Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Kennicott Bible

One of many Kennicott "carpet pages" 
(after the books of the prophets)

Picture of Kennicott Bible Jewish Star is courtesy of Ceramic artist Paul Barchilon.
Today I saw a calendar with a design that exited me. It showed Joseph Ibn Hayyim’s micrographic Star of David with six circles inside. It is a carpet page in the Kennicott Bible from the 15th century . May be it exited me because I had a similar idea when I made my Photoshop design of six coins with Lilium candidum. Wanting to know more about this Kennicott Bible I surfed the WWW and found Ceramic artist Paul Barchilon who was inspired by the Kennicott Bible design.
Paul Barchilon sent me today the following inspiring explanation:
The division of the circle into six is the first and most obvious division
possible with a compass. It arises completely organically and can be made
accurately with nothing but two sticks and a piece of string (the first
compass, thousands of years ago). The six pointed star (Magen David) is
hence a natural expression of geometric art and appears in many cultures.
That said, Islamic Art has more fully developed this type of decoration than
any other culture in the world. The Kennicot Torah is a product of its
environment, Islamic Spain. Southern Spain (Andalusia) was a safe harbor
for Jews in the Medieval world. Star of David patterns are found all over
the Muslim world and the Kennicot Torah follows the style of Andalusian
decoration common at that time. The Star of David only became associated
with Jews and Zionism in the 19th century, so it is a modern interpretation.
It is also interesting to note the eight pointed star that is formed by the
intersection of two squares rotated at a 45 degree angle
(http://home.comcast.net/~pbwebsite/platters/amberose.html ). This star is
called the Solomon's Seal. Legend has it that it was on King Solomon's
ring. It was likely the Arabs who named these stars and attributed them to
the father and son monarchs in the Torah. Most people don't realize that
Muslims accept all the Jewish prophets as divinely inspired, and that the
Koran actually recounts much of the old and new testaments in Mahomet's (or
Allah's voice). Respect for Jewish traditions and recognition of Jews as
People of the Book was part of Islam early on. As a Sephardic Jew, my
family's history is one of being protected from the Christians by the
Moslems. The 800 year legacy of Islamic Spain is primarily one of peace and
cooperation between Muslims and Jews, a lesson we could do well to
reacquaint ourselves with in this day and age!
Best wishes,

Joseph Asarfati Illuminated the Cervera Bible manuscript carpet pages circa 1299-1300 in Spain. One of his carpet pages depicts two Stars of David: the one surrounding the emblem of Castilia and the other surrounding the emblem of Leon.
Joseph Ben Hayim who illuminated the Kennicott Bible in 1476, also in Spain, was inspired by him and in one of HIS carpet pages appears also a Star of David.
Portugal government issued on 20 may Jewish heritage stamp series with this image.
Joseph ben Yehuda Merwas finished in 1307 writing and illustrating his bible. At the end of Deuteronomy he drew a Star of David in a circle so that each triangle is made from two lines. Joseph Ben Yehuda Merwas belonged to the school of Spanish Jewish illustrators, same as the Kennicott bible illustrator, who also drew Stars of David.

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