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South Indian Twin, Lidded Cast Brass Camphor Burner

Kerala, India
19th century

length: 27cm, width: 18.4cm, height: 5.3cm



UK art market

This brass burner comprises a single handle and balancing foot which leads to two twin burner pan, each of which has a domed cover topped by a bud finial and decorated with ribbing in concentric circles. The lids are attached with swivel rivets. The handle is decorated with an engraved floral roundel. Other decorative elements include piercing work and a floral motif in relief. Two well-made brass chains which would have been attached to small needles used to poke the camphor but these no longer are present, are attached to the handle.

The brasswork and engraving suggests the piece is from Kerala on the western side of India’s southern tip.

It was used to burn camphor and other types of incense as part of the Hindu prayer (puja) ritual. At the end of aarti, the lighting of a ghee lamp in front of the deity whilst praying, the devotee might have lit a camphor burner as a further offering to God. The dissipation of the burning scent into the air symbolises the union of the devotee with God.

The burner is in fine condition.  A curious dark, rectangular patch on one of the lids is from the time of casting and appears to be an added-in section of metal to correct a casting flaw. There is  small damage to the rim of the foot of one of the bowls, but this is minor.


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.

Rawson, P., Tantra, Arts Council of Great Britain, 1971.

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