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Wedding Sofa

Wedding Sofa

Danzig Sofa

North Germany, possibly Danzig (Gdansk, Poland), 1838
  • Birch veneer over pine; linden wood: painted, gilt, and upholstered
  • 38 3/16 x 63 x 27 15/16 in. (97 x 160 x 71 cm)
  • The Jewish Museum, New York
  • Gift of the Danzig Jewish Community, D 280
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Wedding Sofa

Danzig Sofa

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Danzig Sofa

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This elaborately decorated sofa is a splendid example of nineteenth-century Biedermeier furniture. Inscribed with a Hebrew date corresponding to the secular year 1837-38, the sofa also bears a gilded Hebrew donor inscription that indicates that it was presented to a synagogue in the city of Danzig by Rabbi Shlomoh Friedlander and his wife. The curious original upholstery stuffing of kelp and seashells is evidence that the couch was manufactured near the sea, possibly in Danzig itself.

The intricately carved detail of clasped hands above the inscription symbolizes marriage. This Jewish wedding sofa, possibly the only one in existence, was probably used for the pre-wedding ceremony known in Yiddish as Bedeken in which the groom veils the bride. This custom is associated with the biblical matriarch Rebecca, who showed her modesty by veiling herself in the presence of her future husband Isaac.