Minata Diabate, merchant, Ivory Coast, 1992
John Picton,The Art of African Textiles: Technology, Traditions, and Lurex, 1995
Moses and His Ethiopian Wife, circa 1650. Oil on canvas, by Jacob Jordaens. Rubenshuis, Antwerp.
In early versions of the Old Testament, there is a passage which describes Moses introducing his Moorish or Ethiopian wife to his sister Miriam and his brother Aaron. Miriam and Aaron do not accept Moses’s black bride and are punished for that by God. In this film clip [linked below], Art historian Elizabeth McGrath describes how Jordaens’ painting refers to this Biblical passage.
Moses’ wife is known in the Bible as Zipporah. She’s usually portrayed as a European woman, but in early Christian sources Moses had another wife, an Ethiopian. Moses’ bigamy didn’t suit the church. In later translations of the Bible, Moses’ two wives were merged into one: Zipporah. The black wife disappeared into the background. Jordaens was a Calvinist and an avid reader. He was most likely aware of the early Christian story about the second Ethiopian wife.
Text from The Image of Black: Discovering the Hidden History
Discover more and view the video.
Additional videos from Elizabeth Mcgrath on this topic are available via YouTube.
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