The scroll is representative of the type aptly called "scrolls with landscapes I", which features a decorative scheme of four different landscapes framed in cartouches that fill the upper margins and repeat on every sheet in the same order:
1. On the left, two men and a dog stand by a gate overlooking a vast landscape of mountains and trees.
2. On the right, two wanderers are depicted approaching a hill with buildings. On the left, a man on horseback rides towards a bridge over a river. In the background, mountains and trees are visible.
3. A fountain in a garden with a palace in the background.
4. On the right, a man sitting under a tree. In the background, a landscape of mountains, trees, and buildings.
It is difficult to prove a direct connection between the landscapes and the narrative of the Book of Esther, although the possibility of such a connection cannot be excluded (e.g. two men in the second landscape could be the king's messengers and the man sitting under the tree in the fourth landscape could be Mordecai).
The scrolls with landscapes are lavishly decorated megillot produced in a mixed technique in which the decorative border is printed (as a copper engraving, though in some examples, colored by hand), while the Hebrew text of the Book of Esther is penned by a scribe. The scrolls decorated with this pattern begin with a panel composed of several figurative scenes from the Book of Esther narrative. The text columns are separated by herms decorated with reliefs, elaborate acanthus leaves, and garlands above which are either decorative capitals or putti holding baskets with flowers on their heads. The lower margins are filled with the figurative scenes that chronicle the Purim story, sometimes alluding to midrashim or other sources; they are punctuated by vases with plants.
Underneath the opening part of the scroll, a silk backing is added and the scroll is mounted on a carved ivory roller.
Length of the sheets in the scroll: 1) 485 mm, 2) ca. 400 mm, 3) ca. 390 mm, 4) ca. 430 mm.
Dimensions of the selected details in the scroll:
- the print: 160 x ca. 485 mm;
- text panel: 670x90 mm (inner dimensions);
- spaces between the text panels: 31 mm;
- frames with illustration(s): 35x69 mm (inside the frame);
- frames with illustration(s) in the opening decoration: 62x28 mm, 47x32 mm, or 47x34 mm;
- benedictions panel: 62x34 mm;
- vases separating the illustrations: ca. 25x38 mm;
- an average letter (including benedictions): 2 mm;
- letters in the words ברוך, in the initial word of the scroll, and in col. 14: 5 mm.
The roller: ca. 355 mm (height).
In general, the manuscript is well preserved, although there are yellow stains on the third sheet.
The Book of Esther in Hebrew preceded with benedictions recited before the Megillah reading
The scroll is formed of 4 sheets containing a total of 16 columns of the text with 24 lines, except for col. 14 with 11 lines divided into two half-columns. Additionally, initial benedictions are written within the opening decoration.
Every sheet contains 4 columns of text.
The text is written in the Hebrew square script, in brown and black ink on the flesh side of parchment membranes that are of medium thickness but rather stiff. The blank side of the sheets is more suede and darker (rather grey).The initial word of the Megillah is enlarged and bolded.
The letter ח (Es. 1:6) is highlighted by its form - it is composed of two parts joined with a roof and it is decorated with scrolled feet. The letter ת (Es. 9:29) is enlarged and bolded. Other enlarged and diminished letters are included in col. 14.
There are some corrections and erasures in the text.
The ruling is well visible on the blank side of the sheets.
The pricking is invisible.
The sheets in the scroll are stitched together.
The benedictions: the formulas are copied in the square script. Each of them starts with an enlarged and bolded word ברוך; in the first benediction, it is separated from the rest of the text. The letters א and ל are written as a ligature.
There are two variants of the scrolls decorated with this pattern that in the Index are marked "I" and "II". In some exemplars, just below the decorative herms, the pedestals with angel's heads and bases were added, therefore, the text panels are higher; this type is marked with "II". Whereas, the rest of the manuscripts containing no pedestals with angel's heads and bases are marked with "I". The latter are more numerous.
The earliest scroll sharing a similar engraved pattern is dated to 1701; this is the megillah BCM 25 from the Braginsky Collection in Zurich (see http://braginskycollection.com/esther-scrolls/; accessed on 22.04.2020).
Similar narrative scenes are included in the scrolls with "portrait medallions" (see in the Index); some of them are their mirror image.
No bibliography on the scroll is available. The scrolls sharing the same or similar pattern are discussed for example in:
Jiřina Šedinová, From the Mss. Collections of the State Jewish Museum in Prague. The Scrolls of Esther, "Judaica Bohemiae" 1979, nr 15/2, 79-80.
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, 234-237.
Schöne Seiten. Jüdische Schriftkultur aus der Braginsky Collection, eds. Emile Schrijver, Falk Wiesemann, Evelyn M. Cohen, Sharon Liberman Mintz, Menahem Schmeltzer, Zurich 2011, 282-283.
Victor Klagsbald, Catalogue raisonné de la collection juive du Musée de Cluny, Paris 1981, 63-64, object 72.
Falk Wiesemann, Codex hebraicus 159, [in:] Irina Wandrey ed., Manuscript Cultures, vol. 6, 257-259.
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, 1:163-176, 2:41-49.