“Great Dress” (berberisca or l-kêswa l-kbira)
Late 19th – early 20th century
Silk velvet, couched gilt metal thread embroidery on cardboard cutouts, gilt metal ribbons, filigree silver buttons
Gift of Gérard Lévy, Paris, In honor of the marriage of his daughter Patricia-Chochana Lévy
Accession number: B92.0515(a-g)
Dark velvet garments embroidered with gold thread were part of the majestic Great Dress (berberisca) of the bride from Tetuan. Beneath their festive clothes, the bride and groom wore white linen shrouds that would eventually wrap their bodies after death. These garments, thought to have protective properties, formed part of the dowry and were decorated with the same motifs as the wedding dress. The central motif is a spiral pattern (found as well on Tetuan tombstones), illustrating the cyclical quality of life and human destiny, which have a beginning and an end, but are also infinite.
Juhasz, Esther (ed.), The Jewish Wardrobe from the Collection of The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 5 Continents Editions, Milan and The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 2012
Digital presentation of this object was made possible by: The Ridgefield Foundation, New York, in memory of Henry J. and Erna D. Leir