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Bronze figurine of a Jewish man reading a newspaper

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.148 a-b

Small bronze figurine of a Jewish man reading a newspaper titled, “catalog.” The man has several stereotypical physical features commonly attributed to Jewish men: a large nose, sidelocks, and a beard. He is wearing a caftan (kaftan) and has a large, curved umbrella handle protruding from the sash at his waist. A caftan is a long-sleeved, ankle-length coat with an open-cut at the front. Many Eastern Polish and Western Russian Jews began wearing caftans fastened with wide oriental-style sashes in the late medieval period. The garb later spread to Central Europe, but in place of the sash, a cord was used to close the front of the garment instead. Umbrellas were a common accessory carried by Jewish peddlers who spent most of their time outdoors. Peddlers were itinerant vendors who traveled the countryside and sold goods to the public. However, old prejudices stemming from the economic and professional restrictions placed on early European Jews, along with Christians’ disdain for the professions Jews were allowed to practice, formed an antisemitic stereotype of the greedy Jew who exploited Gentiles. This canard was often visually depicted as a Jewish peddler, an untrustworthy figure that sold cut rate items at inflated prices. Both umbrellas and caftans were featured prominently in antisemitic depictions of Eastern European Jews. This figurine is one of the more than 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic artifacts and visual materials.

creation:  1850-1900
creation: Austria
Decorative Arts
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Katz Family
Record last modified: 2021-04-08 12:05:36
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