From Kurdistan to Baghdad

Eliezer Baumgarten, ‘From Kurdistan to Baghdad: Transitions of Visual Knowledge During the Early Modern Period’, Ars Judaica 14 (2018) pp. 79-92

Abstract
The paper addresses two themes that have not received the attention they deserve in the existing
research: the presence of Kabbalah in Kurdistan and the transfer of visual Kabbalistic knowledge
between different cultures. It describes the way in which Italian visual objects were transferred to
Kurdistan at the beginning of the seventeenth century, how they were adapted to Kurdish culture, and
how they were then relocated and readapted following the immigration of Rabbinic Kurdish families
to Bagdad. The article focuses on the work of two scholars from Kurdistan: R. Yehoshua b. R. David
and R. Yehuda b. Pin.has. These two kabbalists created a kabbalistic ilan (literally: tree), a complex
diagram consisting of drawings and texts and relating to the spheres of divine emanation. The ilan,
based on Italian knowledge, teaches us about the various relations between Italy and Kurdistan in the
seventeenth century.

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