This article analyzes the unique position of Sara Levi Tanai (1910/1911–2005) in the artistic scene of the yishuv and the first decades of the State of Israel. Using a micro-level perspective—the biography of a woman artist—I evaluate macro developments in the history of Israeli culture, suggesting that the unusual biography of Levi Tanai, a Yemenite woman educated by European teachers, enabled her to create a "Mizrahi art" (as she called it) in the early period of the State of Israel. Lately, Israeli sociologists have become interested in the Oriental construction of ethnic identity in Israel in its early period and even prior to that. Relying on this standpoint, the article contributes a sociological interpretation to the existing works on Sara Levi Tanai's art, focusing on issues of Mizrahi ethnicity, folklore, the body, and cultural politics in Israel.


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pp. 164-197
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