34 Shiviti Plaque


Gyöngyös, first half of 19th century


gift of the Jewish Community of Gyöngyös, 1914

This Shiviti plaque from Gyöngyös is a papercut; a characteristic piece of East-European Jewish folk art. After cutting, we are left with a rich lace-like design on the surface of the white paper, with only the Hebrew words dominating: typically, the text is citations from the Psalms, or other frequently cited texts. The popular inscription on Torah arks is placed in the upper middle section: “From the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof The LORD's name is to be praised.”  The Psalm verse is arranged above two vases in a semi circle, under which, in the middle, the four-letter name of the lord is visible in large letters. The first word of the Psalm verse is highlighted on the top: mizrach (in Hebrew: East), which is a reference to the purpose of the object, that is: to indicate the eastward direction of prayer.  In the four corners of the plaque, there are citations about Yerushalayim and Zion, whereas in other circles, there are inscriptions begging the Lord for mercy.  The shiviti plaque showed the Eastern direction in the synagogue of Gyöngyös of yore, and came to the Museum in 1914. In 1917, the synagogue in Gyöngyös was severely damaged in a fire, but this object by then was luckily in the safe custody of the Museum.