Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Text and Textile in Exodus: Toward a Clearer Understanding of מעשה חשב

Here is an exceptional article that attempts to identify the technique that was used to create the Tabernacle’s Hangings and Coverings.

It is called  "Text and Textile in Exodus: Toward a Clearer Understanding of מעשה חשב" by Judith Lapkin Craig Mendham, New Jersey (2002), published in Journal of the Ancient Near Eastern Society of the The Jewish Theological Seminary, New York, NY.

Here is a quote:

"Could the מעשה חשב have been “tapestry”? Our answer is that while tapestry was highly developed, it probably was not the method employed, because the widespread term for “tapestry”—“mardatu”—was not used.
The choice of the phrase מעשה חשב probably indicates a relationship to the equally highly developed art of sash weaving.
Somehow, the word חשב meaning “belt or girdle” came out of חבש, with its sense of binding or tying. The understanding of מעשה חשב as “craftsmanship” could have come out of the recognition that these sashes were works of extraordinarily skilled designers. More research is needed to understand whether the term מעשה חשב was specific as to the technique the weaver-craftsman was to use (i.e., sash weaving), or whether it had already developed beyond this literal meaning to take on the sense of “craftsmanship” as it is translated today."

You can read and download the full article at this link.

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