Design hidden in a Hanukkah lamp

Here is a brass Hanukkiah, a 9-candle Hanukkah lamp, that we got in the seventies. It was made by Maskit, the pioneering maker of folklore-inspired clothing and art items in Israel’s early years.

Hanukkiah by Maskit

It can accept candles or oil, and is as lovely as it is functional. However, what gets it a place in my design blog is the seemingly abstract pattern on its back plane. We’ve had it in our living room for some years before it suddenly hit me that this was not just an abstract shape. Do you see what it is?

What gave it away, for me, was the butts of the two lions, sticking up in the air. Suddenly I realized that I was seeing a traditional decorative pattern familiar in Judaica art, especially on Hanukkah lamps and on decorations on the Torah Ark in a synagogue: the two lions guarding the tablets of the law. You can see them in the two examples below:

19th century Hanukkiah

Image source

Lions decoration

Image source

The overlay below will help you see it, and then it’s obvious; but what I really admire in this piece is how the artist managed to capture so exquisitely well, in just a few lines, the anatomy of the two lions. Good job!

Maskit Hanukkiah and Lions pattern

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