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IX Motifs in Jewish Synagogue Art

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Chapter Summary

Synagogue art motifs appear on architectural elements such as lintels, friezes, and mosaic floors, as well as on funerary art. The popular and common motifs in Jewish synagogue art indicate a constant preference for particular themes in the ornamentation. The motifs consist either of a single image or object or of a combination of several antithetic or heraldic elements and include: (1) fauna - animal motifs: the lion, bull, eagle, and others; (2) human figures; (3) mythological motifs; (4) genre motifs; (5) flora - plant ornaments; (6) geometric motifs. Animal motifs appear frequently in Jewish art - on wall paintings, sculpture, reliefs, and mosaics, where they are usually depicted in a prominent position, frequently flanking the Torah shrine, the Ark of the Scrolls, and inscriptions. Birds are widespread in ancient art, and Jewish artists commonly used them. In fact they appear to be one of the artists' favorite motifs.

Keywords:animal motifs; bird motif; genre motifs; geometric motifs; Jewish synagogue art; mythological motifs; plant motifs



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