This silver box is an exquisite piece of Jewish ceremonial art. It is designed to hold the aromatic Besamim spices, which are passed around the synagogue during a Havdalah ceremony. This ceremony marks the end of the Sabbath (seventh day of the week) and beginning of the new week. The beautiful scent of the spices contained in the box (often cloves, cinnamon, or cardamom) are believed to compensate for the loss of the Sabbath spirit.
The silver box was created by curling, twisting and plaiting silver threads, then soldering them together to form ornamental, lace-like designs. Known as filigree, this method is often used to create fine pieces of jewellery, or small precious items like this Besamim box. The openwork designs will allow the aroma of the spices to escape and diffuse across the space.
This silver box is of oval form, and is covered by a flat lid. The lid is fitted with a looped handle and its centre, and two scrolled forms at either end. The silver box is hallmarked.