upper waypoint

Historical Jewish Dress Contains Multitudes in CJM's 'Veiled Meanings'

Save ArticleSave Article
Failed to save article

Please try again

Woman’s coat with a richly decorated lining from Bukhara, Uzbekistan, late 19th century. (Courtesy of CJM)

The current exhibition at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, Veiled Meanings, makes the compelling argument that historical Jewish dress is world dress.

Drawing from the collection of The Israel Museum in Jerusalem, this traveling exhibition gets new energy in the hands of curator Heidi Rabben, who organizes the textile designs and clothing by geographic region, loosely tracing the route of the Silk Road. Enlarged photographs of people wearing similar items of dress, along with a stop-motion animation of a stylist dressing mannequins in some of the more complex warps and veils, add a refreshing liveliness to the exhibition.

Three seated women in Tunisian trousers.
Three seated women in Tunisian trousers. (Courtesy of CJM)

One expects the clothing to be beautiful, but the sheer variety of garments—voluminous 19th-century Tunisian trousers, an Indian wedding sari, an ikat-dyed Uzbek coat—were what caught me by surprise. These visual and tactile manifestations of the Jewish diaspora tell a story of people moving through time and space, of regional styles adopted and maintained, and of clothing passed down through generations as records of lives lived.

Please note: I am not to blame if you leave the museum with a deep desire for your own pair of voluminous trousers.

‘Veiled Meanings: Fashioning Jewish Dress, from the Collection of The Israel Museum, Jerusalem’ is on view at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco through Jan. 6, 2019. Details here.


lower waypoint
next waypoint
Sunnyvale’s Hottest Late-Night Food Spot Is the 24-Hour Indian Grocery StoreThe World Naked Bike Ride Is Happening on 4/20 in San FranciscoSystem of a Down, Deftones to Headline San Francisco Concert After Outside LandsWhere to Celebrate Eid al-Fitr in the Bay Area, From Buffets to Food MarketsTicket Alert: Missy Elliott Is Playing at the Oakland ArenaPro-Palestinian Jewish Artists Withdraw from Contemporary Jewish Museum ExhibitThree Local Artists Win SFMOMA’s SECA Art AwardThe Chronic Pain Of White SupremacyThe Pop-Up Village Offers a 'Constellation' of Community Resources in San FranciscoA Judee Sill Documentary Ensures Her Musical Genius Won't Be Forgotten