The Elusive Line between Ornament and Meaning in the Ornamental Carpet Pages of Iberian Hebrew Bible

The Elusive Line between Ornament and Meaning in the Ornamental Carpet Pages of Iberian Hebrew Bible

Tuesday

March 3, 2020

5:30 PM-6:30 PM

Auditorium

225 South St
Williamstown, MA 01267

Center for Spain in America Fellow Julie A. Harris presents, “The Elusive Line between Ornament and Meaning in the Ornamental Carpet Pages of Iberian Hebrew Bibles (c. 1260–1320).”

Full-page “carpet pages” in the Hebrew Bibles of Iberia, like their counterparts in Insular Gospels, functioned as frontispieces to the books and to divisions within the text. While not iconographic in the traditional sense of the word, even ornamental carpet pages may be seen as deliberately meaningful, but the line between ornament and meaning is elusive and must be examined from the perspective of medieval Jewish visuality.

Julie A. Harris is a specialist in the art of medieval Spain who is affiliated with the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership in Chicago. She has published on ivory carving, pilgrimage, and the fate of art and architecture during the Reconquest. Her work on the art of Jewish Iberia may be found in Gesta, Medieval Encounters, the Journal of Medieval Iberian Studies, and the Journal of Medieval History. Her project at the Clark concerns the decorative Carpet pages of Iberian Hebrew Bibles, in particular their materiality, function, and the tension between ornament and meaning presented by their decoration.