Hanukkah Lamp

Unknown Artist/Makerfirst half 19th century

The Jewish Museum, New York

The Jewish Museum, New York
New York, United States

This lamp is a representation of the Garden of Eden, with its two famous trees, the one of Life and the other of Knowledge. Lush grapevines frame the scene, and birds roost in the treetops. The moment depicted is after the Fall, after Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden and two cherubim put in place to guard the way to the Tree of Life (Genesis 3:24). Our notion of cherubim as round, rosy children with wings was formed in the Renaissance, but various biblical descriptions suggest much more formidable creatures. While the cherubim who guarded the ark in Solomon's Temple had one face and two wings each, the prophet Ezekiel describes creatures with four wings and four faces, including those of a man, lion, ox, and eagle (Ezekiel 1:10). The biblical term cherub (keruv in Hebrew) most plausibly came from an ancient Akkadian word for an intermediary who carried humans' prayers to the gods. Ancient Near Eastern versions of these beings were represented as various winged creatures such as bulls, lions, and griffins, who were part bird and part lion. Here both a lion and a griffin have been left to guard the trees.
A number of lamps of this type were produced in Poland and in Russia during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and they underwent increasing simplification in design and manufacturing technique over time. By the late nineteenth century, the two trees and the two animals were no longer different species, and many lamps were produced in a die press instead of by repoussé. Copies are still being made and sold, for example, at Grand Street Silver Company in New York.


  • Title: Hanukkah Lamp
  • Creator: Unknown Artist/Maker
  • Date Created: first half 19th century
  • Location: Russia, Asia, Poland, Europe
  • Physical Dimensions: 11 3/8 × 12 × 3 3/4 in. (28.8 × 30.5 × 9.5 cm)
  • Type: Ceremonial Art
  • Rights: https://thejewishmuseum.org/about-this-site#terms-conditions
  • External Link: View this object at thejewishmuseum.org
  • Medium: Silver: parcel-gilt, repoussé, appliqué, and cast

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