1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Candelabrum

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CANDELABRUM (from Lat. candela, a taper or candle), the stand on which ancient lamps were placed. The most ancient example is the bronze candelabrum made by Callimachus for the Erechtheum at Athens, to carry the lamp sacred to Minerva. In this case it is probable the lamp was suspended, as in the example from Pompeii, now in the Naples museum; this consisted of a stalk or reed, the upper part moulded with projecting feature to carry the lamps, and a base resting on three lions’ or griffins’ feet; sometimes there was a disk at the top to carry a lamp, and sometimes there was a hollow cup, in which resinous woods were burnt. The origin of the term suggests that on the top of the disk was a spike to carry a wax or tallow candle (candela or funalia). Besides these bronze candelabra, of which there are many varieties in museums, the Romans used more ponderous supports in stone or marble, of which many examples were found in the Thermae. These consisted of a base, often triangular, and of similar design to the small sacrificial altars, and a shaft either richly moulded or carved with the acanthus plant and crowned with a large cup or basin. There is a fine example of the latter in the Vatican. The Roman examples seem to have served as models for many of the candelabra in the churches in Italy. The word “candelabrum” is also now used to describe many different forms of lighting with multiple points, and is often applied to hanging lights as well as to those which rise from a stand.