Img. ID: 340694
The decorative scheme surrounding cols. 13, 14, and 15 contains arcades that support a balustrade located in the upper margin with pairs of turkeys and roosters flanking the cartouches above each arch. Flower-filled vases atop each column separate these decorative illuminations. The lower margin is filled with figurative scenes that chronicle the narrative of the Book of Esther:
Sheet no. 3
Frame 13: on the right, Haman is hanged on the gallows (Es. 7:10). A ladder leans against it and three guards, holding spears, stand on the left. At Haman's feet, there is a dog that is looking up at him. On the left, Ahasuerus sits on the canopied throne and extends his scepter to Esther, who kneels at his feet and touches the tip of the scepter. Mordecai stands in the background and watches the scene (Es. 8:1-4). This scene either depicts the moment when the king gives Haman's properties to Esther (Es. 8:1) or when Esther pleads for Ahasuerus to annul Haman's decree (Es. 8:3-4).
Frame 14: on the right, Ahasuerus sits on a throne under a canopy and extends the scepter to Esther, who kneels at his feet and touches the tip of the scepter. Behind the throne stands a man - possibly Mordecai - and in the background, two king's scribes sit at a table and write the king's decree (Es. 8:9). On the left, two mounted messengers ride towards a walled city on the far left (Es. 8:14).
Sheet no. 4
Frame 15: on the right, Ahasuerus sits on a canopied throne, holding a scepter in one hand. With the other, he points at Mordecai, who stands before him wearing a cape, bowing slightly before the king (Es. 8:15). In the center, figures are depicted fighting in a field; two men are lying on the ground. This section of the frame depicts a moment from the Jews' battle with their enemies, but it is difficult to determine which particular verse is illustrated here (Es. 9:5-12). On the left, five men sit around a laid table. The scene most likely depicts the Jews' happiness at the news of the king's new decree (Es. 8:16-17).
Length of the sheets in the scroll: 1) ca. 610 mm, 2) 690 mm, 3) 465 mm, 4) 755 mm.
Dimensions of the selected details in the scroll:
- an average frame: 30x85 mm;
- the balustrade: ca. 20 mm;
- an average letter: 2 mm (height);
- spaces between the lines: 2 mm.
O | Ornamentation: | Cartouche
C | Cock (Hen, Rooster)
T | Turkey (bird)
V | Vase | Vase with flowers
O | Ornamentation: | Foliate and floral ornaments | Flower
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Haman hanged (Es. 7:10)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Ahasuerus giving Esther the house of Haman (Es. 8:1)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Esther at Ahasuerus' feet, pleading he annuls Haman's decree (Es. 8:3)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Ahasuerus extending his scepter to Esther (Es. 8:4)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | New decree allowing the Jews to defend themselves (Es. 8:8-10)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Ahasuerus' messenger(s) (Es. 8:14)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Mordecai before Ahasuerus in royal apparel (Es. 8:15)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | The Jews had light, and gladness, and joy, and honour (Es. 8:16-17)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Jews battle their enemies (Es. 9:5-12)
O | Ornamentation: | Main text framed
The manuscript is preserved in fair condition; it lacks its opening part and some damages are visible.
There are some damages in the final part of the scroll too and losses in the sheets' edges.
The text is damaged, a substantial part of it is erased, seriously faded, or restored with a second layer of ink.
The illustrations are well preserved.
Blue paint is faded.
The Book of Esther in Hebrew with the initial and final benedictions for the Megillah reading.
The scroll is formed of 4 membranes containing in total 19 columns of text with 23 lines each, except for col. 16 which has 11 lines divided into two half-columns.
The number of text columns per sheet: no. 1 - 4, no. 2 - 6, no. 3 - 4, no. 4 - 5.
The text is inscribed in Hebrew square Italian script in brown ink of different hues, on the flesh side of parchment membranes. Some parts of the text are copied in black ink, but this may be a second layer applied later.
The sheets are made of very thick and stiff parchment. Their blank side is rather dark and rough.
The letters ח (Es. 1:6) and ת (Es. 9:29) are highlighted by their size. Other enlarged and diminished letters are included in col. 16.
The ruling - made with a hard point - is barely visible.
The membranes in the scroll are stitched together.
The benedictions: the initial benedictions are inscribed in the cartouche that is a central part of the opening decoration. The first six words of the blessings are abbreviated.
The final benediction and the poem for Purim are written at the end of the scroll; they are integrated into the outermost part of the decoration. The layout of the text is totally irregular.
The name "Gaster II" was introduced by Mendel Metzger in his article "The Earliest Engraved Italian Megilloth" (see "Bibliography"). The type was named after Moses Gaster (1856–1939), the rabbi, scholar, and Judaica collector whose collections included a scroll adorned with this pattern (at present this is the scroll Gaster Hebrew MS 711 stored in the John Rylands Library in Manchester - the manuscript described here). At least 8 manuscripts representing this type are known; they are preserved in private and institutional collections. For their descriptions see "Related objects".
The decorative scheme of Gaster II scrolls shows common features with the Griselini and Griselini-Related scrolls (see "Griselini scrolls" and "Griselini-Related scrolls" in the Index), whereas the narrative scenes are the same as in the scrolls representing the Klagsbald type (see in the Index). The exception is frame no. 19 that in Gaster II scrolls joins the illustrations no. 19 and 20 from Klagsbald scrolls.
The general layout of the decoration is the same in all exemplars of Gaster II scrolls, however, particular manuscripts differ in detail; especially their opening decorations vary.
In the manuscript, some details are painted in white, an exception for the scrolls representing this group.
Originally, some details (e.g. flowers on the columns' bases) possibly were painted in gold but at present only green shade is visible.
Around some illustrations, blots of ink are visible.
The scroll belonged to Moses Gaster's (1856–1939) collection. In his hand-written catalogue, it is listed under no. 711. At the beginning of the scroll, in its upper margin, there is an inscription in black ink: "711 M. Gaster".
The manuscript is described in:
Mendel Metzger, "The Earliest Engraved Italian Megilloth", Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, 48:2 (1966), 381‒432.
Its images (nos. JRL16041358-JRL16041368) are available on https://luna.manchester.ac.uk (accessed on 28.10.2020).
The scrolls representing the same or similar pattern are discussed in:
Hebrew and Judaic manuscripts in Amsterdam public collections Catalogue of the manuscripts of the Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana, University Library of Amsterdam eds. L. Fuks and R. G. Fuks-Mansfeld, Leiden 1973.
Dagmara Budzioch, The Decorated Esther Scrolls from the Museum of the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw and the Tradition of Megillot Esther Decoration in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries – An Outline [Polish: Dekorowane zwoje Estery z Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego w Warszawie na tle tradycji dekorowania megilot Ester w XVII i XVIII wieku. Zarys problematyki], Warsaw 2019, 1:124-134, 322.