Home
    Under Reconstruction!
Object Alone

Obj. ID: 33196
Modern Jewish Art
  Ira Jan, Illustration for Bialik's poem "The Desert Dead" (Metey Midbar), 1908

© , Photographer: Unknown,

In 1902, Bialik wrote The Desert Dead (Metey Midbar). The poem speaks of Jewish national revival. It embodies the sharp contradictions of early Zionist nationalism and calls for the mobilization of the dead giants of Jewish history, while expressing contempt for the God of the Israelites.

Ira Jan's command of Hebrew was minimal at the time she created the illustrations for Bialik's poems. Her opening page to his Poems of Fury may point to her visual interpretation process for Bialik's poems; the latter would explain to her (in Russian) the contents of certain poems and she would, in turn, use her vast visual image vocabulary of the Symbolist style.

Her illustration for the Title Page of Bialik's Poems of Fury comprises of a frame, made of snake and a plant motifs, crowned with a lion's head; fingers of two hands, popping behind it signify the Jewish Priestly blessing (Numbers, 6, 24-26), probably dictated by the poet. By including the Priestly blessing, the artist enriched her illustration with symbolic meanings, linking a traditional Jewish blessing with a modern, secular text.

Various Jewish prayers include the Priestly blessing: it is recited at night, before going to sleep, and during the citation of 'Hear, o Israel' (Shema Israel). The Kabbalah significance given to this blessing stems from its link to two verses from Song of Songs that precede it:

Behold his bed, which is Solomon's; threescore valiant men are about it, of the valiant of Israel.
They all hold swords, being expert in war: every man hath his sword upon his thigh because of fear in the night (Song of Songs, 3, 7-8).

The guards, 'valiant men', traditionally interpreted as an expression of King Solomon's weakness; though he was the wisest of men, rich and powerful, he sinned. The King feared night and surrounded himself with sixty heroes whose swords, drawn at all times for his protection. Another interpretation for the sixty heroes, regards them as representatives of the sixty letters comprising the priestly blessing. It is possible that Bialik himself conceived a parallel between his The Desert Dead and King Solomon's heroes and thus, after explaining this link to Ira Jan,  he might have encouraged her to add the visual motif of the Priestly blessing to the title page she made for his Poems of Fury.

 See also Joseph Budko's illustration to The Desert Dead (Metey Midbar).

1 image(s)

sub-set tree:

Name/Title
The Desert Dead (מתי מדבר) | Unknown
Object Detail
illustration in Chayin Nachman Bialik's Shirey ha-Za'am (Poems of Fury), Odessa, 1908
Date
1908
Synagogue active dates
Reconstruction dates
Origin
Unknown |
Historical Origin
Unknown
Community type
Unknown |
Congregation
Unknown
Location
Unknown |
Site
Unknown
School/Style
Unknown|
Period
Unknown
Period Detail
Collection
Unknown |
Documentation / Research project
Unknown
Material/Technique
Material Stucture
Material Decoration
Material Bonding
Material Inscription
Material Additions
Material Cloth
Material Lining
Tesserae Arrangement
Density
Colors
Construction material
Measurements
Height
8.5 cm
Length
Width
14 cm
Depth
Circumference
Thickness
Diameter
Weight
Axis
Panel Measurements
Condition
Extant
Documented by CJA
Surveyed by CJA
Present Usage
Present Usage Details
Condition of Building Fabric
Architectural Significance type
Historical significance: Event/Period
Historical significance: Collective Memory/Folklore
Historical significance: Person
Architectural Significance: Style
Architectural Significance: Artistic Decoration
Urban significance
Significance Rating
Languages of inscription
Unknown
Type of grave
Unknown
0
Ornamentation
Custom
Contents
Codicology
Scribes
Script
Number of Lines
Ruling
Pricking
Quires
Catchwords
Hebrew Numeration
Blank Leaves
Direction/Location
Façade (main)
Endivances
Location of Torah Ark
Location of Apse
Location of Niche
Location of Reader's Desk
Location of Platform
Temp: Architecture Axis
Arrangement of Seats
Location of Women's Section
Direction Prayer
Direction Toward Jerusalem
Coin
Coin Series
Coin Ruler
Coin Year
Denomination
Signature
Colophon
Scribal Notes
Watermark
Hallmark
Group
Group
Group
Group
Group
Trade Mark
Binding
Decoration Program
Summary and Remarks
Suggested Reconsdivuction
History/Provenance
Main Surveys & Excavations
Bibliography
Short Name
Full Name
Volume
Page
Type
Documenter
|
Author of description
|
Architectural Drawings
|
Computer Reconstruction
|
Section Head
|
Language Editor
|
Donor
|
Negative/Photo. No.