Archives for posts with tag: oil lamp


DIA200xH230mm, China

The oil lamp would have been as common an object at home as today’s light fixtures.  Since its invention 2000 odd years ago, it had took on many forms, style and decorations.  This particular one, would be a basic and utilitarian version.  For those younger generations whom has not use an oil lamp before, the ceramic part should here acted as a stand, a small metal dish topped with tung oil would be placed on the top of the stand.  A wick will be tipped into the oil with one end placed at the edge of the dish to be lighted up.

Click to see our other traditional lighting.


oil lampW90xD60xH200mm, China

 A figurine of a boy dressed in a du dou, a long life locklet and lifting a bowl on top of him.  The bowl is the oil container for the oil lamp while the boy being the stand.  The name of the lamp, “Boy Raising A Lamp” (童子舉燈) signified however, the lamp is referring only to the container itself.  This is a popular theme for Chinese oil lamp, of different material and for pottery different kilns.  This figurine is an example of the Ci Zhou kiln.  The name 童子舉燈 “Tong Zi Ju Deng” is taken as a blessing for the child of the family, the first three words 童子舉 is a name for a official tang dynasty exam for the gifted child of under 10 years of age, while the word 燈 “deng” is a homonym to the word 登”deng” meaning ascend, achieved.

DIA100xH140mm, China

The oil lamp has been a form of lighting since the Warring State period (400BC), with its long history the design explored into many different forms and materials, by the Ming and Qing dynasty they are as common as today’s light bulb.  Lamps for the court and the wealthy tend to be decorative, the one used by the folks are more functional based (see our previous entries; oil lamp, pewter oil lamp, oil lamp shades).  They remained as a form of lighting till the arrival of the gas lamp from the west and of course electricity, my parents still remember the days when they are reading  under the light of an oil lamp when they were a child.

This item selected by Furze for the Something Old Something New exhibition and is available at both Mountain Folkcraft and Soil.

DIA80xW120xH120, China

This is a container for the oil used for the oil lamp.  A very common item in the old days when oil lamp is the only form of lighting for the common people.  In China, the fuel used for the lamps would be tung oil – oil obtained from the seed of the tung tree (Vernicia Fordii).  During the second world war when food is scarce, dishonest merchants would sell cooking oil mixed with tung oil.  As the two oil have different density, the cooking oil would be floated on top, once the thin layer of oil is used, the customers will discover they have in fact paid a premium for the cheap tung oil.  Worse of all the food cooked would be spoiled and everyone would get an upset tummy.  :(

D120xW120xH240mm, Hong Kong

This is a small marine masthead navigation light which uses an oil lamp.  It is made by an old Hong Kong marine light company called Tung Woo which unfortunate is no long in business.

DIA70xH120-250mm, China

We have a collection of these green glazed oil lamps, in pairs, of different heights.  For the ceramic oil lamp design, the design for these lamps are the most basic.  Its functional, well proportioned and durable (if Muji existed in Qing dynasty China, I suspect their oil lamp will be like these).  They are made on a pottery wheel and glazed with green glaze that has been popular since the Sung dynasty.

DIA100xH350mm, China

Oil lamp was the source of lighting in old China, as the technology advance metal lamps became more common by the Qing dynasty.  It quickly became popular because of its durability over the ceramic oil lamps.  This is one of a pair of the standard pewter lamp used in the old days in the Chinese wedding ceremony.

H120xW120mm, China

This is a green glazed shade of an oil lamp, the shade act as a guard for fire prevention and fuel saving device.  Its other function is to keep the hungry mouse from consuming the precious oil.

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