Strictly speaking, a chandelier is any multi-branch ceiling light.
But what we understand in popular usage as a chandelier today - a grand ceiling light fitting with many lights and multiple crystal prisms - is the result of a long evolutionary process of this type of light.
Originally made in wood as a cross with spikes on which to fix the candles, they were able to be lowered for lighting, and then hoisted to a suitable height by means of a pulley.
From the 15th century they were made in a wider variety of materials including brass, wrought iron, gilded wood and silver.
By the 18th century, developments in glassmaking allowed for the introduction of prisms in their manufacture, because of their light scattering properties. more...