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Torah mantle

Torah mantle

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    1998 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Tamara Zlotogoura (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Velvet and metal thread

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Edgar Astaire

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Sacred Silver & Stained Glass, Room 83, The Whiteley Galleries, case 8C

A Torah mantle protects the Torah scroll, which contains the first five books of the Bible (the Pentateuch) and is the most sacred object in the Jewish faith.

This example forms part of a miniature Torah set, made in silver by Gerald Benney. It is embroidered with cotton in satin stitch in Hebrew, which in translation reads: Ezer Son of Mordekhai.

Physical description

Miniature Torah Mantle. Made for a Torah scroll (the first 5 books of the Hebrew Bible) which forms part of a set of ceremonial silver, commissioned by Edgar Astaire. The mantle contains metal thread in chain stitch and purl, and glass beads. It shape is basically rectangular but tapering at the top. It has two open sections in the top through which the rods that hold a Torah scroll would project when the mantle is in use as a protective cover.

Place of Origin

London (made)


1998 (made)


Tamara Zlotogoura (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Velvet and metal thread

Marks and inscriptions

Embroidered on the front in Hebrew
Ezer Son of Mordekhai


Height: 25 cm, Width: 25 cm

Object history note

Commissioned by Mr Edgar Astaire

Historical context note

Contemporary Judaica in Britain
Judaica has always reflected the artistic styles of its time. In the late 19th century ceremonial silver was available through large companies such as Joseph & Horace Savory and cherished pieces were brought into England by the Jews who had fled the pogroms in Eastern Europe. In the first half of the 20th century the two world wars and the Holocaust meant that little Jewish silver was produced. It was not until Jewish communities had become more established that synagogues began to commission new work. The designers were often non-Jewish, as was Professor Gerald Benney, the eminent silversmith who began to make ceremonial objects in contemporary styles in the 1960s. More recently a new generation of silversmiths, including Tamar de Vries Winter, have continued to make ritual objects. Their work has enabled traditional Jewish religious customs and practices to be fulfilled in a modern style.

Descriptive line

Velvet and metal thread, London, 1998, by Tamara Zlotogoura

Labels and date

Torah Set
The distinctive style and simple lines of this miniature Torah set are a departure from the forms of traditional Judaica. The silversmith, Professor Gerald Benney, is not Jewish himself but he began to make Jewish ceremonial objects in the 1960s, using a contemporary style.

The scroll was made in the 19th-century. It contains the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) and is wound onto rollers called the Trees of Life, a reference to the biblical verse 'She [the Law] is a Tree of life to them that lay hold upon her; and happy is everyone that retaineth her' (Proverbs 3, 18).

The breastplate or Torah shield (Tas) is hung from the staves of a Torah and is engraved with a menorah (the Hebrew word for a seven-branched candelabrum), a traditional emblem of the Jewish people. The rimmonim (pomegranates) fit on top of the staves. The mantle is embroidered in Hebrew 'Ezer, son of Mordekhai'. The pointer, or yad (hand) is used by the reader to follow the sacred text. When not in use, it is hung by a chain over the Torah breastplate.

The spice box is used during the Havdalah ceremony that marks the end of the Sabbath, the holy day of rest. The spices are blessed and the box is passed around for all to smell. After the ceremony, the new week starts.

Breastplate, spice box, yad and rimmonim
London, England, 1982 (rimmonim 1995);
designed and made by Gerald Benney (born 1930)
Silver, partly gilded
Lent by Edgar Astaire

London, England, 1998; by Tamara Zlotogoura
(born 1955)
Velvet, cotton and glass beads
Lent by Edgar Astaire
Eastern Europe, 1800-1900
Parchment and ink
Lent by Edgar Astaire [22/11/2005]




Judaism; Religion


Metalwork Collection

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