• Ms. 949



    Prayers for the Three Pilgrimage Festivals (fragment)

    Manuscript ID:
    Ms. 949 (Chinese 29)

    Kaifeng, China

    mid-17 th century

    ink on paper; concertina, folded to 22.8 x 10 cm.

    Former Owner:
    London Society for Promoting Christianity Amongst the Jews

    China; Liturgy

    Lasting Jewish communal activity in China dates to the 10th century, with its longest-lived
    community in Kaifeng, on the Yellow River. The community originally spoke Judeo-Persian,
    and manuscript evidence suggests some use of that language into the 17th century.
    The known manuscript codices from the Jewish community of Kaifeng were brought from
    Kaifeng to Shanghai in 1850 where they were acquired in 1851 by representatives of the London
    Society for Promoting Christianity Amongst the Jews. The Society preserved the collection in
    London until 1924 when Hebrew Union College Librarian, Adolph S. Oko, purchased a
    collection of 59 texts, the large majority of extant manuscripts.
    The condition of the texts varies greatly from nearly pristine to severely water-damaged. Written
    on thin rice paper the leaves were either pasted together or later pasted onto thicker stock to
    stabilize the texts. The text is written in Chinese square Hebrew letters, and the Hebrew is
    inconsistently pointed, with numerous misspellings, attesting to an attenuated knowledge of
    Hebrew orthography. In addition to the Hebrew there are a few instances of Chinese characters
    in the text as well as numerous examples of Judeo-Persian, used for titles, headings, colophons,
    and for liturgical directions.

    Manuscript Link: