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Spice box

Spice box

  • Place of origin:

    Italy (made)

  • Date:

    15th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gilt copper

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Dr W.L. Hildburgh

  • Museum number:

    M.40&:1-1951

  • Gallery location:

    Sacred Silver & Stained Glass, Room 83, The Whiteley Galleries, case 8A []

This spice container was used in Jewish worship, 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.

The container is unusual in that at some time it was used in Christian worship as a reliquary. A small cross was attached to top and a relic placed inside the holder, sealed in red wax. The wax is just visible through the tracery window.

Physical description

Copper gilt spice box. The tower is cylindrical with four elaborately pierced tracery windows, seperated by twisted columns ending in spires. The conical spire-like cover is surmounted by an orb with a crudely formed cross. The stem is cylindrical with a ball-knop and spreading foot.

Place of Origin

Italy (made)

Date

15th century (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Gilt copper

Dimensions

Height: 19 cm, Diameter: 5 cm

Object history note

Hildburgh Gift (ex Hildburgh loan 1192)

Jews of Europe Exhibition RF.2003/597

Historical context note

Jewish Worship
Judaism is the oldest religion in the world to worship the one God.World Jewry has three main groups: Sephardic, Askenazic and Mizrahi (the Jews who never left the Middle East). All are bound together by a common history and their adherence to the Torah (the first five books of the Hebrew Bible) and the Talmud (a compendium of rabbinic law and lore).

Jewish religious traditions and rituals centre on the home, the community and the synagogue. Central to Judaism is the observance of the Sabbath. This is a holy day, set apart from the rest of the working week. It begins one hour before sunset on Friday and ends on Saturday evening when three stars can be seen in the night sky.

The Jewish year revolves around a number of festivals, such as Passover. These originated in ancient times and embody multiple layers of meaning, from agricultural festivals to historical events.

Descriptive line

Judaica. North Italian; copper-gilt, late 15th century

Spice box. Judaica. North Italian, copper-gilt, late 15th century

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Keen, Michael. Jewish Ritual Art in the Victoria and Albert Museum. London: HMSO, 1991. 116 p., ill. ISBN 0112904491.

Labels and date

Spice Container

This spice container was used in Jewish worship, 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.

There are different interpretations of the meaning of the spices. They may symbolise the fragrance of the Sabbath, which is left behind when the Sabbath ends.

The container is unusual in that at some time it was used in Christian worship as a reliquary. A small cross was attached to top and a relic placed inside the holder, sealed in red wax. The wax is just visible through the tracery window.

Northern Italy, 1400-1500;
copper gilt
Museum no. M.40-1951 [22/11/2005]

Materials

Gilt copper

Categories

Judaism; Metalwork

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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