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Obj. ID: 11317
Sacred and Ritual Objects
  Parokhet, India, 1914

© Center for Jewish Art, Photographer: Radovan, Zev, July 1983

The rectangular off-white parokhet consists of a central cloth adorned by a dedicatory inscription and an array of Sanctuary Implements, and surrounded on three sides by a floral band.

The Sanctuary Implements surround the inscription, enclosed within a rectangle with concaved corners. It is written in ten lines in square Hebrew letters which reads:

" 'אוהב ה' שערי ציון מכל משכנות יעקב' (תהילים פז:ב)/ מזר"ק (משפחת זרע קדוש?) משל"ע (משהלך לעולמו) זאת הריקמה שפרסו / על ארונו של כה"ר (כבוד הרב) נחמיה בכה"ר (בן כבוד הרב) אהרון הזקן אללה"ה (אלוהים [יזכה אותו] לחיי העולם הבא) / ומנוחתו בליל ש"ק (שבת קודש) יא' לירח אלול ש' (שנת) התרע"ב / ולעילוי נשמתו ולעילוי נשמת בתו הצנועה מ' (מרת) / שמחה שנלב"ע (שנאספה לבית עולמה) ביום ג' לכסליו ש' (שנת) התרע"ג / תנצב"ה (תהי נשמתם צרורה בצרור החיים) הוציאו כסף לעשות את הפרוכת לפני / הק' (הקודש) ליום האדיר בשנה ונשלם מ"ק (מלאכת הקודש) בשנת / ותאזרני שמחה (תהילים ל:יב) והקדישו אותו בניו הי"ו (ה' יחים וישמרם) / לכ"ה (לכבוד התורה) כ"א (כה אמר) ה' בעת רצון עניתיך (ישעיהו מט:ח) אנס"ו (אמן נצח סלה ועד)."

Translation: The Lord loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob' (Ps. 87:2), family of the holy seed (?). Since he passed away, this is the embroidery that covered the coffin of the honourable Rabbi Nehemia son of the honourable old Rabbi Aaron, may God grant him the life of the afterworld. And his repose on the evening of the holy Sabbath the 11th of the month of Elul the year 5672 (Saturday, 24.08.1912), and for the exaltation of the his soul and the soul of his modest daughter Mrs. Simha, who passed away on the 3rd of Kislev the year 5673 (13.11.1912), may their souls be bound up in the bonds of life. Money was contributed to make this parokhet (to be displayed) in front of the Holy (Torah ark), on the mightiest day of the year (Yom Kippur - the Day of Atonement), and 'the work of the sanctuary' (based on Ex. 36:4) was completed in the year 'my glory may spring' (Ps. 30:12; the sum of the verse equals to the year 5674  - 1914), and it was consecrated by his sons, may the Lord sustain and protect them, in honour of the Torah. 'Thus saith the Lord, in an acceptable time have I heard thee (and in a day of salvation have I helped thee'; Isa. 49:8), Amen, evermore, Selah, forever."

The inscription is topped by a five-arm crown with a coronet-shape base decorated with rhomboids, and identified by the Hebrew inscription ""כתר תורה "Crown of Torah." Sanctuary Implements are set symmetrically on both sides, each accompanied by a title. In both extreme sides are two seven-branch menorot with round branches formed by foliate motifs (Ex. 25:31). Each of them carries round oil containers with flames. The menorot are supported by an undulating shaft decorated with grooves and a net of rhomboids, and are inscribed "מנורה" "menorah." Two additional Implements are set next to the menorot: on the left a leaf-shape fire tong with two handles (Remarks: no. 1) and the inscription "מלקחיה" "its (the menorah's) fire tongs," while on the right stands an oil jar with a handle and a lid, flanked by the inscription: "פך שמן" "jar of oil."  Below the menorot are two trees (Gen. 2:9), identified as the "Tree of Life" ("עץ חיים").

The central cloth is decorated with rounded rhomboids enclosing a six-petal flower. On its lower part is a band decorated with a row of almond shaped leaves (botté), set upon a background of dense open flowers. The main cloth and its lower band are framed by a thin strip bearing a wavy line with flowers.

On the bottom of the parokhet is a vase from which are emerging branches carrying leaves and flowers scrolling upwards. The parokhet is framed by a yellow folded cloth.

Summary and Remarks
  1. The fire tongs resemble a shovel.
  2. The inscription indicates that the main central cloth (the longi) was used to cover the coffins and only afterwards was it sewn to the other cloths, and became a parokhet.

14 image(s)

sub-set tree:

Name/Title
Parokhet | Unknown
Object Detail
Monument Setting
Unknown
Date
1914
Synagogue active dates
Reconstruction dates
Artist/ Maker
Unknown
Origin
Historical Origin
Unknown
Congregation
Unknown
Location
Unknown |
Site
Unknown
School/Style
Period
Period Detail
Collection
Israel | Sc_105
Israel | Jerusalem | Israel Museum (IM)
| Former Sc.105; now part of the Israel Museum Collection
Documentation / Research project
Unknown
Languages of inscription
Unknown
Shape / Form
Unknown
Material / Technique
Cotton, silver threads

Embroidery: gilded silver threads in laid and couched embroidery
Additions: paiets
Material Stucture
Material Decoration
Material Bonding
Material Inscription
Material Additions
Material Cloth
cotton, satin
Material Lining
cotton
Tesserae Arrangement
Density
Colors
Construction material
Measurements
Height
Length
225 cm
Width
156 cm, 7 cm (folded frame)
Depth
Circumference
Thickness
Diameter
Weight
Axis
Panel Measurements
Condition

The parokhet is in good 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
0
Ornamentation
Custom
Most Cochinian parokhot contain a central rectangular main cloth surrounded by a frame. Usually, the wedding skirt of a bride (longi) was used for the central cloth. The parokhot were also used for covering coffins, and were often dedicated to the synagogue after they were used as coffin covers. Sometimes they were taken from the synagogue for that purpose and were returned to functioning as Torah Ark curtains. This custom is still practised among the Cochin
communities. The origin of this custom still needs further research.
Each synagogue kept a wide range of parokhot in various colours. Each colour had significance for a particular holiday or event; thus since red is considered a wedding colour, red parokhot were hung during the Simhat Torah festival, alluding to the allegorical wedding between Israel and the Torah. White parokhot, such as the parokhet described below, were used on the Day of Atonement. The "colour system" also dominates in local customs and costumes.
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

The off-white parokhet is decorated with Sanctuary Implements, and two Trees of Life, alluding to the Garden of Eden. They flank a dedicatory inscription adorned by a Torah crown. 

Suggested Reconsdivuction
History/Provenance
Main Surveys & Excavations
Sources

-        Fishof, Iris. Ma'alin Ba'kodesh. Jerusalem: The Israel Museum, 1985. In Hebrew.

-        Slepak, Orpah. The Jews of India. Jerusalem: The Israel Museum, 1995. 

Type
Documenter
Orpa Brofman (Slepak) | 07.83
Author of description
Sandrine Rebibo; Ariella Amar | 01.05
Architectural Drawings
|
Computer Reconstruction
|
Section Head
Ariella Amar | 03.07
Language Editor
Judith Cardozo | 03.07
Donor
UNESCO |
Negative/Photo. No.
The following information on this monument will be completed:
Unknown |