Temple Lamp (Primary Title)

Unknown (Artist)

15th-16th century
copper alloy
Kerala, India
Overall: 44 in. (111.76 cm)
This magnificent plant-like lamp once lit the dark interior of a Hindu temple in southwest India. Oil or clarified butter would have fueled wicks placed in the scalloped recesses around the four basins that branch out from the central shaft, creating a ring of twenty-one flames around each of their central spires. A sculpted flame-shaped finial crowns the central spire, which rises out of a half-opened lotus. Whimsical relief figures surround the lamp's lower portions: a circuit of dancers, four Hindu deities, fantastic leonine creatures on elephant heads, and four enigmatic figures above them. Lions and elephants decorate the front of the square base, a later inscription on the upper surface of which identifies the temple to which thislamp once belonged.
inscription in Malayalam, appears on top of the lamp's base, reads (in translation): "Number One/belongs to the temple of Kumaranallur, Number One."
Friends of Indian Art and the Oak Lodge Foundation in memory of Barbara Hunt, and the Kathleen Boone Samuels Memorial Fund
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

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