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Encyclopedia > Oil lamp
Antique bronze oil lamp with Christian symbol (replica)
Antique bronze oil lamp with Christian symbol (replica)
A terra-cotta oil lamp, Antique oil lamp (replica)
A terra-cotta oil lamp, Antique oil lamp (replica)

An oil lamp is a simple vessel used to produce light continuously for a period of time from a fuel source. The history of oil lamps extends for about 10,000 years,[citation needed] from prehistory to as late as the 19th century, or even until now in some rural remote communities. Image File history File links Broom_icon. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (2460x1704, 1120 KB) Replica of an antique Roman oil lamp, with Christian symbol Photograph by Rama File links The following pages link to this file: Oil lamp ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (2460x1704, 1120 KB) Replica of an antique Roman oil lamp, with Christian symbol Photograph by Rama File links The following pages link to this file: Oil lamp ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1971x1860, 877 KB) Anitque oil lamp (replica) Photograph by Rama File links The following pages link to this file: Oil lamp ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1971x1860, 877 KB) Anitque oil lamp (replica) Photograph by Rama File links The following pages link to this file: Oil lamp ... Stonehenge, England, erected by Neolithic peoples ca. ...


Olive oil lamps continued in wide use in countries around the Mediterranean Sea well into the 19th century, with the lamps being mass produced out of metal (most commonly brass or bronze), but otherwise little changed in design from lamps of some 2,000 years earlier. In 1780 the Argand lamp was invented and quickly replaced the ancient form. It was, in turn, replaced by the kerosene lamp in about 1850. In small towns and rural areas these continued in use well into the 20th century. The light given by an olive oil lamp is significantly brighter than a candle, but significantly less than the Argand lamp or the kerosene or paraffin burning lamp. Composite satellite image of the Mediterranean Sea. ... Alternative meaning: Nineteenth Century (periodical) (18th century — 19th century — 20th century — more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 19th century was that century which lasted from 1801-1900 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar. ... “Brazen” redirects here. ... Assorted ancient Bronze castings found as part of a cache, probably intended for recycling. ... The Argand lamp was invented and patented in 1780 by Aimé Argand . ... Swiss kerosene lamp. ... For the game, see: 1850 (board game) 1850 (MDCCCL) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Sunday [1] of the 12-day-slower Julian calendar). ... (19th century - 20th century - 21st century - more centuries) Decades: 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s As a means of recording the passage of time, the 20th century was that century which lasted from 1901–2000 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar (1900–1999... For other uses, see Candle (disambiguation). ... Kerosene or kerosine, also called paraffin oil or paraffin in British usage (not to be confused with the waxy solid also called paraffin wax or just paraffin) is a flammable hydrocarbon liquid. ... This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ...

Contents

Structure & Function

Napalese Buddhist bronze ritual vessel with oil lamp. The handle is cast as a serpent with open jaws, and the plate fronting the oil tray, features a bas relief of Ganesh with consort. In use, a flickering light would fall upon the deity.
Napalese Buddhist bronze ritual vessel with oil lamp. The handle is cast as a serpent with open jaws, and the plate fronting the oil tray, features a bas relief of Ganesh with consort. In use, a flickering light would fall upon the deity.

Oil lamps were used not only for lighting, but also for funerary and votive purposes. Lamps were used for domestic purposes in homes and for public purposes in temples and public buildings. Image File history File links Size of this preview: 574 × 600 pixelsFull resolution (650 × 679 pixel, file size: 144 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg)Nepalese Buddhist bronze ritual vessel with oil lamp. ... Image File history File links Size of this preview: 574 × 600 pixelsFull resolution (650 × 679 pixel, file size: 144 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg)Nepalese Buddhist bronze ritual vessel with oil lamp. ...


By studying the lamp's designs, symbols, structure and decorations, and the material of which it is made, we can identify the age and perhaps the locality of the lamp. The lamp can also give us insights into the culture of its users and their social status.


Occasionally the design of the lamps also reveal the female reproductive system. Indian bronze lamps with a protruding central portion are supposed to project the male genitalia on a female womb with light representing 'origin of life' in most cases.


Oil lamps were made from a wide variety of media like gold, bronze, silver, stone and terra-cotta. The most commonly used material was fired clay; many terra-cotta and bronze lamps have been unearthed. In most cases, the production and distribution of lamps was local, but in some instances they were produced by factories and exported to different areas.


