Wednesday, April 8, 2020

A Haggadah for Seder

A woodcut illustration of a group traveling on foot, surrounded by printed Hebrew text.We recently purchased a rather extraordinary Haggadah printed in Pisa in 1806. It is interesting to think of the original audience for this particular book: a group of Tuscan diaspora Jews in the early 19th century. What was the Seder like where this Haggadah was first present?

What makes this edition so exciting are the eighty woodcut illustrations that take the reader through all phases of Passover. 

A set of four woodcut illustration accompanied by Hebrew text. They show a woman engaged in various domestic tasks including cooking and building up a fire.
It starts with the preparation of the household with woodcuts showing a woman readying her home for Passover followed by the Seder itself.

A series of twelve woodcuts accompanied by Hebrew text, showing the progression of a Seder.

Then, the Haggadah presents the annual retelling of the liberation of the Jews from Egypt. It is a beautifully illustrated epic.
A woodcut showing a series of devil-like figures releasing plagues.

A woodcut showing two figures in bed inside their home, while outside three figures seem to lament over babies in a river.
To see the book, ask for Rare BM675.P4A3 1806.