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Bridal casket (cofanetto)
Northern Italy
Second half of the 15th century
Silver, engraved and partly gilt, niello
Inscribed in Hebrew: On the side, an acronym representing the three women’s commandments (to separate hallah, immerse in a ritual bath, and light Sabbath candles); on the lid, names of clothes and household linens are inscribed in Hebrew and Italian in Hebrew letters
H: 13, W: 6; L: 6.6 cm
Gift of Astorre Mayer, Milan
Accession number: B51.04.0207 ; 131/030

On the side of this rare box, the three religious precepts given specifically to women are depicted: separating hallah, immersing in a ritual bath, and lighting Sabbath candles. The box was presented to a woman in honor of her marriage, and was probably designed to hold the keys to clothes chests. Due to the prohibition against carrying anything outdoors on the Sabbath, the keys were placed in this box and the owner wore the tiny key to the box as an ornament. The dials on the lid enabled her to keep track of the assorted tablecloths, sheets, and clothing used in the household.

From the Israel Museum publications:
The Jewish World 365 Days, from the Collections of The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Publisher: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York, USA, 2004
The Israel Museum, Publisher: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2005
Zalmona, Yigal, ed., The Israel Museum at 40: Masterworks of Beauty and Sanctity, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 2005
3x50@50: IMJ Collection Highlights, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 2015

Highlights of the Judaica and Jewish Ethnography Collections Online, Israel Museum, Jerusalem

Digital presentation of this object was made possible by: The Ridgefield Foundation, New York, in memory of Henry J. and Erna D. Leir

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