The usual size of a terra-cotta oil lamp is 7-10 cm in length and 3 cm in depth, with the walls being around 0.5 cm thick. Lamps with more than one nozzle are usually larger in size.


Components

Double-nozzled oil lampFound in Samaria.

The following are the main external parts of a terra-cotta lamp. Image File history File links Metadata Size of this preview: 469 × 599 pixelsFull resolution (555 × 709 pixel, file size: 66 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) Double-nozzled oil lamp with labels showing lamp anatomy. ... Image File history File links Metadata Size of this preview: 469 × 599 pixelsFull resolution (555 × 709 pixel, file size: 66 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) Double-nozzled oil lamp with labels showing lamp anatomy. ... Sculpture of Hanuman in terra cotta. ...

  • Shoulder
  • Pouring hole
The hole through which fuel is put inside the fuel chamber. Its width ranges from 0.5-5 cm in general. There may be single or multiple holes.
  • Wick hole, and the nozzle.
It may be just an opening in the body of the lamp, or an elongated nozzle. In some specific types of lamps there is a groove on the superior aspect of the nozzle that runs to the pouring hole to collect back the oozing oil from the wick.
  • Handle
Lamps come with and without a handle. The handle comes in different shapes. The most common is ring shaped for the forefinger surmounted by a palmette on which the thumb in pressed to stabilize the lamp. Other handles are crescent shaped, triangular and semi-oval. The handleless lamps usually have an elongated nozzle, and sometimes have a lug rising diagonally from the periphery. The lug may act as a small handle where the thumb rests. Some lugs are pierced. It was speculated that pierced lugs were used to place a pen or straw, called the acus or festuca, with which the wick was trimmed. Others think that the pierced lugs were used to hang the lamp with a metal hook when not in use.
The fuel reservoir. The mean volume in a typical terra-cotta lamp is 20 cc.

An antefix in the form of a palmette As an illustration of the way in which the palmette motif was seen by 19th century architects and decorators, who in Europe, America and elsewhere in colonial cities created their own unending variations on the motif as a kind of hallmark of... A Lug (knob) is a typically flattened protuberance, a knob, or extrusion on the side of a vessel: pottery, jug, glass, vase, etc. ... A volute is a spiral scroll-like ornament such as that used on an Ionic capital. ...

Wicks

Various types of cotton wicks for oil or ghee lamps kept for sale in Ulsoor Market, Bangalore.These are mostedly used for lightening a diya
Various types of cotton wicks for oil or ghee lamps kept for sale in Ulsoor Market, Bangalore.These are mostedly used for lightening a diya

. Image File history File links Metadata Size of this preview: 800 × 493 pixelsFull resolution (3264 × 2010 pixel, file size: 2 MB, MIME type: image/jpeg) Rajesh Dangi, Ulsoor Market Bangalore, Cotton wicks File historyClick on a date/time to view the file as it appeared at that time. ... Image File history File links Metadata Size of this preview: 800 × 493 pixelsFull resolution (3264 × 2010 pixel, file size: 2 MB, MIME type: image/jpeg) Rajesh Dangi, Ulsoor Market Bangalore, Cotton wicks File historyClick on a date/time to view the file as it appeared at that time. ... Synthetic motor oil An oil is any substance that is in a viscous liquid state (oily) at ambient temperatures or slightly warmer, and is both hydrophobic (immiscible with water, literally water fearing) and lipophilic (miscible with other oils, literally fat loving). This general definition includes compound classes with otherwise unrelated... Ghee in a jar Wikibooks Cookbook has an article on Ghee Ghee (Hindi घी from Sanskrit ghṛta घृत sprinkled ) is a type of clarified butter important in Indian cuisine. ... For other uses, see Bangalore (disambiguation). ... Diya (plural diyas) is a contracted form of deep or light given by small earthen pots (also known as Pradeep), with wick made of cotton and dipped in ghee. ...


A wick is placed over the nozzle and extends into the fuel chamber. Most lamps come with one nozzle; a few lamps have more, from two to twenty nozzles. However, the more nozzles, the greater the fuel consumption. a mechanism, known as capillary action, to transport the fuel, typically melted candle wax, to the flame. ...


