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Obj. ID: 3675
Sacred and Ritual Objects
  Torah finials

© Center for Jewish Art, Photographer: Radovan, Zev, 1997

The tower-shaped Torah finial comprises a shaft, a body and an apex.

The cylindrical shaft is mounted over a raised base decorated with a floral decoration.

The tower-shaped body is mounted over a compressed globe and comprises two tiers topped by a conical dome. The compressed globe is adorned with oval medallions set against roses and leaves and enclosing flowers.

The hexagonal body tapers upwards. Each facet is formed by intertwined scrolled branches, and is divided into two tiers by a central horizontal band. Two horseshoe arches are set on each facet, one on each tier.

Hamsa pendants are suspended from the lower arches, while the upper arches enclose stylised lotus flowers. Scrolled loops carrying chains with bells are attached to the connections between the facets of the lower tier.

The conical dome decorated with grooves is mounted over the body, and is encircled by a crenellation of arches made of central palmettes flanked by a pair of branches.

An acorn-shaped apex, set on a floral circlet, is mounted over the dome. 

263294.DOC

8 image(s)

sub-set tree:

Object Detail
Date
1905-1942
Synagogue active dates
Reconstruction dates
Artist/ Maker
Unknown (Unknown)
Origin
Historical Origin
Unknown
Community type
North African | Tunisian
| Tunisia, Djerba, Hara Kbira
Congregation
Location
Unknown |
Site
Unknown
School/Style
Period Detail
Collection
Documentation / Research project
Unknown
Material/Technique
Silver
Material Stucture
hammered, spun, cast (apex)
Material Decoration
chased, sawed (facets), cast (implements)
Material Bonding
folded, soldered, screwed
Material Inscription
none
Material Additions
Material Cloth
Material Lining
Tesserae Arrangement
Density
Colors
Construction material
Measurements
Height
450 mm (general), 150 mm (shaft)
Length
Width
Depth
Circumference
Thickness
Diameter
55 mm (body), 20 mm (shaft)
Weight
Axis
Panel Measurements
Iconographical Subject
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
Coordinates: 0.000000, 0.000000
Ornamentation
Hamsa
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
One hallmark is stamped on each and every single part:
1. Authority

Group
Group
Group
Group
Group
Trade Mark
Binding
Decoration Program

The tower-shaped Torah finial is decorated with hamsa and lotuses attached to an architectural setting.

 

Summary and Remarks

Finials shaped as prismatic open-work towers are common in North African communities. The anthropologist Paul Eudel, who listed the typical Tunisian and Algerian artifacts, included in his books two types of tower-shaped finials, and defined them as characteristic objects found in the synagogues at the end of the 19th century. He identifies between wooden finials, called remounim (rimonim, namely pomegranates) and the silver finials Taboim or Tepohim, which reflects the local pronunciation of the Hebrew word Tapuhim, namely apples (see: Eudel, Dictionnaire, 1906, p. 212- 213; fig. 1).

Unlike the detailed explanation in the dictionary of 1906, specifying the exact use of the twin finials, Audel names the finial in the earlier book L'orfèvrerie Algérienne et Tunisienne (1902, p. 282) as "Lampadaire de synagogue", that is "a synagogue standing lamp". It is possible that Audel's name alludes to the resemblance between traditional metal lanterns and the finials, both shaped in an architectonic form including horse-shoe openings (see: Torah finials, Sc.91-7.

The pendants suspended from the arches in our finial are local Tunisian features. Traditionally, the pendants were fashioned in the shape of sanctuary implements, as on the Judah (Yehudah) and Meir Bukhritz finials made in Tunis between 1856 and 1905,

The open hand (hamsa) is designed in a typical southern Tunisian manner. Similar pendants were part of the jewelry worn by local women, Jews and Muslims alike. This motif is known in the region as the hand of Fatmah, the daughter of Muhammad, and is regarded as an emblem which protects against evil eye (figs. 3, 4; for other depictions prevalent in the Islamic non-Jewish environment.

  1. The two pairs of finials (Sc.96-22 and Sc.96-23) were made by the same silversmith.                
Suggested Reconsdivuction
History/Provenance
Main Surveys & Excavations
Bibliography
• Amar, Ariella. "Synagogues and Ritual Artifacts." In Tunisia, Jewish Communities in the East in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Ed. Haim, Saadoun, 251-268. Jerusalem: Ministry of Education and the Ben-Zvi Institute of Yad Izhak Ben-Zvi and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2005. In Hebrew. • Eudel, Paul. L'orfèvrerie Algérienne et Tunisienne. Alger: Imprimeur Libraire Éditeur, 1902. In French. • Eudel, Paul. Dictionnaire des Bijoux de l'Afrique du Nord. Ernest Leroux, Éditeur, 1906. In French. • Grafman, Rafi, ed. 50 Rimonim: A Selection of Torah Finials from a European Family Collection. Tel Aviv: Tel Aviv University, The Judaica Museum, The Cymbalista Synagogue and Jewish Heritage Center, 1998. In English and Hebrew.
Short Name
Full Name
Volume
Page
Type
Documenter
Ariella Amar | 07.97
Author of description
Efrat Assaf-Shapira; Ariella Amar | 08.01; 06.11
Architectural Drawings
|
Computer Reconstruction
|
Section Head
Ariella Amar | 08.01; 06.11
Language Editor
Dvora Sax | 10.11
Donor
|
Negative/Photo. No.