Humans discovered fire thousands of years ago in the Neolithic period by burning tree branches and dried grass to produce light during the night. Thus began the age of combustible light sources. Later, stone, clay, and shell containers were used for oil lamps. The round shape containers hold oil which has a funnel in which a wick is dipped for prolonged burning. One of the oldest inventions of mankind dating between 15,000 to 12,000 years before Christ is the oil lamp. Prehistoric man was inhabited in caves. One cave of Lascaux, located in France inhabited between 15,000 and 10,000 BC, was discovered in 1940, where one characteristic prehistoric lamp was found. Oil lamps were used for centuries, not only for the lighting of the home but also in religious rituals, which was an integral part of daily life. Gradually the form and function of oil lamps have progressed in history. Like from stone lamps, clay, metal, wood, and jade oil lamps were being produced. Sesame oil, fish oil, whale oil as well as beeswax was used as fuel.
Every religion has its symbolic meaning for an oil lamp. It is found that oil lamps were used not only for lighting in the house but also in rituals of many religions. Lighting an oil lamp is a symbol of light that lights the way for wise and righteous as per Judaism culture. It is a symbol of life eternal and God's wisdom, according to the Christian community. Hindus who have been using oil lamps ceremonially for thousands of years believe that a deep spiritual dimension can be achieved by using firelight for religious and cultural ceremonies. During the Vedic period (1500-500BCE) oil lamps emerged in India. Lightening an oil lamp is an integral part of Indian life. The light of the lamp leads us from darkness towards the light, giving a message of peace and light to the man. Diwali, the festival of light, also the biggest festival in India, has a connection with the Goddess Lakshmi. The third day of Diwali is dedicated to her, who represents both material and spiritual wealth. Deepalakshmi is a lamp depicting Lakshmi, which is emerged in the early 17th century.
There are several different forms of oil lamps, from the traditional round or pear-shaped dish to ones with intricate styles and figures. These lamps are decorated with elaborate designs, auspicious motifs or deities. Woman holding the vessel in her hands is a far older tradition of oil lamps. Oil lamps suspended by chains from the roofs and ceilings of temples, home puja rooms are known as Paavai Vilakku and Thookku Vilakku. A handicraft brass lamp called a Nachiarkoil lamp is exclusively made in Nachiarkoil town in Tamil Nadu, India. It is made in different sizes and consists of four parts, which are screwed together. Nachiarkoil lamp is a hollow cast. These lamps are extensively decorated. The Tamil Nadu crafts development corporation ltd is in the productions of these lamps for more than four decades. Craftsmen like Mr. Ramamoorthy, Mr. Babu, and Mr. Dhanabalan are the people who are key persons for making these beautiful lamps. Now let's see how these lamps are made.