Chanukka-Eisen: Ethnography, Museums and “Hanukkah Lamps of Iron” from Rural Germany

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This case study combines the disciplines of art history, community history, and ethnographic fieldwork to identify a group of museum objects within their cultural context. It shows how ethnography can be used to supplement the tool box available to the art historian in a positive way. Thus, private collections are used to identify the group of Hanukkah lamps of sheet metal in museums. Images of the lamps in folk and fine art, and mention of them in newspaper advertisements and community satirical publications—all contemporary to the period of their use—were consulted. Over 80 interviewees from southern Germany, Alsace, and the Netherlands were interviewed; the majority former teachers from a Jewish school in Wurzburg, others residing in Jerusalem and on the Moshav Shavei Tzion. As a result, the Hanukkah lamps were identified by country, ethnic group, religious affiliation, and object name in the local idiom. Tracing the development and geographic spread of the form also enabled us to identify the same lamp used in different social contexts, among itinerate members of society and the bourgeoisie.

Chanukka-Eisen: Ethnography, Museums and “Hanukkah Lamps of Iron” from Rural Germany

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References

7

Mordechai NarkissThe Hanukkah Lamp (Jerusalem: Bnei Bezalel1939) (in Hebrew).

10

See Rudoph ArnheimArt and Visual Perception A Psychology of the Creative Eye (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press1974): 5 61.

15

Letter to the author dated June 30th 1983.

18

Israel Meir ha-CohenMishnah Berurah (Jerusalem: Vaad ha-Yeshivot1973) Laws of Hanukkah no. 671:2.

22

Suzanne LandauArchitecture in the Hanukkah Lamp (Jerusalem: The Israel Museum1973): fig. 18.1 cf. S. R. Jones Old Houses in Holland London Paris (New York: The Studio Ltd. 1913).

24

Ruth EisHanukkah Lamps of the Judah L. Magnes Museum (Berkeley, CA: Judah L. Magnes Museum1977). Strauss Collection inv. No. MC 105: Holland eighteenth century sheet brass punched 25 × 23 × 6.5 cm.

26

Isaiah ShacharThe Jewish Year (Leiden: E.J. Brill1975): plate 25 c: Hanukah lamp Holland (Portuguese type): eighteenth century see Barnett Catalogue no. 247; Narkiss The Hannukah Lamp no. 58; M.H. Gans Memorboek p. 31; pl. 25 d: Hanukah lamp Holland (Ashkenazi type): eighteenth century see Barnett Catalogue no. 258.

28

See Franz Landsberger“The Origin of the Ritual Implements of the Sabbath,” in Beauty in Holinessed. by Joseph Gutman (New York: Ktav 1970): 173–182.

30

See Batsheva Goldman-Ida“The Sephardic Woman’s Head-dress in Spain and in the Ottoman Empire,” in From Iberia to Diaspora Studies in Sephardic History and Cultureeds. by Yedida K. Stillman and Norman A. Stillman (Leiden: Brill Academic Press 1998): 525–530.

Figures

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    Mizrach, prayer plaque, c. 1820, Ansbach. Formerly collection H. Eisenmann, London. (Photo: Alfred Rubens, A History of Jewish Costume, London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1973, no. 28).
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    Carl Sichler, Hanukkah Lamp, eighteenth century, Horb-am-Neckar, Germany, pewter, cast and engraved, 26.9 × 24 cm. The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, The Feuchtwanger Collection, purchased and donated by Baruch and Ruth Rappaport, Geneva, HF 0349, 118/615. (Photo © The Israel Museum, Jerusalem by Elie Posner)
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    “Purim-Anzeigen” (Purim Ads), Das Jüdische Blatt, year 3, no. 9, March 1st, 1912, Ansbach-Strasbourg. Dated in Hebrew, 12 Adar 5672. (Photo by Batsheva Goldman-Ida).
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    Moritz Daniel Oppenheim, Das Licht oder Weihefest (The Kindling of the Chanukkah Lights), 1880, detail, grisaille, oil on canvas, 70.4 × 57.2 cm. The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Gift of Sally H. Cramer, London, in memory of his brother Herbert, B51.01.0104 (Photo © Israel Museum, Jerusalem by Elie Posner.)
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    Chanukka-Eisen, c. 1860, Rexingen near Horb- am Neckar, Württemberg, sheet iron, repoussé and punched, 8.5 × 39 × 14 cm. Collection Katie Lemberger, Shavei Tzion, 1981. (Photo by Batsheva Goldman-Ida.)
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    Hanukkah Lamp (Chanukka-Eisen), nineteenth century, Germany, tin (sheet iron), repoussé and soldered, 15.2 × 23 × 5 cm (without shamash). Israel Museum, Jerusalem, The Feuchtwanger Collection, purchased and donated by Baruch and Ruth Rappaport, Geneva, HF 0357, 118/623. (Photo © Israel Museum, Jerusalem by Yair Hovav).
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    Hanukkah Lamp (Chanukka-Eisen), nineteenth century, tin, stamped and soldered, 10.9 × 21.3 × 7.7 cm. The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, The Feuchtwanger Collection, purchased and donated by Baruch and Ruth Rappaport, Geneva, HF 0359, 118/625 (Photo © Israel Museum, Jerusalem by Yair Hovav).
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    Chanukka-Eisen, nineteenth century, Germany, tin (sheet iron), repoussé and soldered. Stamped “Petroleum, Highly Inflammable.” Israel Museum, Jerusalem. (Photo © Israel Museum, Jerusalem, The Isidore and Anne Falk Information Center for Judaica and Jewish Ethnography.)
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    Hannukah Lamp (Chanukka-Eisen), Alsace (?), France, late 19th century, tin plate, 5.7×20.5×6 cm. The Jewish Museum, New York, Gift of Dr. Harry G. Friedman, F3738.
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    Yitzchak Kali with his Chanukka-Eisen, post WWII, 1981, Moshav Beit Me’ir, Israel. (Photo by Batsheva Goldman-Ida.)
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    Chanoeka-ijzer, c. 1860, Holland, sheet brass, repoussé and pierced, 30 × 25 × 8 cm. Watermann Family, Jerusalem, 1983. (Photo by Batsheva Goldman-Ida.)
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    Chanoeka-ijzer, eighteenth or nineteenth century, Holland, sheet brass, punch-work, 24 × 7 × 22 cm. Engelsmann Family, Jerusalem, 1983. (Photo by Batsheva Goldman-Ida.)
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    Louis Schwarz, “Schneller als alle übringen Chanukah-Leuchter” (“I bring you Chanukah-Leuchter faster than all”), Mainz, November 1889, ad published in (Der Israelit: ein Centralorgan für das orthodoxe Judaenthum, Vol. XXX, No. 96 (Mainz, 9 December 1889), 1676. Compact Memory, Universitätsbibliothek, UB, Goethe Universität, Frankfurt am Main, http://sammlungen.ub.uni-frankfurt.de/cm/periodical/titleinfo/2448018.

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