In the upper margin, a bust of a man with a mustache and a cap on his head (Haman?) and a bust of a young woman (one of the queens?) are depicted. In the lower margin, there are two frames with illustrations:
Frame 2: Queen Vashti is portrayed while she is strangled by two women standing on either side of her. During the execution, she keels with hands folded on the chest, and the crown lies on the floor, behind her. The Book of Esther does not mention the fate of Vashti after her refusal of the king's order and the source for this representation remains unknown.
Frame 3: The frame contains the depiction of the walled city. In the central part of the wall, there is a gate at which a man (Mordecai) is seated (Es. 2:19 and/or 2:21).
In the octagons separating the frames are depicted (from right to left): 1) a (palace?) garden, 2) a cityscape with a sun shining over a city, 3) a ship on the sea; the latter is on the second membrane of the scroll.
O | Ornamentation: | Foliate and floral ornaments | Foliate motif
O | Ornamentation: | Architectonic motif
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Execution of Vashti - strangulation
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Mordecai at the king's gate (Es. 2:19 and/or 2:21)
S | Ship
P | Portrait | Portrait medallion
A | Acanthus Leaf
M | C | Columns
The lower margin of the second membrane is seriously damaged; some of its parts are missing.
The sewings are in poor condition and not esthetic.
The Book of Esther in Hebrew with the benedictions recited before the Megillah reading and the liturgical poem Asher Heni
The scroll is formed of 3 membranes containing benedictions recited before the Megillah reading + 12 columns of text + a final benediction panel. Each column includes 32 lines of text, except for col. 10 with 11 lines divided into two half-columns (the text in it is printed and not copied by hand).
Every sheet comprises 4 columns of the text each and the last sheet, additionally contains the benediction panel.
The text is inscribed in the Hebrew square script, in brown ink, on the flesh side of parchment membranes.
The scroll opens with an enlarged and bolded initial word.
The letter ח (Es. 1:6) is highlighted by its size (it is enlarged and bolded), form (it is composed of two elements 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. 10, however, this part of the scroll is printed and not penned by a scribe.
The final verse of the scroll is written in larger letters decorated with tagin.
There are some erasures and corrections in the text.
The ruling and pricking are invisible.
The sheets in the scroll are stitched together.
The benedictions: The initial benedictions are inscribed in the semi-cursive letters in the central panel of the opening decoration. All three words ברוך are enlarged and bolded.
The final blessing starts with a printed word ברוך placed in the upper margin and is copied in a square script. In the column below it, the Purim poem is copied in a square script. The letters opening the subsequent verses are enlarged and bolded.
Similar narrative scenes are included in "the scrolls with landscapes" (see their descriptions in the Index); some of them are their mirror image.
The scroll from the JHM collection is an exception because it contains only three sheets and not four as all other megillot decorated with this border. Sheet no. 3 is absent in the scroll, therefore some episodes (e.g. the triumph of Mordecai) are not represented in it.
In the last panel, just below the text of the Megillah, an inscription in Hebrew is written.
A short description of the scroll and images are available on https://data.jck.nl/page/aggregation/jhm-museum/M000414 (accessed on 17.07.2021).
Manuscripts sharing the same pattern are described in:
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.
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, 1:176-188.
Jiřina Šedinová, From the Mss. Collections of the State Jewish Museum in Prague. The Scrolls of Esther, "Judaica Bohemiae" 1979, nr 15/2, 80-83.