CAPTURING THE MOMENT: Centuries of the Passover Haggadah



Illustrated haggadot (plural of haggadah) represent the time and place of their creation. While the text remains largely the same, the art in the Haggadot reflects the cultures, customs, fashions, landscapes, architecture, and artistic styles of the periods in which they appear.

Haggadot created in the late medieval and early modern periods depict green European landscapes, rich with gothic castles and towns. These sceneries serve as background to the events that take place in Egypt, while Pharaoh and the Egyptian army appear as knights in medieval armor. Eighteenth-century haggadot, following the artistic style of the time, show Pharaoh and his men wearing the latest fashion of German courtiers. Images adorning haggadot printed in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries are often copies or variations of Christian illustrations of the Bible. These illustrations would be found in printed haggadot for generations to come.

The haggadot in this exhibit are part of Duke University Libraries' vast collection of Passover Haggadot, both fascimiles and originals, created in the last 800 years in many languages, places of origin, and styles.

Curated by Rachel Ariel, Librarian for Jewish Studies, with the help and support of Margaret Brown, Exhibits Coordinator. Omeka designed by Allison Mitteer.

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