Auction 79 Judaica from the Finkelstein Family Collection
Jun 21, 2021
8 Ramban St, Jerusalem., Israel

The auction has ended

LOT 33:

Two Embroidered Passover Textiles – Towel and Pillowcase – Germany, 1901

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Sold for: $4,000
Start price:
$ 4,000
Estimated price:
$5,000 - $7,000
Auction house commission: 25%
VAT: 17% On commission only

Two Embroidered Passover Textiles – Towel and Pillowcase – Germany, 1901
Two embroidered textiles for Passover – long, narrow towel ("sederzwehl"), and pillowcase for cushion used for fulfilling the customary practice of leaning to the left on seder night. Germany, 1901.
Linen; silk thread.
Embroidered images and Hebrew text on towel: Torah crown; text of blessings for eating the matzah and the bitter herbs; list of titles of the fourteen stages of the Passover seder; a fish (symbolizing Leviathan); a lamb; a dove; olive branches; and more. Near bottom edge, the traditional greeting exchanged at the conclusion of the seder: "Next Year in Jerusalem." Underneath this, [Hebrew] "Year 5661 …" [1901].
Embroidered images and Hebrew text on pillowcase: Torah crown; pair of rampant lions flanking the Tablets of the Law; list of titles of the stages of the Passover seder; a fish; a lamb; a male deer; a dove; olive branches; and more. Undated, but decorations closely match those on towel, so the two items evidently constitute a single matched set of textiles.
In previous centuries – at least as far back as the Middle Ages – it was customary among German Jews to specially create elegant textiles for household use during the ceremonies marking the various significant occasions in the Jewish yearly cycle. The Passover holiday was perhaps the most prominent of these occasions. Interestingly, in the earliest known illustrated Passover Haggadah manuscript – the famous Bird's Head Haggadah (southern Germany, ca. 1300 CE, Collection of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem) – there is a miniature illustration of a Passover seder table covered with a decorated tablecloth. In another miniature illustration in the same Haggadah, one of the seder participants is passing a handwashing vessel among the individuals seated at the table; he is depicted with a long, narrow "seder towel" – with what appears to be an embroidered pattern – slung over his shoulder. This longstanding German-Jewish tradition, of creating and using embroidered textiles such as these, persisted well into the Modern Era. Long, narrow seder towels bearing the hybrid Judeo-German moniker "sederzwehl" are known to us from a number of different collections; all are embroidered with charmingly attractive texts and images related to the Passover holiday, specifically in the manner it is practiced in the traditions of the Jews of Germany (see Prof. Shalom Sabar, "Embroidered Tablecloth for Pesach and the Holidays, Germany, 1778-1779," Kedem Catalogue no. 25, auction, July 2012).
Towel: 124X54 cm (including fringes). Pillowcase: 80X70 cm. Stains. Two hanging loops (both torn) on either upper corner of towel.

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