Saturday, November 13, 2021

The Niche Art of Noah's Ark

Twenty-five years ago, when I started my training course at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, the then-director spoke about how Jews have a unique connection to conservation, because Noah, the very first conservationist and the symbol of conservation ever since, was Jewish. I pointed out (to his dismay) that Noah wasn't actually Jewish! Still, the basic point remains the same - the Biblical image of Noah's Ark is indeed the ultimate symbol of conservation. God could have simply created all the animals all over again, but He wanted Noah to care for the animals, so that the new world would be built on a foundation of kindness.

As you might imagine, I have a bit of a passion for Noah's Ark. The Biblical Museum of Natural History is structurally reminiscent of the Ark, and at fifty cubits wide and thirty high, it is the exact same width and height. We just had a craftsman create a spectacular Noah's Ark as a donor board. And recently it occurred to me that it would be great to have an exhibit of Noah's Ark models.

There are some absolutely stunning models of Noah's Ark available (though it seems that virtually none are manufactured anymore). The level of detail is simply exquisite. Most are decorative ornaments, but there are also children's toys, music boxes, money banks, cookie jars, jewellery boxes, bookends, lamps, pendants, menorahs, and a spectacular limited edition cuckoo clock that is, alas, no longer available anywhere. They are variously made out of ceramic, resin, wood, pewter, bronze, and there's even a magnificent silver-and-gold sculpture by famed sculptor Frank Meisler.

But here's where it get really curious. I looked at eBay, CraigsList, and Facebook marketplace, all around the globe. And the difference between various parts of the world is striking.

In the UK and Europe, the only Noah's Arks available are a few simplistic plastic toys for very little children. Fisher-Price, Playmobil, that kind of thing. Lego doesn't even make one. This is despite the fact that in the 19th century, there were endless incredibly elaborate Noah's Arks made in Germany, then the toy capital of Europe. But no such thing is sold anywhere in Europe today. All the dozens of different kinds of detailed models are only sold in North America! (Even the 19th century German antiques can only be found in America.)

What is the explanation for this extraordinary discrepancy? Is it just that Europe has become so much more secular? If that was the explanation, then surely they wouldn't even have children's toys there. Does anyone have any insights?

Meanwhile, if you have a Noah's Ark that you'd like to donate for the museum exhibit, please send me an email!

31 comments:

  1. https://www.kidinn.com/kids-shop/playmobil-6765-noahs-ark/138007036/

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  2. A great custom Lego version of Noah's ark: https://bricktasticblog.com/blog/noahs-ark/

    Interestingly, Playmobil (also a European company) DOES have a Noah's ark replica, but it is very toddlery.

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  3. It could be that Europe is more secular and or it could be becoming more Islamic/Tribal African with their pagan rituals. Western Europe is dying. I live in a Charedi community and I see no toys of animals and arks. Not the images of them. No idea why. I do Chabad forbids the images of non Kosher animals to children under a certain age because the non kosher picture may have an influence and when a child gets older...poof, magically it is OK and the influence goes away.

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    Replies
    1. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noah_in_Islam

      As for tribal African: OK boomer.

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    2. Nice bit of xenophobia and racism there, especially from someone who is a member of an ethnicity oppressed for two thousand years for keeping alien customs and foreign religion. Are we responsible for Europe dying because of that?

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    3. I really don't see how this would affect sales of Noah's Arks, but to deny facts on the ground with insults like "boomer" or "xenophobia" or (of course) "racism" is just silly.

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    4. Aw, c'mon folks! It's one thing to make an observation that religious Muslims (or Jews, or Christians, or Jedis) prefer certain things and that the surrounding businesses have adjusted some things in order to cater to them, and another to say How terrible it is that certain groups have moved in! There goes the neighborhood!

      Sure, be careful and don't be offensive. But don't be blind and ignorant.

      In this case, I have no opinion since I do not live in Europe, have never spoke to Muslims about Noah, and am not a toy merchant. But it's an interesting theory.

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    5. Nachum, I have been expecting you. There's something about race which draws you in and we all known what it is.

      I don't understand why you reject the label. Kahane, at least had the merit of intellectual honesty and owning his own beliefs. He stated on the record that the state was right to lock him and his followers up, and struggled to articulate a difference between his own perspectives and that of the American Nazi Party (https://mobile.twitter.com/MyShtender/status/1458514422482227205 - concluding words of the presentation).

      In plain English, Nachum, you are quite simply a racist.

      You never met a racist or racism you wouldn't wholeheartedly defend. You are obsessed with the stuff.

      I cannot understand the silly games you play around the word which run contrary to your self image as a straight talker.

