Friday, December 02, 2011

I know it's not even Chanukah yet -- but I believe in starting early, so I've been working on Passover these past few weeks.

Mostly, I've been intrigued by the new tradition of including a Miriam's Cup in the Seder ritual. The following is taken from a website dedicated to this new addition: "New rituals include the addition of "Miriam's cup," filled with water to symbolize Miriam's miraculous well (learn more about the origin of Miriam's cup and the Legend of Miriam's Well). The well was given by G-d in honor of Miriam, the prophetess, and nurtured the Israelites throughout their journey in the desert."

When creating Jewish ritual art I always look at the representational derivation of objects and try to incorporate the functionality of the item with its significance. Designing a matched yet unmatched set of cups for Elijah and Miriam presented a new challenge which required some research.
Miriam was the eldest sister to Moses and Aaron. She is reputed to have prophesied, before Moses's birth, her parents would give birth to the person who would bring about the Jewish people's redemption. She was also the one who watched over Moses in the bulrushes, seeing him rescued by Pharoah's daughter. During the Exodus, Miriam led the women of Israel with timbrels (tambourines) to sing and dance in celebration after Pharaoh's men were drowned in the sea. 

My final design, incorporated the concept of Miriam's well, the idea of women wearing jewelry, and a reference to timbrels in this ritual cup.

Miriam's Cup

I purchased some delicate chain and was lucky enough to find charms which looked like stylized timbrels. When the pottery part was finished, I threaded the chain through the holes, adding the charms along the way. Unfortunately, the chain I purchased, although beautiful and delicate, was too delicate for the jump rings I had. So, I improvised and used cotton thread to tie the ends together. Since the cup shouldn't receive hard use, I think this will suffice.

Then I had to consider how to make a complementary Elijah's Cup. Rather than simply making a traditional wine cup, I wanted a cup embodying the Prophet himself, so I did some research. What caught me was how Elijah was "taken" up to the heavens by a fiery chariot, drawn by fiery horses. I decided the rim of my Elijah's cup should represent the joining of this fire opening up to the heavens.

Elijah's Cup
To emphasize the form, I glazed the pieces with a clear glaze to show off the simplicity of the white stoneware underneath. Altogether, I think the sum of the parts has a wonderful impact and should stand out on any Passover table:

Elijah's and Miriam's Cups Set

1 comment:

GoofingOff said...

A remarkable set. I think these will look very impressive on the Seder table.