An Iraqi Silver Chanukah Lamp

An Iraqi Silver Chanukah Lamp

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Hand cut strips of silver that have been bent into curvilinear shapes, with semi-circle of candle-sockets, complete with drip-pans. A cast-made pair of birds, appearing to be ducks or geese, flank the servant light, while at top as the finial, a large casting of a hen or rooster. Iraq (likely Baghdad), late 19th – early 20th century. While this overall form of lamp is known as hailing from Iraq, we cannot locate any other Iraqi lamps featuring the animals displayed on our example. Birds such as peacocks were widely used in Iraqi and other Middle-Eastern and North African Chanukah lamps, however the usage of the animals featured on our lamp likely have more to do with the surrounding Islamic culture than revealing any meaning in Judaism, which is typical overall for many motifs found on Jewish ritual objects made in lands where Islam was the dominant religion. A similarly designed lamp is in the collection of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. It was purchased by the museum as part of the famed Steiglitz collection of Judaica, and can be seen in the book “The Stieglitz Collection, Masterpieces of Jewish Art, page 255”. For a discussion of the forms of Iraqi Chanukah lamps, please see pages 180 and 182 of the book “Five Centuries of Hanukkah Lamps from The Jewish Museum: A Catalogue Raisonné”.

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