Help us bring life to art, and art to lives. Make a donation.

Exhibitions/ Art Object

Torah Ark Curtain (Parokhet)

Northern Italy
Silk satin and linen, embroidered with silk and metal-wrapped thread, metallic braid, silk and metallic fringe
76.75 x 57.5 in (194.9 x 146.1 cm)
Credit Line:
The Jewish Museum, Eva and Morris Feld Judaica Acquisitions Fund
Not on view
Meant to cover the opening of the ark where Torah scrolls were stored, this glorious embroidered curtain was donated to an Italian synagogue (now unknown) in memory of Joshua Joseph by his wife, Sarah. Traditionally, many of the ceremonial coverings for the ark, reader’s desk, and Torah scrolls were made from re-used fabrics originally from non-sacred items such as dresses. The composition of this curtain’s design appears to reference Indian kalamkari used as floorcoverings, originally made for Muslim areas of India and the Middle East. East and West also meet in the formal, symmetrically presented bouquets inspired by floral decoration on Ottoman textiles, yet are tied with European-style bow-knot ribbons.
Inscription: (in Hebrew): In honor of the Lord / the donation of / Signora Sarah / the wife of . . .Joseph Joshua / laid to rest [in] the year [5]446 (1685–86) . . . / “The teaching of the Lord is perfect, renewing life; the decrees of the Lord” (Ps. 19:8) w[ill be for a] b[lessing] A[men].