Does a Traditional Ketubah Design Exist?
What does a traditional ketubah design look like?
If you ask an Egyptian couple from the 3rd century B.C.E., they may say that it should be written on papyrus, with no ornamentation.
If you ask a Venetian couple from the 1600’s, they may say that a traditional ketubah should not have any figurative elements, but rather should include birds, vines, and flowers.
A Dutch couple from the early 1700’s may tell you that the ketubah should be printed from a copper engraving and contain a commemoration for Rabbi H.Y. Aboab, a famous rabbi from the Amsterdam community.
The ketubah of a Roman couple from the late 1700’s would be on parchment, filled with biblical and historical figurative motifs, with its bottom cut into a decorative shape. (Example shown in image: A 1797 Roman ketubah, courtesy of The Education Center of the National Library of Israel)
An Afghani ketubah in the 1800’s? It should have illustrations of gateways (always in odd numbers, such as 3 or 5, to ward off evil spirits) filled with blessings for the couple or illustrations of vases of roses.
Jerusalem in the mid-1800’s? The ketubah wouldn’t be complete without the inclusion of cypress tree illustrations.
New York City in 2018? The variety of styles and materials is immense!
A “traditional” ketubah style has never really existed. Throughout history, the style of each couple’s ketubah has been a direct reflection of their culture as well as their own personal style. The modern resurgence of illuminated ketubot - and the wide variety of artistic styles prevalent in contemporary culture – means that your ketubah can resemble the 18th century Roman ketubah designs, or it can be a new style that truly reflects you and your soulmate. The options are limitless. Which one will you choose?