Ars Judaica

Christian Illuminators, Jewish Patrons, and the Gender of the Jewish Book

Ars Judaica (2018), 14, (1), 47–62.

Abstract

In this essay, I argue that there is a connection between the prominence of depicted books in thirteenth- and fourteenth-century illuminated Hebrew liturgical codices and the gendered distribution of such books in these miniatures. Books were Jewish status symbols, the counterparts in Jewish communities of the scepters and swords found in portrayals of powerful Christian laymen. Like the possession scepters and swords, the possession of books was symbolically gendered, and these symbols of power and status were valorized through exclusivity. Interestingly, in Christian high society, books were symbols of high-status women. A gendered analysis of painted books within books reveals both entanglements and subtle asymmetries between the Jewish community and Christian society.

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Author details

Frojmovic, Eva