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“Great Dress” (berberisca or l-kêswa l-kbira)

“Great Dress” (<i>berberisca</i> or <i>l-kêswa l-kbira</i>)

“Great Dress” (berberisca or l-kêswa l-kbira)

Silk velvet, couched gilt metal thread embroidery on cardboard cutouts, gilt metal ribbons, filigree silver buttons

Gift of Gérard Lévy, Paris, on the occasion of the wedding of his daughter, Patricia-Chochana Lévy

Accession number:


Jewish Art and Life

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.

From the Israel Museum publications:

Juhasz, Esther (ed.), The Jewish Wardrobe from the Collection of The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 5 Continents Editions, Milan and The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 2012