Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Exhibition on the ancient priestly vestment dye

MATERIAL CULTURE: Linking ancient snails to an Israeli flag in space, a common thread. The elusive dye used to create the biblical blue, 'techelet,' in the Ancient Near East is spotlighted in a new Bible Lands Museum exhibit, 'Out of the Blue' (Marissa Newman, Times of Israel).
It was the color of the sea, the sky, the divine sapphire-hewn Throne of Glory, according to the Tannaite sage Rabbi Meir. It was a color used in the Jewish temples, the hue of its high priests’ robes, and the shade of the blue tassel that the Bible commands be affixed to one’s garments.

But starting in the seventh century CE, the source of the natural dye to produce the biblical tekhelet [blue] — as well as its royal purple counterpart, argaman — faded from history for hundreds of years.

Long sought by Jews to revive the ancient practice of wearing a fringe of techelet, the revered colors were also the subject of other Ancient Near East cultures’ fascination and ritual worship and the source of a hugely prosperous ancient dyeing industry, according to a new exhibit at Jerusalem’s Bible Lands Museum, “Out of the Blue,” which is set to open on June 1.

Past posts on the tekhelet dye, its ancient uses, and modern efforts to recreate it, are here and follow the links.

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