The Freud Museum

Hanukkah lamp

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4515, Hanukkah lamp, 13th century

Artist: Photographer: Ardon Bar Hama
Culture: Northern France or Germany
Material: Copper alloy
Dimensions: 12.7 x 17 x 5 cm

Hanukkah lamp with three animal medals and Hebrew letters in relief.

Unlike the lamps most commonly used today to celebrate the festival of Hanukkah in the West, which are designed for candles and generally stand on tables, the Freud lamp is oil burning and hangs on the wall. The backplate is decorated with a large central roundel containing a griffin, which is flanked by two smaller roundels with rampant four-legged animals, apparently felines, the leftmost perhaps a spotted leopard or cheetah. Below the roundels, the Hebrew inscription quotes a biblical passage most commonly found on medieval Hanukkah lamps: For the commandment isa lamp, and the teaching is light.

The arcade below the inscription is supported by columns with square capitals and bases, with two rows of pierced holes above. Along the bottom of the lamp are eight oil containers with rounded ends; on the far left is the shammash. To kindle and oil lamp, the containers are filled with oil, and wicks are placed in the oil and lit. The shammash on this lamp is unusual in that it is larger than the other oil containers. This was done in order to fulfil the original function of the servitor: to safeguard against the use of the other eight sacred lights for the ordinary room illumination, as prescribed by Jewish law. The apex of the backplate of the Freud lamp is missing, although the reaminder of two original holes for suspension can still be seen. At some point, others were drilled through the top; most recently a modern wire was added to supsend the lamp.

[Additional information from Susan L. Braunstein in Sigmund Freud's Jewish Heritage (exhibition catalogue) State University of New York, Binghampton, and Freud Museum, London.]

See this object on our Collections site here

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