Chavi Vilakku Lamp

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Size: 11.5 x 11.5 x 52 inches
Medium: Brass
Origin: Tamil Nadu


This is a lost-wax cast brass, Chavi (key) vilakku (lamp), oil lamp from Tamil Nadu. This exquisitely crafted traditional oil lamp has a key that allows you to adjust the height from 43" down to 19". The key has a beautiful detail of a grip cast as a hand. At the top of the lamp is a circular handle, with a small, stylised Kalasam (or kalasha), which is considered a symbol of abundance and "source of life" in the Vedas. The handle is to help move this tall lamp from place to place. Below this handle is the adjustable oil well with five petal-like protrusions for the wicks. The circular drip pan at the base is a trivet with three paw feet.
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.