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Tradition in Transition: Mudejar Art and the Emergence of the Illuminated Sephardic Bible in Christian Toledo

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From their early beginnings, around 1260, Sephardic Bibles were illuminated with carpet pages bearing vegetal and geometric patterns associated with mudejar art. In the early literature, the Muslim-like decoration of the biblical codices was regarded as a possible indication for the existence of local schools of Hebrew Bible decoration in Al-Andalus before the reconquista, a period from which no example has survived. In more recent literature, this assumption has been rejected, and the choice of mudejar is interpreted as a new and conscious preference. This article seeks to revisit the phenomenon through a fresh analysis of the emergence of the Sephardic illuminated Bible in Christian Toledo. The discussion reveals the importance of this first stage for an understanding of the whole phenomenon. It exposes the special connection between mudejar art and biblical codices and the cultural and social circumstances in which this connection was first crystallized and turned into a local tradition.

Affiliations: 1: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem JerusalemIsrael


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