The wick was made of different materials, linen, flax, papyrus, tow, or ordinary rush. The thickness of the wick is an important factor too; thin wicks burn fuel more slowly than thick ones. However, the thickness of the wick does not affect the size of the flame much. Torn linen cloth, recovered from the Dead Sea Linen is a material made from the fibers of the flax plant. ... For other uses, see Flax (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Papyrus (disambiguation). ... A tow is an untwisted bundle of continuous filaments. ... Look up Rush in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...


Fuel

The main fuel in Western nations was olive oil, though extracts from fish, crude fish oil, nuts, and plants were also used. Oozing crude petroleum was also used. The fuel was poured into the fuel reservoir via the pouring hole in the discus. For the Popeye character, see Olive Oyl. ... Fish Oil is oil derived from fishes. ... For other uses, see Nut (disambiguation). ... Nodding donkey pumping an oil well near Sarnia, Ontario, 2001 Petroleum (from Latin petrus – rock and oleum – oil), mineral oil, or crude oil, sometimes colloquially called black gold, is a thick, dark brown or greenish flammable liquid, which exists in the upper strata of some areas of the...


Castor oil was used by the ancient Egyptians. In India oil of sesame, groundnut/peanut, and mustard is used. Castor oil is a vegetable oil obtained from the castor bean (technically castor seed as the castor plant, Ricinus communis, is not a member of the bean family). ...


Lamp Holders

Lamps were put on lamp holders when in use. Lamp holders include:

  • They were fastened to a wall by a nail or a wooden wedge.
  • They were also hung suspended from brackets.
  • They were placed in candelabra.
  • Sometimes they were placed in niches in the wall.
  • They were put on lamp stands of different shapes.
  • They were carved as part of stone lamp pillars.

Production Methods

Hand Made

Before the discovery of the wheel, lamps were handmade.


Wheels

The crude potter’s wheel was introduced in the Middle Bronze Age and lamps were thus made until the 3rd c. BC. In the Hellenistic period increasingly lamps were made using molds.


Lamp Molds

The use of molds was first developed in Greece and Egypt during the 3rd century BC. In the Roman times, the molds were regularly used in large scale in the different parts of the Roman Empire. The use of molds continued up to the 8th century AD. Molds can be stone, clay, or plaster.


Plaster vs. Clay Molds

An archetype or patrix is first made. Plaster or clay is then formed around the patrix. It then dries and hardens into a mold.


Clay molds are removed from the patrix before they are fully dried. They are then kiln fired, thus they may deviate or shrink from their original form. Clay molds need more labor than plaster ones. These problems are not encountered with plaster. Plaster molds were dried completely and then removed from the patrix. Plaster thus makes an accurate replica, but it has the disadvantage of leaving some surface granular artifacts. However, clay molds are more durable.


It is difficult to find the remains of ancient plaster molds as plaster is a perishable material. Some clay molds have been recovered. By studying the surfaces of surviving lamps it seems that plaster was preferred to clay. To make a lamp, two molds are needed: one for the upper part and one for the lower part. Some pairs of molds have knobs and corresponding holes to fit the two molds together.


Lamp Typology

Lamps can be categorized based on different criteria as follows below:


The Material of composition

For other uses, see Clay (disambiguation). ... This article is about the chemical element. ... Assorted ancient Bronze castings found as part of a cache, probably intended for recycling. ... GOLD refers to one of the following: GOLD (IEEE) is an IEEE program designed to garner more student members at the university level (Graduates of the Last Decade). ... “Rock” redirects here. ... Slip in a ceramic context is made by mixing clays and other minerals with water and usually a deflocculant such as sodium silicate. ...

Others

Shape, structure, design, and imagery (symbolic, religious, mythological, erotic, battles, hunting) are examined.


Lamp Typological Categories

Typologically, ancient lamps can be divided into six major categories

  • Wheel Made

Greek and Egyptian lamps that date before the 3rd century BC. Simple, little or no decoration, wide pour hole. No handles. A lug. Pierced or not. Pierced lugs occurred briefly between 4th and 3rd century BC. Unpierced lugs continued until 1st century BC.

  • Volute, Early Imperial

With volutes extending from their nozzles, predominately produced in Italy during the Early Roman period. They have a wide discus, a narrow shoulder and no handle. Elaborate imagery and artistic finishing and wide range of patterns of decoration.

  • High Emperial

These are late Roman. The shoulder is wider and the discus is smaller with fewer decorations. Have handles and short plain nozzles. Lesser artistic finishing.

  • Frog

This is a regional style lamp exclusively produced in Egypt and found in the regions around it too, between ca. 100 – 300 AD. The frogs are an Egyptian fertility symbol.

