figure (communication artefact)

Carved and painted wooden figure of a male fiddler. The musician is standing with his violin resting on his shoulder and outstretched left arm, the bow resting on the violin and held in his right hand. He wears a hat and has a thick moustache. There are inscriptions written on the soles of his feet.

There has been some controversy about these popular figures of Jewish people. Once treated as talismans among the Polish peasantry, such figures were commonly used in Christmas nativity scenes, and are still traded today at Krakow's Emaus Easter fair, as they were in the 19th century. An exhibition in 2013 at Krakow’s Ethnographic Museum sought to open a dialogue between the various points of view. The exhibition, titled 'Souvenir, Talisman, Toy', proved so popular that it was extended through August at the Galicia Jewish Museum, offering a further chance for visitors to interact with the project and to continue a cultural dialogue which began in early June alongside the successful 2013 Jewish Cultural Festival.

Collection Information

These objects are only a part of our collections, of which there are more than 350,000 objects. This information comes from our collections database. Some of this is incomplete and there may be errors. This part of the website is also still under construction, so there may be some fields repeated or incorrectly formatted information.

The database sometimes uses language taken from historical documents to help research, which may now appear outdated and even offensive. The database also includes information on objects that are considered secret or sacred by some communities.

If you have any further information about objects in our collections or can suggest corrections to our information, please contact us: enquiry@horniman.ac.uk