Ed Vaizey MP, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, has placed a temporary export bar on the seven hangings which lasts until 20 May 2013 but may be extended to 20 August 2013 if a serious intention to raise funds to purchase them at the recommended price of £120,000 is found.
The exquisite hangings, embroidered in gold, silver-gilt and coloured silks, depict different views of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. Two show the great columns Jachin and Boaz at the entrance of the First Temple, whilst the others depict scenes probably based on surviving engravings which illustrate the Second Temple. They are approximately three hundred years old and have been preserved in exceptional condition.
One panel contains the Hebrew inscription ‘Eloqeynu’, meaning ‘our God,’ a particularly reverential way of writing the name of God, reinforcing the suggestion that the works were designed for Jewish religious purposes. No other hangings in this particular form are known, and as apparently unique survivals they are hugely important.
The minister is acting in line with the Department for Culture Media and Sport’s policy, Maintaining world-leading national museums and galleries, and supporting the museum sector, which states that
3 of the world’s top 5 most-visited museums are based in England, and nearly 40 million people visit our national museums and galleries each year.
Our national museums and galleries are truly world-leading. They are important centres for scholarship and research, as well as being hugely popular visitor attractions, enriching people’s lives and educating in equal measure.
Images of the hangings can be seen on the DCMS Flickr page.
Organisations or individuals interested in purchasing the hangings should contact RCEWA on 0845 300 6200.