This striking lamp always steals all attention. Its shape beautifully climaxes into a point with a flame motif that encloses the VOC wordmark—a symbol synonymous with the former Dutch commercial empire that was so powerful that it possessed quasi-governmental powers. When this lamp is lit, it makes such a stunning spectacle that even the annoyance of a power cut is transformed into a magical experience.
We discovered it at a Colombo estate sale of a late collector whose repute made us wonder whether it is, in fact, a Dutch-colonial period lamp. But, the fact that it didn't quite look several centuries old made us take it to a historian for closer inspection. This is where we discovered its curious origins. Despite the VOC emblem at its peak, this lamp is not from the Dutch-colonial period; Rather, it was made somewhere between seventy to eighty years ago, probably in the southern province where the Dutch-colonial insignia bore a subtle association with wealth and commercial success even long after the colonial rule came to an end.
Cast in solid brass, the lamp is a truly beautiful piece with quite an imposing presence. We love it as a fascinating symbol of the peculiar mix of ideas that Sri Lankans have come to associate with colonial authority, and how that thinking has influenced the arts and crafts of the island.
VOC: vintage brass lamp
2'11" H x 12" W at base