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Lot 120

Handwritten Leaf by "Benaiah HaSofer." Yemen, 15th Century. Extremely Rare

Leaf from "Shirat Haazinu" from an ancient chumash that was apparently copied by the famed Yemenite scribe, Benaiah HaSofer. Comparison of this manuscript with another work copied by Benaiah on the Torah (Manuscript London Or. 2348), clearly indicates that the letter shapes and the rare quality of ink is almost identical. In some of his manuscripts, such as this leaf before us, he wrote the "mesorah hagedolah" and "haketanah" with graphic embellishments that suit the text written on the leaf. Very rare.

Benaiah son of Saadiah son of Zachariah son of Benaiah son of Oded son of Marga from Sana'a was one of the most prestigious copiers in Yemen - if not the most prestigious. He copied dozens of manuscripts in Yemen from 1460-1483 (according to the colophon dates). He passed away in 1484, per a letter copied by his son Yosef that year. He was the patriarch of the Benaiah family, a family of artist-scribes active in Sana'a in the late 15th century- early 16th century. His family members were renowned for their expertise regarding the "mesorah" and designating the text. The Hebrew Palaeography Project features about 40 of their manuscripts, including location and year they were copied, masterpieces from private collections and libraries throughout the world. (Refer to: Michael Rigler's article, "Benaiah HaSofer V'Tze'etza'av; Mishpachat Sofrim MiTeiman", Peamim - Quarterly Journal for the study of Jewish Communities in the Orient, [64, 1995], p. 54-67.)

[1] thick paper. 17x27 cm. Block Yemenite script. With vowelization and mesorah. Moderate condition. Cropped margins. Professional restoration.