Hamsa Lamp Finial 01

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Size (WxDxH): 7.5 x 3.5 x 11 inches
Medium: Brass
Origin: North Karnataka / Andhra Pradesh


This is a Deccan, brass, cast and engraved, Hamsa oil lamp finial from North Karnataka or Andhra Pradesh. The wings of the bird and lower part of the tail are engraved in stylised feather designs culminating at the top of the tail into a large single flower design. Along the back of the head and neck of the Hamsa are small scrolls like a bird’s crest. The branch it holds in its beak is probably a representation of a branch of Sanjeevini, which is believed to be a medicinal plant in Hindu mythology that revives life. Birds (or Hamsas) like this were used as decorative elements on the top of oil lamps and as containers for the oil. In this piece an internal mechanism would have allowed the oil to pass, drop by drop, through a narrow, often faceted, spout on the breast of the bird, into the bowl with the wicks beneath. Comparable examples can be found in Mark Zebrowski's "Gold, Silver and Bronze from Mughal India", cat.93-95, p.98. The teak base is a new addition, made to display the piece.
The Hamsa, swan or goose, which is revered by Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains, is seen as a symbol of purity, detachment and divine knowledge. It symbolizes the highest spiritual accomplishment as it swims in water, walks on earth and flies in the sky.
The size of this piece is 7.5 x 3.5 x 11 inches with the stand, and 7.5 x 3.5 x 9 inches without the stand.