  • African Red slip

Indigenous to North Africa and decorated in a red slip. Second century AD. Wide variety of shapes. A flat, heavily decorated shoulder with a small and relatively shallow discus. Their decoration is either neutral, Christian or Jewish. Grooves run from the nozzle back to the pouring hole, may be to take back slipping oil. Often have more than one pour-hole.

  • Slipper

Oval shaped. Found mainly in the leant. Produced between 3rd to 9th century AD. Decorations include vine scrolls, palm wreaths, and Greek letters.

  • Factory Lamps

Also called Firmalampen, these are universal in distribution and simple in appearance. They have a channeled nozzle, plain discus, and 2 or 3 depressions on the base with matching protrusions or bumps on the shoulder. These convex and concave elements function like modern day Legos, allowing the lamps to be securely stacked one on top of the other.


Initially made in factories in Northern Italy and Southern Gaul between 1st century and 3rd centuries AD. They were exported to all Roman provinces. The vast majority have been stamped to identify the manufacturer.


Oil Lamps in Religion

The Bible

  • “And you shall command the people of Israel that they bring to you pure beaten olive-oil for the light, that a lamp may be set to burn continually”. Exodus 27:
  • “When you set the lamps, the seven lamps shall give light in front of the lamp stand (menorah).” Numbers 8: 1 -4
  • “There I shall cause pride to sprout for David; I have prepared a lamp for my anointed.” (Psalms 132:16);
  • “For a commandment is a lamp and the Bible is light; and reproving discipline is the way of life.” (Proverbs 6:23);
  • “A man’s soul is the lamp of God, which searches the chambers of one’s innards.” (Proverbs 20:27).
  • “A lamp is called a lamp, and the soul of man is called a lamp.” (Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 30B)
  • “Your eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is sound, your whole body is sound, your whole body is full of light; but when it is not sound, your body is full of darkness.” (Luke 11:34);
  • “He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light.” (John 5:35);
  • “And night shall be no more; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they shall reign for ever and ever.” (Rev. 22:5).

Lamps appear in the Bible as “lighting” the way for the righteous, the wise, and for love and other positive values. While fire was described in the Bible as being destructive, light was given a positive spiritual meaning. The oil lamp and its light were important household items in Biblical times, and this may explain their use and connotations in the Bible.


Oil lamps were used for many spiritual rituals. They were buried with the dead to comfort the soul and to light the way to the hereafter. They lit the interior of dark tombs. Lamps were used to honor the memory of the deceased as well as acting against “evil spirits”. The oil lamp and its light also became important ritualistic articles with the further development of Jewish culture and its religion.


The Quran

"God is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The parable of His light is, as it were, that of a niche containing a lamp; the lamp is [enclosed] in glass, the glass [shining] like a radiant star: [a lamp] lit from a blessed tree - an olive-tree that is neither of the east nor of the west the oil whereof [is so bright that it] would well-nigh give light [of itself] even though fire had not touched it: light upon light! God guides unto His light him that wills [to be guided]; and [to this end] God propounds parables unto men, since God [alone] has full knowledge of all things". 24:35


Archaeological Chronology

It is very difficult to say when and where was the first oil lamp was used. This is partly because it is difficult to draw a line detailing when the primitive forms of creating a continuous source of light from fire can be termed a lamp. The first lamps were made of naturally occurring objects, coconuts, sea shells, egg shells and hollow stones. Some believe that the first proper lamps were carved from stones. Curved stone lamps were found in places dated to the 10th century BC. (Mesolithic, Middle Stone Age Period, circa 10,300 - 8000 BCE)


Some Archaeologists claim that the first shell-lamps were in existence more than 6,000 years ago. (Neolithic, Later Stone Age, c. 8500 - 4500 BCE). They believe that the alabaster shell-shaped lamps dug up in Sumerian sites dating 2,600 BCE were imitations of real shell-lamps that were used for long ties. (Early Bronze, Canaanite / Bronze I-IV, c.3300 - 2000 BCE)


It is generally agreed that the evolution of handmade lamps moved from bowl-shaped to saucer-shaped, then from saucer with a nozzle to a closed bowl with a spout.


Chalcolithic Age,c.4500 - 3300 BCE.

The first manufactured red pottery oil lamps appeared. These were of the round bowl type.


