Pictures made of letters: an impressive work from the golden age of Judaism in Spain with texts on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur

Catalan Micrography Mahzor

Barcelona (Spain) — ca. 1280

Catalan Micrography Mahzor

Catalan Micrography Mahzor

Barcelona (Spain) — ca. 1280

  1. A Spanish Mahzor with texts for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur adorned with micrographic hunting scenes

  2. 59 picture pages of the great art of micrography, the pictures are formed not from lines, but script instead

  3. After disappearing in the chaos of World War II, it was acquired by the National Library of Israel in 1986

Catalan Micrography Mahzor

Ms Heb 6527 National Library of Israel (Jerusalem, Israel)
Alternative Titles:
  • Mahzor for Rosh Ha-Shana and Yom Kippur according to the Catalonian Rite
Catalan Micrography Mahzor – Ms Heb 6527 – National Library of Israel (Jerusalem, Israel)
Catalan Micrography Mahzor – Ms Heb 6527 – National Library of Israel (Jerusalem, Israel)
Catalan Micrography Mahzor – Ms Heb 6527 – National Library of Israel (Jerusalem, Israel)
Catalan Micrography Mahzor – Ms Heb 6527 – National Library of Israel (Jerusalem, Israel)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

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!

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.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Mahzor for Rosh Ha-Shana and Yom Kippur according to the Catalonian Rite
Size / Format
308 pages / 19.5 x 15.5 cm
Date
ca. 1280
Style
Hebrew
Language
Script
Sefardi semi-cursive script
Illustrations
59 pages of intricate, ingenious micrographic panels depicting exquisite hunting scenes
Content
Mahzor for Rosh Ha-Shana and Yom Kippur according to the Catalonian Rite
Previous Owners

2 available facsimile edition(s) of „Catalan Micrography Mahzor“

Catalan Mahzor (Paper Facsimile)
Catalan Micrography Mahzor – Ms Heb 6527 – National Library of Israel (Jerusalem, Israel)
Catalan Micrography Mahzor – Ms Heb 6527 – National Library of Israel (Jerusalem, Israel)
Catalan Micrography Mahzor – Ms Heb 6527 – National Library of Israel (Jerusalem, Israel)
Catalan Micrography Mahzor – Ms Heb 6527 – National Library of Israel (Jerusalem, Israel)
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Catalan Mahzor (Paper Facsimile)

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Facsimile Editions Ltd. – London, 2016
Limited Edition
25
Binding
Handbound and goldtooled in fine leather.
Commentary
1 volume by Yoel Finkleman, Ari Kinsberg, Dalia-Ruth Halperin, Linda Falter, Michael Falter
Languages: English
More Information
For the illuminations was used 23 carat gold leaf.
Catalan Mahzor (Parchment Facsimile)
Imageof

Catalan Mahzor (Parchment Facsimile)

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Facsimile Editions Ltd. – London, 2016
Limited Edition
25
Binding
Handbound and goldtooled in fine leather.
More Information
For the illuminations was used 23 carat gold leaf.
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