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Torah Mantle of Mordecai Maisel (at Maisel Synagogue)

In March we will be celebrating the anniversary of the death of the founder of the Maisel Synagogue, the prominent merchant, Primas of the Prague Jewish community, patron of the arts and promoter of the ghetto, Mordecai Maisel, who died on 9 Adar 5361 (13 March 1601). In September 1592, this wealthy businessman, together with his wife Frumet, donated a set of ostentatious synagogue textiles to the synagogue soon after its dedication. Fortunately, both items in the set – a Torah mantle and synagogue curtain – survived all the pogroms, fires and wartime hardships, and as a result we can admire the art of Renaissance craftsmen to this day.
This Torah mantle is adorned only by a dedicatory inscription, but one that is executed in an unusually intricate way. The surfaces of the letters are embroidered with hundreds of freshwater pearls, the centres highlighted by Bohemian garnets. The embroidery of textiles by pearls and precious metals was commonplace in Bohemia during the period of the Renaissance. Later, this intricate technique was replaced by embroidery in metal, gold or silver thread.




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