The hand-drawn and simplified copy of the popular scrolls printed in Amsterdam in the early 18th century that in the Index are called "scrolls with portrait medallions". In spite of some changes in the decoration (e.g. the manuscript lacks an opening panel typical for its prototype, several crowned busts were added that are absent in the prototype), undoubtedly the manuscript's maker intended to follow the original iconographical program.
The Hebrew text of the Book of Esther is inscribed within rectangular text panels that are surrounded by hand-drawn decoration executed with a pen and brown ink. The upper margins are adorned with roundels containing alternately the busts of the king (most likely Ahasuerus) and a young woman (possibly Esther) flanked by acanthus leaves.
The spaces between the text panels are filled with quasi pillars formed of a variety of motifs such as architectural, plant, and floral elements, and heads of angels. Lower margins are embellished with figurative scenes that chronicle the Book of Esther's narrative or allude to midrashim and other sources. They are separated by the octagons (placed beneath the "pillars") on which mainly land- and seascapes, most likely with no direct relation to the Purim story, are depicted. The background of the decorations is filled with an imitation of the cross-hatching.
Rather naive workmanship of the megillah suggests that it was executed by a not very well-trained artist and contrasts strongly with its very fine professional handwriting.
The scroll can be mounted on a wooden rod.
| Cod. Levy 160
| Cod. Levy 160
P | Portrait | Portrait medallion
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Esther story protagonists
P | Putto (Putti in Plural)
O | Ornamentation: | Architectonic motif
A | Acanthus Leaf
A | Angel of Death | Angel's head
B | Basket | Basket with flowers
H | Herm(a)
C | Columns
G | Garland
The Book of Esther in Hebrew
The scroll is formed of 4 sheets containing 16 columns of the text with 22 lines, except for col. 14 with 11 lines divided into two parts.
The text is inscribed the square Hebrew Ashkenazi script with tagim, in black ink, on parchment sheets.
The letter ח (Es. 1:6) is highlighted by its size and form (it is decorated with scrolling feet and tagim placed on both ends of the roof). The letter ת (Es. 9:29) is enlarged too. Other enlarged and diminished letters are included in col. 14.
The letters in the Tetragrammaton are marked by short strokes bent to the right.
There are some erasures and corrections in the text.
The membranes in the scroll are stitched.
The stickers with the name of the collection and the manuscript's number on the right edge of the first membrane are placed. There are also a calculation of the date (?) and a stamp on it.
Falk Wiesemann, Codex Levy 160, [in:] Irina Wandrey ed., Manuscript Cultures, vol. 6, 260-262.
Ernst Róth, Hans Striedl, Die Handschriften der Sammlung H. B. Levy an der Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Hamburg. Verzeichnis der orientalischen Handschriften in Deutschland, vol. VI, 3, Wiesbaden 1984, no. 9.
Images of the scroll are available on https://resolver.sub.uni-hamburg.de/kitodo/PPN893258369 (accessed on 24.09.2020).