Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Birds’ Head Haggadah – scholar gives new insights into Jewish medieval text

The Birds’ Head Haggadah, a manuscript dating from around the year 1300, is considered one of the most interesting and mysterious pieces of Jewish art from the Middle Ages. In “Birds Head Revisited: Identity, Politics and Polemics the Birds’ Head Haggadah”, a special lecture held at the University of Toronto last month, Professor Marc Michael Epstein offered some new insights into this work, the earliest surviving illustrated version of the Haggadah text.

Readers of this particular Haggadah, which is a collection of prayers, illustrations, and stories recited on the Jewish holiday of Passover, will immediately notice that all of the illustrated Jewish figures are not depicted as people, but appear to have bird’s heads on the bodies of human beings. Epstein, Professor of Religion at Vassar College, explains that the figures are drawn to be Griffins, which were very popular figures in medieval Jewish literature.

Click here to read this article from Medievalists.net