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Obj. ID: 7557
Sacred and Ritual Objects
  Elijah's rod, Afghanistan, 1884

© Center for Jewish Art, Photographer: Radovan, Zev, 1988

The cylindrical Elijah's rod is topped by a globular knob. The rod is divided into three units by a ring inlaid with turquoise triangles. Two units are covered in silver and are inscribed with a circumferential inscription alternating with a foliate strip. The lower section is plain wood.
The dedicatory inscription is inscribed in square, outlined Hebrew-Persian characters, and is read from top to bottom:

"זה מטה שהקדיש יעקב חיים בן מ' (מולא) מרדכי לביהכ''נ (לבית הכנסת) של הראד ש' (שנת)ויתברכו לפ''ק (לפרט קטן)"

"This is the rod that was dedicated by Jacob Haim, son of Mullah Mordechai, to the synagogue of Herat, the year (5)644 (1884)". The sum of the letters of the marked word "ויתברכו" (and will be blessed) indicates the year.
A knob-shaped handle, mounted over a concave cuff, is decorated with diagonal bands.

Remarks:

The above described Elijah's rod is an additional link that connects the Afghanistan Jews to the Persian Jewish communities of Bukhara and Caucasus. Of  the few rods documented among the Afghani Jews,this rod is another piece of evidence linking the communities. The origins of the use of the rod have not yet been established, and there are still some missing links as for the prototype of the object, as well as for the practice. See: Sc.542- 423; Sc. 238- 12.

9 image(s)

sub-set tree:

Name/Title
Mateh Eliyahu (Elijah's rod) | Unknown
Object Detail
Date
1884
Synagogue active dates
Reconstruction dates
Artist/ Maker
Unknown (Unknown)
Origin
Historical Origin
Unknown
Community type
Congregation
Location
Unknown |
Site
Unknown
School/Style
Unknown|
Period
Unknown
Period Detail
Collection
Documentation / Research project
Unknown
Material/Technique
Wood, silver, silver-plated copper
Structure: cut
Decoration: repoussé, chased, punched, engraved, set turquoise gems
Bonding: soldered, screwed
Inscription: engraved
Material Stucture
Material Decoration
Material Bonding
Material Inscription
Material Additions
Material Cloth
Material Lining
Tesserae Arrangement
Density
Colors
Construction material
Measurements
Height: 1350 mm
Diameter: 220 mm (overall), 60 mm (handle)
Height
Length
Width
Depth
Circumference
Thickness
Diameter
Weight
Axis
Panel Measurements
Iconographical Subject
Unknown |
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
According to the Jewish tradition, Elijah, the angel of the covenant (Mal. 3:1;
based on: 1 Kgs. 19: 14), is present in each and every circumcision ceremony
(Pirkei De-Rabbi Eliezer (Horev ed.), ch. 28). In most communities his presence
in the ceremony is represented by a special chair, known as "Elijah's chair",
which is also mentioned during the benedictions.
In the Persian Jewish communities of Central Asia, Afghanistan and Caucasus,
the arrival of Elijah at the circumcision is also marked by a special staff, attributed
to the old messenger, named "Elijah's rod" (figs. 1-3). Jewish folktales of
Afghanistan describe Elijah the prophet as an old man worn out from the
many circumcisions he must attend. He therefore leans on his rod and sits
on his chair in order to rest a little. As the rod is believed to have healing powers,
associated with the revival stories of the prophet Elijah (1 Kgs. 17: 21-24) and his
disciple (2 Kgs. 4: 29), the rod is brought to the house of a birthing woman, in order
to protect her and the newborn (See: Noy, Afghanistan: Folklore; Kurt, Matehu; Hanegbi, The Circumcision; Amar, Ingathering, p. 97).
Apart from the custom, the staffs of the three communities share common artistic features. The rod is usually covered with silver sheets, and is surrounded with an inscribed band. However, the ornaments differ in style and shape and the decoration of the knob (see: Sc.238- 12; Sc.542- 423, and main photo).
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
Amar, Ariella and Ruth Jacoby, eds. Ingathering of the Nations. Jerusalem: Center for Jewish Art, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1998. In English and Hebrew. Hanegbi, Zohar and Yaniv, Bracha. 34-35. Jerusalem: Center for Jewish Art, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1991. In English and Hebrew. Kurt, Zevulun. "Matehu shel Eliyahu Ha-Navi" (Elijah's Rod). Yeda Am. Vol. 7. No. 25. P. 64. 1962. In Hebrew. Noy, Dov. s.v. "Afghanistan: Folklore". Encyclopedia Judaica, 2nd ed.
Short Name
Full Name
Volume
Page
Type
Documenter
Mira Smoli | 11.87
Author of description
Mira Smoli; Ariella Amar | 11.87; 07.07
Architectural Drawings
|
Computer Reconstruction
|
Section Head
Bracha Yaniv; Ariella Amar | 11.87; 07.07
Language Editor
Judith Cardozo | 10.07
Donor
|
Negative/Photo. No.