Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Journey to the Holy Land

I've just read a copy of 'A Journey to the Holy Land'. (An artist's diary by Margaret W. Tarrant), which I purchased from Amazon for 1p!
This is a 24 page shortened version of her own diary, which she called 'With a Sketchbook in Palestine'. It's a lovely little book illustrated with some very nice watercolours and pencil sketches which she made during a six week visit to the Holy Land in 1936. The book reads more like a travelogue, and accurately chronicles life in the Holy land during the 1930's. For this reason, it's not as interesting to the Bible illustrator as Elsie Anna Wood's 'A Gift Returned with Love' whose observations related more to Biblical times.

MWT made some very useful detailed sketches of traditional costume, architectural features, landscapes and of course the local people busy about their various occupations, which she later referred to when completing her Bible pictures.
MWT didn't just stay in the popular tourist areas of Jerusalem and Nazareth; she was able to travel into the surrounding villages and observe life in these much poorer communities. The buildings here were, no doubt, more like those of Bible times.

From reading her diary, I got the impression that MWT, like William Hole, was so impressed by what she saw of Israel in 1936, that she felt no real need to change or adapt these scenes for her Bible pictures. She comments "There were thousands of people who looked as if they had stepped straight out of Bible stories!" EAW, on the other hand, discerned that much had changed in the Holy Land, and she strived to record only what she saw to be biblically accurate. Having said that, you will not be disappointed if you purchase this little book. The pictures are beautiful!

I chose to add this particular picture (left) because of the black cat sat on the roof!
We were looking at MWT's use of animals in the last post. On the back cover of this book there's an old photo of MWT with a large black cat draped over her shoulder. This begs the question "was the cat in this picture actually there on the roof of that Jerusalem wash house?" Or did MWT add her own cat into the picture?

In March of last year, MWT's original sketchbook entitled 'Palestine 1936' sold at auction
for £550. It contained seventy two pages of her pencil sketches. What a bargain! If you're looking for a bargain, you can still grab a copy of 'A Journey to the Holy Land' for 1p on Amazon! You'll have to be quick though!

Pictures © The Medici Society Ltd 2008

Related posts:
Bible Animals
Elsie Anna Wood


deboraw said...

Graham, Good post, and I like her sketches. One question I've been wondering about, what about shoes in general? I've noticed the 'lady' has an elaborate (?) dress, but no shoes. I've read that only servants (or was it slaves?) went barefoot. Is there anything to that, and what about children? They are most often drawn shoeless. Deboraw

Christian said...

Dear Graham,

I also would like to add my appreciation of the post and another question.

In these pictures we see the people with the head coverings (ie turbans etc). At what point did the yamaka come into use? Was it in use in Jesus' day or was it an afterthought?


Paul Green said...

I think we have to remember these are merely sketches of what this lady saw in 1936 and not actual pictures from Biblical times. LOL
She admits she changed little of what she saw. The Holy Land in the 1930s was primarily Arab in culture and influence. Hence the Arab costumes. Margaret Tarrant is being a little naive to think this was a step back to Bible times. She's instantly discounted over 2,000 years of history and change.
But the illustrations are well done.

I don't think we can read any more into them regarding the truth of Biblical times. They just stand as interesting illustrations and a document of life in the Holy Land in the 1930s.

We've discussed the history of the Yamaka in a previous post Christian. It's Arabian in origin and wasn't worn by Jews in the time of Jesus.

Paul Green said...

The woman in the colour painting with bare feet is clearly in Arab dress and is therefore Muslim Deboraw. As we all know a religion that didn't exist in the time of Jesus.

deboraw said...

Paul G, I know how easy it would be for someone to be carried away with the feeling that because it was 'different' from what she was accustomed to seeing at home it would be like stepping back in time. However, my question is more dealing with when I draw my illustrations, what do I do about the shoe thing? Most people would have had shoes/sandals right? I could understand that one might not 'shoe' their children, until their feet stopped growing so quickly. Another strange question, what color would 'swaddling' clothes have been. I always assumed they would be strips of white cloth, but? More research, I guess. Good to know about the yamaka, though. I thought I had read about the keifa (how ever it is spelled) but missed the one on the yamaka. Deboraw

Paul Green said...

Hi Deboraw

The definition of "swaddling clothes' is "Strips of cloth wrapped around a newborn infant to hold its legs and arms still."

Regarding color my guess is natural woven uncolored cloth.

Paul Green said...

The "yarmulke" to give the yamaka it's historic name as worn today probably wasn't worn in this fashion in Biblical times.
One reference to the yarmulke or skullcap states it was first introduced in the 2nd century C.E.
Another reference states the first mention of a head covering was in the Torah in Exodus. But it's unlikely it would have been the same design as the traditional yarmulke we know today.

Bible artist said...

It was the country folk and the poor who often went barefoot. Some of the 'better off' townspeople wore leather shoes, but because the climate was so hot, sandals were the popular choice.
Yes, slaves went barefoot, also those in mourning.

