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OBJECT OF THE MONTH – July 2008


Flowers and Views of the Holy Land

Flowers and Views of the Holy Land Jerusalem, Lith. Monsohn, after 1894
lithographs, collages from dried plants, half-leather binding with inlaid olivewood boards, 105 x 165 mm
inv. no. 91.675

A souvenir from the Holy land in the form of a herbarium with lithographs of 12 places of pilgrimage: Jerusalem (the Temple district with the Dome of the Rock), Mount Zion and Mount Moriah, the Pool of Shiloah, Rachel’s tomb, the city of Hebron, the Mount of Olives, the River Jordan, Mount Karmel, the towns of Tiberias and Safed, and Mount Hermon.
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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