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Objects and Judaica

Chanukah Lamp from Djerba, Tunisia

The typical Chanukah lamp used in Tunisia was made of simple sheet metal, produced yearly for families by a tinsmith. This type of lamp was so cheaply and quickly made that it was often discarded after the end of the festival and then a new one was reordered from the artisan the following year. The present example in wood is a late development, but one that is seen in all the synagogues of Djerba today. This one was decorated and signed in 2000 by an artist whose initials are LSG, in ligiture. The substantial lamp, carved with the wonderfully decorated Hamsah in the upper middle backplate. is made to hold glass cups in which the oil and wicks are placed for lighting. Under the wooden part with eight round holes for the cups is a small drawer for the oil wicks. While not an early object, the elaborate nature of the painting, the interesting form, its substantial size and its presence today in Djerban synagogues makes it a most interesting Chanukah object. (Dimensions: height 46.8 cm; width 24.6 cm; depth 21 cm. Description provided by Judaica collector William L. Gross.)

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