This lavishly decorated scroll features a printed border designed by Francesco Griselini which surrounds the handwritten Hebrew text of the Book of Esther. The main part of the pattern consists of a series of arcades, under which the text is inscribed. The text panels are interspersed by columns whose shafts are decorated with different patterns and bases contain floral designs.
The upper margins are filled with a balustrade on which are placed cartouches flanked by flowers and pairs of turkeys, roosters, parrots, or hoopoes with their heads turned away; on each membrane, all four pairs of birds are printed in the same sequence. Additionally, above the cartouches between turkeys and parrots, double-headed eagles are placed, whereas turkeys or peacocks are above cartouches between roosters and hoopoes. The sections with birds are interspersed by vases with flowers or small citrus trees.
The lower margins are decorated with narrative scenes from the Book of Esther, set within rectangular Italian architectural frames separated by the columns’ bases.
The final part of the scroll (ca. 165 mm wide) is blank.
The scroll is mounted on a wooden carved roller.
*Manuscripts and Printed Books | Esther scroll (megillat Esther) | with benedictions
*Manuscripts and Printed Books | Esther scroll (megillat Esther) | in ha-melekh layout
*Manuscripts and Printed Books | Esther scroll (megillat Esther) | with printed border
Length of the sheets in the scroll: 1) 670 mm, 2) 465 mm, 3) 460 mm, 4) 460 mm, 5) 640 mm.
Dimensions of the selected details in the scroll:
- the print: 260x470 mm;
- illustrations: 26x73 mm;
- an average letter: 3 mm (height);
- spaces between the text lines: 2 mm (height);
- letters in the opening words of the benedictions: 5 mm (height);
- semicursive letters in the benedictions panel: 1 mm (height).
The scroll (the text, print, and membranes) is very well preserved.
The third membrane is preserved in the worst condition.
The edges of the sheets are straight, the parchment is bright and clean. The sheets are stained - there are yellow discolorations but there is also a big stain of black ink.
A large mark obscures the top left part of text column 12, as well as a part of the printed column that separates text columns nos. 11 and 12.
Also, a piece added during the parchment restoration can be noticed - it features a different color and facture.
A part of the pattern is not printed and it was supplemented by hand.
The Book of Esther in Hebrew with the benedictions recited before and after the Megillah reading
The scroll is composed of 5 sheets containing 19 columns of the text (+ additional column with the benedictions) with 21 lines except for col. 16 which has 11 lines divided into two half-columns.
Each of the four sheets contains four text panels.
The text is inscribed in Hebrew square Italian script, in black ink, on the flesh side of the parchment membranes, which are rather thick and stiff. In addition, the side of the text and decorations is more matte and bright than the other side that is shinier and darker, and hair traces are well visible on it. However, the membranes vary.
The flags of the ל letters appearing in the first lines of the columns are elongated and fill the blank space in the arch.
The letter ח (Es. 1:6) is highlighted by its size (it is enlarged and bolded) and form (it is decorated with a single taga and the letter's legs end with small hooks). Similarly, the letter ת (Es. 9:29) is enlarged and bolded.
In col. 16, all the names (listed on the right) are written in the column of the same width, therefore numerous letters must be elongated. The column contains also enlarged and diminished letters.
The text columns are inscribed within the arches; the space just below the arch is blank, therefore, all the lines are of equal length.
The ruling is invisible; the lines could have originally been drawn with pencil and erased.
The membranes in the scroll are stitched together.
Benedictions: all four formulas are inscribed in the last text panel in the scroll. Every one of them opens with an enlarged letter ב with a single tag.
The benediction panel contains short inscriptions in a semicursive script announcing the subsequent parts of the Megillah reading. The Tetragrammaton is replaced by two letters י with a long sloped dash and a short flag. The ligature of א and ל is used.
Printed borders on all sheets are framed by black wide lines that were drawn by hand possibly with the same ink that was used for copying the text.
Scrolls decorated with this pattern all consist of either four or five sheets.
Some illustrations bear Arabic numerals.
The Griselini scrolls consist either of four or five sheets with four text panels each.
The decorative scheme resembles the ornamentation of Gaster II scrolls.
In the Index, megillot Esther confusingly similar to Griselini scrolls, but not printed by Griselini himself, are called "Griselini-Related scrolls". The decoration of Griselini scrolls also resembles that of the Gaster II scrolls, but without decoration at the beginning and the end (see descriptions of "Griselini-Related" and "Gaster II" scrolls and in the Index).
Bibliography concerning the manuscript from the MOIJA collection is unknown but other scrolls decorated with the same border are described in:
Mendel Metzger, The Earliest Engraved Italian Megilloth, "Bulletin of the John Rylands Library", 48/2 (1966), esp. 406–432.
A Journey through Jewish Worlds: Highlights from the Braginsky Collection of Hebrew Manuscripts and Printed Books, eds. Evelyn M. Cohen, Emile Schrijver, Sharon Mintz, Amsterdam 2009, pp. 242–245 (additionally pp. 126-127 for the Bible of 1739 illustrated with Griselini's engravings).
Schöne Seiten. Jüdische Schriftkultur aus der Braginsky Collection, eds. Emile Schrijver, Falk Wiesemann, Evelyn M. Cohen, Sharon Liberman Mintz, Menachem Schmeltzer, Zurich 2011, pp. 264‒265 (additionally pp. 246-247 for the Bible of 1739 illustrated with Griselini's engravings).
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, 1:128–136.
Biography of Griselini in Italian and bibliography available on http://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/francesco-griselini_(Dizionario-Biografico)/ (accessed on 11.04.2020).