Ceremonial Synagogue Textiles

From Ashkenazi, Sephardi, and Italian Communities

Bracha Yaniv and translated by Yohai Goell

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ISBN: 9781906764180

Publication: December 31, 2018

Series: The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization

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.

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.

Note on Transliteration, Names, Dates, and Other Conventions Used in the Text

Part I Ceremonial Synagogue Textiles

1. The Evolution of Synagogue Textiles in Ancient and Medieval Times
A. Wrapping and Storing the Torah Scroll
The Mapah (Wrapper)
The Tik (Case)
The Tevah (Chest)
The Holy Ark (Heikhal, or Aron kodesh)
B. The Evolution of the Wrappings
The Wrapper
The Binder
The Mantle
C. The Parokhet (Curtain for the Ark)
D. The Cover for the Reading Desk

2. Fabrics and Techniques
A. Luxury Fabrics
The History of Silk Production and Trade in Europe
Jews in International Commerce
B. Embroidered Objects
Embroidery by Women Donors
Professional Embroidery
C. Passementerie
D. Professional Training, Organization, and Production
E. Jewish Law and Tradition in Production

3. The Torah Wrapper and the Torah Binder
A. The Wrapper in Italy and the Sephardi Diaspora
B. The Binder: Terminology, Customs, and Design
Linen and Silk Binders Embroidered by Female Donors
Binders Made from Random Materials

4. The Torah Mantle
A. Terminology, Design, and Iconography
B. Mantles in Italy and the Portuguese Congregations of Western Europe
The Portuguese Diaspora in the Netherlands and England
C. Mantles in the Sephardi Diaspora
Anatolia and the Balkans
D. Ashkenazi Mantles across Europe

5. The Torah Ark Curtain and Valance
A. Parokhot Made from Luxurious Embroidered or Patterned Fabrics
B. Parokhot Displaying Jewish Motifs
The Gateway to Heaven Motif
Motifs Inspired by the Ark of the Covenant
The Motif of the Temple and its Vessels on Parokhot and Kaporot
The Giving of the Torah Motif on Parokhot
Other Motifs and Later Developments in the Tradition


Part II Annotated Plates of Representative Textile Objects in the Synagogue

A. Italy
B. The Portuguese Congregations in Western Europe
C. Morocco
D. Algeria
E. Sephardi Synagogues in the Ottoman Empire and the Balkans
F. Ashkenazi Communities
G. Central Europe
H. Eastern Europe

Part III Dedication of Ceremonial Objects

A. Inscriptions as a Reflection of Customs of Dedication
The Content of the Dedication
The Circumstances of the Dedication
Dedication of Ceremonial Objects
B. Annotated Corpus of Dedicatory Inscriptions
Torah Wrappers (Mapot)
Torah Binders (Mapot; Italian colloquial term, fascia)
Torah Mantles
Italy and the Netherlands
North Africa
Anatolia and the Balkans
Central Europe
Eastern Europe
Torah Ark Curtains (Parokhot) and Valances (Kaporot)
Anatolia and the Balkans
Central Europe and the Netherlands
Eastern Europe

A. Inventory Lists
B. Documents Relating to Textiles
C. Miscellaneous Inventories




List of Figures

List of Museums, Libraries, and Collections

Index of Places

Index of People

Index of Subjects

Format: Hardback

Size: 276 × 219 mm

486 Pages

179 illustrations

Copyright: © 2018

ISBN: 9781906764180

Publication: December 31, 2018

Series: The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization

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