In the center of the curtain is a mosque with distinctive Turkish "pencil" minarets at each corner of the building and framing the entrance, which is reached by a broad flight of steps.

The Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque), which was completed in 1617, was the first mosque in Istanbul to have six minarets, a design which stirred a lot of controversy. Its entrance was approached by a flight of steps. From the care taken by the embroiderer to detail the features of the mosque depicted on the curtain, we may conclude it is a fanciful representation of the Blue Mosque and that this curtain was probably made in Istanbul.

An inscription and a small hamsa (hand-shaped amuletic sign) are embroidered in the space between the upper scrolls and the mosque. The inscription reads: With the help of God, Benjamin…Modico dedicates to the h[oly] c[ongregation] Talmud Torah of our teacher Navarro and his…son Solomon Navarro…

The twisted columns bearing vases of flowers that frame the mosque are a sign of the influence of European art on that of the Ottoman Empire. The poor quality of the inscription in comparison with the remainder of the embroidery suggests this curtain was made originally for use by a Muslim, and was acquired by the synagogue patron.


  • Title: Torah Ark Curtain
  • Creator: Unknown Artist/Maker
  • Date Created: c. 1735
  • Location: Istanbul, Turkey, Asia
  • Physical Dimensions: 68 1/2 × 63 in. (174 × 160 cm)
  • Type: Ceremonial Art
  • Rights: https://thejewishmuseum.org/about-this-site#terms-conditions
  • External Link: View this object at thejewishmuseum.org
  • Medium: Silk: embroidered with silk and metallic thread; metallic lace border

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