- Katrin Kogman-Appel
Hebrew Bible (Jerusalem, National.. Library of Israel., MS. Heb 4°790, and a single page in Toledo, El Transito Synagogue and Sephardic Museum), copied c. 1260, perhaps in Toledo by Menachem ben Abraham ibn Malikh for Isaac bar Abraham Hadad, both members of known and documented Toledan families. At some later stage further decorations were added, apparently in Burgos. The Damascus Keter is an outstanding exemplar out of approximately 120 decorated Bibles from Iberia and belongs to a group of three very similar codices from the middle of the 13th century, produced in Toledo. It thus represents a rich tradition of Jewish art flourishing between the 13th and the 15th centuries. These Bibles were used either by scholars for private study, or for biblical readings during synagogue services.
Typical of numerous Bibles from the Middle East and the Iberian Peninsula, the decoration consists of numerous carpet pages executed in Micrography and enriched by painted embellishments. This is a technique typically used in Hebrew decorated books and harks back to Middle Eastern manuscripts of the 10th century. Apart from the carpet pages, the Damascus Keter contains numerous decorated scribal notations common to Iberian Bibles: calligraphic frames adorning the carpet designs and several other pages; decorated verse counts at the end of each biblical book; decorated signs marking the reading portions of the Pentateuch according to both to the triannual Babylonian (parashot) and the annual Palestinain (sedarim) reading cycles.
See also Jewish art §V 1., (ii).
- Y. Yoel: ‘A Keter From 1260 in the National Library (Hebrew)’, Kiryat Sefer, 38 (1962), pp. 122–32
- G. Sed-Rajna: ‘Toledo or Burgos’, Journal of Jewish Art [cont. as Jew. A.], 2 (1978), pp. 6–21
- Books from Sefarad (exh. cat., ed. R. Weiser; Jerusalem, 1992), no. 1
- K. Kogman-Appel: Jewish Book Art Between Islam and Christianity. The Decoration of Hebrew Bibles in Medieval Spain (Leiden, 2004), chap. III