dragon-shaped candle holder, 13th century

This bronze candle holder came from a Roman Catholic chapel which stood on a dwelling mound somewhere in Friesland. The lean figure kneeling on the dragon’s back is Daniel, who in the Biblical story killed the beast by feeding it with razor-sharp cakes spiked with fishbones. After the dragon had been slain, the light reappeared – literally in this case, as the funnel-shaped object in the dragon’s jaws serves to hold a candle.

Drakenkandelaar, 13de eeuw

Dragon-shaped candle holder, 13th century. Click on the image to see a larger version.

In former times, the Catholic faith was the most-practised religion in Friesland, which accounts for the presence of many rich monasteries all over the province. After Protestantism became the dominant religion in the late 16th century, most of the Catholic structures were demolished. The monks fled, leaving much of their valuable property behind, which was mostly destroyed or confiscated.

This candle holder was left behind , and was retrieved in an excavation several centuries later.