Manipulating the cup of blessing: Gendered reading of ritual images in European Hebrew books

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Illustrations of couples dining in a ritual frame involving wine are especially common in illuminated haggadah manuscripts for Passover, which were used in a family ceremony celebrated by men and women together. Producers with various agendas adopted existing formulas but also inserted changes which at first glance usually look minor. By defining the nuances of different variations of such traditions and analyzing them in a broad sociological and cultural context, this article aims to suggest a gendered reading of these illustrations and reveal the individual motivation embedded in each case. As we shall see, the images support the gender hierarchy based on the rules and customs that define the ritual; they may challenge this clear hierarchy, but they never revoke it totally. The spectrum of cases to be presented will enable us to shed new light on the flexibility, as well as the limits, of the gendered frame of medieval art and ritual.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-234
Number of pages28
JournalStudies in Iconography
StatePublished - 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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