Lamp with Hamsa Finial - 02

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Size: 13 x 13 x 39 inches
Medium: Brass
Origin: South India


This is a large, lost-wax brass, oil lamp from South India with a hamsa (stylised swan) finial. Hamsa is a spiritual symbol that is revered by Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains. It is seen as a symbol of purity, detachment, and divine knowledge. Hamsa symbolizes the highest spiritual accomplishment, as it swims in water, walks on earth and flies in the sky. The branch the hamsa holds in its beak is probably a branch of Sanjeevini, which is said to be a medicinal plant in Hindu mythology that revives life. Below the hamsa is a circular oil well with seven geometric, petal-like protrusions for the wicks. The elegant balustrade stem is interspersed with flat disc motifs and kumbha-like cushion elements. At the base is a circular drip pan with a ring foot. The lamp has acquired a beautiful original mellow patina.
The ancient art of lost-wax casting dates back nearly 6000 years in India. First, an artist creates an original model from wax. Everything is then encased with layers of clay, thus becoming a mould for the molten metal that will be poured inside it. When this is poured in, the wax melts and the original is lost. Once the metal hardens, the outer layer of clay is smashed, which is what makes each piece unique.