The Bronze Ages (3200-1200 BCE)

Lamps were simple wheelmade bowls with a slight pinch on four sides for the wick. Later lamps had only one pinch. These lamps vary in the shape of the rim, the general shape of the bowl and the shape of the base.

  • Intermediate Bronze Age lamps (EBIV/MBI)

The earliest lamps known from Intermediate Bronze Age lamps (EBIV/MBI) With the four wick lamps. These lamps are made from large bowls with four shallow pinches for wicks.

  • Middle Bronze Age lamps (MB)

The four-wick oil lamps persist into this period, most of the lamps now have one wick. Early in this period the pinch is shallow, while later on it becomes more prominent and the mouth protrudes from the lamp's body. The bases are simple and flat. The crude potter’s wheel is introduced, transforming the handmade bowls to a more uniform container. The saucer style evolves into a single spout shape.

  • Late Bronze Age lamps (LB)

A more pronounced, deeper single spout is developed, and it is almost closed on the sides. The shape is evolving to be more triangular, deeper and larger. All lamps are now wheelmade. The base is simple, usually flat.


The Iron Age (1200-560 BCE)

The rim becomes wider and flatter with a deeper and higher spout. The tip of the spout is more upright in contrast to the rest of the rim.


The lamps are becoming variable in shape and distribution. We still find lamps similar to the Late Bronze period. In addition, other forms evolve, such as small lamps with a flat base and larger lamps with a round base. The later form continues into the Iron Age II.


In the later Iron Age, we encounter variant forms. One common type is small, with a wide rim and a wide base. Another type is a small, shallow bowl with a thick and high discus base.


Persian

These large lamps have thin sides and a deep pinch, which flattens the mouth and makes it protrude outward.


Greek

Lamps are more closed to avoid spilling. They are smaller and more refined. Most are handleless. Some are with a lug, pierced and not pierced. The nozzle is elongated. The rim is folded over to make the nozzle, so it overlaps and is then pinched to make the wick hole.


They are round in shape, wheel-made.


Early Roman

Early Roman oil lamps, found in southern Portugal
Early Roman oil lamps, found in southern Portugal

Production of oil-lamps shifted to Italy as the main source of supply. Molds used. All lamps are closed in type. Lamps produced in large scale in factories. The lamp is produced in two parts, the upper part with the spout and the lower part with the fuel chamber. Most are of the characteristic Imperial Type. It was round with nozzles of different forms (volute, semi-volute, U shaped), with a closed body and with a central disk decorated with reliefs and its filling hole. Image File history File links Metadata Size of this preview: 800 × 600 pixelsFull resolution (1280 × 960 pixel, file size: 360 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) [[Category:Roman Hispania art] File historyClick on a date/time to view the file as it appeared at that time. ... Image File history File links Metadata Size of this preview: 800 × 600 pixelsFull resolution (1280 × 960 pixel, file size: 360 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) [[Category:Roman Hispania art] File historyClick on a date/time to view the file as it appeared at that time. ...


Late Roman

The High Imperial Type. More decorations. Produced locally or imported in large scale. The multiple-nozzled lamps appear. Different varieties.


In this period we find the frog type laps. These are kidney or heart shaped or oval. With the motif of a frog or its abstraction, and sometimes with geometrical motifs. They were produced around 100 AD. They are so variant that it is seldom that two identical ones are found.


Byzantine

Byzantine period oil lamp. Found in Samaria in a tomb.
Byzantine period oil lamp. Found in Samaria in a tomb.
Byzantine period oil lamp. Found in Samaria in a tomb.
Byzantine period oil lamp. Found in Samaria in a tomb.

Slipper shaped. Very decorative. The multiple nozzles continue. Most with handles. Some are complex in external anatomy. Image File history File links Metadata No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links Metadata No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links Metadata No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links Metadata No higher resolution available. ...


Early Islamic

Early Islamic oil lamps (11th c.), found in Southern Portugal
Early Islamic oil lamps (11th c.), found in Southern Portugal

There is a transition period from Byzantine to Islamic lamps. Lamps of this transition period changed from being decorated with crosses, animals, human likenesses, birds, fish, etc., to being decorated with plain linear, geometric, and raised dot patterns. Image File history File links Metadata Size of this preview: 800 × 600 pixelsFull resolution (1280 × 960 pixel, file size: 292 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) File historyClick on a date/time to view the file as it appeared at that time. ... Image File history File links Metadata Size of this preview: 800 × 600 pixelsFull resolution (1280 × 960 pixel, file size: 292 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) File historyClick on a date/time to view the file as it appeared at that time. ...


