Gajalakshmi Oil Lamp - 03

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Size: 4 x 5 x 5 inches
Material: Bronze
Origin: Tamil Nadu


This is a Gajalakshmi bronze, lost wax, oil lamp from Tamil Nadu. Depicted in relief is Gajalakshmi, which means Lakshmi with elephants (gaja), an enduring auspicious theme in Indian art. This is one of the most significant aspects of the Goddess Lakshmi, where she is depicted flanked on both sides by elephants. She is shown seated in a yogic posture with elephants flanking her raising their trunks to bless her. This is probably referring to the puranic texts that said when Lakshmi was born, “elephants of the skies taking up their pure waters in vases of gold, poured them over the goddess, the queen of the universal world”. Above her is a protective yali, which is a mythical creature portrayed as part lion, part elephant and part horse. On either side of the oil pan are two small Deepalakshmis, and at the front is a single projection for the wick.
The ancient art of lost-wax casting dates back nearly 6000 years in India, and the oldest example in the world is from the Indus Valley Civilization. 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.