Most people wore a head covering as a protection from the sun.
The Yamaka, or Kippah, or Yarmulke originated after the time of Jesus, and so would not have been worn by the Jews or the early Hebrew Christians.
The commandment to wear a head covering for religious reasons appears to be rabbinic in origin, although the prayer shawl (Tallit) was in use.

The traditional Arab headdress (Keffiyeh) was worn in many different ways. It was draped over the head and secured by a headband or cord. (this protected the back of the neck from the sun). Or It was wrapped around the head, turban style!
Women wore a close fitting cap which they covered with a veil.

Bible artist said...

You're right Paul. These pictures are just her observations of life in the Holy Land in 1936. It's interesting to see how all the artists from this era, with the exception of Elsie Anna Wood were heavily influenced by both the Arab dress and the Byzantine architecture that was predominant in Israel at that time.

Bible artist said...

Wrapping a baby in 'Swaddling Clothes' was performed in the following manner:
The baby was placed onto a square sheet of cloth diagonally. The cloth was then wrapped around the baby and secured with two or more bandages.
This formed the babies clothing for it's first year of life!
I would agree with Paul on the color.

deboraw said...

Graham, One site I visited (doing some research) said that the idea we have of the swaddling clothes is actually an error. That originally the 'swaddling clothes' were worn by adults going on a journey, and were worn in case of death. That they were a thin gauze like material wrapped in a number of layers around the (adult) person's body. It was rather confusing as to how this helped in the person's burial if they died suddenly on the journey, but...well, that's what it said. The swaddling clothes in other articles I read sound much like our 'receiving blankets' w/o the long strips of cloth. In the past however, expectant women would spend much time and effort in preparation of the baby's layette items. Deboraw

Bible artist said...

The practice of wrapping the baby tightly in swaddling clothes continued into the early part of the last century so it's very well documented. I've never come across the adult version of swaddling clothes before in any of the books that I have so I would be reluctant to add them into my Bible pictures. We do know that adults were wrapped in this manner before burial. (See Lazarus post).

I've found that when researching anything like this you usually find that there's a consensus of opinion among scholars. If you look hard enough however, you will always find an exception! I have a reasonably reliable collection of books that I tent to consult first before I resort to the internet.
I'm hoping to do a new post on Bible clothing soon as this is the topic that I get most emails about.

deboraw said...

Graham, (and Paul) I thought the bit about the adult swaddling clothes was strange. Just wondered if ya'll heard it before either. Most of my reference books tend toward the 'scholarly' slant of things. A question, I am still wondering--in some illustrations Abraham and men of the patriarchal age are shown with the head covering similar to what looks like a keffiyeh. Is it the same? If it is the same, it wouldn't be correct, but it could just be just a similar head covering? I'm not in the O.T. at the present, but it won't be long until I find myself there again. Right now I'm working in the New Testament, and some of the material I have has young boys with ?hats? similar to the yamaka, so that was good to find out. (I'm like the 'poor relations' that every one gives their 'old stuff') very weird face. Thank you for your patience. Deboraw

Paul Green said...

The keffiyeh is an Arab head dress Deboraw. So don't use the keffiyeh design for any Old or New Testament Jewish head wear illustrations.
As Graham mentioned in an earlier post on this thread the yamaka wasn't in use in New Testament times.

deboraw said...

Paul g, Thank you for that info. As I stated, I have a hodge-podge of material which I'm using for illustrations...the Bible is its own best 'story'...but the illustrators have all seemed to have different levels of understanding/or their research was questionable. And most of us using it don't have much knowledge as to what was correct or not. Maybe it doesn't make a difference, but when I tell my little people something I want it to be as accurate as it can be. Just a quirk that I have, I guess. And as it has been stated, by EAW I believe, it helps me grow closer the more I understand. So, again thank you for your patience, and I must agree with you, Paul, this blog has become an excellent source of information, congratulations again, Graham. Deboraw

Horseman said...

Well, accurate or not, the barefoot young lady is amazing. I love the color, and especially the texture... fantastic texture!!!

Bible artist said...

My apologies, I've been promising for a while to write a detailed post about head coverings in Bible times which I still haven't done!!
There was one which was similar to the Arab Keffiyeh, (but not held in place with a headband). To see how this looked, take a square piece of cloth like a hanky and fold it in half diagonally giving you a triangle. Drape this over a ping pong ball or a doll to see how it hangs. The front two points fall to either side of the face, the third falls in the centre of the back.

Ladies wore a close fitting cap underneath this. Prayer shawls were different. I'll go into more detail about other head coverings in a special post on the subject.

Anonymous said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



Bible artist said...

Thanks Lucy!

Christian tour to holy land said...

Israel is a country that can offer its tourists many attractions - she is well known as a holy country.

Anonymous said...

You mention that Margaret Tarrant
used the title "Palestine 1936" for this work. Yet you also mention her being 'impressed with Israel in 1936'. Since there was no geographical area known as 'Israel' until 1948, and since Margaret Tarrant herself called the area of her visit 'Palestine', accuracy and clarity would require leaving 'Israel' out of this review.