Ancient Chinese Gilt Bronze Human-Shaped Lamp, made in the Western Han Dynasty, dated 172 BC.
Historian Patricia Buckley Ebrey, on page 66 of her Cambridge Illustrated History of China (1999), has this to say of the Han antique lamp:
Gilt bronze figure of a maidservant holding an oil-lamp, almost 19 inches tall, excavated from the tomb of Dou Wan, wife of one of Emperor Wu’s brothers [i.e. Prince Liu Sheng], at Mancheng in Hebei province. This elegant gilded bronze lamp was cleverly designed to allow adjustments in the directness and brightness of the light and to trap smoke in the body.
It was one of the nearly 3,000 objects of bronze, iron, gold, silver, jade, pottery, lacquer, and silk from this huge tomb that testify to the luxury and refinement of palace life.
On page 100 of his book Han Civilization (1982), archaeologist and historian Wang Zhongshu states this about the lamp found in Dou Wan’s tomb:
The best-known item among them in the Mancheng find was the Changxin Palace lamp, gilded with bright gold, in the form of a kneeling palace maid holding the lamp in her hands. Not only was the palace maid beautifully sculptured, the lamp and its cover were cleverly designed so that both the lamp’s illuminating power and the direction of its rays were (and still are) adjustable. Since the smoke was absorbed into the body of the maid through her arms, it was in fact an antipollution design.
Courtesy & currently located at the Hubei Provincial Museum, China. Photo taken by Shizhao