3 Levite pitcher


József Prandtner

Pest, 1797

silver, engrossed, engraved

from the collection of the Jewish Museum of Óbuda, 1950

Over one third of the objects shown at the National Millennial Exhibition came from the
prominent Jewish community of Óbuda – among them, also this pitcher, which had been
used in Óbuda as a Levite pitcher. In certain synagogue rituals this pitcher was used by
the Levites to pour water on the hands of the Kohanim. This pitcher was made by the wellknown metal artist, József Prandner, probably not for an order by the community, since there is no inscription or sign that would indicate so. The handle of the pitcher has the form of a snake, which can either be a symbol for Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine, or in Jewish iconography it is the symbol of sin and pagan cults – either way, its presence is surprising on a Jewish ritual object. There are several similar surprises on Jewish objects, which suggests that despite strict religious guidelines, the communities did not regulate the design of the objects to the extreme.