Twelve Tribes of Israel is a work created as my major project of Digital Origination (Print Production) Course, which I completed in 2010. The project was a production of book about the 12 Tribes of Israel with a symbolic and historic description of each trbe and insert – collection of 12 postcard. Symbols came to life and were developed in Illustrator and finished in Photoshop. They were my interpretation based on the traditional symbols of 12 tribes with regard to characteristic signs and colors. I experimented with geometric shapes and lines, along with patterns which I made from photos. The project was chosen as the best project of the course during the end of year exhibition. However, I would like to develop illustrations more and work on the content and design of the book. At the moment, because of the lack of the time the project is in my desk and I will let my ideas to get ripe.
The Symbols of Twelve Tribes
REUBEN - mandrake (flower), colour: red, stone: Ruby
SIMEON - city of Shechem, colour: green, stone: Emerald
LEVI - breastplate of the High Priest, colour: red, white, black, stone: multi - coloured stone
JUDAH - lion, colour: blue, stone: Carbuncle
ZEBULUN - ship, colour: white, stone: Pearl or Diamond
ISSACHAR - donkey with burden or sun, moon and stars, colour: grey, stone: Sapphire
DAN - viper (snake) or scales of justice, colour: saphir blue, stone: Topaz or Opal
GAD - army camp, colour: grey, stone: Crystal or Amethyst
ASHER - olive tree, colour: olive green, stone: Chrysolite Amber
NAPHTALI - deer, colour: red, stone: Turquoise
JOSEPH - grains or wheat or ox & antelope, colour: black, stone: Onyx or Emerald
BENJAMIN - wolf, colour: all colours of the tribes, stone: Jasper
Different interpretations may be given to the symbols of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. In Jacob's blessing (Genesis 49) each of the sons is described allergorically and symbols were derived from these descriptions, as well as other biblical texts describing the sons of Jacob.
I found different images of the Twelve Tribes during my research, which helped me to get an idea how symbols were represented until now and by various artists. One of the artists was Marc Chagall, who created s famous set of 12 stained glass windows (each one signifying one of the tribes of Israel) installed at the Hadassah Medical Center Synagogue in Ein Kerem, Jerusalem, which opened on 6th February 1962. Another artist Salvador Dalí created the Twelve Tribes of Israel portfolio in 1973 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel.
Once I decided how each symbol would be represented, I found various images for each one and used them as references to develop my sketches. For the symbol of the Tribe of Simeon (city of Shechem), I used an outline of the land of Manasseh - where the city of Shechem was placed and put the tower on the map - representing the city. In the symbol of the Tribe of Levi (breastplate of the High Priest), the arrangment of the tribes on the stones (the name of the tribe was engraved on the stone) is 3 across and 4 down, as was instucted by God (Exodus 28). However there is a debate over what these stone actually have been. The ancient names of these stones many times do not translate to gemstones that we recognize today. The stones were lined up with the birth order of the tribes ans written from right to left, as the Hebrew writes.
The book and set of postcards were assembled and prepare for print in InDesign.