especially the early historic period of Iran, but because of the development and improvement of related technologies of pottery in the Islamic period, the most remarkable changes in the design process of these products appeared during this period. It goes without saying that both design and production of ceramic devices were mostly relied on the advanced technology. During early Islamic period, it seems that Iranian has used pre-Islamic and specially Sasanid forms. However, gradually there has occurred considerable progresses in making and decorating potteries, promoting mostly their visual and aesthetic effects along with enhancing their quality of production. While ceramic Oil Lamps were among most popular lighting devices of early Islamic period in Iran, after Mongol invasion in the early thirteenth century their application has been reduced and ceased. 
The main goal of this research is to study and follow design process of Iranian ceramic Oil Lamps of early Islamic period. The question I am going to answer here is how the design of mentioned devices has changed during time and under what conditions. Here, studying the most important developments and changes in design styles of Iranian ceramic Oil Lamps from early Islamic period, I tend to trace and delineate the evolution path passed through by these devices from the beginning of the Islamic period until the end of 12th / 6th century. 
Materials And Method: In order to reach the goal of this study, after reviewing related literature and explaining specific methodology of research, first I have discussed the terminology of Oil Lamps in Persian and tried to describe its function. Then in two parts, I have structured my discussions. In the first part of the body, I have divided forms of ceramic Oil Lamps of Islamic period into three main groups. Then, in the next part, I have tried to explain the major distinctions between these groups by Kumar Vyas’s criteria. These are changes in design and structure of devices; changes in appearance of them; changes in methods of manufacturing; changes in the ways they have been used; and finally changes in objects’ relationship with their users. 

Data
Collecting data for this study has been conducted by desk studies, including materials from books and websites. These data, here, has been analyzed qualitatively.
Data collection techniques refer to methods used to collect and analyze different forms of data. Collecting data for this study has been conducted by desk studies, including materials from books and websites. These data, here, has been analyzed qualitatively. In this study, data are made up of material evidences of ceramic oil lamps from early and middle Islamic periods. These evidences are accessible sometimes directly through museums and collection of Islamic or Persian art all over the world and sometimes indirectly through reproduction of those materials within catalogues of Islamic ceramics available in libraries. First of all it was very important to distinguish between oil lamps and other kind of lamps prevalent in Iranian art of Islamic period. Then one should consider historical order of lamps so it could be possible arranging them into two groups of early and middle Islamic period. Whitin each category, there exist many forms of lamps with multiple ways of decorating them including monochrome glaze or underglaze decorations. Then the researcher has to sort these evidences by their historical period, first, and by their forms and shapes, second. Furthermore they should consider their decoration in order to reach a better understanding of them. In order to delineate as good as possible the changes and developments appeared on various types of Iranian ceramic oil lamps from early Islamic period, here in this study I decided to use a specific framework for systematically studying history of objects’ design suggested by an Indian university professor named Kumar Vyas. According to Vyas, in order to be a major landmark a moment in the history of an object should indicate five kinds of changes: changes in design and structure of devices; changes in appearance of them; changes in methods of manufacturing; changes in the ways they have been used; and finally changes in objects’ relationship with their users.

Discussion
One can categorize the most important developments in designs and types of Iranian ceramic Oil Lamps in the early Islamic period in three main groups. The first group includes those ceramic Oil Lamps with open, bowl shaped bodies and projected wick holders. In these lamps, reservoir and wick holder are closely connected to each other. Second group of Iranian ceramic Oil Lamps from early Islamic period have globular enclosed bodies with elongated tubular wick holders. Here, wick holders earn distinctive characteristic of its own and it somehow separate formally from reservoir. Finally, footed lamps with central stem on a plate shaped stand recognize the last group of our typology of Iranian ceramic Oil Lamps from early Islamic period. The form of main part in lamps of this group is not so different from that of first group. However, having been elevated by a tall cylindrical column has made the function of lamps of this group much more distinctive than those of other groups. 
Drawing upon Kumar Vyas’ approach to systematically studying history of objects’ design, one can analyze the main distinctive aspects of these three types of Iranian ceramic Oil Lamps from five point of view: changes in design and structure of devices; changes in appearance of them; changes in methods of manufacturing; changes in the ways they have been used; and finally changes in objects’ relationship with their users. Design and structure of Oil Lamps from these groups are more remarkable that changes in other aspects. However, the most important development during the history of these Oil Lamps is their way they have been seen and thus used by their owners. Certainly, Simple forms of lamps from first group did not need as complicated treatment as it was necessary dealing with lamps of third group. 

Conclusion
Iranian ceramic Oil Lamps in the early Islamic period can be categorized in three main groups. The first group includes those ceramic Oil Lamps with open, bowl shaped bodies and projected wick holders; Second group of Iranian ceramic Oil Lamps from early Islamic period have globular enclosed bodies with elongated tubular wick holders. Finally, footed lamps with central stem on a plate shaped stand recognize the last group of our typology of Iranian ceramic Oil Lamps from early Islamic period. Here, in this essay, distinctive aspects of these groups have been analyzed from five point of view, according to Kumar Vyas’ approach to history of objects design. Design and structure of these three types are distinctive in their form of body and wick holder. Using different kinds of glazes and painting techniques has made the appearances of Oil Lamps somehow unique. Ceramic Oil Lamps of these groups also have been produced by various processes. Furthermore, the way they have been used varied form lamps of one group to the other. Finally, mention has to be made of the relationship between users with every lamps of each group. Based on design and appearance of lamps this relationship has proven to be remarkably discrete.   
Article number: 7
Keywords: Islamic Pottery, Iranian Pottery, Ceramic Oil Lamps, Lighting Devices. 
Full-Text [PDF 1235 kb]   (73 Downloads)    
Type of Study: Research | Subject: Interdisciplinary
Received: 2021/05/6 | Accepted: 2021/07/24 | Published: 2022/12/1
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Rezazadeh T. A Typological Study on Iranian Ceramic Oil Lamps from Early and Middle Islamic Periods According to Kumar Vyas’s Model for Studying Design History. Parseh J Archaeol Stud 2022; 6 (21) :167-188
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