Darmstadt Pessach Haggadah - Codex Orientalis 8

Darmstadt Pessach Haggadah - Codex Orientalis 8 Facsimile Edition

Heidelberg (Germany) — 1430

Scenes from the Passover Seder, but also naked men and women bathing or the non-kosher killing of animals as sport: an Ashkenazic Haggadah richly illuminated with gold that is extraordinary in many respects

  1. Created ca. 1430, the manuscript mainly consists of texts concerning the liberation of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage

  2. It is adorned by 2 full-page miniatures and 24 framed decorative initial pages, some with human and animal figures

  3. The images of unchaste interactions between the sexes and the unkosher killing of animals for sport are unparalleled

Darmstadt Pessach Haggadah - Codex Orientalis 8

Cod. Or. 8 Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Darmstadt (Darmstadt, Germany)
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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
Darmstadt Pessach Haggadah - Codex Orientalis 8

This fine Ashkenazi Haggadah originating from ca. 1430 is distinguished not only by the refinement of its script or the beautify its miniatures, but for the unusual nature of the contents that comprise a collection of biblical and homiletic verses, prayers, poems, religious observances, and songs relating primarily to the Book of Exodus and liberation from Egyptian bondage. Although the talented scribe identified himself in the text as Israel ben Meir from Heidelberg, the artist responsible for the enigmatic and sometimes sacrilegious imagery in the manuscript remains anonymous. This includes depictions of men and women holding books together, women with uncovered heads, a hunting scene, and a depiction of the fountain of youth with naked men and women bathing. There is no parallel in medieval Jewish art for these images of unchaste interactions between the sexes and the unkosher killing of animals for sport. The manuscript is adorned by 2 full-page miniatures and 24 framed decorative initial pages, some with human and animal figures. It likely draws on a tradition going back to Rabbi Eleazar of Worms but also reflects the contemporary tastes of the Christian nobility. The wealthy patron of this manuscript doubtless wanted secular texts and themes incorporated into the nominally religious manuscript.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Darmstädter Pessach-Haggadah - Codex Orientalis 8
Size / Format
116 pages / 24.5 x 35.5 cm
Origin
Germany
Date
1430
Language
Illustrations
2 full-page miniatures, 24 framed decorative initial pages, some with human and animal figures
Artist / School

Available facsimile editions:
Detail Picture

Darmstadt Pessach Haggadah - Codex Orientalis 8

The Fountain of Youth

This miniature shows men and women bathing in the fountain of youth, which was a popular artistic and philosophical theme in the Late Middle Ages among the secular nobility. It appears at the end of the manuscript along with a hunting scene that is equally out of place in a Haggadah (hunted meat is not kosher). A man with a crutch is shown entering a gate on the right seeking the healing waters, which are fed by two spouts in the form of animal heads, while people disrobe next to the Gothic fountain.

Die Darmstädter Pessach-Haggadah : Handschrift: Codex Orientalis 8 der Hessischen Landes- und Hochschulbibliothek Darmstadt
Single Page

Darmstadt Pessach Haggadah - Codex Orientalis 8

Men and Women Studying the Talmud Together

An artfully designed Gothic architecture with gargoyles surrounding a golden initial with a solid black background is populated by various elegantly dressed ladies and gentlemen. It consists of a series of rooms, some with vaulted ceilings, wherein people study the Talmud either alone or in pairs including a man and woman in the upper left corner who share a book and discuss it.

Above the initial, a man is shown flanked by two women with whom he is debating while below the opposite is true: a woman is shown flanked by two men, one with a green “Jewish cap” and the other with a fashionable black chaperon. To the right, a man holds his codex above his head with both arms and his head is tilted back, apparently frustrated by his debate with the woman across from him.

Die Darmstädter Pessach-Haggadah : Handschrift: Codex Orientalis 8 der Hessischen Landes- und Hochschulbibliothek Darmstadt
Facsimile Editions

#1 Die Darmstädter Pessach-Haggadah : Handschrift: Codex Orientalis 8 der Hessischen Landes- und Hochschulbibliothek Darmstadt

Propyläen Verlag – Darmstadt, 1971/1982

Publisher: Propyläen Verlag – Darmstadt, 1971/1982
Limited Edition: 50 copies
Binding: Hand-bound by the restorer of the Hessischen Landesbibliothek, after the original in calfskin over beechwood.
Commentary: 1 volume by Joseph Gutmann
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) 8-color printing, gold plating with embossed printing using 24-carat gold leaf
Price Category: €€€ (3,000€ - 7,000€)
Edition available
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