A treasure in Amsterdam – how things painted can be inspirational for embroidery

Had a wonderful week in Amsterdam a couple of years ago, staying on an architect’s houseboat in the Jordaan. One of our favourite museums was the Jewish Historical Museum, arranged over four synagogues near the old Jewish quarter. In the first section, the various Jewish festivals are described. One of these is Purim, which celebrates the story of Esther, whose story is only marginally less convoluted than that of The Honourable Woman (if you never watched it, find it now on BBC Box sets -it is wonderful). The good thing though is that there is absolutely no mention of God which means, unlike other books in the Torah, the manuscript could be decorated. The hand-painted scroll depicting the story of Esther is one of the most charming and inspiring things I saw in Amsterdam: just look at those trees and the little rabbit.


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