In "Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope", when R2-D2 plays the holographic recording of Princess Leia at Ben Kenobi's house, Leia's image is projected on a round stone table where two silvery objects, that look like small oil lit lamps, rest.

There is a third object, a dark clay vase or amphora, that appears and disappears between shots (probable goof) but I am not sure about the two silvery ones. What are they?

Two mysterious silvery objects

  • 4
    The offspring of a wall-mounted pencil sharpener and a bong?
    – Lexible
    Oct 23, 2019 at 4:35
  • 23
    Considering that Episode IV was filmed in Tunisia, and whole first part of the movie has this distinct desert aesthetics, I don't think there is much more significance then usual Arabic tea utensils. They simply match the atmosphere and tone of the movie, and serve no special purpose in SW universe.
    – rs.29
    Oct 23, 2019 at 6:00
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    @rs.29: do you have any evidence that these objects match any "usual Arabic tea utensils"? Because that would be an answer. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, after all.
    – Martha
    Oct 23, 2019 at 21:03
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    Salt and pepper shakers? Oct 24, 2019 at 7:39
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    Most of us know that the purpose of the props/set dressing from the SW Art Department is to give the SW universe feeling and also that most of the props have not significance/meaningful function. I asked my question not trying to unearth legitimate aspects of the movie yet to be explored but simply to know what (in or out of the universe) the two objects in question are. Do you know, for example, that there is a Japanese Kusarigama hanging in one of the walls of Ben's house? It is not a widely known object, right? but, like the two silvery objects, it fits the atmosphere of the movie. Thanks.
    – Bingo
    Oct 24, 2019 at 14:27

4 Answers 4


Ear trumpets

Anthony Daniels (the actor who plays C-3PO) describes the filming of this scene in his 2019 autobiography. He identifies these objects as ear trumpets:

"Sir, if you'll not be needing me, I'll close down for a while."

Maxi flicked an external switch he'd rigged earlier. Threepio's eyes went dark. It sounded as though I would have the morning off.

"I seem to have found it."

They were looking into space. Moments before, Props had put a small oil can on the table. Sir Alec and Mark stared at it before it was whisked away. The actors kept gazing at the empty space as they said their lines. Eventually, George would superimpose the classic shot of Carrie's hologram, and Obi-Wan and Luke would be looking right at it. But at the time, there wasn’t much to admire, except the strange objects on Obi-Wan's coffee table – weird, trunked, upside-down cups. I asked. Of course – antique silver ear trumpets. Props are ever so inventive.

— Anthony Daniels, I am C-3PO: The Inside Story (2019), Chapter 19: "Magic" (emphasis added)

An ear trumpet is a non-electronic hearing aid that concentrates sound for a person holding the narrow end to his or her ear. These devices have a variety of shapes, including a form that matches what we see in Star Wars:

Ear trumpet
  — Source: How the Victorian Era Invented Transhumanism

Ear trumpet
  — Source: Swords to Ploughshares, and Aircraft Carriers to Ear Trumpets

You mentioned a continuity glitch:

There is a third object, a dark clay vase or amphora, that appears and disappears between shots (probable goof)

This may be the oil can that Anthony Daniels describes the film crew using for setting the actors' eyelines.

  • 1
    Excellent find for what they were out of universe at the very least!
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Nov 22, 2019 at 11:15
  • Brilliant work. Well done
    – Valorum
    Nov 22, 2019 at 12:27
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    fantastic work - great find. I particularly love that the book in which the answer is finally found was published mere days after the question was asked.
    – NKCampbell
    Nov 22, 2019 at 14:30
  • @Gaultheria - Just amazing! Nice find. I love it. Thank you! And also thank you Valorum for promoting the pursuit of the right answer with your bounty. You people made my day!
    – Bingo
    Nov 22, 2019 at 14:40

After an extensive search, the only reference to these that I managed to find were, as you mentioned, listed as a goof, that simply states

Items on Ben's table as he watches the hologram.

There is no direct reference to these items anywhere else I can find, and even this description is vague, possibly referring to there being 3 items in one shot, then only 2 in another.

