OBJECT OF THE MONTH – July 2008
Flowers and Views of the Holy Land
The dried plants – which according to the captions were collected on the very site pictured on the opposite page of the herbarium – either form purely decorative collages or depict popular Jewish motifs, such as Magen David (the Shield or Star of David), the tomb of the Biblical Matriarch Rachel, the olive tree and the grapevine. Inlaid wood from the olive tree – typical for the Holy Land landscape – was used for the boards of the binding. At the end of the 19th century and later, olive tree wood was a popular material with Jerusalem craftsmen who made souvenirs for the ever increasing numbers of tourists of various faiths.
The above selection of illustrated sites suggests that this souvenir was intended for Jewish pilgrims visiting the Holy Land. The publisher was A. Monsohn, a Jerusalem-based printer and lithographer (from 1894), who also made various posters depicting Jewish religious and national themes. Similar herbaria published by other publishers may also contain tableaux and collages with Christian motifs. This was the case with Boulos Meo, a Jerusalem-based Persian rug dealer, antiquary and coffee-shop owner whose shop stood by the Jaffa Gate of Jerusalem from 1872 until the end of the 20th century.
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