This post is probably not good for business: I’m going to share a number of exotic tallit findings I came across from around the world, but since all of the products we carry are made in Israel, you won’t find these colorful tallit selections on our webstore.
The “Wandering Jews” of Sefwi Wiawso, Ghana make very striking colorful tallit designs out of kente cloth. The colors obviously show considerable African influence. Kente cloth is a kind of cotton and silk fabric native to Ghana and the Ivory Coast.
Known locally as nwentoma, it was originally used as a sacred and royal cloth among the Akan. Later kente cloth became more widespread and today is the best-known African textile.
These colorful tallit designs are made from kente cloth by weavers near Kumasi, Ghana, and are decorated with embroidered atarot (neckbands) and corners made by Ben Baidoo, the tailor in the Jewish community of Sefwi Wiawso.
The Jews of Sefwi Wiawso have a fascinating history. Though this is a departure from tallit topics, I recommend an article on the Jews of Sefwi Wiawso, Ghana by Michael Gershowitz.
A Chicago-based fair trade organization called MayaWorks hired Lili Carmen Osario, a member of a group of eight artisans in Comalapa, Guatemala, to weave from cotton colorful tallit sets, as well as other Judaica products.
Their colorful tallit designs feature striping patterns and star shapes inspired by Mayan themes.
For our final exotic and colorful tallit, we present a “Jewish tartan tallit” from Rabbi Mendel Jacobs of Scotland, who says the design reflects both Jewish religious values and Scottish history.
The hues and weave of the colorful tallit incorporate the blue and white found on both the Scottish and Israeli flags. The central gold stripe represents the Ark in the Tabernacle and ceremonial vessels, he says, the silver represents the adornment of the Sefer Torah and the red stands for the traditional Kiddush wine.