Jewish Folklore and Ethnology


Excluding religiously required safrut (e.g., handwritten Torah scrolls, mezuzot, tefillin, gittin), artistic aspects of Judaic calligraphy declined after moveable type was invented in the fifteenth century. Rediscovery of medieval calligraphic techniques in late nineteenth-century Britain, plus contemporaneous typographical studies in Germany, spurred revival of artistic calligraphy. The first Arts and Crafts movement, pre-World War I German research into aesthetic letterforms, and the Bezalel Academy sparked a rise of secularized Judaic calligraphy. Growth of folk arts and ethnic pride in the 1960s and accessible photocopiers in the 1970s allowed nonspecialists to become expert calligraphers.