I would lead you and bring you to my mother’s house – she who has taught me. I would give you spiced wine to drink, the nectar of my pomegranates. –Song of Songs 8:2
For our upcoming residency with the Skirball Cultural Center we explored their vaults of Jewish cultural artifacts. The Land of Israel is described as ‘A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of olive oil and honey’ (Deut. 8:8). And we found many beautiful objects and paintings featuring figs, etrogs, apples, oranges, and all kinds of fruits. A seventeenth-century ketubbah (marriage contract) especailly caught our eyes. The 17th century ketubbah is decorated with fruits, the signs of the zodiac, and scenes from the Torah including Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
When you eat a pomegranate you can give witness to its beautifully grotesque mess. Your hands may become blood-red stained. Some scholars believe the Forbidden Fruit in the Garden of Eden was a pomegranate. The serpent talks Eve into eating the fruit and they are expulsed from the garden and go about the business of raising children.
In Greek mythology, Persephone is forced to live in Hades’ underworld once a year after eating pomegranate seeds. Perhaps a representation of a return to the womb and her pregnancy.
The Chinese words for “son” and seed” are the same. In China an open pomegranate is a popular wedding present, wishing the couple to have as many sons as there are seeds.
Fallen Fruit is excited about the upcoming project at the Skirball, where we will focus our work on the Pomegranate. Visit the Skirball’s website to learn more: http://www.skirball.org/exhibitions/fallen-fruit.
Ushpizin Cloth for Sukkot. Museum Purchase with Museum General Acquisition Fund. Skirball Museum, Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, CA.