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San’a Pentateuch, 1469

San'a_Pentateuch

San’a Pentateuch

San’a Pentateuch, Yemen, 1469 The poem Give Ear; Deuteronomy 32.

A fine 15th-century example of illumination in a Pentateuch. Hebrew manuscripts from Islamic lands contained no images, but were decorated with Jewish elements and adapted Islamic motifs. The handwriting style here is typical of Yemen.

Penned in Hebrew square script in a typical Yemenite hand is a section from Shirat Ha’azinu (“Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth”), a lyrical poem that Moses recited in front of the Israelite congregation before his death (Deuteronomy 32).

The masoretic notes – instructions to readers on matters of intonation and pronunciation, written by Hebrew scholars – were added in the lower and upper margins and between columns.

Although the scribe did not sign his name in the colophon (the ‘credits panel’ at the end of a manuscript, where the scribes and artists might identify themselves and even address the reader) the calligraphy and layout of the manuscript evoke the style of Benayahu ben Se’adyah ben Zeharyah ben Margaz, a major Yemeni scribe (d. 1490).

British Library- San’a Pentateuch

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