Tallow Candle

Disentis, 18th/19th century

Wax candles were unaffordable for simple folk. In the Alps, where cattle breeding was common, tallow was used instead, it was also called «Unschlitt» [tallow], as cheap material for lighting. It was actually the fat of cattle, more seldom of sheep or goats.

Thanks to its high melting point tallow could be heaped up on a shallow receptacle after which a wick was inserted. In this way the tallow candle lit up the parlour on long winter nights. Our lamp bowl with ornamental trim lines was made of soapstone from Tavetsch.