Antique Lakshmi Oil Lamp, India (9508B PBE)


This antique oil lamp represents Lakshmi one of the most popular goddesses in Hindu mythology. She sits in yoga posture with four arms on a lotus throne flanked by two elephants on the front and back of the lamp with raised trunks pouring water over. The bowl that holds oil is yoni shaped.  The lamp is in good condition with a nicely aged patina and minor verdigris in the bowl and on the base. Letters on the bottom of the lamp probably identify the metalsmith who cast this piece.



Hindus use brass or mixed metalwork votive oil lamps (diya) for daily prayer rituals (puja). As light is the absence of darkness where evil forces dwell, lighting a lamp on a home altar signifies purity and goodness to convey good luck and power over evil. They are also used to honor arrival of a guest, mark the passing of a loved one and celebrate important life events. Some diyas honor specific deities with recognizable symbols or images and those depicting Lakshmi (Laxmi,) are called gajalaxmi diya. In this traditional Indian-folk-art diya Lakshmi sits on a lotus throne (padmapitha), with four arms, her upper ones hold lotuses and the lower ones are in the gestures of fearlessness (abhaya) mudra with a hand up in protection and compassion, charity and the other in wish-granting (varada) mudra. The elephants (gaja) are mythical animals whose raised trunks pour water over her symbolizing her ability to provide abundance, prosperity, good luck and fertility. The bowl that holds oil is shaped as a yoni, the female womb, the ultimate symbol of fertility and generative power. She promises devotees material and spiritual attainment and personal charm and is particularly favored during Diwali, the festival of light which celebrates the victory of light over darkness or good over evil and the third and most festive day is dedicated to Lakshmi. There are traces of red powder (kumkum) probably placed under her by a devotee during traditional prayers. Red is the color of the goddess Shakti who personifies divine feminine creative power. This piece is part of the VA  Hindu-Cultural-and-Ritual Art Collection.

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Sean Anderson, Flames of Devotion: Oil Lamps from South and Southeast Asia and the Himalayas, Los Angeles, UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History, 2006.

J. Leroy Davidson, The Art of the Indian Subcontinent from Los Angeles Collections, Los Angeles, Regents of the University of California, 1968.

James A. Santucci, A Loan Exhibit at The Library, California State University, Fullerton: April-July, 1986, Fullerton, California State University, 1987.

Additional information

Place of Origin



Antique (1200-1920)


Late 19th/Early 20th Century

Materials and Technique

Bronze/brass/copper alloy

Dimensions (inches)

Ht: 5” W: 3.25” D: 3.875”

Dimensions (metric)

Ht: 12.7cm W: 8.25cm D: 9.84cm


Excellent, fine patina demonstrating age and use, no restorations/repairs

Reference Number




Shipping Box Size