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Mizrah with figure of Moses
Wood, canvas, polychrome, oil painting, Bohemia, last third of the nineteenth century
Height: 710 mm, width: 640 mm (with open panels)
Inv. No. ŽMP 61.818

The mizrah (Hebrew for “east”) a decorative plaque placed on the eastern wall of a home or synagogue to orient the direction of one’s prayer towards the city of Jerusalem. It is usually a manuscript or printed plaque with a Hebrew text that describes its purpose, although some are embroidered fabrics. The mizrah shown here, which has folding panels, is fairly unusual in that its basic purpose as a source of information is suppressed in favour of the visual effect – the word “mizrah” is inscribed on the upper inscription band while most of the surface is taken up by an oil painting of Moses descending Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments. The side panels depict the symbols of the twelve tribes of Israel. The fact that there are several identical copies of this mizrah in the museum’s collection suggests that it was mass produced.

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