Catalan Micrography Mahzor

Ms Heb 6527 - National Library of Israel (Jerusalem, Israel)

Alternate Titles:

Mahzor for Rosh Ha-Shana and Yom Kippur according to the Catalonian Rite

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Codiology

Alternate Titles

Mahzor for Rosh Ha-Shana and Yom Kippur according to the Catalonian Rite

Type
Extent / Format

308 pages / 19.5 x 15.5 cm

Origin
Date
ca. 1280
Style
Genre
Content

Mahzor for Rosh Ha-Shana and Yom Kippur according to the Catalonian Rite

Language
Illustrations

59 pages of intricate, ingenious micrographic panels depicting exquisite hunting scenes

Former owners

Ludwig Jesselson

Script

Sefardi semi-cursive script

Short description

The precious 13th century Catalan Micrography Mahzor of the National Library of Israel impresses with its unique illumination: 59 picture pages of the great art of micrography, the pictures are formed not from lines, but script instead. This sophisticated artistic technique was applied for the adornment of a Hebrew prayer book with liturgical texts for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. A truly impressive work from the golden age of Judaism in Spain!

Facsimile editions available

Description

Catalan Micrography Mahzor

Ornamental hunting scenes – depictions of deer, birds of prey, and many other animals and fantastic foliage – illustrate the precious Catalan Micrography Mahzor of the Israeli National Library. Yet, behind these elegant scenes there is a great artistry, which is first recognizable upon closer inspection, the lines of the drawings consist of the finest text! This art, pictures formed from small-written words, is called micrography. Micrography is a special Jewish art that was primarily used since the 10th century for the adornment of Hebrew bibles.

A Precious Manuscript

This art of pictures, which actually consists of text, was employed for a prayer book: a unique specimen! The precious Hebrew manuscript originates from the end of the 13th century in Spain, in the region of Barcelona and Catalonia. Completed ca. 1280, the mahzor contains texts and hymns for the high holidays of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur according to the Catalonian rite, which originate entirely from significant Spanish-Jewish poets. The remaining illumination – alongside the micrography – also does justice to this occasion with the rich application of precious gold and a wonderfully designed colored miniature.

A Treasure of the Israeli National Library

This precious mahzor is considered to be a high point of Hebrew book art in Europe. The historically and artistically significant manuscript has survived the turmoil of history, today it considered to be a testimonial to the great epoch of its period of origin in Spain. Located in the collections of the Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums in Berlin at the beginning of the 20th century, the Catalan Micrography Mahzor was lost in the chaos of the Second World War and first reappeared in the 1980’s. The treasure of Hebrew illumination first reached the National Library of Israel in 1986 as a donation and is stored there to this day.

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