Israeli carpets of the Bezalel school in Jerusalem display a unique blend of Jewish, Persian, Turkish and European styles in designs that focus on the Holy Land.
When most people think of Oriental carpets, Israel doesn’t come to mind. Yet there is a distinctly Jewish style of Oriental rug, developed by the arts-and-crafts-inspired Bezalel Academy in early 20th century Jerusalem.
The Bezalel Academy operated from 1906 to 1929, aiming to create a distinctly Jewish art form — one that fused European and Middle Eastern influences in a way that uniquely expressed the Jewish experience. The resulting body of work included paintings, etchings, metal, wood and leather-work, and some very interesting carpets.
The Bezalel rugs focus on Holy Land themes, and often depict sites with religious signifance. Perhaps the most iconic carpet design of the movement is a pictorial rendition of Rachel’s Tomb.
Although classic Israeli carpets are very expensive and hard to come by, a small batch of quality reproductions has recently entered the market. Woven Legends, a Turkish production that in our opinion makes some of the very best new handmade Oriental rugs today, has produced a limited set of these Jewish rugs. Not content to simply copy the designs of known Bezalel pieces, Woven Legends consulted with Anton Felton, a top scholar of Bezalel art and author of Jewish Carpets, to get the details of these rugs just right.
We think they’re pretty cool.
A reproduction of a Bezalel Israeli carpet depicting Rachel’s tomb, near Jerusalem.