Sheet no. 1
Opening decoration: The opening section of the scroll is composed of foliate and floral ornaments, inhabited by the "Four animals" - i.e. a lion, an eagle, a leopard, and a stag. They have no direct relationship with the text of the Megillah or the feast of Purim, but they allude to a quotation from Pirkei Avot ("Ethics of the Fathers") 5:20. At the center, there is a flower supported by two rampant lions with split tails. Below two dolphins' masks are visible. A leopard is depicted above the flower in the center and an eagle with outstretched wings in the upper-right corner is shown. Two other animals are represented in the lower part of the decoration.
Frame 1 (text panel 1 - upper margin): At the center, within the scenery of the palace gardens, the crowned and bearded King Ahasuerus sits on the throne under a high canopy at a round laid table. He is flanked by three men on the right and four men on the left, all of whom wear turbans and long gowns (Es. 1:3-8). On either side, there are arcaded buildings in which two groups of four figures sit at a table.
Frame 2 (text panel 1 - lower margin): The crowned Vashti, within the scenery of the palace gardens, sits under a high canopy at a round laid table. She is flanked by three women on either side (Es. 1:9). On the right, a group of servants, all wearing turbans, enter the garden through a gate on the right; the first of them addresses the queen. Most likely, they are coming with the king's order that Vashti should appear before him and his guests (Es. 1:10-11). The scene on the left might depict the moment when the queen, after her refusal, is taken from the palace by two men (alluding to Es. 1:19).
Dimensions of the selected details:
- the print: 160-162 mm (height);
- the text panel (inside): 80x98-110 mm;
- the text column (width): 45-55 mm;
- an average letter is up to 2 mm high.
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Vashti's banquet (Es. 1:9)
O | Ornamentation: | Foliate and floral ornaments
A | Animals, the Four (Mishnah, Avot, 5:20)
L | Lion | Lion rampant
O | Ornamentation: | Foliate and floral ornaments | Floral motif
O | Ornamentation: | Endless knot
O | Ornamentation: | Main text framed
The conservation of the manuscript took place in 2012 and the images shown in the Index were taken before it.
The text in the scroll is poorly preserved; ink has flaked off in many parts of the scroll, and the text is difficult to decipher. In the best condition, the text on the third sheet is stored. On the first sheet, an additional layer of intense black ink was put on the letters.
The outlines of the decorations on the first sheet were covered with black ink.
Some stains are visible on the sheets, which are also dirty in many places.
The scroll is formed of 4 membranes containing a total of 19 text columns with 24 lines each, except for col. 16 which has 11 lines divided into two half-columns.
The three first sheets contain 3 text panels with 6 columns of text, and the last sheet contains one panel with a single column.
The text is written in Hebrew square Italian script on the flesh side of parchment membranes in light brown ink.
The letters ח (Es. 1:6) and ת (Es. 9:29) are highlighted.
The ruling - horizontal and vertical lines - is made by a hard point.
The pricking is discernible at the beginning of the second sheet (col. 7) and on the left side of the last column of the scroll.
The membranes are stitched together by sinew threads.
The Hebrew letter א is written in the lower-left corner of the first sheet.
The stamp "Biblioteka" appears occasionally in the scroll.
The right edge of the first membrane is trimmed straight.
Both ends of the scroll are cropped straight.
The edge at the end of the scroll is perforated with four holes, which were probably used for holding the (missing) roller.
The scroll is stored in a box.
At the end of the scroll, on its blank side, there are three shelf-marks placed one above another: 396, 410 (former numbers), and 2442 (current number).
Restoration and research of two Hebrew manuscripts on parchment from The Czartoryski Library — Department of the National Museum in Kraków No. 2442, 3888 (PDF file available on https://mnk.pl/artykul/konserwacja-i-badania-dwoch-rekopisow-hebrajskich-na-pergaminie; accessed 08.04.2020).
The scrolls decorated with the same pattern are discussed in:
Mendel Metzger, Eine illustrierte Estherrolle der zweiten Hälfte des 18. Jahrhunderts im Historischen Museum Frankfurt am Main, mit einem Anhang über Megilla-Hülsen, „Schriften des Historischen Museums Frankfurt am Main”, 13 (1972), 95–116.
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, 1:119-128.