Antique Hindu Peacock Oil Lamp, India
This brass oil lamp topped by peacock sitting high on a thin mount with decorative flared thin coils on a spiral base was used for Hindu prayer rituals (puja) performed in the home or at temples and for devotional worship. The surface of this simple elegant object provides a contrast between decorative motifs and unarticulated areas to emphasize the large peacock’s long head, plump body and tail form. Above the peacock whose body serves as the reservoir for oil is a smaller one that is decorated with striated lines. This fine lost wax lamp with a soft patina from age is a one-of-a-kind piece that can’t be copied as the mould is destroyed after use. Often used in Hindu religious sculptures, peacocks have a strong religious tradition and represent harmony, joy and beauty as well as the time cycle.
Oil lamps (diya) are used daily by Hindus throughout India for prayer rituals (puja) performed on a home altar or in temples for devotional worship. Hindus believe that diyas are essential, as light itself is the absence of darkness and where evil forces dwell. Light and the act of lighting a lamp signify purity, virtuosity, goodness and brings one good luck and power. Most metalwork pieces with this type of design, coil details and finish are made by the Dhokra, using lost wax casting to produce one-of-a-kind complex articulated patterns with decorative whorls and whimsical imaginative designs. A peacock is a common motif in Indian ancient stories, poems, songs as a symbol of love, joy, peace and harmony. A protector whose screech warns people of danger, its feathers are placed in homes and are said to protect a home’s energy and attract wealth inside. In 1963, the peacock was declared India’s National Bird due to its religious and legendary heritage in daily life, traditions and culture. This image of a peacock represented as one of many mythical animals is a fine example of Hindu ritual and folk art. There is a similar, more complex designed piece published in the Fowler Museum of Cultural History Catalogue. The piece is in excellent condition with a soft patina.
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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 (Plate 8 p.33).
Sanskrit Magazine.com, Significance of Peacock Feather in Hinduism.
C.Nichole Triplett, Hindu Mysticism.
|Dimensions||18 × 12 × 6 in|
|Materials and Technique||
Ht: 13” W: 8.5” D: 4.75" dia. base
Ht: 33.02cm W: 21.59cm Base: 12.06cm
3 lbs 6 oz
Excellent, fine patina demonstrating age and use
|Shipping Box Size|