PRINT October 1978

The Woven Word

“There is a metaphysics of embroidery and weaving for the detailed description of which a whole volume might be required . . .”

—Ananda K. Coomaraswamy

IT WAS INITIALLY TEMPTING to experience “The Fabric of Jewish Life” at the Jewish Museum for the sheer sensual pleasure afforded by this display of rare textiles. These ornate artifacts, made of weave-patterned silks, cut velvets, handmade laces of gold and silver and polychrome silk embroidery, are almost too rich to digest. Yet the form and symbolism of the works, so intriguingly unfamiliar, led one on, until the desire to decipher their meaning had to be satisfied. The full beauty of these objects, it turned out, is only fully revealed when the cultural context of the works, and of the artisans who made them, is illuminated. The exhibition, a representative sample of the museum’s permanent textile collection, sought to clarify this issue

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