Carpets of Israel: Bezalel Rugs of Jerusalem’s Arts and Crafts Movement

Isreal rug Bezalel

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.

Israel Carpet Rachel Tomb
A reproduction of a Bezalel Israeli carpet depicting Rachel’s tomb, near Jerusalem.

5 Comments

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    shalomsinko@yahoo.com March 17, 2009

    How big are your area rugs and the cost?

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    Malca S. October 28, 2009

    I am the Torah Studies Principal of a Jewish school in Los Angeles. Do you have any rugs made for high traffic environments in school for children to learn from and enjoy?

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    David H Morrison November 21, 2009

    Just noticed your posting on the web. Actually, I am the person behind the project to reproduce these great carpets. I contacted Anton many years ago and with his continued help, his fantastic book and of course the whole team at woven legends we finally produced a limited edition of 7 designs. The project took many years to complete and we finally offered them in 2005. The carpets can be purchased though http://www.forgottenjudaica.com.

    We still have a few pieces left but most have been purchased by collectors or given to family and friends.

    I am very proud of this project! I have given many lectures on the subject. David H Morrison 248 701 3000

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    Levente December 18, 2015

    12 Feb 18, 2012 12:56 am Shauna You would never tell through the iaemgs in the mag. They look so bright and sunny! I would love to see exterior, not to be creepy LOL but the interiors are so beautiful I would love to see the charm of the home itself. I am sure it is soo pretty I can tell already it has beautiful architectural detail.

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    ahmad afraz August 1, 2016

    Hello,my name is ahmad afraz, we are two brothers,living in iran and weaving iranian authentic handwoven (Tabriz) silk carpet with twenty years background. Our art is unique in entire the world and in our carpets there are 1000000 nodes per 1 meter and with more than 90 different colours with kind of size like 3*4 meters and 3/5*5and4*6 meters, with the best iranian designs such as (garabaghy,khatiby,salar and novinfer)these are the best Persians carpet design and priceless one in entire the univers. nobody can do it in all around the world,and we can weave a holly bible parables in our carpets from genessiss to revoloution and we can teach our art to persons who interests in our professional and we are looking for employer or sponsor who interests in our unique art and migrate us to united states,Canada or europe and we present our abilities. And you can see our art at;www.facebook.com/ahmad.afraz.50 and my cell number is
    +989014296311 thanks and best regards from iran