“WHEN ART BECOMES SACRED. Jewish heirlooms from Ioannina” Exhibition inauguration at the Silversmithing Museum

“WHEN ART BECOMES SACRED. Jewish heirlooms from Ioannina” Exhibition inauguration at the Silversmithing Museum

Jewish heirlooms from Ioannina”
Exhibition inauguration at the Silversmithing Museum

The Piraeus Bank Group Cultural Foundation (PIOP), the Jewish Museum of Greece and the Jewish Community of Ioannina are co-organising the temporary exhibition “WHEN ART BECOMES SACRED. Jewish heirlooms from Ioannina” at the Silversmithing Museum in Ioannina. The exhibition will be inaugurated on Tuesday 19th September (at 6:30pm) and comprises finely crafted heirlooms of the Romaniote (i.e. Greek-speaking) Jews of Ioannina. The exhibits date from the 17th through to the early 20th century and, among others, bear witness to the fact that for the Jewish people the art of silverwork is closely related to their religious practices, whether those of the community within the synagogue’s walls, or of a family in the confines of its home.

The exhibition unfolds by way of five modules, beginning with the interpretation of the term “Jewish art” and the manner in which it forms part of Judaism’s devotional customs. The second module presents a synagogue, one of the Jews’ most central religious institutions, a place of communal prayer and study, with special mention to the synagogues of Ioannina. The third and fourth modules, respectively, refer to the Jewish calendar and the rituals concerning the cycle of life. In the last module, texts, archival photographs and audiovisual material showcase the historical context: the aeons-long presence of the Romaniote Jews in what is present-day Greece, to as far back as the Hellenistic period, as well as the history of the Jewish community of Ioannina, which was particularly vibrant in the early 20th century. Indeed, the town’s Jewish population played an active part in local society’s social and political life after Ioannina’s incorporation into the Hellenic State in 1913. The Jews lived in harmony alongside their Christian fellow citizens, while at the same time preserving their traditions and identity.

Visitors will have the opportunity to discover first hand objects, both silver and of other materials, relating to religious ceremonies, such as a tik with a silver and partially gilded revetment (where the Scroll of the Law, Judaism’s holiest book, is kept), a mappa (rectangular silk cloth, often used to wrap the tik), the silver rimonim (crowning decorations for the rollers of the Scroll of the Law), the silver shaddayot (small sanctified votive plaques, dedicated to the memory of dead family members or offered for the health and wellbeing of the living), the silver chanukkia (eight-branch lamp stand, for the celebration of Chanukah), as well as examples of the renowned silver megillot (protective cylinders for the Scroll of Esther) of Ioannina. Equally noteworthy are silver objects used during the circumcision ceremony, a velour pillowcase for laying the infant after the rite, the aleph (a wall amulet and circumcision certificate) and the ketubah (nuptial contract, which includes the obligations of the groom and bride, as well as the dowry’s monetary value).

The objects on display come from the collection of the Jewish Museum of Greece, from the Jewish Community of Ioannina and from the private collection of Mr Raphaíl Moïssís.

The exhibition “WHEN ART BECOMES SACRED. Jewish heirlooms from Ioannina” is the second part of the exhibition triptych with the general title “When art becomes sacred”. The first, consisting of fine examples of Epirote ecclesiastical silversmithing, attracted over 18,000 visitors who came to admire them at the Silversmithing Museum.


The exhibition runs from 20 September 2017 - 11 January 2018

Opening hours: daily (except Tuesdays)

10am – 6pm (until the 15th October)

10am – 5pm (from the 16th October)


Silversmithing Museum

Acropolis of Its Kalé, Castle of Ioannina, GR-452 21 Ioannina

T: (+30) 26510 64065 | www.piop.gr