"On a Harp of Ten Strings I Will Sing Praises to You": Envisioning Women and Music in the Oppenheimer Siddur

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapterpeer-review

Abstract

Three rare and striking illustrations feature women and music in the fifteenth-century Oppenheimer Siddur (Oxford Bodleian Library MS Opp. 776), a dated, user-produced Ashkenazic book of daily prayers completed in 1471. Women playing musical instruments occur rarely in Hebrew manuscript art, and, when they do, it is most often in a specific, archetypical context, such as narrative scenes in Passover Haggadot. Due to rabbinic prohibitions against instrumental music in the synagogue, the inclusion in a Jewish prayer book of women playing musical instruments is enigmatic and invites close study of this unusual aspect of the manuscript’s iconographic program. This chapter focuses on the symbolism of the feminine elements in these three compositions, examining how they relate to other illustrations in this prayer book, contemporaneous love iconography in Christian secular art of the period, and other medieval Hebrew illuminated manuscripts, as well as Jewish literature.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Jewish Music Studies
EditorsTina Fruhauf
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Chapter29
Pages664–697
ISBN (Electronic)9780197528655
ISBN (Print)9780197528624
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023

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