Poster on Women’s Clothing, Israel, 1913
This poster of women’s clothing presents the Hebrew names of various women’s garments with numbered illustrations. Underneath the illustrations, there is a list of the numbers with the Hebrew name of the corresponding item.
The poster was published in Israel in 1913. By the beginning of the twentieth century, the revival of the Hebrew language was at its peak. The modernisation of the ancient language began in the nineteenth century during the Haskalah (Enlightenment) period. The poster formed part of the struggle to encourage the use of Hebrew rather than foreign words in everyday life. Other such examples include creating modern Hebrew literature, and secular newspapers printed in Hebrew. Some of the words on the poster are still used today in modern Hebrew; others are no longer in everyday use.
The person most closely identified with the struggle to revive the Hebrew language is Eliezer Ben Yehuda. As part of his efforts, Ben Yehuda founded the Hebrew Language Committee. He also served as the founder and editor of the newspaper Hatzvi and authored the Ben Yehuda Dictionary, the largest and most comprehensive Hebrew dictionary of the time.
In Israel Studies and Hebrew classes this poster could be presented as part of a discussion on the revival of the Hebrew language, including Ben Yehuda’s campaign and the “war of the languages.” Students could be asked to translate some of the items and then compare them with their modern day names, suggesting reasons for the linguistic change. Teachers of Social Studies could use the poster to illustrate social changes that can be observed from the items presented. Although clothes are physical objects, they have much to teach us about important social changes such as attitudes toward women’s bodies.
What was the purpose of this poster?
Why do you think was it important to Ben Yehuda and his friends to revive the use of Hebrew in everyday life?
Why did some people object to this?
Read more about the “war of languages” here.
How did the poster help the campaign to revive the Hebrew language?
Try to find the origin of three words on the poster.
If a similar poster was made today, which items of clothing would not be included and which different items would be added?
Try to summarize the changes that have occurred in women’s clothing since 1913. How can you explain these changes?