Oil Lamp Depicting Three Faces

   Oil Lamp Depicting 3 Faces
  Oil lamp depicting 3 faces

What is the value of light? Is it simply to transform darkness, to keep us from bumping into things, or is it something more? When something non-visible becomes visible, is it a function of light, even if this phenomenon takes place in our imagination? What does the expression, “to shed light” really mean? If there is invisible light, which scientists claim, what does this light shed light on? The value of light may be measured in lumens, foot candles, and miles per hour, but can it be measured in other ways?

Nepalese Terra Cotta Oil Lamp (detail)   
Nepalese terra cotta oil lamp (detail)

Featured is an oil lamp created in terra cotta over a hundred years ago. It comes from rural Nepal, but terra cotta oil lamps have been used in many parts of the world throughout history. The three faces on this lamp have seen a great many scenes made visible by the light it shed. How many family dinners did they see? How many conversations became illuminated? How many people did they witness discover something lost, read or write letters, write a book, say a prayer, find safety? How many mothers did they observe put their children to bed, dismiss the boogie man from the shadows, brush their daughters’ hair? The three faces on this lamp have seen a lot, but most of all they’ve seen the value of light is immeasurable, for it’s found in the memories it illuminates as the present slips into the past.

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