CLOSE
Original image

Menorah or Chanukiyah?

Original image

Most people are familiar with the Chanukah menorah's nine branches—one for each night, plus the tall, center branch for the shamash (literally "the attendant"). But have you ever wondered why these menorahs don't look the same as the famous menorah on the Arch of Titus in Rome, or like the one on the official emblem of the State of Israel? Those menorahs, which only have seven branches—three on each side, with one tall, straight branch in the center—are meant to symbolize the burning bush as seen by Moses and described in Exodus. The seven-branched menorah stood in the Holy Temple and was constructed according to laws put forth in the Torah.
But why seven branches in the first place? Well, there are many theories to explain this. The most popular is that the shape is said to be inspired by the moriah, a plant that typically has seven branches, grows in the Middle East, and has been around since the time of Moses.
A second theory suggests that the seven branches represent the seven heavenly bodies known during antiquity: the sun, the moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. The Jewish historian Josephus alludes to this in the Third Book of his Antiquities of the Jews: "...and as to the seven lamps upon the candlesticks, they referred to the course of the planets, of which that is the number..."
CB055159Whatever the reason, the seven-branched "original" menorah should not be confused with the nine-branched Chanukah menorah. For this reason, the latter is often called a chanukiyah, a word coined by the wife of Eliezer Ben Yehuda, the man credited with reviving the Hebrew language at the end of the 19th century. It's especially important not to confuse the two if you plan on purchasing a new menorah this Chanukah—not so much for fear of breaking a law in the Torah, but more out of fear of the look on children's faces when they discover they've been short-changed by two days.

arrow
Art
Two Unknown Paintings by Raphael Discovered on the Vatican's Walls

The Vatican Museums are home to numerous famous art treasures, created by masters like Caravaggio, Leonardo da Vinci, and Michelangelo. Now, artnet News reports, the galleries can add two previously unattributed paintings by Italian Renaissance painter Raphael to their list.

Inside the Palace of the Vatican is a suite of four frescoed rooms called Raphael's Rooms. During the early 16th century, they served as Pope Julius II's apartments. The Pope commissioned Raphael and his pupils to paint the rooms, and they adorned each one with a different theme.

Three of the rooms contain paintings by the master himself. But experts didn't think that the fourth—and largest—chamber, called the Room of Constantine, bore Raphael's personal handiwork.

The Room of Constantine depicts four significant moments in the life of Emperor Constantine I, who's credited with converting the Roman Empire to Christianity. Experts had always believed that Raphael had sketched plans for the frescoes, and his pupils finished them after Raphael's sudden death on April 6, 1520. But new restoration efforts prompted experts to take a closer look, and they noticed that two allegorical figures in the frescoes appear to have been painted by Raphael.

One fresco depicts the Vision of the Cross, the moment Emperor Constantine claimed to have seen an image of a holy cross in the sky before a decisive battle. At the edge of the large-scale painting floats a woman who represents Friendship, Smithsonian reports. A second scene, which depicts the battle between Constantine and his pagan brother-in-law Maxentius, shows the figure of Justice. Experts now say that Raphael painted both images.

Italian newspaper La Stampa was the first to break the news, which they reportedly received from a YouTube video released by the Vatican’s press office.

"By analyzing the painting, we realized that it is certainly by the great master Raphael," said restorer Fabio Piacentini, according to a translation provided by artnet News. "He painted in oil on the wall, which is a really special technique. The cleaning and removal of centuries of previous restorations revealed the typical pictorial features of the master."

"We know from 16th-century sources that Raphael painted two figures in this room as tests in the oil technique before he died," added art historian Arnold Nesselrath, who serves as the Vatican Museums' technical and scientific research head. "According to the sources, these two oil painted figures are of a much higher quality than the ones around them."

"Raphael was a great adventurer in painting and was always trying something different," Nesselrath continued. "When he understood how something worked, he sought a fresh challenge. And so, when he arrived in the largest room of the papal apartment, he decided to paint this room in oil, but he managed to paint only two figures, and his students continued in the traditional method, leaving only these two figures as autographs of the master."

[h/t artnet News]

Original image
What's the Kennection? #157
Original image

SECTIONS

More from mental floss studios