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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Israel - Ethnic Costumes 1999


Yemenite Jewry
Yemenite Jewry is deeply rooted in the southern part of Arabia. Some claim that Jewish traders reached this remote area as early as the time of King Solomon. Historical sources establish their presence there since the first centuries CE. Because of the relative geographic and political isolation, Yemenite Jewry strictly adhered to their traditions, religion and customs, while maintaining contact with other Jewish centers in Babylonia, the Land of Israel, Egypt, Spain and Ashkenaz.

With the onset of Islam in Southern Arabia, the Jews became prot?g?s (“Dhimmi”) imposed with various prohibitions and laws, some of them humiliating. Despite this, Jews maintained their religion and a certain level of internal independence. The largest Jewish community, which influenced the entire Yemen, was in San’a, the capital, but most Jews lived in villages dispersed throughout the country. The Jews living in villages usually enjoyed better relations with their Moslem neighbors than did city Jews. The Jews differed from their neighbors in their outward appearance. In villages, the difference was in small details, in cities in their general appearance. Jewish men had side-locks and wore a Tallish (Prayer Shawl) and modest head co0vering. Jewish women in San’a wore characteristic attire, which was very different from that of the Moslem women. For example, they wore a hat “Gargush” that covered all of their hair.

The Jews always lived in communities and in San’a they even had their own separate quarter. They took measures not to be conspicuous with luxurious clothing and houses, but maintained an appearance of modesty. Most Jews were craftsmen, occupations not practiced by the Moslems, thus providing a necessary element to the country’s economy. They especially excelled at silver working and in embroidery, in which they attained impressive achievements. Many Jews also practiced weaving, pottery, basketry, glaziery and construction work.

The largest wave of immigration of Yemenite Jewry to Israel was after the State gained its independence (in 1949-50). Over the past few years the last remnants of Yemenite Jewry has immigrated and there are only a few hundreds who remain living in Yemen today.

Their expert knowledge of the Bible and the young age at which children began to study, are well known. Their influence on the arts in Israel is very noticeable, especially in the fields of silversmith work, music and dance.

Ester Muchawsky-Schnapper
Curator, Department of Jewish Ethnography
The Israel Museum, Jerusalem

“Bene Israel” community, India
The Bene Israel community, the largest of the three Jewish communities in India, live alongside the Baghdad and the Cochin Jews. For generations the community members lived in villages in the State of Maharashtra in Western India. Their traditional occupations were the production of oil, tilling the soil and carpentry. Under British rule, from the end of the 17th century onwards, many community members moved to cities and acquired various professions in public services, especially in the postal and telegraph services, customs, railroad, shipping and medicine.

Socially the relationships between Bene Israel and their Hindu, Moslem and Christian neighbors were friendly, each honouring the customs of the other.

The Jews in India were never fac3ed with prohibitions or limitations in dress, which they were free to choose according to their needs and ability. The Sari has always been the most common dress throughout India, amongst women of all religions. There have been no significant changes in the Sari over the generations and its current form is the same as when it made its first appearance in the first century CE. The Saris is a six to nine metre long piece of cloth, about a metre wide, not sewn nor cut, which is wrapped around the entire body. The manner of wear differs from one geographical region to another and, depends on the woman’s activity. The women adorned their feet with heavy silver jewelry and their faces were decorated with gold and silver ear and nose rings, inlaid with gemstones. During the 1920’s, when British education became widespread in girls’ school, far reaching changes occurred in dress, influenced by western attire, especially amongst the more affluent city dwellers, but the Sari still remains a very acceptable form of dress.

Orpa Slapak
Curator, Department of Jewish Ethnography
The Israel Museum, Jerusalem

Series Name: Ethnic Costumes Collection of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem
Day Of Issue: 16 February 1999
Catalog Number: 1509
Denomination: 2.15 NIS, 3.25 NIS
Color: multi-colored
Watermark: none
Phosphorus: none
Motifs: women
Sheet Of: Standart
Designer: Ad Vanooijen

Inscription:
"Traditional costume of a Jewish woman - Yemen"
"Traditional costume of a Jewish woman - India"

Inscription On Tab:
''Traditional costume of a Jewish woman; Yemen''
''Traditional costume of a Jewish woman; India''

Motifs:
Traditional costume of a Jewish woman; Yemen
Traditional costume of a Jewish woman; India

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