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    6. Being a so-called "racist" (and what *isn't* racist these days anyway) is far preferable to believing the unscientific and/or counterfactual nonsense we're all supposed to think about race these days.

      Also, Hat, last I checked, most Muslims in England are caucasian, same as I am. So why don't you drop the hackneyed and frankly incorrect cliches and just call me an "Islamophobe" or whatever thd fashionable "Shut up, he explained" insult is these days.

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    7. Nachum - "Tribal African with their pagan rituals" speaks for itself. The parts of Africa that aren't devoutly Muslim are devoutly Christian. And Muslims respect Noah as an important religious figure. Now go away. The stench of ignorance and bigotry follows you.

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    8. I didn't say that, sweetheart.

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    9. You will admit to being a so called racist, but not an actual racist. Why dance? Own it Nachum - you profess to be an actual racist.

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    10. I ain't giving you the pleasure, Hat. I know you and your ilk get your sick jollies over defaming people who don't agree with you, and I'm not playing, especially, of course, if you (as you assume is your divine right) get to define all the terms. And those terms are, everything's racist. I say it's spinach, and I say...

      I've been called a racist for well over three decades by now. If you think the taunts of some ill-educated, incoherent, and very possibly trollish anonymous commentator on a fine blog are going to keep me up at night, you got another think coming.

      Delete
    11. The only person who is defaming you is yourself. Why play games?

      Delete
  4. There is a beautiful Noah's Ark at the wax museum in Tzefas.

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    Replies
    1. I've seen it. Its stunning!

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    2. Afraid not. There is one a website
      https://dynamic-media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-o/09/99/ca/90/safed-candles.jpg?w=1100&h=-1&s=1
      but poor quality.

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    3. Here's a link after some time googling: This was not easy to find!
      https://www.google.com/maps/uv?pb=!1s0x151c2392338ab56b%3A0xcf32a1b4a2b5b63b!3m1!7e115!4shttps%3A%2F%2Flh5.googleusercontent.com%2Fp%2FAF1QipOvKSCgYaykEH1D3LN-xI5sQJx4PPuE9DdPKGCg%3Dw426-h320-k-no!5z16DXqNeV16og16bXpNeqIC0gR29vZ2xlIFNlYXJjaA!15sCgIgAQ&imagekey=!1e10!2sAF1QipOvKSCgYaykEH1D3LN-xI5sQJx4PPuE9DdPKGCg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiUrrvNhpj0AhVF_rsIHZFCCEsQoip6BAhDEAM

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  5. Do you have any examples of Babylonian-style Arks -round and made of woven feeds and branches?

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    Replies
    1. I would love to have one, but I've never seen such a thing.

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    2. This sounds like a Welsh or Iraqi coracle,
      See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuphar

      Kind regards.

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    3. For what it's worth, the ark in the Epic of Gilgamesh is a cube.

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    4. Based on the vessels people used to escape periodic floods. Imagine a much larger coracle waterproofed with bitumen that could hold people, important belongings, and livestock

      Here's a popular bit on it by a curator at the British Museum
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbfr-9US31k

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    5. Here's a somewhat more in depth version. Enjoy!
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_fkpZSnz2I

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  6. America is all about consumerism. People want and will pay for more stuff when compared with the rest of the world. Just to have or to give as a gift. So if a rare item would be for sale, the place to find it would most likely be America.

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  7. Beatiful Noah's ark in Safed Wax Museum:
    https://www.google.com/maps/uv?pb=!1s0x151c2392338ab56b%3A0xcf32a1b4a2b5b63b!3m1!7e115!4shttps%3A%2F%2Flh5.googleusercontent.com%2Fp%2FAF1QipOvKSCgYaykEH1D3LN-xI5sQJx4PPuE9DdPKGCg%3Dw426-h320-k-no!5z16DXqNeV16og16bXpNeqIC0gR29vZ2xlIFNlYXJjaA!15sCgIgAQ&imagekey=!1e10!2sAF1QipOvKSCgYaykEH1D3LN-xI5sQJx4PPuE9DdPKGCg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiUrrvNhpj0AhVF_rsIHZFCCEsQoip6BAhDEAM

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  8. Here's a website with a different view: https://www.neiman.co.il/2019/11/16109

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  9. Why dolphins poking out of the top picture towards the right? Was there a pool in the ark?

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  10. The Tanach museum on top of Cinema City in Jerusalem (I think it's closed) has dozens of life-size dioramas, but the Ark was something you could walk into.

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  11. Noach was not Jewish - an important point. As this message is a universal foundation to all people.

    ReplyDelete

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