Originating in Northern Spain in the second half of the 14th century, the “Sarajevo Haggadah” – a manuscript written on parchment, with superb illuminations – is, since the end of the 19th century, housed by the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In 2003, Bosnia and Herzegovina proclaimed it a movable national monument. Years later, in 2017, it was registered by UNESCO as documentary heritage to the Memory of the World Register, providing recognition to its importance worldwide.
Inaugurated in Sarajevo, “The Three Lives of Sarajevo Haggadah”, exhibition curated by Aleksandra Bunčić and Mirsad Sijarić, follows the story and journey of the “Sarajevo Haggadah” from the medieval Kingdom of Aragon, through Italy to Sarajevo, where the manuscript is being safeguarded by the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina, after being purchased by at the end of the 19th century.
Selected pages from the “Sarajevo Haggadah”, as well as comparative material – archival documents, pages from other medieval manuscripts, objects from archaeological and herbarium collections, give insight into the circumstances and reasons for the creation of this enigmatic manuscript.
The exhibition underlines not only the artistic and aesthetic uniqueness of the “Sarajevo Haggadah”, but also its specificities that single it out of the other, very few, medieval Sephardic haggadot and, in a wider sense, its cultural and historical importance and role of book in spiritual life of Jews in general.
The exhibition is aimed to further promote the sacred Jewish artefact, which is one of the most precious examples of Jewish medieval art, and further extends the knowledge about this extraordinary manuscript safeguarded by the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The manuscript will travel all over Bosnia and Herzegovina and through the cities on the original route of the “Sarajevo Haggadah,” from Barcelona, through Venice and Dubrovnik to Sarajevo.
The inauguration of this travelling exhibition laid the ground for the presentation of the novel reprint of the “Sarajevo Haggadah” edited by the Sarajevo National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina. As well, the study about the “Sarajevo Haggadahhistory and art “was put before the public as elaborated by Professor Shalom Sabar.
In the foreword of the study, Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, emphasized the importance of the item, describing: “the Sarajevo Haggadah is as a cultural treasure, enshrining the story and history of the Sephardic Jews in Europe. It is not only one of the most significant examples of Jewish heritage and medieval art in Europe; it is also a silent witness to history, a survivor of the many turbulent moments in the story of the region, Europe and the world.”
The new edition of this key historical manuscript “Sarajevo Haggadah” contains a universal message of equality and respect for every culture and every individual, a message that can inspire humanity today. The exhibition also aims to raise awareness about the “Sarajevo Haggadah” around the world, so that its incredible story, which confirms the importance of cultural and religious harmony for the preservation of peace, can continue inspiring us to safeguard humanity’s rich cultural diversity.
“The Organization is proud to have contributed to the safeguarding of the Sarajevo Haggadah, which today serves as a testament to the courage of the people who, during the darkest of times, did all in their power to safeguard the Haggadah for future generations”, declared Sinisa Sesum, head of Antenna in Sarajevo, UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe.