Guide to Jewish Rugs & Carpets
Carpet Weaving in Israel
The Old Testament makes frequent mention of weaving and of dyes such as Kermes. In historical rugs we see Jewish imagery and pieces woven for synagogues. From Egypt to the border of China where we found Jewish communities we frequently find ties and links to the rug trade. What most people do not know is that in the twentieth century pile carpets were woven in present fay Israel.
In 1903 the Bezalel School of Arts and Crafts was established in Ottoman Jerusalem by Professor Boris Schatz with the help of Theodor Herzl. Bezalel and Bezalel carpets were a key part of preparing the way for what grew into the Nation State of Israel
How Bezalel was seen in 1917
Unique among the educational institutions in Palestine is the School of Arts and Crafts in the city of Jerusalem. To Bezalel comes the Jewish art student who seeks a means of expressing his art in Jewish form and his Jewishness in art. Instead of trying to find inspiration for his work in adopted lands, among foreign peoples whose inner life he cannot understand, he comes back to his home-land, to his own people, whose life is the very soul of himself.
In the short space of nine years, Bezalel, under the direction of Prof. Schatz, has succeeded in creating the beginnings of a Jewish art. It is particularly famous for the finely wrought silver filigree work which it has produced. Many of these filigree articles as well as rugs, fancy woodwork, etc., have been brought here to America for display and sale. We have seen that the articles made at Bezalel are not only distinctively Jewish in character but genuinely beautiful and artistic.
Besides being a school of art, Bezalel has become a valuable commercial institution of Palestine by giving employment to hundreds in its rug-weaving, basket making and filigree work shops.
By making it possible for the inhabitants of Jerusalem to gain a livelihood in a dignified way—through the work of their own hands— Bezalel is helping to undermine the evil influence of the Chalucka. It is developing a new sense of independence in the old settlement.
From: A Zionist primer: essays by various writers, Editor Sundel Doniger Publisher Young Judea, 1917
Bezalel School Jerusalem Early 20th
220 by 165cm., 7ft. 3in. by 5ft. 5in.
DATE OF OBJECT
early 20th century
Marbadiah Workshop Jerusalem 1920
74 7/8 by 64 1/2 in. 190 by 164 cm.
woven with medallions containing both ancient and Zionist symbols, the borders inscribed in Hebrew “Jerusalem” in stylized script, inscribed “Marbadiah Jerusalem”
This carpet shows an unusual wealth of Jewish symbols relevant to the national revival of Eretz Israel. In describing a similar carpet, Anton Felton writes “This wonderful Jewish carpet was developed from the grand classical Persian format of important 16th and 17th century pieces whose medallions would usually be filled with animals or flowers.” He adds “What I find fascinating about this carpet is that the designer has replaced the Persian motifs with symbols taken directly from the coins of Israel struck during its battles for religious and national survival against Rome. The messages on this carpet from the 1920s could not be clearer.” Motifs included in this carpet include the amphora, menorah, palm tree, star of David, as well as the modern Zionist symbol of Theodor Herzl’s cedar tree. Felton concludes “The richness of the symbolism and the sophistication of the designing and weaving of this carpet demonstrate the artistic, cultural, and technical mastery of the Marbadiah Workshop”.
Marvadia Carpet British Palestine 1930
approximately 12ft. 6in. by 13ft. 5in.
alternate measurements 3.81m by 4.09 m.
circa 1930, the center with a Star of David; inscribed ‘Marvadia Jerusalem’ with a camel insignia
Marvadia Wolf Carpet Jerusalem 1930
approximately 7ft. 3in. by 9ft. 8in. (2.21m by 2.95m)
circa 1930, the center with a wolf; inscribed ‘Marvadia Jerusalem’ with a camel insignia
Marvadia/Morvadia Carpet Jerusalem 1925
approximately 220 by 185cm., 7ft. 2in. by 6ft. 1in.
inscribed ‘Morvadia, Jerusalem’