Outside of this, any other description could only be speculative; as rs.29 mentioned in their comment:

Considering that Episode IV was filmed in Tunisia, and whole first part of the movie has this distinct desert aesthetics, I don't think there is much more significance then usual Arabic tea utensils. They simply match the atmosphere and tone of the movie, and serve no special purpose in SW universe.

This is common in scifi and fantasy movies, to make the atmosphere more "real", by simply filling it with items that fit the atmosphere, and serve little to no other purpose.

  • 15
    It's equally common in realistic movies, only in those cases you don't need to ask why there's e.g. a pen on a desk. In SF/F, every item needs to participate in the world building. Oct 23, 2019 at 6:34
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    It's called set dressing, and there is a specific job in the film industry (distinct from the props department) whose responsibility it is to fill the set with decorative tchotchkes. These objects aren't called for in the script, are only there to build the right ambiance (e.g. a real, lived in environment), and might be an ad hoc choice of the set dresser.
    – R.M.
    Oct 23, 2019 at 14:37
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    No way. I mean, people seen for 0.25 seconds in a background shot have multiple novels of "legends" stories written about them.
    – Yakk
    Oct 23, 2019 at 21:24
  • They look like little beakers/flasks to me, almost like tea-pots, just modified to look like a different culture's aesthetic. (Given that this answer's quoted text contains "Arabic tea utensils", I guess my intuition is fairly on point in idea-fitting them as probably fluid containers meant for pouring.)
    – mtraceur
    Oct 24, 2019 at 0:11
  • "serve no special purpose in SW universe" - though they may still serve a purpose, assuming the SW universe has some equivalent of tea. Oct 24, 2019 at 15:58

Possibly pipes.

Instead, he leaned back against the rock wall and tugged thoughtfully at his beard, puffing slowly on a water pipe of free-form tarnished chrome.

A New Hope: Official Novelisation

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    It seems old (space or Maia) wizards are fond of their pipes! :D
    – Hans Olo
    Oct 23, 2019 at 7:21
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    that makes sense - looks like one of them does have a hookah-ish mouth piece
    – NKCampbell
    Oct 23, 2019 at 16:54


The pair of objects on the table appear to be stylized figures of swans. They are the right size to be salt and pepper shakers, perhaps chosen in this context for swans' resemblance to the long-necked starbird of the Rebel Alliance emblem:

Rebel Alliance emblem

Star Wars Rebels, which was produced later than Episode 4 but set earlier, seems to establish a design relationship between the Rebel Alliance emblem and the long-necked starbird that exists within the mythology of the Star Wars universe.

Another possible reason for the set decorators' choice of these props is that the conversation in Kenobi's home, where Luke learns about his heritage as a Jedi, sets Luke on a path of maturation similar to the story of The Ugly Duckling, wherein a juvenile swan raised by ducks grows into a grander and more satisfying destiny than it had envisioned for itself.

Swan figures are frequently available in sets of two, with one swan's head raised higher than the other's as the screenshot from Star Wars Episode 4 shows, such as these statuettes and salt and pepper shakers:

Metal swan figures Set of swan salt and pepper shakers Another set of swan salt and pepper shakers

  • 2
    ...Are swans a thing in the Star Wars universe? As far as I'm aware, other than humans, we haven't seen any Earth animals in the films. Even the puffins native to the island they used in Last Jedi had to be digitally replaced with porgs. And I think Rose calls someone a "snake" at one point but we've never actually seen one, so it could look completely different from what we think of as a snake. Oct 23, 2019 at 13:35
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    "What's a falcon?" xkcd.com/890 Oct 23, 2019 at 14:00
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    @DarrelHoffman Actually, we see snakes in the Dagobah scenes in Empire. The only non-human earth animals to make an appearance (unless you count the horses in the Ewok movies).
    – Mara
    Oct 23, 2019 at 14:27
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    According to Pablo Hidalgo, the scene in Obi-Wan's hut was shot on Friday April 23, 1976 and Monday April 26, 1976. The set was on stage 7 at Elstree Studios, England, UK.
    – Bingo
    Oct 23, 2019 at 18:07
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    @NKCampbell - Harmy's STAR WARS Despecialized Edition HD - 2004 feature-length audio commentary by Pablo Hidalgo for Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope (around minute 32).
    – Bingo
    Oct 23, 2019 at 22:00

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