MULTIPLE HANGING LAMP (POLYKANDELON)
Height (excluding chains) 35 cm
Metal alloy (?), hammered, embossed, cast, engraved
The multiple hanging lamp (polykandelon) comprises four lamps, a large central one with three smaller ones affixed to it. The central lamp is formed by successive spherical bodies alternating with convex parts and terminating in a triple boss. The concave and convex surfaces of the lamp are encircled by zones of rich relief and engraved vegetal and geometric decoration. The surface of the intermediate projecting spherical body of the central lamp is carefully decorated with relief oval medallions enclosing flowers, soldered at intervals between which are semicircular sockets in which were affixed three independent brackets in the form of winged dragons with retractable tails. Set on the heads of the three dragons are three lampions with spherical body, convex neck and decoration of relief and engraved vegetal and geometric motifs analogous to those of the central lamp. Additionally, on the intermediate globe of the central lamp are three appliquéd cherubim (putti) with link on the head, from which hang an equal number of double chains, one with plain links and one more elaborate, fashioned from cast lozenge-shaped elements with relief rocailles and a twenty-petalled rosette at the midpoint. The three double chains converge at a plain bell-shaped element with suspension hoop.
Polykandela are a composite form of light fitment, in use already from the Early Byzantine period both in ecclesiastical and secular spaces. In Post–Byzantine and Modern times, silver multiple lamps were disseminated widely, as the ‘gladsome light’ (phos hilaron) of their lamps contributes to the reverent atmosphere of the interior of churches, while at the same time providing sufficient illumination.
On the multiple handing lamp in the Velimezis Collection, with the mixed embossed and engraved vegetal and geometric decoration, particularly impressive are the dragon–shaped arms, a feature that is encountered frequently in candelabra and polykandela from the mid–eighteenth into the nineteenth century, with outstanding example the silver polykandelon in the monastery of Saint Catherine on Mount Sinai, work of the brothers and goldsmiths Serbanos and Efstathios Sougdouris from Ioannina, in 17521. The same feature is observed also in two other candelabra in Epirus2, as well as a five–candle candelabrum in the collection of sacred treasures (keimelia) of the Holy Metropolis of Lemnos, all dated to the nineteenth century3.
Technical and formal characteristics of the polykandelon in the Velimezis Collection, today in the Collection of the Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation, such as the successive spherical elements of its lamps, the form of the low relief and engraved decoration, the impressive dragon–shaped brackets supporting the satellite lampions and the intricate chains with the cast Rococo motifs, advocate its dating to the nineteenth century and its attribution probably to an Epirot workshop.