Diadem and Dagger: Jewish Silversmiths of Yemen

October 27, 2012–January 21, 2013

This focus show of approximately 25 objects introduces Yemeni-Jewish silverwork from the Zucker Family Trust collection. The rarely exhibited pieces dating to the 17th–19th century are inscribed in Hebrew and Arabic and reference the Muslim ruler and Jewish craftsman. Biblical tradition celebrates ties between the Arabian kingdom and Israel from the time of Queen Sheba and King Solomon, and it is known that Jews resided in Yemen since the time of Nebuchadnezzar’s siege of Jerusalem in the 580s B.C. From the inception of Islam in the seventh century, Jewish and Muslim communities co-existed in Yemen, although few Jews live there today. Yemeni-Jewish craftsmen produced beautiful silver pieces characterized by elaborate granulation and filigree decoration for Muslim and Jew alike. This exhibition explores the significant role and superb craftsmanship of the Jewish silversmith in the Arab world.

The Walters wishes to extend its deepest appreciation to Mr. Derek Content and Mr. Benjamin Zucker for the joint gift of most of the works on display here to the Walters and the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, in honor of Mrs. Amanda Content and Mrs. Barbara. We also thank Rosalee C. Davison for the loan of items from her collection. This exhibition is supported by The Irving Kohn Foundation and Nancy Kohn Rabin in memory of Josephine Kohn, The Richard S. and Rosalee C. Davison Foundation, The Joseph and Harvey Meyerhoff Family Charitable Funds, The Himmelrich Family Fund, The ASSOCIATED: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, Gloria and Joseph Askin, Sara and Nelson Fishman, Clara and Michael J. Klein, Phyllis and Harvey Meyerhoff, The Morton B. and Tamara S. Plant Family Foundation, Inc., Rona and Arthur Rosenbaum, Laura and Barrett Freedlander, Jane and Michael Glick, Paula and Roy Hoffberger, Elaine and Philip Zieve, and other generous donors.