Ketubot from Italy

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Mantua, Italy, 1662

Bride: Yintilah (Gentila) bat Yaakov Italiyah
Groom: Azriel Levi ben Avraham Levi Mai
Wednesday, 13 Sivan 5422 (May 31, 1662)
On vellum

The text is framed by an elaborate arch. At the top is a citation from Psalms 118:20 "This is the gate of God, the righteous will enter through it." Within the arch above the text is an oval containing a pitcher pouring water into a basin. This image is in honor of the groom who is a Levite. In traditional Judaism, it is the responsibility of the Levites to wash the hands of the kohanim (priests) before they bless the congregation. There are biblical quotations written in exquisite micrography (images created with the Hebrew alphabet) and larger Hebrew block letters throughout the ketubah. They contribute to the beauty of the design while also adding meaning and content. The texts written in this ornate form come from the biblical books of Proverbs, Ruth, Song of Songs and Psalms. The text of the ketubah proper is in Italian block letters. The signature of the groom appears at the bottom together with those of the two witnesses. He signed it for his own personal reasons, however, since according to Jewish law only the signatures of the two witnesses are necessary for the document to have legal standing.

A full size, readable image of this Ketubah is available by following this link to the Beinecke's Digital Image Collection

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