An Exceptionally Rare Pair of Armenian Repoussed Parcel-Gilt Silver Candlesticks, Made to Commemorate the Starting Ceremonies of the Armenian Pilgrim Congregation from Istanbul to the Holly Lands in Jerusalem, The Ottoman Empire-Istanbul, Dated with Armenian Dates of 1214-15/1765-66 AD.

Identification Number: 590



This exceptionally rare and important close pair of Armenian parcel-gilt silver candlesticks was made to commemorate the initiation ceremony of the gathering of the Armenian congregation of the pilgrims heading to the Holy Lands in Jerusalem and Bethlehem at what probably was a traditional religious and emotional practice that was probably carried out for centuries by the Armenian community who had lived in the city of Constantinople, currently the city of Istanbul in Turkey of which was taking place at the outer gates of the Vefa Kilise Molla Gurani Camii or (mosque).

The Vefa Kilise Molla Gurani Camii was originally a very important Greek Orthodox church, the church of Hagios Theodoros located at the Byzantine quarter of Istanbul which is thought to had been built during the 11th century and had continued to be so until the fourteenth century when the church had been later converted after the Islamic-Ottoman conquest of the city of Constantinople into a mosque or the Vefa Kilise Molla Gurani Camii, which is believed that the conversion was made by Sheikh Al-Islam Mullah Gorani or Gurani during the reign of the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II or Bayezid II.

This kind of tradition which was carried out by the Armenian pilgrims and at the doors of what was used to be the church of Hagios Theodoros which they can no longer have access to or practice their Christian faith in for it had been turned into a mosque and this practice is believed to be some kind of a symbolic emphases of the community rightfulness to the holly place where their ancestors had originally built, practice their faith and potentially where they were also had been buried.

These masterpieces were undoubtably made by an Armenian master silversmith, also they have been undoubtably made or commissioned privately or potentially also secretly without having the assay and silver marks and the Tugrah of the reining Ottoman Sultan at the time of their making.

The inscribed Armenian date on the piece is 1765-66 AD., which is potentially the period of Sultan Mustafa III (R. 1757-1774) AD.

The very bold and beautifully engraved Armenian script on both round bases of the candlesticks clearly shows the names of the donners and the pilgrims who were going to visit the holly lands from the city of Istanbul to the holly lands in Jerusalem and Bethlehem (although the Armenian script does not mention visiting the city of Bethlehem, but visiting the Holly site by the pilgrims were inevitable), interestingly enough the names of the deceased persons were also mentioned and the names of the people who were going to do the pilgrimage on their behalf.

Each candlestick comprises of two detachable sections with each end had been converted into a threaded screw which can be threaded or inserted into the other section, this make the candlestick smaller and the different parts can be kept or hidden separately and safely whilst travelling on the various methods available at the time such as the combination of travelling for long distances on foot or on the back of the animals.

Also, there is an additional interesting fact that the Armenian script engraved on the base, shows that the bases were intended to carry or hold a Holly crucifix probably to be donated to one of the Holly Armenian places in Jerusalem such as the to the Chapel of Saint Helena or as the Armenians calls it the Chapel of St. Gregory the Illuminator which is located at the lower section of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem or to be gifted to the Armenian Apostolic Church etc.

There are many potential theories for the transformation or the use of these candlesticks, from being originally commissioned to be made as crucifix holders and had been later altered into candlesticks, this change might had been politically motivated or was made for security reasons, or the detachable upper parts which should had been made as crucifixes had stayed back at one of the churches in the holy lands and the bases were returned back to Istanbul to be later altered to usable souvenir and to be turned to candlesticks, also the alteration could had happened in the holy lands in Jerusalem, but most likely the reason for the alteration will remain for the future to be resolved?

The following are some of the translations of the Armenian script found on both bases of the candlesticks;


Candlestick No.1

The Armenian Script on Candlestick No.1


The Following is the translation to English

Line 1, In the year 1215 (of the Armenian calender, or 1766 AD.).

Line 2, Let the Holy Cross commemorate the sons of Fr. Stepannos of Stampol (Istanbul), the Pilgrims to Jerusalem Astvatsatur, Kabriel (Gabriel) and Mikael in front of the Door of St. Theodoros (Theodoros).

Candlestick No.2

The Armenian Script on Candlestick No.2


The Following is the translation to English

Line 1, Let this Holy Cross commemorate the Pilgrim to Jerusalem Banos (Panos) who is the friend of the sons of Ana-Mka, Ohanes, Sargis and Jakob-and let it commemorate their souls in front of the door of St. Theotoros (Theodoros).

Line 2, In the year 1214 of the Armenian calendar or 1765 AD.).


The Dimensions:
Candlestick No.1

The height is 46.5 cm.
The width of the base is 23 cm Diam.
The width of the candlestick’s capital top 3.7 cm diam.

Candlestick No.2

The height is
The width of the base is 23.7 cm Diam.
The width of the candlestick’s capital top 3.8 cm Diam.


Very Good, few bended silver rings at the top of the candlestick capital’s upper rim, some tarnishing and silver oxidisation.


The European Art Market.

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