Barcelona Haggadah

Folio 61

Folio 61

This unleavened bread… Why do we mention it… The dough that our fathers had did not have time to become leavened…’ Musicologists are fascinated by the musical instruments depicted. The coat of arms of Barcelona is also shown on this leaf hence the name ‘Barcelona Haggadah’.

The object most commonly illustrated in haggadot is undoubtedly the matzo, of which a lavish rendering is to be seen on this page.

This is the most elaborate representation of all haggadot of this time, in which a matzo is incorporated into a format that, according to Z. Ameisenowa and others, has no less than cosmic significance. The matzo is formed of eight concentric circles that symbolise the cosmos, while the five earthly musicians in the arcade at the foot of the page, in relationship with the nude trumpeters in the corners who perhaps personify the Four Winds, would represent universal harmony. The four coats of arms which occupy a significant position in the decoration of the matzah were left unfinished in spare ground.

Such shields, presumably intended to contain armorial devices, were noted in folios 26a and 28b of this manuscript, but here they are placed between escutcheons of four azure and three gold stripes, identified by some scholars as the arms of Barcelona. This association led to the manuscript being dubbed the Barcelona Haggadah.

The words that begin this section of Gamaliel’s text, ‘this unleavened bread’, are separated by an illustration of a seated man elevating a matzo in each hand. Verso there is no decoration.

Leaf size is approximately 255 x 190mm (10 x 7.5in)

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