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59. Seven Days Ton Shall Eat Unleavened Bread: In Peace

Shebat Yamim Toklu Matzot: Beshalom

Dimensions: 35 mm. Matrix.

Location: Don Agustín Altisent Collection, Santa Maria de Poblet, Catalonia.*

Bibliography: Millás Vallicrosa, 1966.

This seal is exactly the same size as No. 58 and has the same sort of decoration and lettering. It was found in the small town of Espluga de Francolí, also near Tarragona. It would seem that these seals performed a similar function and are organically related to the religious life of the Catalan Jewry.

In the center there is a palmiped, or web-footed bird. The bird, facing left, seems to be flying with its beak open. Below is a large star, described by Millás Vallicrosa as five-pointed though this writer seems to see six points, and a tassel of corn. The symbolism is obscure unless one assumes that the tassel is of grain and that the bird, rather exuberantly depicted, grows strong as it eats the unfermented or natural grain.

Millas Vallicrosa correctly points out that the Hebrew letters, which run round the circumference outside of a defining line, are inelegant and the hand cutting them unpracticed. The text comes from Exodus 12: 15, referring to the obligation to eat matzoh during Passover week. At the bottom, below the star, appears a quarter moon (a half moon, according to Millás Vallicrosa) within which are three horizontal points, called an asterisk. The symbol of the crescent moon, as has been pointed out, is common to Jewish seals. Reading to the left from the quarter moon are the clumsy letters: they are backwards here because No. 59 shows the matrix rather than an impression. Added to the biblical injunction is beshalom or “in peace.” The word order does not follow the biblical verse exactly and, with its crudity, makes Millás Vallicrosa assume—with some justification—that this seal comes from a later period, either at the end of the fourteenth century or even closer to the time of the expulsion of the Jews from Catalonia.

*Now on exhibit at the Sephardic Museum, Toledo.

*Now on exhibit at the Sephardic Museum, Toledo.

Location: Don Agustín Altisent Collection, Santa Maria de Poblet, Catalonia.*

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