Auction 71 - The Collection of Rabbi Prof. Daniel Sperber

Mezuzah Cover – Morocco, Late 19th Century to Mid-20th Century

Opening: $300
Sold for: $813
Including buyer's premium
Decorated mezuzah cover from the house of the woman Rovida Alkobi. [Morocco, late 19th century to mid-20th century].
Low-grade silver, pierced and engraved; cloth and cardboard.
A silver shield-shaped mezuzah cover, pierced and engraved with palmettes and scrolling foliage. The divine name "Shadai" and the name "Rovida Alkobi" are engraved on top. The name Rovida, short for Orovida, is a Judeo-Spanish name meaning "golden life".
Elaborate mezuzah covers were of the most important religious artifacts in Jewish households in Morocco, and unlike other artifacts, were considered "feminine" objects, bearing the name of the lady of the household. The covers were usually embroidered goldwork on velvet in vibrant colors; some were made of silver and backed with velvet. Most of the silver mezuzah covers most probably originate from the mellah of Fez, which was home to many silversmiths who worked in this style. Similar silverwork is typical of Moroccan Hanukkah lamps, prayers shawl (tallit) bags and phylacteries (tefillin) bags.
The Mezuzah cover was often made for the bride's dowry, but in some cases the need for it arose only later; at first, the young couple would live with the husband's parents and only when children were born and the family moved to a more spacious house would a new mezuzah cover be made. Since Jewish houses in Morocco (like Muslim houses) were closed off for reasons of modesty and safety, and due to the value of the silver mezuzah covers, they were not hung on the door facing the street but rather inside the house, often at the entrance to the living room. Thus, the Mezuzah symbolized the central place of the wife and mother as the supporting pillar of the family, in the spirit of the Mishnaic saying "his house is his wife".
This mezuzah cover is documented in the Bezalel Narkiss Index of Jewish Art, item no. 7262.
18X26.5 cm. Good condition. A suspension loop on top. Bends. On a new cardboard base covered with fabric.
Literature: The Mezuzah Cover: A Special Artistic Ritual Object in the Life of the Jewish Woman in the Moroccan Cities, by Shalom Sabar (Hebrew). In Yahadut Marocco, January-June 2016, Issue 3, pp. 48-53.
Jewish Ceremonial Art and Various Objects
Jewish Ceremonial Art and Various Objects