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OBJECT OF THE MONTH – August 2008


Decorative wall panel – Jews Praying at the Western Wall

Decorative wall panel – Jews Praying at the Western Wall Machine-made Gobelin tapestry, cotton, silk
Palestine, after 1900
Provenance: acquisition of the Jewish Museum in Prague, 1942–1945;
confiscated from Max Traub from Prague
(perished in Auschwitz) via the Treuhandstelle.
Inv. No. JMP 089.680

Small machine-made Gobelin tapestries were among the popular souvenirs that were brought to Central Europe from Palestine at the turn of the 20th century. Used as decorative wall panels or hung as pictures in the home, these items were meant to recall the holy sites of Israel (particularly of Jerusalem). Especially popular with local Jews and available at affordable prices, a wide range of variously decorated Gobelin tapestries have been preserved. Before the Second World War, there was even a firm (M. Hák) in Prague that specialized in the direct importing of such textiles.
The tapestry on display depicts Jews praying at the Western Wall – the remains of the ramparts of the Temple Mount, which surrounded the Temple of Jerusalem, the holiest site in Judaism. It is also known as the Wailing Wall, a translation of the traditional Arabic term for the wall. These days, men and women have separate pray areas at the Western Wall area, which now has the status of a synagogue, which means that it is subject to the usual rules that apply to a Jewish house of prayer. The depiction in the tapestry of men and women praying together is therefore now unusual.
 

 

 


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