Ketubot from Italy

The most richly illustrated marriage contracts in Europe came from Italy. The images in Italian ketubot related primarily to four motifs, which would often overlap in the same document: the portal, Jerusalem and the Temple, the bridal couple, and floral and animal designs. Biblical scenes also played a major role. These usually depicted courtship and marriage narratives or major biblical figures like the patriarchs and matriarchs, Moses and King David. Secular motifs frequently appeared side by side with biblical and religious ones.  The signs of the zodiac, images of the four seasons, allegorical illustrations of wisdom, fortune, fidelity, and charity were quite common. Calligraphy was an important element in Italian ketubot, often together with imagery. On many ketubot from Italy, designs created with the Hebrew alphabet alone constitute the decoration. While calligraphic and floral decorations appeared on ketubot from many parts of the world, elaborate figurative illumination was found primarily in Italy.

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