Sheet no. 1
Text column no. 2: In the upper margin, a bust of a man with a mustache and a cap on his head (Haman?) is shown. In the lower margin, Queen Vashti is portrayed while she is strangled by two women standing on either side of her. During the execution, she keels with hands folded on the chest, and the crown lies on the floor, behind her. The Book of Esther does not mention the fate of Vashti after her refusal of the king's order and the source for this representation is unknown.
Text column no. 3: In the upper margin, a bust of a young woman (Esther?) is depicted. The frame in the lower margins contains the depiction of the walled city. In the central part of the wall, there is a gate at which a man (Mordecai) is seated (Es. 2:19 and/or 2:21).
Text column no. 4: In the upper margin, a bust of a bearded man with a flat cap on the head (Mordecai?) is depicted. In the frame in the lower margin, a wedding ceremony of Ahasuerus and Esther is represented. The scene is witnessed by a group of men standing on the left and a group of women standing on the right. The Book of Esther does not mention this episode and the source for this representation remains unknown. It can be influenced by European paintings in which the scene of the marriage of the Virgin Mary and Josef was similarly composed. This can also explain the dress of a man standing in the center that refers to the high priest's robes.
In the octagons separating the frames are depicted (from the right to the left): 1) a (palace?) garden with a fountain, 2) a cityscape with the sun shining over a city, 3) a ship on the sea, 4) a landscape with hills (on the second membrane).
Length of the sheets in the scroll: 1) ca. 595 mm, 2) ca. 390 mm, 3) ca. 395 mm, 4) min. 600 mm.
Dimensions of the selected details in the scroll:
- text panels: 120x72 mm (the last two panels are wider and they are 85 mm wide);
- opening decoration with the first column: 145 mm (width);
- an average letter: 2 mm (height);
- letters in the initial word of the scroll: ca. 6 mm (height);
- letters ח in Es. 1:6 and ת in Es. 9:29: ca. 4 mm (height);
- letters in the benedictions: 2 mm (height).
A piece of fabric underneath the opening section: 200x90 mm.
The roller: ca. 395 mm (height).
A | Acanthus Leaf
C | Columns
L | Landscape
G | Garland
O | Ornamentation: | Ornament
O | Ornamentation: | Foliate and floral ornaments | Floral motif
H | Human Figure | Bust (Human figure)
O | Ornamentation: | Main text framed
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Execution of Vashti - strangulation
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Mordecai at the king's gate (Es. 2:19 and/or 2:21)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Ahasuerus' and Esther's wedding
The text and decorations are preserved in good condition.
The beginning of the scroll is damaged and very dirty despite a protective fabric stitched to it; in general, the parchments are dirty.
Some sewings between the second and the third sheets are torn.
Some pieces of membranes are reinforced with tape and tape traces in several places are visible.
The Book of Esther in Hebrew with the benedictions recited before and after the Megillah reading and the liturgical poem Asher Heni
The scroll is formed of 4 sheets containing a total of 16 columns of text and two additional benediction panels at the beginning and the end of the scroll. Each column includes 24 lines of text, except for col. 14 with 11 lines divided into two half-columns.
Every sheet comprises 4 columns of text.
The text is written in the Hebrew square script with tagin in brown ink on the flesh side of parchment membranes that are rather thin. Both sides of the parchments are similar, but the blank side is smoother than the side of the text and decorations.
The scroll opens with an enlarged and bolded initial word.
The letters ח (Es. 1:6) and ת (Es. 9:29) are enlarged and bolded. Other enlarged and diminished letters are included in col. 14.
The ruling is made with a hard point.
The pricking can be seen after the last text panel.
The sheets in the scroll are stitched together.
The benedictions: The initial benedictions are written in the central panel of the opening decoration. They are copied in light brown ink, in the semi-cursive letters but they open with words ברוך written in the square letters.
The final blessing starts with a large word ברוך placed in the upper margin and is copied in the square script. In the panel below it, the Purim poem is copied in semi-cursive letters, while its initial word and letters opening the subsequent verses are square, enlarged (4-5 mm high), and bolded.
Before the opening decoration and after the final panel, there are blank spaces that are 90 mm wide.
The ornamentation in the scroll was sketched in brown ink, the same in which the text was written and the outlines are filled with black or grey paint. Different hues of grey color used in the ornamentation imitate sculptures or reliefs.
The former number of the manuscript - N40 - above the opening decoration can be seen.
No bibliography on the manuscript is available but engraved scrolls sharing similar pattern are discussed e.g. in:
Jiřina Šedinová, From the Mss. Collections of the State Jewish Museum in Prague. The Scrolls of Esther, "Judaica Bohemiae" 1979, nr 15/2, 80-83.
A Journey through Jewish Worlds: Highlights from the Braginsky Collection of Hebrew Manuscripts and Printed Books, eds. Evelyn M. Cohen, Emile Schrijver, Sharon Liberman Mintz, Amsterdam 2009, 234-237.
Schöne Seiten. Jüdische Schriftkultur aus der Braginsky Collection, eds. Emile Schrijver, Falk Wiesemann, Evelyn M. Cohen, Sharon Liberman Mintz, Menahem Schmeltzer, Zurich 2011, 282-283.
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, 1:176-188.