Western European Metal Artworks

Box for Etrog

    Box for Etrog

    Palestine, Jerusalem

    the 20th century

    Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design (?)

    White metal; casting, cutting, pouncing, gilding

    17.0 х 15.3 х 13.5 cm


    Quatrefoiled shaped box, composed of two parts. It stands on four high curved legs and has a removable lid with a grasp. The lower and the upper parts of the box are chased in four large bulges. The lid is also chased in four bulbs of smaller size. They are accentuated with the simplified foliate patterns cinturine that is located on a gilded background and executed in the technique of pouncing. The box feet are also decorated with foliate  pattern.

    Etrog is a special citrus fruit, which is one of the four "objects" needed for following the fundamental regulations of the new harvest festival of Sukkot, which lasts for seven days. "On the last day of the holiday people in synagogues begin to pray for the rain. The Sukkah is built on Sukkot ("Kushch", hut") - a temporary dwelling, resembling the Jewish exodus from Egypt, when they were living in the desert. Family meals are arranged in Sukkahs. Sometimes guests are welcomed there and even stay over nights during the holiday week in Sukkah. The Bible indicates how to celebrate Sukkot: "Take the branches of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, and branches of willows and broadleaved trees, and rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days" (Leviticus 23:. 39-43). In Jewish tradition, these plants are called "Arba Minim" ("four species"). They are: an Etrog (a kind of citrus fruit), a myrtle, a lilac (a palm branch) and a willow. Those plants were brought to Eastern Europe from the southern countries, for usage in the festive rituals. The best and selective were required for it".

    (Quoted from: Museum of the Jews' History in Russia, Album M. 2015 - Vol.1 p.154 ).

    Not every fruit was suitable for the celebration of Sukkot - only the best, solid, with virgin skin and peduncle. To express respect to Etrog and to the fundamental regulations those fruit were storaged very carefully. They were placed in a special box and carpeted with cotton wool to prevent damage. The boxes had exclusive form and were richly decorated with ornaments and religious inscriptions. The Etrogs were mostly breeded in Southern Italy, in Calabria, and from there were brought to all Jewish communities of Europe. During the route the fruit acquired perhaps a greater value than a precious "box". Many people used one Etrog jointly or bought it collectively.