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Obj. ID: 36153
Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts
  JRL Griselini Esther Scroll, Venice, 1740s

© Copyright of the University of Manchester, Photographer: N/A, 2016

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 scroll is rolled on a wooden roller, however, the manuscript is not stitched to it.

The scroll is accompanied by a benediction sheet that is decorated with a printed flower frame. Its ornamentation does not correspond with the border in the scroll.   

Summary and Remarks

Some illustrations bear Arabic numerals:

- sheet no. 2: 6, 7, 9, and 10;

- sheet no. 3 - 11, 18, 13, and 15;

- sheet no. 4 - 16, 17, 14, and 19;

- the illustrations on sheet no. 1 are not numbered.

The letters in the last line of col. 14 are partly written on the printed border.

Around some frames containing the illustrations, blots of black ink are visible.

At the opening blank part of the scroll, there is a tiny letter א.

The final part of the scroll is blank.

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).

4 image(s)

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JRL Griselini Esther Scroll | Unknown
Object Detail
Monument Setting
Synagogue active dates
Reconstruction dates
Artist/ Maker
Griselini, Francesco (artist, engraver)
{"1592":"(1717, Venice\u20131787, Milan) began theological studies in Venice, but abandoned them in favor of history and science. He was active in many fields, including geography, cartography, agriculture, natural history, and economics; but he was also a writer, comic poet, traveler, journalist, botanist, and member of a Masonic lodge. One of his most important works is \"Dizionario delle arte e de\u2019 Mestieri\", an encyclopedia on agriculture, mining, handicrafts, trades, and technology, which was issued in 17 volumes between 1768 and 1778. In 1764, he founded the agricultural periodical \"Il Giornale d\u2019Italia\". His engravings adorn several editions of books printed in Venice between 1739 and 1755 (for his engravings see the Index). He also designed decorations for the sukkah."}
Historical Origin
Community type
Unknown |
Unknown |
Griselini scrolls|

The family of Italian Esther scrolls from the 1740s produced in the mixed technique in which decorative border is printed and the Hebrew text of the Book of Esther is penned by a scribe. The lower-left corner of each sheet features a printed signature of Francesco Griselini (1717\u20121787), the Italian engraver who designed the scheme. The decoration is based on the row of arcades under which individual columns of the Hebrew text of the Book of Esther are inscribed. On the arcades is placed a balustrade with oval medallions flanked by pairs of birds with their heads turned away; these sections are interspersed by flower-filled vases. Lower margins are filled with scenes illustrating the narrative of the Book of Esther, framed in rectangles that are separated by the columns’ bases. The scrolls in this family consist either of four or five sheets with four text panels each. The decorative scheme resembles the ornamentation of Gaster II scrolls.<\/span><\/p>"}

Period Detail
Documentation / Research project
Textual Content
Unknown |
Languages of inscription
Type of grave
Ink on parchment (printed border, handwritten text) + wood
Material Stucture
Material Decoration
Material Bonding
Material Inscription
Material Additions
Material Cloth
Material Lining
Tesserae Arrangement
Construction material
The scroll: 257 x ca. 1960 mm.
Length of the sheets in the scroll: 1) 502 mm, 2) 463 mm, 3) 465 mm, 4) ca. 530 mm.
Dimensions of the selected details in the scroll:
- the print: 246x465 mm;
- text panel: ca. 120x83 mm;
- frames with illustrations: ca. 27x72 mm;
- an average letter: 2 mm;
- spaces between the lines of the text: 2 mm;
- the balustrade: ca. 28-30 mm;
- columns between the text panels: ca. 100 mm (height);
- Griselini's signature: 3x12 mm.

Benediction sheet: 170x120 mm.
Panel Measurements

In general, the manuscript is preserved in very good condition.

A small part of the border on the third sheet is erased or it was not well printed.

Documented by CJA
Surveyed by CJA
Present Usage
Present Usage Details
Condition of Building Fabric
Architectural Significance type
Historical significance: Event/Period
Historical significance: Collective Memory/Folklore
Historical significance: Person
Architectural Significance: Style
Architectural Significance: Artistic Decoration
Urban significance
Significance Rating

The Book of Esther in Hebrew accompanied by a benediction sheet with the blessings recited before and after the Megillah reading.


The scroll is formed of 4 sheets containing 16 columns of text in total with 28 or 29 lines each, except for col. 14 which has 11 lines divided into two half-columns.

The text is inscribed in Hebrew square Italian script, in intense black ink, on the flesh side of the parchment membranes of medium thickness and stiffness. The shades of particular membranes vary but in all cases, the hair side of the membranes is yellower than the side of the text and decorations.

The letters ח (Es. 1:6) and ת (Es. 9:29) are highlighted by their size - they are bigger than an average letter in the scroll. Other enlarged and diminished letters are included in col. 14.

Col. 13 contains numerous extremely elongated letters. The horizontals of the elongated letters are not always straight.

There are hardly any margins around the text columns.

The ruling was made with a hard point along with whole membranes.

The membranes in the scroll are stitched together.

The benediction sheet: every benediction starts with a highlighted word ברוך that is larger than all other words and is written separately. The text includes ligatures of א and ל letters and the Tetragrammaton is replaced by two letters י with a long sloped dash. In one place, the divine name is marked with two letters י only.

Number of Lines
Hebrew Numeration
Blank Leaves
Façade (main)
Location of Torah Ark
Location of Apse
Location of Niche
Location of Reader's Desk
Location of Platform
Temp: Architecture Axis
Arrangement of Seats
Location of Women's Section
Direction Prayer
Direction Toward Jerusalem
Coin Series
Coin Ruler
Coin Year
Every membrane, in the lower-left corner, bears the engraver's signature "Griselini f.". The letter "f" is an abbreviation for the Latin word "fecit" which means "made by".


Scribal Notes
Trade Mark
Decoration Program
Suggested Reconsdivuction

The scroll bears former numbers: R 19744 and 1195.

Main Surveys & Excavations

The images of the scroll (nos. JRL16041345-JRL16041349) are available on https://luna.manchester.ac.uk (accessed on 28.10.2020).

Bibliography concerning scrolls featuring the same border:

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).

Dagmara Budzioch | 2020
Author of description
Dagmara Budzioch | 2020
Architectural Drawings
Computer Reconstruction
Section Head
Language Editor
Negative/Photo. No.
The following information on this monument will be completed:
Unknown |