Sheet no. 1
The first two text columns are surrounded by hand-painted decorations composed of griffins, birds as well as vases and baskets with flowers. Above panels, there are busts of Carshena and Shethar (the princes listed in Es. 1:14). They are flanked by figures of the heroes of the Purim story: King Ahasuerus, Queen Vashti, and Mordecai (from the right to the left). On the lower margins, the first three illustrations chronicling the narrative of the Book of Esther are placed:
Frame 1 depicts an elongated table at which eight men are seated. It represents the banquet given by the king (Es. 1:3-8) and the figures are possibly Ahasuerus and seven princes of Media and Persia. The scene is captioned עשה משתה - "[the king] made a feast".
Frame 2 shows the execution of Vashti (not mentioned in the Book of Esther) - it shows a bare-breast woman lying on the ground and an executioner who is just about to behead her with an ax. The scene is captioned: אשר נגזר עליה - "It is destined for her [Vashti]".
Frame 3: On the left, a gallows with two bodies suspending from it can be seen - they are the king's chamberlains, Bigthan and Teresh, hanged on the gallows (Es. 2:23). On the right, there is a high building. The representation is captioned ויתלו שניהם על העץ - "these two [Bightan and Teresh] were hanged".
Lenght of the membranes in the scroll: 1) ca. 735 mm, 2) 665 mm, 3) 775 mm.
Dimensions of the selected details in the scroll:
- text panel: 116x176 mm (inside);
- upper margin: 38 mm (height);
- lower margin: 45 mm (height);
- standing figures: ca. 95 mm (height);
- baskets with flowers: 55 mm (height);
- an average letter: 2 mm (height);
- spaces between the lines: 2 mm.
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Execution of Vashti - beheading
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Bigthan and Teresh hanged (Es. 2:23)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | *Esther's Story Characters (depicted not in narrative scenes): | Ahasuerus, the king
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | *Esther's Story Characters (depicted not in narrative scenes): | Vashti, the queen
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | *Esther's Story Characters (depicted not in narrative scenes): | Mordecai, the Jew
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | *Esther's Story Characters (depicted not in narrative scenes): | Carshena
H | Human Figure | Bust (Human figure)
B | Bird
G | Griffin
V | Vase | Vase with flowers
B | Basket | Basket with flowers
F | Fruits
O | Ornamentation: | Main text framed
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | *Esther's Story Characters (depicted not in narrative scenes): | Shethar
In general, the manuscript is preserved in good condition; some slight damages can be noticed in the decorations.
The sewing of the first and second sheets is damaged.
The Book of Esther in Hebrew
The scroll is formed of 3 sheets, containing in total 12 columns of the text of 32 lines each.
Every membrane contains 4 columns of text.
The text is written in Hebrew square script with tagin (they are barely visible) in dark brown ink on the flesh side of the parchment membranes that are thin and relatively stiff. The membranes are bright and matte but their blank side is slightly yellow and glossy.
The letters ח (Es. 1:6) and ת (Es. 9:29) are enlarged and bolded.
All words המלך appearing at the head of the columns contain a large letter ה with 3 tagin and a letter ל decorated with a tendril.
The letters of God's name are highlighted by tagin that are bent to the right.
All names of Haman's sons are of equal width; they include numerous elongated letters.
The ruling - horizontal and vertical lines - is made with a hard point and is well visible.
The pricking is invisible.
The membranes in the scroll are stitched together.
The decoration is executed in two shades - brighter and darker - of brown ink. It seems the darker shade was used for corrections of the original pattern that could be faded.
Every word המלך appearing at the head of the column is decorated. It starts with the enlarged letter ה with three tagin and to the letter ל a stroke is added.
No bibliography on the scroll is available.
Bibliography on other scrolls made by Aryeh Leib ben Daniel of Goray or attributed to him:
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, 1:206-215.
Ernest Namenyi, "The Illumination of Hebrew Manuscripts after the Invention of Printing," in Cecil Roth (ed.), Jewish Art, an Illustrated History (London 1961), col. 435.
Mendel Metzger, The Earliest Engraved Italian Megilloth, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 1966, 48/2, esp. 409, 422-425.
Olga Sixtova, O svitku / Form of the Scroll [katalog k výstavě konané v Galerii Roberta Guttmanna Židovského muzea v Praze od 22. června do 26. července 2006], Prag 2006, 32-33.
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, 246-249.
Schöne Seiten. Jüdische Schriftkultur aus der Braginsky Collection, eds. Emile Schrijver, Falk Wiesemann, Evelyn M. Cohen, Sharon Liberman Mintz, Menahem Schmeltzer, Zurich 2011, 266-269.
A Fine Illustrated Esther Scroll, [ca. 1740], lot 105, Sotheby's New York Important Judaica, 20 December 2017 https://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/lot.105.html/2017/important-judaica-n09687 (accessed on 31.07.2020).
A Magnificent Esther Scroll Written and illustrated Aryeh Leib ben Daniel of Goray, Schwelm, 1737, lot 187, Sotheby's New York Important Judaica Including Property from the Estate of Shlomo Moussaieff, 15 December 2016 https://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/2016/important-judaica-n09589/lot.187.html (accessed on 31.07.2020).