The early Islamic lamps are a continuation of Byzantine lamps. Decorations were initially a stylized form of bird, grain, tree, plant or flower. Then they became entirely geometric or linear with raised dots.


In the transition period some lamps had Arabic writing. Then, writing disappears until the Mamluk period (13 - 15 C.E.).


Regional Variations

Israel/Palestine

  • Jerusalem oil lamp: Characteristic black color of the clay because the clay was burned without oxygen. Usually of high quality.
  • Daroma oil lamp:
  • Jerash oil lamp:
  • Nabatean oil lamp:
  • Herodian oil lamp: Considered to be used mainly by Jews. Wheel made, rounded. Nozzle with concave sides. The lamps are usually not decorated. If there is decoration, it tends to be simple. Very common throughout all of Israel, and some lamps have also been found in Jordan. Date from 1st century BCE to the end of the 1st century AC.
  • Menorah oil lamp, 7 nozzles: Rare and are associated with Judaism because of the numerical connection with the seven branches or arms of the Menorah.
  • Sumerian oil lamp: Characterized by a seal filling-hole marked by a ridge. A wider spout, and the concavities flanking the nozzle are almost always emphasized with a ladder pattern band. In general the lamps are uncoated. The decorations are linear and/or geometric.
Early Islamic period oil lamp. Found in Sumeria in a tomb.
Early Islamic period oil lamp. Found in Sumeria in a tomb.
    • Type I: A distinct channel running from the pouring-hole to the nozzle, a small knob handle, a ladder pattern around the nozzle and shows no ornamentation on the bottom of the base.
    • Type II: Pear-shaped and elongated, lined channel that extends from the filling-hole to the nozzle, continued to be used through to the early Muslim period.
  • Candle Stick oil lamp: Menorah design on the nozzle and bunch of grapes on the shoulders.
  • Sumerian oil lamp: The upper parts are covered with braided patterns and their handles. All are made of a dark orange-red clay. A rounded bottom with a distinct X or cross appears inside the circled base.
  • Early Islamic oil lamp: Large knob handle and the channel above the nozzle are dominant elements. The handle is tongue-shaped. Decoration is rich and elegant. The lower parts are extremely broad and the nozzles are pointed.

Image File history File links Metadata No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links Metadata No higher resolution available. ...

Importance of Oil Lamps in India

A basic earthern oil lamp used for Divali

In vedic times, fire was kept alive in every household in some form and carried with oneself while migrating to new locations. Later the presence of fire in the household or a religious building was ensured by an oil lamp. Over the years various rituals and customs were woven around an oil lamp. Image File history File links Metadata Size of this preview: 683 × 599 pixelsFull resolution (751 × 659 pixel, file size: 416 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) A diya. ... Image File history File links Metadata Size of this preview: 683 × 599 pixelsFull resolution (751 × 659 pixel, file size: 416 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) A diya. ...


Deep Daan, the gift of a lamp was and still is believed to be the best daan. During marriages, spinsters of the household stand behind the bride and groom, holding an oil lamp to ward off the evil. The presence of oil lamp is an important aspect of ritual worship (the shodashopachar puja) offered to a deity. Moreover, a day is kept aside for the worship of the lamp in the busy festival calendar, on one amavasya (no moon) day in the month of Shravan. This reverence for the deep is based on the symbolism of the journey from darkness and ignorance to light and the knowledge of the ultimate reality – 'tamaso ma jyotirgamaya!'


The earlier lamps were carved out of stone or seashells. The shape was simple like a circular bowl with a protruding beak. Later they were replaced by earthen and metal lamps. In the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata, there are references of gold and silver lamps as well. The simple shape evolved and the lamps were created in the shapes of the matsya (fish), kurma (boar) and other incarnations of god Vishnu and also in the shape of the many attributes of gods like conch shells, lotuses and so on. The birds like swans, peacocks, parrots and animals like snakes, lions, elephants and horses were also favourites while beautifying a lamp. For lighting multiple lamps, wooden and stone deepastambhas (towers of light) were created. Erecting a deepastambha in front of a temple is still a general practice in western and southern India. For adapting the design to the households and smaller spaces, the deepavriksha (tree of light) was formed. As the name suggests, it is a metal lamp container with aesthetically curvi-linear lines branching out from the base each holding a lamp. The Deepalaxmi is another favourite design where goddess Laxmi holds the lamp in her hands. For the television series by Ramanand Sagar, see Ramayan (TV series). ... For the film by Peter Brook, see The Mahabharata (1989 film). ...


