Precious Possessions

Ketubbah (Marriage Contract)

Herat, Afghanistan, 1867
Ket 270
Bride: Zipporah, daughter of Raphael Groom: Joseph, son of Reuben

Throughout the nineteenth century, the city of Herat was home to the largest and most influential Jewish community in Afghanistan and was also a leading center of ketubbah decoration. Many marriage contracts from this community have been preserved. As a rule, these documents are written in calligraphic script and richly colored. The text inscribed in the arches is similar to that of the customary blessings that appear in Persian ketubbot. These good wishes continue along a narrow outer frame and are arranged in alphabetical order, each beginning with the word siman (sign), a reference to the standard congratulatory phrase be-simana tava (Aramaic: with a good sign).