Sacred Scents and Flames from the Ancient World 2013
December 12th - February 12th 2014
New York Gallery
The exhibition gives a fascinating opportunity to see an important selection of ancient lamps and the incense burners and to explore how the ancient civilizations of Pre-Classical and Classical world designed their lighting devices, – said Ali Aboutaam, president of Phoenix Ancient Art. From the very beginning various religions worshipped the eternal, divine flame, and even the most powerful kings had to pay a tribute to a flame. Incense which is closely linked to fire and flame quickly became the important element in the liturgical ceremonies in various religions. A Persian bronze censer shaped as a feline, which is dated to the 11th century A.D., is a masterpiece of the bronze cast technique; its surface is an openwork in the shape of floral motifs, which allowed the perfumed smoke to escape and spread.
Beside sensational gold and silver incense burners, elaborate and also expensive bronze lamps, – continues Mr.Aboutaam, – there is a great number of rather simple clay Roman lamps which were apparently affordable for many at that time, but what an amazing information a contemporary collector can get looking at their reliefs. The bucolic scenes inspired by Virgil’s verses; a libation onto a small altar accompanying by a music; the images of Capitoline deities, the gladiatorial fight – it is like the life of the great Rome is reviving on these small representations.
The exhibition choice is about 80 items that show different shapes and materials such as gold, silver, bronze, terracotta, glass. They reveal the history of lamps and censers that covers the time span from the second half of the 3rd millennium B.C. till the 14th century A.D. and represent different ways of how the lamps were used in ancient cultures such as Mesopotamian, Phoenician, Greek, Etruscan, Roman, Judaic, Byzantine, Islamic, and Chinese.
The exhibition is accompanied by the full-size catalog; the entries are supplied with the bibliographical references and contain extraordinary beautiful photographs. A number of these wonderful objects have previously been unpublished, highlighting the timeliness of Phoenix’s decision to bring such treasures of antiquity into the light.