This iron lamp has been vetted as authentic, with signs of significant age and use. It is mounted on a custom 8" x 8" base.
Multi-armed lamp with cups to hold oil at the end of the arms. Oil known as tulu, made from the Karite tree nut was burned in the cup to produce a dark, smoky light that was as much a light for ritual purposes as for illumination. Lamps such as this would serve in the house but also would provide light, real and ritual, for masks when they danced at night. The small forged figure at the top (number 10) with upraised arms praising god with either a Moslem position of prayer or a traditionalist animist's gesture of prayer. The arms of lamp repeat this gesture. Small spoons hanging by chains were used to adjust the wick, made of twisted cotton (known as fitine-juru) burning in the Karite oil. This lamp with it's standardized forms is an example of the change of style in Bamana lamps as other forms of iron material became available and in this instance the arms and support of the lamp is riveted together rather than fully forged. Yet it must be noted that the figure has been forged and hammered to an abstract figure in profile.
---Dr. Daniel Mato
Professor Emeritus of Art History, Faculty of Fine Arts, The University of Calgary
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