Illuminations and the art of writing

Many Hebrew manuscripts were lavishly illuminated, from full border illuminations to marginal micrography. Which stories are revealed by these creative forms of art?

Passover in 14th-Century CE Catalonia (Katrin Kogman-Appel)

Passover in 14th-century CE Catalonia

Article by:
Katrin Kogman-Appel

‘On this day you shall tell your son: it is because of what the Lord did for me when I went forth from Egypt (Ex. 13:8).’ Professor Katrin Kogman-Appel considers what it was like to celebrate Passover as a 14th-century CE Sephardic family.

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To Read or Not to Read — Is Not the Question (Dalia-Ruth Halperin)

To read or not to read - is not the question

Article by:
Dalia-Ruth Halperin

Dr Dalia-Ruth Halperin examines figured micrography and the relationship between text and design in this unique Jewish art.

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Micrography—A Jewish Art (Dalia-Ruth Halperin)

Micrography - a Jewish art

Article by:
Dalia-Ruth Halperin

Hebrew Bible manuscripts are often decorated with micrography – a Jewish scribal art that forms the outline of images in tiny script. Dr Dalia-Ruth Halperin considers the use of micrography and Carmina Figurata in Hebrew manuscripts.

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Shedding new light on marginalia mysteries (Christina Duffy)

Shedding new light on marginalia mysteries

Article by:
Christina Duffy

Dr Christina Duffy explores the use of multispectral imaging at the British Library, and how it recovered erased illustrations from the margins of Add MS 26957, a 15th-century CE Hebrew prayer book.

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The Illustrations in Maraviglia’s Prayer Book (Evelyn Cohen)

The Illustrations in Maraviglia’s Prayer Book (Add MS 26957)

Article by:
Evelyn Cohen

The exceptional collection of decorated Hebrew prayer books in the British Library contains an intriguing work produced in Italy in 1469 CE. Dr Evelyn M Cohen explores its unique representations of women participating in Jewish rituals.

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Whose Haggadah are you? (Julie Harris)

Whose Haggadah are you?

Article by:
Julie A Harris

The illuminated Haggadot of medieval Spain are some of the most personal manuscripts made for Jewish patrons in the collection of the British Library. Dr Julie Harris searches for clues on who these splendid manuscripts were commissioned for.

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Further themes

Illuminations and the art of writing

From full border illuminations to marginal micrography, which stories are revealed by these creative forms of art?

Jewish communities

What was it like to be a European, Middle Eastern, North African, or even Chinese Jew hundreds of years ago?

Jewish Law

Explore the Talmud, Halakhah and legal codes, and how they affect every aspect of Jewish life.

Jewish Liturgy

From Siddur to Seder – the order of prayers and their exact readings were transmitted throughout the years across all Jewish communities.

Kabbalah and mysticism

Explore the magical essence of words and the infinite creation of the physical and metaphysical universe.

New technologies and digital research

How can we digitally experience Hebrew manuscripts? How can we unravel their secrets using computational and scientific techniques?

Science and medicine

From the alignment of the stars to the zodiac, what were the scientific works of Jews and how were they transmitted?

The Hebrew Bible

In which different forms have biblical texts been transmitted, and how was the accuracy of the holy text maintained?