Exhibitions/ Art Object

Bifolium from a Children's Alphabet Primer

Date:
11th-12th century
Geography:
Made in Egypt, from the Cairo Genizah
Medium:
Blue, red, and yellow ink on parchment; bifolium
Dimensions:
6 9/16 x 9 3/16 in. (16.7 x 23.4 cm)
Classification:
Manuscripts
Credit Line:
Cambridge University Library, Taylor-Schechter Genizah Collection, Cambridge (T-S K5.13)
Not on view
Documents preserved in the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Fustat, Egypt (882), provide a rich account of Jewish life, liturgy, and religion in the early Islamic world. The Genizah testifies to the shift from Greek to Arabic, the adoption of the codex form, and the development of new forms of calligraphy and textual/critical apparatus by Jews during this period. The Cambridge scholar Solomon Schechter discovered the documents in 1896.
This Hebrew alphabet primer for children from the Cairo Genizah opens with a depiction of the menorah encased in an arch and flanked by two six-pointed stars, a symbol seen in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic arts of the period. Schoolchildren learning to write filled in the outlines of the Hebrew letters with colored inks.
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