Hanukkah Lamp with Centaurus

Italy, 17th century

Cast Brass

Hanukkah lamp with centaurs  

Italy, 17th century

Cast brass

Many Hanukkah menorahs  in our collection are made of objects that were not originally made for this use. One example is this one, in which we have depictions of Centaurs- mythological creatures that are half man and half horse. These centaurs are depicted holding cornucopias. Between the centaurs we have another figure, a woman this time. we see her from the waist up and she holds an urn over her head. This is perhaps Gaia - Greek goddess of the earth which is usually depicted in this manner.  

 

This lamp looks symmetrical but if you look closely you may notice that a small part was added to the back panel on the right, in order to better fit the row of wick holders, and further emphasize the secular origins of the Menorah. 

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Many menorahs were created by attaching a row of flashlights to a board or metal ornament that was already in place. In this way we find menorahs like this menorah in which are descriptions of centaurs - creatures from Greek and Roman mythology whose upper body is like a human while their lower body is like a horse. The centaurs that adorn this menorah carry large abundance funds in their hands. Between the two centaurs, if you look closely, you will find another figure - of a woman. We do not see her lower body and she carries over her head a large urn. This is probably the figure of Gaia - the goddess of the earth who is often described in a similar way. The menorah is symmetrical in its description but on the right you can see that a small completion has been made since the row of bumps, which also probably preceded the assembly of the menorah, is longer than the decorated back panel. This "addition" is further evidence of the ancient origins of this menorah. 

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