Jewish Ceremonial textiles and the Torah: exploring conservation practices in relation to ritual textiles associated with holy texts

Morris, Bernice and Brooks, Mary M. (2006) Jewish Ceremonial textiles and the Torah: exploring conservation practices in relation to ritual textiles associated with holy texts. In, Hayward, Maria and Kramer, Elizabeth (eds.) Textiles and Text. Textiles and Text: Re-establishing the Links Between Archival and Object-based Research London, UK, Archetype, 244-248.


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Jewish texts are integral to Jewish life. The Torah (the central text of Judaism) and the vast body of Rabbinical writings provide the rules by which observant Jews live. These written rules extend to the correct treatment of all objects, including textiles, used in religious rituals. This work considers how these rules may impact on the actual conservation treatment of Jewish ritual textiles.

Jewish culture is rich in attractive textiles that are highly embellished, and prized by their communities. In order to keep these textiles in ritual use, or to prepare them for museum display or storage, conservation measures are often necessary. However, Jewish texts suggest that the textiles used in religious practice, such as Torah mantles, binders and Ark curtains should be regarded as holy, and thus warrant special considerations for their handling, storage and display. Considerations include types of materials used, on which day and times conservation can be performed, and how any removed parts should be discarded. According to professional ethics, conservators should consider the desires of originating cultures when treating their objects, yet few conservators were aware of the commandments imposed by Judaism to preserve the textiles’ holy qualities. This article examines the conservation issues presented by Jewish ceremonial textiles in order to suggest strategies for conservators to simultaneously acknowledge the textiles’ physical preservation needs as well as the rules dictated by the religious texts.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: Postprints from the third annual conference of the AHRC Research Centre for Textile Conservation and Textile Studies - to be published by Archetype Publications in July 2007
ISBNs: 9781904982265 (paperback)
Related URLs:
Keywords: judaism, torah, conservation, ceremonial textiles, ethics
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NM Artefact
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BM Judaism
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Art
ePrint ID: 47041
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
2006In press
Date Deposited: 24 Jul 2007
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 12:22

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