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White porcelain figurine of a Jewish matchmaker with his umbrella

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.39

White Parian porcelain figurine, possibly a shadchan, manufactured by Gardner Porcelain Works in Verbilki, Russia, near the end of the 19th century. The man is wearing a skullcap and has a large nose, sidelocks, a beard, and fleshy lips; all stereotypical physical features commonly attributed to Jewish men. In the 19th century, a Jewish man with an umbrella became a common stereotype and featured prominently in antisemitic depictions of Eastern European Jews. Umbrellas were a common accessory carried by Jewish peddlers who spent most of their time outdoors, and this stereotype may have originated with them. Shadchan (sometimes spelled, shadkhan) is the Hebrew term for a matchmaker, also known as a marriage broker. Male matchmakers are called “shadchans,” and female ones are called “shadchanit.” In return for financial compensation, a matchmaker would suggest prospective marriage mates based on the compatibility of the individuals and the suitability of their families. The matchmaker would then coach them through the courting process. Over time, the societal role of the matchmaker began to decline. However, the archetypal character of a Jewish matchmaker who glosses over physical and character defects of their clients has remained. Gardner Porcelain Works was established in 1766, and has produced fine porcelain ware for the public and the Russian monarchy. The company is still operating, and is a member of the Kremlin Suppliers Guild. This figurine is one of the more than 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic artifacts and visual materials.

manufacture:  1875-1899
manufacture: Verbilki (Russia)
Decorative Arts
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Katz Family
Record last modified: 2022-03-23 12:29:23
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