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|This lamp would have been used during the Hindu ritual of arathi in which devotees worship a deity through material offerings such as food, flowers, and incense. This lamp would have held seven cubes of flaming camphor, symbolizing the passage from inner darkness into enlightenment. The shape of the lamp references the Hindu myth that the world rests on the back of a tortoise. Earthquakes are said to be the result of the creature shifting its feet. Tortoises are also believed to be the first creatures ever created and the ancestors of gods and men. The god Vishnu, the protector of the universe, takes the form of a tortoise in some Hindu stories.|
• MEETING GOD: ELEMENTS OF HINDU DEVOTION. AMNH, NEW YORK, NY. September 2001 - February 2002
Exhibition Label: Tortoise-shaped arathi (lamp). The back of the tortoise would contain seven flaming cubes of camphor, burned during worship. According to Hindu mythology, a cosmic tortoise holds the entire universe on its back.