Moscow: Omonus, 1917. Item #1224
Pp. 1-15. The single issue of the children’s periodical in Yiddish. Original illustrated wrapper is preserved under a modern binding. Pre-1941 stamps of zionistic society. Small holes throughout the block have been carefully restored.
Extremely rare issue of the important Yiddish periodical, printed two days before the October revolution with little-known illustrations by El Lissitsky.
These were the first appearance of the illustrations to this text, and this was also the only time Lissitsky appeared in the periodical.
The illustrations include the large portrait of king Solomon and 11 initials with the plot scene in each one. The initials are created for 11 letters of Yiddish alphabet. The graphic images reminisce the jewish national ornaments, as shown in Solomon Yudovin’s album on the subject as well as later works by Lissitsky, Rybak and Chagall for Cultur Lige.
The illustrating of children’s literature played an important part in Lissitsky’s life and this was one of the first experiences. The most iconic books were created next year in Kiev, alongside with artists mentioned above. In 1918 legendary ‘Khad Gadia’ was produced, the Jewish folk tale, illustrated by Lissitsky, - the book became the symbol of the Jewish Graphic Renaissance. In ‘Khad Gadia’ each image is accompanied by a book initial as well (in the top left corner), some of which were probably influenced by this earlier work from 1917.
In 1922, the new, transformed Lissitsky created classical children’s book ‘Supremmaticheskiy skaz pro dva kvadrata’ [i.e. Supreatic tale of two squares] in Russian, that kickstarted the constructivist movement in the children’s book design in USSR and led to one of the best examples of the book design of the decade.
The illustrations to Bialik’s poem must have been one of the last designs Lissitsky had created in Moscow before going to Crimea, where in the spring of 1918 on the initiative of the Central Committee of the Culture League for a group of Jewish Kiev artists, a visiting creative workshop was organised.
1917 was the important year for Jews in Russia as after the February Revolution they were given the equal rights with the other citizens of the country and the same applied to the languages, so the book production in Yiddish and Hebrew have flourished. Also the debate on which language to use primarily became as actual as ever, with the ongoing confrontation of the jewish socialists and zionists in place.
Hayim Bialik (183-1934) was one of the greatest advocates of Yiddish language - he has argued, that ‘The purpose of education is determined by the people in accordance with the requirements of their culture’ and that was why his verse for children was written in Yiddish and became well-read soon.
שתילים [i.e. The Saplings] has been printed irregularly for just over a year - 1917 until 1918 in Moscow with the headquarters in Kitay-Gorod. Among the authors who contributed to the periodical were H.N. Bialik, Yaakov Fichman, Shaul Tchernichovsky and Ben-Ami (Mordechai Rabinovich), also Eliezer Steinman.
No paper copies located in the USA according to Worldcat.