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4

A MAGNIFICENTLY DECORATED KETUBBAH FROM BOMBAY, 1853

Estimate:

10,000

to
- 20,000 USD

A MAGNIFICENTLY DECORATED KETUBBAH FROM BOMBAY, 1853

A MAGNIFICENTLY DECORATED KETUBBAH FROM BOMBAY, 1853

Estimate:

10,000

to
- 20,000 USD

Lot sold:

63,000

USD

A MAGNIFICENTLY DECORATED KETUBBAH FROM BOMBAY, 1853


Ink and shell gold on paper (19 1/2 x 15 1/4 in.; 500 x 390 mm); written in Eastern Hebrew square (blessings at head and incipit) and semi-cursive (text body) scripts in black ink on twenty-four lines; witness signatures below. Text within multifoil arch and surrounded by floral decorations and pairs of peacocks and tigers. Minor cockling and flaking; small loss in upper-left corner; short tear in outer edge at left. Housed in a metal tube (15 1/2 in.; 400 mm).


Celebrating the wedding of Reuben Hai [ben] David Sassoon Saleh and Khatun bat David Hai Ezekiel Abraham Matsliah on Monday, 6 Adar I 5613 (February 14, 1853).


This splendid marriage contract records the wedding of Reuben David Sassoon and Catherine (Kate) Ezekiel (1838-1906), members of two of the greatest Baghdadi merchant families in India. The document, profusely ornamented with gold floral designs, opens with two panels containing decoratively penned blessings customarily found on marriage contracts from India. This traditional literary prelude to the main body of the ketubbah text offers good wishes to the bride and groom, as well as to the entire community. The pair of recumbent tigers protectively placed below the blessings are a motif exclusive to the ketubbot of the Baghdadi Jews of India and likely represent the special regard in which these exotic animals were held. The double pair of peacocks seen here can be found on other ketubbot from the Far East, where they are often employed as decorative paradisal elements.


Elaborately decorated marriage contracts from Bombay rarely come to market. The present ketubbah is a superb witness to the traditions and artistry of the illustrious Baghdadi Jewish community of India.


Literature

Shalom Sabar, “The Illuminated Ketubbah,” in Orpa Slapak (ed.), The Jews of India: A Story of Three Communities (Jerusalem: The Israel Museum, 1995), 167-202.

To request a condition report for this lot, please contact Shaul.Seidlerfeller.consultant@sothebys.com.