October 2012 Artifact of the Month

Scenic Candle Holder

2008.1.16

Materials: clay and paint

Scenic Candle HolderThe first known candle in America dates to the 1st century A.D. Native Americans burned oily fish (candlefish) wedged into a forked stick. Coming in all shapes and sizes, Native American candlestick holders are a product of the tourist age. Not known to be made before 1880, contemporary Spanish accounts show that these potters made utilitarian pottery for the trade as well as for themselves, after traders described them as profitable. Although many of the candlestick holders the Europeans used were made out of metal and wood, Europeans still respected the skills of Native American potters.

Candles are commonly used for religious purposes, which is why many candle holders, illustrate a religious scene. Our Mexican candlestick holder centralizes on a scene with two figures in a church, surrounded by three flowers and human faces protruding from the vessel's surface. In the scene while one figure appears to be preaching or singing from a book, the other is facing the first, on its knees praying.