Small earthenware lamps, made from double molds, were used for lighting Egyptian homes in the Coptic period. A wick produced from plant fiber or linen fabric was placed in a reservoir filled with oil, generally castor or sesame oil, and illuminated. The disc of this lamp is decorated with the chi-rho monogram, consisting of the superimposed capital Greek letters chi (X) and rho (P), the first two letters of Christ in Greek. Christian symbols such as this monogram were thought to offer protection for the lamp’s owner.
Julien Gréau, Paris; J. Pierpont Morgan, New York (by 1903–d. 1913; coll. cat., 1903, unpub., no. 289); his estate(1913–17; gifted to MMA)