The Colmar Treasure at the Cloisters
For those of you near NYC, the Cloisters Museum is currently having a lovely exhibit of books and jewelry from the 14th Century Jewish community in Colmar, France. It’s all on loan from the Musée de Cluny, Paris and while a small exhibit, definitely worth seeing. I went to a preview a couple of weeks ago (I received a Fellowship in Jewish studies this semester and it was one of the events recommended for us) and I’ll be going at least one more time this semester. (For those of you who, like me, are mobility challenged, please note that the Cloisters is really rough. While there IS an internal elevator, it’s accessible only with the aid of the staff and there are four flights of stone stairs to get to the ticket desk. Good luck).
I was particularly taken by the intimate nature of so many of the pieces. Most of it is women’s jewelry and if i recall correctly what the curator told us during our tour, the ring size at least points to it all belonging to the same woman, or at least the same family. Material culture is so incredibly fascinating. I took quite a few photos while I was there. The piece that impressed me the most was a wedding ring. It was used only for the actual ceremony in medieval Judaism. The every day ring would have been of solid silver or gold (I was told it was to protect the woman from being taken in by unscrupulous fiances: solid metal is easy to measure so you know precisely what you have). Look at the incredible filigree work:
Then there was this piece, a brooch about the size of a silver dollar. It really highlighted how there was so much cross-cultural contamination (in good ways) between the Jewish community in Colmar and the surrounding Christian majority. The styles in clothing, jewels, and so much more reflected that cross-pollination.
And finally there was this MSS that shows three skeletons. Y’all know how I like ossuaries and bone chapels so this immediately appealed to me. They look like they’re having a good time. LOL.
That’s just a taste of the exhibit — there were too many people there for me to take a lot of photos but if you’re interested, check out the website above. That is all.