Oil lamps also became proverbial. For example, a Bradj (pre-Hindi) proverb says, "Chiraag tale andhera", "the [utmost] darkness is under the oil-lamp (chiraag)", meaning that what you seek could be close but unnoticed, in various sences (and indeed, a lamp's container casts shadow)


Books and Catalogues

General

  • Bailey, D.M. (1975-96). A Catalogue of Lamps in the British Museum. British Museum. ISBN 0-7141-1243-7, ISBN 0-7141-1259-3, ISBN 0-7141-1278-X, ISBN 0-7141-2206-8. . Huge catalogue in four quarto volumes, THE lamp bible but extremely expensive even second-hand. Referred to as BMC.
  • Walters, H.B. (1914). Catalogue of the Greek and Roman Lamps in the British Museum. British Museum.  Superseded by Bailey but still worthwhile and much cheaper if you can find an old copy.
  • Hayes, J.W. (1980.). Ancient Lamps in the Royal Ontario Museum - I: Greek and Roman Clay Lamps. ROM. ISBN 0-88854-253-4.  Another superb catalogue and excellent reference, perhaps second only to Bailey.
  • Djuric, Srdjan (1995). The Anawati Collection Catalog I - Ancient Lamps from the Mediterranean. Eika. ISBN 1-896463-02-9.  Less academic than the museum catalogues and short on dating but fairly comprehensive (within its specified area, i.e. not Northern Europe) and extensively illustrated.
  • Lyon-Caen; Hoff (1986). Catalogue des Lampes en terre cuite Grecques et Chretiennes. Louvre. ISBN 2-7118-2014-9.  In French, good coverage of earlier and later lamps in the Louvre, well illustrated.
  • Mlasowsky, Alexander (1993). Die antiken Tonlampen im Kestner-Museum Hannover. Kestner-Museum. ISBN 3-924029-13-X.  In German, superb catalogue, profusely illustrated and captioned.
  • Robins, F.W. (1970). The Story of the Lamp. Kingsmead. ISBN 0-901571-33-4.  Useful introduction but illustrations are very poor and beware as several of the items shown have since been exposed as fakes.
  • Bailey, D.M. (1972). Greek and Roman Pottery Lamps. British Museum. ISBN 0-7141-1237-2.  Excellent introductory booklet, well illustrated.
  • Wetzel, Henning (1997). Antike Tonlampen. Leipzig University. ISBN 3-931922-65-0.  In German, small booklet but excellent illustrations in color.
  • Skinkel-Taupin, Claire (1980). Lampes en Terre Cuite de la Méditerranée Grecque et Romaine.  In French, brief guide to a few lamps in the Brussels Museum.
  • Clephan, R. Coltman (1907). On Terra-cotta Lamps.  Edwardian illustrated article for the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, interesting insight into the general knowledge of that time.

Western Europe

  • Goethert, Karin (1997). Römische Lampen und Leuchter. Trier: Auswahlkatalog des Rheinischen Landesmuseums Trier. ISBN 3-923319-38-X.  In German, emphasis on local lamps found in Trier but excellent coverage of all Roman types of the Rhineland.
  • Eckardt, Hella (2002). Illuminating Roman Britain. Montagnac: Editions Monique Mergoil. ISBN 2-907303-70-8.  Paperback, frustratingly unindexed but a refreshing approach and well worth plowing through.
  • Loeschcke, Siegfried (1919). Lampen aus Vindonissa.  In German, long out-of-print classic but a superb reference if you can find a copy.
  • Kirsch, Annette (2002). Antike Lampen im Landesmuseum Mainz. ISBN 3-8053-2864-8.  In German, catalogue of lamps.
  • Chrzanovski, Laurent (2000). Lumieres Antiques: Les lampes à huile du musée romain de Nyon. Edizioni ET. ISBN 88-86752-15-6.  Paperback. In French with short summaries in English, Italian and German. Excellent general survey of lamps, detailed study and catalogue of the small collection of Roman oil lamps at Nyon.

