Friday, July 01, 2005
On Faceless Men
There is an artist named Menachem Boas, who specializes in microcalligraphy (also called micography). One of his works is presented at right. The picture is made up of words - in this case, the entire text of the book of Joshua.
I happen to own this print. I came about it at a fundraising event at my children's school. They were selling several of his works there. However, this one wasn't on display. The person who was running the event (who is a friend of my wife) showed it to us anyway. We fell in love with it and took it home.
I asked her why this particular picture wasn't on display. I was informed that she was "not allowed" to show it because it represented a Biblical face. My first reaction to this was "Huh?" But it was explained to me that there are some people who object to having faces drawn on representations of people from Tanach, since we don't know what these people actually looked like. Interestingly enough, I seemed to remember seeing other drawings (including some that my kids brought back from school and in books and other publications) where Biblical personages are drawn either without faces (i.e. blank) or only visible from the back or from a 3/4 view from the back.
Now, I had never heard of this "prohibition," and, indeed, I can think of numerous examples where I *have* seen drawings of faces of Biblical personages. So, who knows what the case is. Is it one some silly "chumra" that someone thought up, or is there some substance to this "rule" (which doesn't seem to be too widely adhered to anyway...)
P.S. Another artist (who lives in Israel) who engages in this kind of work is Ellen Miller Braun. I own one of her works as well (specifically this one).