Ceremonial Synagogue Textiles

BookCeremonial Synagogue Textiles

Ceremonial Synagogue Textiles

From Ashkenazi, Sephardi, and Italian Communities

The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization


March 14th, 2019

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National Jewish Book Awards 2019 Finalist for Visual Arts. Richly illustrated and meticulously documented, this is the first comprehensive survey of synagogue textiles to be available in English. Bracha Yaniv, a leading expert in the field of Jewish ceremonial textiles, records their evolution from ancient times to the present. The volume contains a systematic consideration of the mantle, the wrapper, the Torah scroll binder, and the Torah ark curtain and valance, and considers the cultural factors that inspired the evolution of these different items and their motifs. Fabrics, techniques, and modes of production are described in detail; the inscriptions marking the circumstances of donation are similarly subjected to close analysis. Fully annotated plates demonstrate the richness of the styles and traditions in use in different parts of the Jewish diaspora, drawing attention to regional customs. Throughout, emphasis is placed on presenting and explaining all relevant aspects of the Jewish cultural heritage. The concluding section contains transcriptions, translations, and annotations of some 180 inscriptions recording the circumstances in which items were donated, providing a valuable survey of customs of dedication. Together with the comprehensive bibliography, inventory lists, and other relevant documentation, this volume will be an invaluable reference work for the scholarly community, museum curators, and others interested in the Jewish cultural heritage.

Author Information

Bracha Yaniv is Professor Emerita of Jewish Art History at Bar-Ilan University, Israel, and founding editor of Ars Judaica: The Bar-Ilan Journal of Jewish Art. She has published two pioneering books in Hebrew on the history, design, and iconography of ceremonial synagogue objects.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Note on Transliteration, Names, Dates, and Other Conventions Used in the Text13
PART I: Ceremonial Synagogue Textiles16
1. The Evolution of Synagogue Textiles in Ancient and Medieval Times18
A. Wrapping and Storing the Torah Scroll21
The Mapah (Wrapper)21
The Tik (Case)24
The Tevah (Chest)25
The Holy Ark (Heikhal, or Aron kodesh)26
B. The Evolution of the Wrappings29
The Wrapper31
The Binder33
The Mantle36
C. The Parokhet (Curtain for the Ark)44
D. The Cover for the Reading Desk51
2. Fabrics and Techniques56
A. Luxury Fabrics59
The History of Silk Production and Trade in Europe61
Jews in International Commerce66
B. Embroidered Objects68
Embroidery by Women Donors69
Professional Embroidery71
C. Passementerie84
D. Professional Training, Organization, and Production87
E. Jewish Law and Tradition in Production94
3. The Torah Wrapper and the Torah Binder100
A. The Wrapper in Italy and the Sephardi Diaspora102
B. The Binder: Terminology, Customs, and Design110
Linen and Silk Binders Embroidered by Female Donors113
Binders Made from Random Materials139
4. The Torah Mantle142
A. Terminology, Design, and Iconography144
B. Mantles in Italy and the Portuguese Congregations of Western Europe149
The Portuguese Diaspora in the Netherlands and England157
C. Mantles in the Sephardi Diaspora166
Anatolia and the Balkans183
D. Ashkenazi Mantles across Europe191
5. The Torah Ark Curtain and Valance208
A. Parokhot Made from Luxurious Embroidered or Patterned Fabrics211
B. Parokhot Displaying Jewish Motifs220
The Gateway to Heaven Motif220
Motifs Inspired by the Ark of the Covenant237
The Motif of the Temple and its Vessels on Parokhot and Kaporot255
The Giving of the Torah Motif on Parokhot262
Other Motifs and Later Developments in the Tradition266
PART II: Annotated Platesof Representative Textile Objects in the Synagogue268
A. Italy270
B. The Portuguese Congregations in Western Europe282
C. Morocco288
D. Algeria294
E. Sephardi Synagogues in the Ottoman Empireand the Balkans300
F. Ashkenazi Communities310
G. Central Europe320
H. Eastern Europe332
PART III: Dedication of Ceremonial Objects340
A. Inscriptions as a Reflection of Customs of Dedication342
The Content of the Dedication342
The Circumstances of the Dedication343
Dedication of Ceremonial Objects344
B. Annotated Corpus of Dedicatory Inscriptions352
Torah Wrappers (Mapot)352
Torah Binders (Mapot; Italian colloquial term, fascia)357
Torah Mantles362
Italy and the Netherlands362
North Africa363
Anatolia and the Balkans366
Central Europe369
Eastern Europe373
Torah Ark Curtains (Parokhot) and Valances (Kaporot)374
Anatolia and the Balkans375
Central Europe and the Netherlands378
Eastern Europe391
A. Inventory Lists396
B. Documents Relating to Textiles409
C. Miscellaneous Inventories424
List of Figures463
List of Museums, Libraries, and Collections469
Index of Places472
Index of People478
Index of Subjects481