July 15, 2011

Qurʼan

This 19th-century manuscript Qurʼan is in a Nashki script with diacritical marks in black. Nashki was the calligraphic style used for the most beautiful Qurʼans of the period, because of its small size and great delicacy. The first two pages are elaborately illuminated in green, blue, and red on a gold background. The titles of the surahs (chapters) are in gold. The borders are in gold, blue, and red. The colophon is illuminated in gold and colors. Probably of Persian origin, this Qurʼan was copied in Arabic by Kohazadeh Ahmad Rashid Safi and decorated by Adham Gharbaldeh al-Balawi.

The New Passover Haggadah

The Passover, or Pesach, Haggadah is one of the most important and beloved texts in the Jewish tradition. At the beginning of Passover, Jews the world over gather around tables to read from the Haggadah, a book containing the traditional narrative of the Exodus from Egypt. “Haggadah” means recital or retelling. With its songs and tales and emphasis on the instruction of children, the ancient Passover story is the most commonly illustrated Jewish prayer book. The New Passover Haggadah was created by Israeli artist Asher Kalderon, who in his introduction to the book noted that he wanted to convey the excitement of family and guests gathered for the Seder. The Seder is the traditional service and meal that marks the beginning of the eight-day festival of Passover celebrating the passage of the Israelites from slavery to freedom. Kalderon’s Haggadah uses a new Hebrew type and headline fonts especially designed for this edition.

Moriah Haggadah

The Passover, or Pesach, Haggadah is one of the most important and beloved texts in the Jewish tradition. At the beginning of Passover, Jews the world over gather around tables to read from the Haggadah, a book containing the traditional narrative of the Exodus from Egypt. “Haggadah” means recital or retelling. With its songs and tales and emphasis on the instruction of children, the ancient Passover story is the most commonly illustrated Jewish prayer book. The Moriah Haggadah was created by Israeli artist Avner Moriah, who drew his models from Egyptian and Assyrian wall paintings and figurines from the early Bronze and Iron ages, the period in which the original Passover story unfolds. Moriah used a palette of the blues, oranges, and golds that recall the Middle Eastern landscape. The text is in Hebrew, with calligraphy by Izzy Pludwinski. A separate volume, in English, contains an introduction by the artist, a commentary by Rabbi Shlomo Fox, and a translation and explanation of the images.

The Song of Solomon

This work is a modern artist’s edition of the biblical Song of Songs, traditionally attributed to King Solomon. The Song of Songs has been interpreted in different ways, ranging from literal interpretations that focus on human love between a man and a woman to those that see it as a divine allegory of God’s love for the Jewish people. This edition, by Israeli artist Tamar Messer, emphasizes the connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel. The text is in Hebrew and English. The original silk screen illustrations depict the flora, fauna, and landscapes of ancient Israel. The jewel-like colors and stylized imagery are reminiscent of early stained glass and reflect what the artist referred to as “the exuberant devotion” of the text. Each of the 20 illustrations is silk-screened on Arches paper, using 20–30 color plates per image.

The Haftarah of Jonah

This work is an artist’s edition of the Book of Jonah, one of the twelve later or minor Prophets in the Hebrew Bible. In the Jewish tradition, a Haftarah is a reading from the prophets, which takes place on the Sabbath, festivals, and holy days. With its emphasis on the theme of repentance, the Book of Jonah has become a traditional part of the synagogue service on the holiest day in the Hebrew calendar, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. This Haftarah was created with original etchings and a commentary by Mordechai Beck and Hebrew calligraphy by David Moss. The book is on handmade Abaca paper produced for this edition at the Tut-Neyar Paper Mill, Zichron Ya’akov, Israel. The text was printed on an 1886 Albion handpress at the Jerusalem Print Workshop.

Military Road. Fortress in the Dariel Ravine, Caucasus, Russia

This photochrome print of the military road and fortress in the Dariel Ravine (or Gorge) in the Caucasus is part of “Views of Architecture and Other Sites Primarily in Poland, Russia, and the Ukraine” from the catalog of the Detroit Publishing Company (1905). In 1799–1863, the Russian military constructed the 220-kilometer Georgian Military Highway through the Dariel Pass in the rugged Caucasus Mountains. The road stretched from Vladikavkaz in Russia to Tbilisi in eastern Georgia. The Dariel Fortress (or the Fortress of Vladikavkaz), at the northern end of the military road, was built in 1784, shortly after Russia’s conquest of the region.