Small earthenware lamps, made from double molds, were the most commonly used source of light in daily Coptic life. A wick produced from plant fiber or linen fabric was placed in a reservoir filled with oil, generally castor or sesame oil. The disc of this lamp is decorated with a reversed chi-rho monogram, consisting of the superimposed capital Greek letters chi (X) and rho (P), which are the first two letters of Christ in Greek. Christian symbols such as this monogram were thought to offer protection for the lamp’s owner.
Count Grigory Sergeievich Stroganoff, Palazzo Stroganoff, Rome (until d. 1910); his daughter, Princess Maria Grigorievna Scerbatov, Palazzo Stroganoff, Rome (from 1910); Elia Volpi, Florence (until 1927; his sale, American Art Association, NewYork, March 31–April 1, 1927, to MMA)