A common misconception is that wedding gowns and veils are always of the white, lacey type worn by contemporary brides. This is actually a modern (19th century), European custom. There are two places in the museum where you can see examples of other bridal types of costumes: the Moroccan bridal head covering found in the Goldsmith Museum case and the miniature reproductions of European Jewish gowns that are on the Hendler Learning Center Timeline of Jewish History.We'll look at the Moroccan head piece now, and then turn our attention to the timeline dresses in my next post.
The Museum’s orange and green-striped, silver-flecked linen and silk head covering is typical of North African bridal fashion in the Jewish communities of Tunis and Morocco. The Moroccan style provides a contrast to the traditional European type of bridal head dress. This colorful cap is thick and heavy rather than lightweight and gossamer.
Another obvious difference to the bridal veils to which we are accustomed is the addition of good luck charms. The amulets act as safeguards for the couple, and the coins, in addition to representing perfection and wholeness by their round shape, are also meant to bring them fortune.
In my mind’s eye, a bridal headdress made of similar materials was worn by Leah in the Genesis account of her marriage to Jacob (Genesis, chapter 29, verses 21-28). Definitely not see-through, a veil like the headdress in our collection makes it much easier to understand how Jacob could have been tricked into thinking he was wedding his beloved Rachel.