This massive lamp is in the form of Deepalakshmi – or Lakshmi holding a lamp; Laskshmi being the goddess of light and wealth.
The casting is thin and so the image and lamp is not nearly as heavy as might be imagined. The deity is hollow so that it could be filled with oil. An aperture behind the head allows the oil to be poured in.
The deity holds with the left hand a wide oil well or wick pan that has a flat bottom. Her right hand holds a dispensing funnel through which oil could flow and then drip into the pan to replenish it and keep the lamp burning.
Such a mechanism is in keeping with the Hindu precept of akhanda jyot – that a lamp used for worship should burn without interruption. (The offering of lit lamps to deities is one of the nine essential Brahmanic forms of worship.)
The figure is cast with full breasts, copious jewellery including pearled wrist and armbands, large earrings, rings on every toe, and anklets with bells. There is a small cast parrot on
A long, fine plait of hair falls down and away from her back – a particularly attractive addition.
The image stands on a tall plinth into which it slots. The plinth is pierced, high, flared and stands on four feet decorated with a stylised parrot.
The image is complete; there are no losses or repairs. It is large, very decorative, and has a fine, dark patina consistent with significant age and years of use.
A related Deepalakshmi lamp with an inside well that fills from an aperture to the head is illustrated in Kelkar (1961, p. 67). This example also is attributed to 18th century Deccan.
Anderson, S., Flames of Devotion: Oil Lamps from South and Southeast Asia and the Himalayas, UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History, 2006.
Kelkar, D.G., Lamps of India, Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, India, 1961.