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Dorothy Fuchs

Diadem and Dagger: Jewish Silversmiths of Yemen

Diadem and Dagger: Jewish Silversmiths of Yemen

October 27, 2012–January 21, 2013

The Walters Art Museum
600 North Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21201


This focus show of approximately 25 objects celebrates Yemeni-Jewish silverwork from the Zucker Family Trust and the Rosalee C. Davison collections, dating between the 18th and the 19th century. According to oral traditions, a Jewish presence in the Yemen dates back to the reign of King Solomon, who is believed to have sent artisans with Queen Sheba when she returned to her Arabian Kingdom. The earliest historic evidence for Jews in the Arabian Peninsula, however, dates to the initial centuries of the Common Era. From the inception of Islam in the seventh century, Jewish and Muslim communities co-existed in Yemen, although few Jews live there today due to modern conflicts.

Yemeni-Jewish craftsmen created beautiful silver pieces characterized by elaborate granulation and filigree decoration for Muslims and Jews. The Zucker collection, assembled from 1960 to1980, and now a generous bequest to the Walters and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, consists of female headpieces, bracelets, necklaces and belt buckles. The collection also includes daggers made exclusively for the Muslim male elite. Many of these works carry the name of the Jewish silversmith in Hebrew and an Arabic stamp of Yemenite Muslim rulers. While giving attention to the superb craftsmanship of these works of art, the exhibition’s main focus is the rich social and religious customs associated with the jewelry which are often linked to significant moments in the lives of Yemeni Jews and Muslims, including birth and marriage. 

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.


Hours are Wednesday–Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursdays 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.The museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. New Evening Hours: Beginning Oct. 4, the Walters will be open every Thursday evening from 5–9 p.m. for Constellation Thursday Nights.



S S Habshush, Pair of Triangular Pendants from a Woman's Headpiece, 1215 AH/AD 1800-1801, silver, Triangle H without loops: 1 7/16 x W of base: 1 1/8 in., Joint gift to the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, and the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, by Mr. Benjamin Zucker and Mr. Derek Content in honor of Mrs. Barbara Zucker and Mrs. Amanda Content, 2010 (57.2312 A & B)

Sulayman Salih, Thuma, 1267 AH/AD 1850-1851, silver with gilding and wood, L: 22 1/16 x W: 16 1/8 in.; L of blade: 11 x W of blade: 18 7/8 in., Joint gift to the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, and the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, by Mr. Benjamin Zucker and Mr. Derek Content in honor of Mrs. Barbara Zucker and Mrs. Amanda Content, 2010 (51.1451)


General museum information: 410-547-9000 or

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