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Torah finials, India, Kerala, 1565, Sc. 079 - 24

Category: Ritual object



Name/Title: Rimonim
Object: Torah finial
Artist/Maker: Unknown
Date: 1565 (inscription)
Period: Portuguese rule
Origin: India, Kerala
Community: Palu community (probably Palur community)
Collection: Sc. 079
Location: Sc. 079
Site: Not relevant
School/Style: India


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Material & Technique
Gold, silver, wood
Structure: gold folded on wood, hammered
Decoration: cut
Bonding: folded, soldered
Inscription: engraved

Height: 250 mm; 130 mm (shaft)
Diameter: 50 mm


Decoration Program
Not relevant

The globular Torah finial consists of a shaft, a body and an apex.
The cylindrical shaft is bordered on the bottom by a ring carrying small diagonal lines and a large and angular ring, on top. The pomegranate like finial has a plain body adorned by a whorl of lotus leaves, on top and bottom. A circumferential dedicatory inscription is engraved in square linear letters, which reads:
"זה הרמון של בית הכנסת פלו(ר) שנת השכ"ה"
"This is the Torah finial (possession) of the synagogue of Palu (Palur?; see remark no. 1), the year 5325 (1565)"
The apex is an elongated cylinder emerging from a wide angular base.

The Torah finials were part of the ritual objects, used in the synagogue of Parur until they were sold in the second half of the 20th century. They were brought to Israel by Jewish immigrants from Cochin.

The finials had some reparation but are generaly in good condition.

The finials are one of the earlier testaments of the Jewish community in the Malabar Coast, in south west India. The name of the synagogue of Palu engraved on them, possibly relates to the synagogue of Palur – a Jewish settlement, which no longer exits, known as Palur. The exact location of this settlement is uncertain, and some scholars identify it as the town of Palayur, in north Kerala. The presence of Jews in Palayur in earlier times, may be indicated by the naming and designation of places as "Jew well" and "Jew hill" - up till today, with no Jewish life existing. Christian sources also refer to an early Jewish presence there and some say the remains of a synagogue can be seen nearby the church (see bibliography). Besides folk stories and oral traditions among the Jews and the local environment, this inscription is therefore the only historical evident mentioning the Jewish settlement and its synagogue.
These finials are unique in their shape and are one of the earliest dated finials known until now. They resemble the pomegranate fruit and it is possible that the name Rimon (pomegranate) derives from their shape (A.A).

Bar Giorah, Naftali, "Le'toldot Batei Hakneset BeCochin", Sefunot, second book, Jerusalem, 1968, pp. 214-245 (In  Hebrew).
Brown, L. W., The Indian Christians of St.Thomas – an Account of the Ancient Syrian Church of Malabar, Cambridge, 1956, p.54, 62-63.
Slepak, Orpa, The Jews of India (Exh. Cat.), Jerusalem: Israel museum, 1995, p.58.


Type: Original  
Photographer: Date: Negative no.:
Zev Radovan 11.1983 62680 - 4
Object: Photograph:  
Sc. 079 CJA  
Function: Name: Date:
Documenter Orpa Bronfman (Slepak) 11.83
Researcher Sandrine Rebibo 09.04
Section Head Ariella Amar 11.05
Editor Judith Cardozo 06.07
IJA No.: Not relevant  


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