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Small dish with a painting of a Jew scratching himself

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.131

Small, tin novelty plate with a painted image of a Jewish man scratching himself, framed by a garland of onions or garlic bulbs. The man is wearing a kippah and has several stereotypical physical features commonly attributed to Jewish men: a large nose, sidelocks, and a beard. He appears well dressed, with a collared jacket and a dapper shirt, but he is scratching his chest in an uncouth manner. Below the image is a garland of white vegetables, either onions or garlic bulbs. Both vegetables are traditionally associated with Jews. They are also mentioned in the Bible and in rabbinic literature. During the 19th century, it was believed that Jews had an odor that resembled the smell of onion and garlic, caused by bad hygiene or a poor diet. This was an evolution of an older, unfounded antisemitic belief known as “foetor judaicus,” which was a perceived stench that emanated from Jews. Foetor judaicus was used as an extension of several unsubstantiated myths. Its perceived existence was used to legitimize other antisemitic beliefs and it was an invented consequence of Jews’ supposed wicked actions. Some believed foetor judaicus was a curse on Jews from God, others believed that the odor was an effect of blood libel (the baseless belief that Jews ritually murdered Christians). A third belief was that foetor judaicus was an effect of Jews’ propensity for male menstruation and evidence of Jewish male femininity. This plate is one of more than 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic artifacts and visual materials.

creation:  1800-1899
creation: Europe
Decorative Arts
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Katz Family
Record last modified: 2021-02-10 09:49:25
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