Middle (Near) East

  • Adler, Noam (2004). A comprehensive catalog of oil lamps of the Holy Land from the Adler collection. Israel: Old City Press. ISBN 965-555-166-0.  Comprehensive coverage of lamps from Palestine region.
  • Rosenthal, Renate; Sivan, Renée (1978). Qedem 8, Monographs of the Institute of Archaeology, Vol. 8: Ancient Lamps in the Schloessinger Collection. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.  Standard reference.

Aegean

  • Broneer, Oscar (1977). Isthmia Volume III: Terracotta Lamps. American School at Athens.  Good coverage of local lamps.
  • Perlzweig, Judith (1963). Lamps from the Athenian Agora. American School at Athens.  Excellent booklet, profusely illustrated and a recommended reference, very cheap used copies.

North Africa

  • Herrman, J.L.; van der Hoek, A. (2002). Light from the Age of Augustine. Harvard.  Paperback, lavishly color-illustrated guide to North African red slipware including many lamps.
  • Fabbricotti, E. (2001). Catalogo delle lucerne di Tolemaide (Cirenaica), BAR International Series 962. ISBN 1-84171-182-9.  In Italian, detailed catalogue of locally found lamps.

See also

An ancient Roman oil lamp depicting Pegasus. ... Timeline of lighting technology Since the world began, people used the sun as their main source of light. ... A Standard Household Light bulb This page is a list of sources of light. ...

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
Oil lamps
  • Ancient Lamps
  • Oil Lamp Database By David Knell[1]
  • Oil Lamps of Antiquity[2]
  • Oil Lamps from the Holy land From the Adler collection[3]
  • The Corpus of TERRACOTTA LAMPS From CAESAREA MARITIMA ISRAEL

1971-1980 [4] Image File history File links Commons-logo. ...


Bibliography

  • Amiran Amiran R. Ancient Pottery of the Holy Land, Jerusalem 1969.
  • Appolonia-Arsuf 1983 Sussman V. “The Samaritan Oil Lamps from Apolonia-*Arsuf”, TA 10, pp. 71-96.1996 Wexler L. & Gilboa G. “Oil Lamps of the Roman Period from Apollonia-Arsuf”, TA 23, pp. 115-131.
  • Bailey Bailey D.M. A Catalogue of the Lamps in the British Museum, III: Roman provincial lamps, London 1988.
  • Potok C., 1978. WANDERINGS, HISTORY OF THE JEWS, Ballantine Books
  • Ran N., 1987. JOURNEYS TO THE PROMISED LAND, Terra Sancta Arts
  • Rattey B. K., 1964. A SHORT HISTORY OF THE HEBREWS, Oxford Press
  • Runes D., 1959. DICTIONARY OF JUDAISM, Citadel Press
  • Roth C., 1996. ENCYCLOPEDIA JUDAICA, Keter Publishing
  • Ryan W., Pitman W., 1998. NOHA’S FLOOD, Simon and Schuster
  • Scheindlin R. P., 1996. THE CHRONICLES OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE, Michael Friedman Pub.
  • Stefoff R., 1997. FINDING THE LOST CITIES, Oxford Press
  • Sussman V., 1972. ORNAMENTED JEWISH OIL-LAMPS, Israel Inst. and Exploration Society
  • The Grolier, 1994. ENCYCLOPAEDIA, CD Rom
  • The TANAKH, 1985 THE HOLY SCRIPTURES, Jewish Publication Society
  • Uris L., 1998. JERUSALEM, Doubleday and Company
  • Von Soden W., 1994. THE ANCIENT ORIENT, William B.Eerdman Publishing

  Results from FactBites:
 
Oil lamp - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (3217 words)
Olive oil lamps continued in wide use in countries around the Mediterranean Sea well into the 19th century, with the lamps being mass produced out of metal (most commonly brass or bronze), but otherwise little changed in design from lamps of some 2,000 years earlier.
Lamps appear in the Bible as “lighting” the way for the righte, the wise, and for love and other positive values.While fire was described in the bible as being destructive, light was given a spiritual positive meaning.
Menorah oil lamp, 7 nozzles: are rare and associated with Judaism because of the numerical connection with the seven branches or arms of the Menorah.
Oil Lamp - elegant - simple - natural - Candlerock (361 words)
Oil lamps are a study in elegant simplicity.
Each oil lamp is made from a flat, natural rock, and no two can ever be the same.
The wicks pass through the rocks into the oil, and are held in place by a glass collar.
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