Waves The Jews of MoroccoThe Jews of Bukhara Sharon

  • Issue: September 1999
  • Designer: A. Vanooijen
  • Stamps Size: 40 mm x 25.7 mm
  • Plate nos.: 367, 368
  • Sheet of 15 stamps, Tabs: 5
  • Printers: Government Printers
  • Method of printing: Offset

Depicted on the stamps are the traditional costumes of Jewish communities in the late 19th century and early 20th century. In general, the Jews were well integrated into their surroundings and adopted their neighbors' mode of dress, apart from a small number of places where they maintained their own distinctive garb.

The Jews of Bukhara

Bukhara is the name of a city and emirate in Asia Minor, which over the years became the name given in general to all the Jews of the region. Up until the thirteenth century the Bukharan community was small and unknown and was comprised of Jews who had come from all over Iran and Babylon. The fluctuations in situation and number of the Jews through the ages were a direct result of the waves of persecution. Their language was and has remained Tajik (a Persian dialect and their culture and tradition is a branch of the Persian culture. At the end of the 18th century the community went through a wave of renaissance following the connection established with Kabbalist envoy Joseph Mamman.

With the take over of the region by Czarist Russia, an internal government remained in Bukhara in the hands of the Moslem Emir. This was a period of prosperity, from which the community benefited through their businesses as traders, through the growing and processing of cotton with innovative methods and through the dying of expensive silk fabrics.

The Bolshevik revolution was at first beneficial to their situation, but in 1921 things took a turn for the worse. A small community has remained in the region and constitutes part of the Uzbeckistan republic population. Waves of immigrants began arriving in Israel from Bukhara since the mid 19th century, one of them included the builders of the Bukharan suburb of Jerusalem.

In dress the Jews were differentiated from their Moslem neighbors, mainly during the Emirate period, where they were obliged to wear a rope sash around their waists or were even limited to the color of turbans they wore as headdress. Their outfits illustrated their wealth. The men would wear large cut coats made of Ikat colored silk, or silk brocaded with gold thread. They wore embroidered skull caps surrounded by turbans or Karakul fur hats.

The women's coats were also made of similar fabrics, richly and flamboyantly colored. Over the years they incorporated European influences. Bukharan women decorated their clothes and headdresses with gold jewelry studded with gemstones such as tourmaline, ruby, emerald and pearls.

Noam Baram-Ben Yosef
Curator, Jewish Ethnography Department, Israel Museum, Jerusalem

top top

The Jews of Morocco

The Jewish community of Morocco was one of the oldest and largest of all Jewish communities. The majority of its members immigrated to Israel during the 50's and 60's.

The Jews of Morocco lived both in villages and towns, where they traded, worked as craftsmen and as farmers. The Jewish population of Morocco was comprised of native born residents who were spread throughout the country, and were joined by exiles from Spain who mainly settled in the northern and central cities.

The dress of urban Jewish women differed to that of Moslem women and had obvious elements of style taken from Spanish dress. Every region in Morocco was characterized by a unique style and coloration of costume.

The costume depicted on the stamp is characteristic of the Seus region in south west Morocco, around the cities of Tiznit and Tahla. It is a ceremonial costume comprising a velvet skirt, usually green, and an ornate bodice woven with silk and metal threads. The forehead is covered with a crown of pearls "sefifa" and a red silk covering. The chest is decked with heavy necklaces of silver and enamel, and the wrists are covered with wide bracelets.

The jewelry was made by Jewish craftsmen who practiced this occupation throughout Morocco. The enamel work was particular to the Seus region. When France entered Morocco in 1912 many residents from the south began migrating to the central regions and to the large cities. This movement was accompanied by a slow infiltration of European dress which replaced the traditional ornate costumes.

Alia Ben-Ami
Associate Curator in the Department of Jewish Ethnography
the Israel Museum, Jerusalem

top top

Ethnic Costumes (III)