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Wooden figure of a Jewish man holding a money bag and coin

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.622

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    Wooden figure of a Jewish man holding a money bag and coin

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    Brief Narrative
    Modern, painted, wooden figurine holding a metal coin known as a Zydki or “little Jew” in Poland, where it is considered a talisman that brings good fortune and wealth. The figure depicts a Jewish man holding a large, red sack of money in one hand and the coin in the other. The man is wearing a skullcap and has a large nose, sidelocks, and a beard; all stereotypical physical features commonly attributed to Jewish men. The moneybag in his hands is a reference to the stereotype of the greedy Jew. This stereotype dates back to the Middle Ages, when economic and professional restrictions were placed on early European Jews. These restrictions limited many Jews to the occupations of retail peddling, hawking, and moneylending. Additionally, medieval religious belief held that charging interest (known as usury) was sinful, and the Jews who occupied these professions were looked down upon, predominantly by European Christians. They were perceived as morally deficient and willing to engage in unethical business practices. The inability of Jews to legally hold other occupations, combined with Christians’ disdain for the professions Jews were allowed to practice, helped form the canard of the greedy Jew who exploited Gentiles. This statue is one of the more than 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic artifacts and visual materials.
    creation:  approximately 1990-before 2016
    creation: Poland
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Katz Family
    front, coin, embossed : 1 / GROSZ [penny]
    Compiler: Peter Ehrenthal
    The Katz Ehrenthal Collection is a collection of more than 900 objects depicting Jews and antisemitic and anti-Jewish propaganda from the medieval to the modern era, in Europe, Russia, and the United States. The collection was amassed by Peter Ehrenthal, a Romanian Holocaust survivor, to document the pervasive history of anti-Jewish hatred in Western art, politics and popular culture. It includes crude folk art as well as pieces created by Europe's finest craftsmen, prints and periodical illustrations, posters, paintings, decorative art, and toys and everyday household items decorated with depictions of stereotypical Jewish figures.

    Physical Details

    Decorative Arts
    Physical Description
    Carved, painted, wooden figure of a man holding a bright red bag in one hand and a metal coin in the other. He has shoulder-length, thick brown hair, a long, forked beard and a light complexion. His thick, black eyebrows are arched over small, painted eye to either side of an exaggeratedly large nose. He wears a flattened black skullcap, a black, floor-length, long-sleeved jacket, a white shirt loose, and black pants with faded red shoes. His hands are held at waist-height with his elbows close to his sides. The large, rounded bag is in his right hand and the brass-colored 1 grosz coin with an oak leaf is in his left. The coin is edged with adhesive where it has been fixed in place. The underside of the figure is unfinished, and the heavy grain of the light-colored wood is visible. The paint has worn on the back of the head, and the flat back is shiny from use.
    overall: Height: 5.750 inches (14.605 cm) | Width: 2.125 inches (5.398 cm) | Depth: 1.500 inches (3.81 cm)
    overall : wood, paint, metal, adhesive

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Geographic Name

    Administrative Notes

    The figurine was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2016 by the Katz Family.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this artifact has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Special Collection
    Katz Ehrenthal Collection
    Record last modified:
    2022-07-28 18:13:49
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