Object of the Month


Spice Box 19th century, Augsburg, Germany, gilt silver.  Gift of Harry G. Friedman.  Cincinnati Art Museum de-accession, 53.128.

The Festival of Sukkot, a seven day Thanksgiving festival, takes place four days after Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.  Sukkot is one of Judaism’s harvest festivals and is often celebrated with various festivities, such as Consecration, the ceremony marking the beginning of a child’s Jewish education, and meals in the Sukkah.  The Sukkah is a temporary hut that is decorated with harvest symbols and is required to have at least three walls.  The sukkah is meant to represent the huts that the Israelites inhabited during their 40 year journey in the desert, as well as God’s continuing protection and shelter.  Two other important symbols of Sukkot are the lulav and etrog.  These two items refer to the four species described in the book of Leviticus.  The lulav is the product of three different trees, taking branches and leaves from the palm, myrtle, and willow trees.  The fourth species is the etrog, a sweet citrus fruit indigenous to Israel.

The Cincinnati Skirball Museum has in its collection two very different etrog holders or containers.  One is silver and was made in Germany in the nineteenth century.  The container is a literal representation of the etrog fruit with meticulous detail given to the texture of the fruit skin.  The other etrog container was crafted in 1989 by Zelig Segal in Israel.  This beautiful silver and mahogany example features a modern and streamlined design of a capsule holding the etrog suspended in a wooden holder. 

Click here to see a larger version >