The Property of a Gentleman, Ohio


Jerusalem, Circa 1925
Having a tile design overall of scalloped foliate medallions containing cypress, vine leafs, amphoras and the Temple facade within an ivory floral border of connected medallions of cypress trees and palm trees alternating, with a Hebrew inscription at one end that reads "Marbadiah Jerusalem" with a camel motif
Approximately 11ft. 6in. x 8ft. 9in. (351cm. x 267cm.)

Lot Essay

This extraordinary Jewish carpet was executed by the Marbadiah workshops in Jerusalem. The Bezalel School of Arts and Crafts was established outside the Old City of Jerusalem and was named after Bezalel ben Uri, the Biblical builder of the Tabernacle (Exodus 31:33). In 1920 a group of Bezalel designers and weavers formed the Marbadiah, independent workshops, where they continued the tradition of Bezalel designs and ideas as well as other innovative motifs.

A very similar carpet, perhaps from the same cartoon, is illustrated in Jewish Carpets (Felton, A. Jewish Carpets, Suffolk, 1997, p. 120, no. 51). Felton makes the interesting point that the tile or compartment design of these two carpets is based on a classical Persian format. However, here, the vases and flowers of the Persian prototype are replaced with symbols taken directly from the coins of Israel struck during the first century CE when Israel was fighting for its liberation from Rome. For example, the biblical symbol of three ears of corn, as seen in the field design of this carpet, are taken from a coin issued by Herod the Great's grandson dating to 37-44 CE (Felton, p. 120, fig. 1). The Palm tree which figures prominently in this border is also taken from Roman coins dating to the same century (ibid, p. 120, fig. 3).

It seems fitting that this carpet was given as a wedding gift to the current owner's parents. With its rich symbolism and sophistication of design and execution this rare and fascinating carpet attests to the skill, creativity and artistry of the Marbadiah workshop.

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