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Ceremonial Synagogue TextilesFrom Ashkenazi, Sephardi, and Italian Communities$
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Bracha Yaniv

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781906764180

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781906764180.001.0001

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Chapter Two Fabrics and Techniques

Chapter Two Fabrics and Techniques

(p.41) Chapter Two Fabrics and Techniques
Ceremonial Synagogue Textiles

Bracha Yaniv

, Yohai Goell
Liverpool University Press

This chapter examines the linen and silk fabrics used in the production of medieval ceremonial textiles, and the techniques employed to create the embroidered and woven patterns that embellished them. The elegance of ceremonial textiles in antiquity is revealed in the use in early sources of the term shira'in na'in (fine fabrics), which connotes a concern for aesthetic values in religious observance. In all societies, embroidery — the creation of designs on a fabric using a needle and various threads — was a much simpler and more widespread technique than the weaving of designs, and was therefore less valued. From biblical times, weaving and embroidery have developed as techniques with similar objectives: first, to vary and improve the colourfulness of the object, and second, to create more sophisticated patterns. These two objectives are reflected in the materials used to make ceremonial textile objects, and they greatly influenced their design. The chapter then describes the term 'passementerie'; details the training, professional organization, and work procedures of Jews when making ceremonial objects; and looks at Jewish law and tradition in production.

Keywords:   fine fabrics, medieval ceremonial textiles, weaving, embroidery, embroidered patterns, woven patterns, passementerie, ceremonial objects, Jewish law, Jewish tradition

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