The Sarajevo Haggadah manuscript

Documentary heritage submitted by Bosnia and Herzegovina and recommended for inclusion in the Memory of the World Register in 2017.

© National Museum of Bosnia & Herzegovina, The Sarajevo Haggadah Manuscript

The Sarajevo Haggadah represents an exquisite example of the medieval Hebrew illuminated and decorative art. It is a manuscript written on parchment, with a series of superb illuminations. The Sarajevo Haggadah belongs to the most famous and most beautiful Hebrew illuminated manuscripts from the Middle Ages in the world. Haggadah in Hebrew means a story, a narrative, and this Haggadah comes into the category of so-called Haggadot shel Pesah – the Passover Haggadahs that are read on the occasion of the Jewish feast of Passover. The Sarajevo Haggadah consists of part with illuminations and part with text. Illuminated part contains 69 miniatures on 34 folios (on the inner side of folios, outer side is blank). Illuminations represent certain narrative portions of the Pentateuch (the seven days of the Creation, the story of Cain and Abel, the story of Lot, the sacrifice of Isaac, the Exodus, the miracle of the Red Sea, Moses’ Blessing etc.) with the main focus on the story of Joseph. The part that contains text is written in Hebrew letters, Sephardic writing, neatly done and fully punctuated. This part has 50 folios, with a collection of lyrical works from the Golden Age of Jewish-Arab culture (10th-13th centuries), prayers for the Passover feast, and instructions for the supplements for the evening prayer on the Passover eve.

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