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© Center for Jewish Art, Photographer: Radovan, Zev, 9.1994

Opening decoration: The opening section of the scroll is composed of foliate and floral ornaments that are inhabited by the "Four animals" - i.e. a lion, an eagle, a leopard, and a stag. They have no direct relationship with the text of the Megillah or the feast of Purim, but they allude to a quotation from Pirkei Avot - "Ethics of the Fathers" (5:23). At the center, there is a decorative empty cartouche supported by two rampant lions with split tails. Below there are two dolphins' masks.

Cartouche 1 (upper margin): At the center, within the scenery of the palace gardens, the crowned and bearded King Ahasuerus sits on the throne under a high canopy at a round laid table. He is flanked by three men on the right and four men on the left, all of whom wear turbans and long gowns (Es. 1:3-8). On either side, there are arcaded buildings in which two groups of four figures sit at a table.

Cartouche 2 (lower margin): A crowned Vashti sits under a high canopy at a round laden table in the palace gardens. She is flanked by three women on either side. On the right, a group of servants, all wearing turbans, enter the garden through a gate; the first of them addresses the queen. They most likely come with the king's order that Vashti should appear before him and his guests (Es. 1:10-11). The second scene (on the left) most likely depicts the moment when the queen, after her refusal, is taken from the palace by two men (alluding to Es. 1:19).

Name/Title
JHI Gaster I Type Esther Scroll | Unknown
Object Detail
opening decoration and text panel 1
Date
second half of the 17th century
Synagogue active dates
Reconstruction dates
Artist/ Maker
Unknown (Unknown)
Origin
Italy | Veneto | Venice
| (?)
Historical Origin
Unknown
Community type
Unknown |
Congregation
Unknown
Location
Unknown |
Site
Unknown
School/Style
Gaster I scrolls|

The family of Italian Esther scrolls from the second half of the 17th century named by Mendel Metzger after Judaica collector, Moses Gaster (1856–1939), of whose collections an exemplar of this manuscript formed a part (see M. Metzger, “The Earliest Engraved Italian Megilloth”, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 48:2 (1966), 381‒432, esp. 390). It includes Esther scrolls produced in mixed technique in which decorative border is printed and colored by hand while the Hebrew text of the Book of Esther is penned by a scribe. The opening and final section of the scrolls are precisely filled with a rich decoration formed of tendrils, flowers, and animals (the latter contains no animal figures). The upper and lower margins are adorned with repeating endless knot motifs alternating with cartouches enclosing more than thirty scenes in total that chronicles the Book of Esther. The text panels, in which nineteen text columns are included (in most panels they are grouped in pairs), are interspersed by floral decoration. The same scheme repeats on all three sheets forming each exemplar. Many of decorative elements are common with Klagsbald scrolls.

Period
Unknown
Period Detail
Documentation / Research project
Unknown
Material/Technique
Ink and paints on parchment (printed border, handwritten text)
Material Stucture
Material Decoration
Material Bonding
Material Inscription
Material Additions
Material Cloth
Material Lining
Tesserae Arrangement
Density
Colors
Construction material
Measurements
The scroll: 173-175 mm
An average letter is ca. 2 mm high, whereas the letters in col. 16 are ca. 5 mm high.
Height
Length
Width
Depth
Circumference
Thickness
Diameter
Weight
Axis
Panel Measurements
Condition

In general, the scroll is preserved in very good condition, although the state of the decoration is better than that of the text.

Some parts of the text are faded but they are still legible.

The membranes are bright, very smooth, slightly shiny, and their edges are straight.

Extant
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
Languages of inscription
Unknown
Type of grave
Unknown
0
Coordinates: 45.445393, 12.326778
Ornamentation
Custom
Contents
The Book of Esther in Hebrew
Codicology

The scroll consists of 3 membranes with 19 columns written in 9 double text panels and a single panel. They contain 22 lines per column, except for col. 18 with 23 lines and col. 16 with 11 lines (the section lists the names of Haman's sons that are inscribed in a popular layout, in a larger script). The membranes contain respectively 6, 8, and 5 text columns.

Written on the flesh side in a small, square Italian script with tagim, in brown-black ink.

The ruling is visible in the places with no text and decoration and on the blank side of membranes.

Pricking is not discernible.

Membranes in the scroll are sewn together with sinew threads.

Scribes
Script
Number of Lines
Ruling
Pricking
Quires
Catchwords
Hebrew Numeration
Blank Leaves
Direction/Location
Façade (main)
Endivances
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
Coin Series
Coin Ruler
Coin Year
Denomination
Signature
Colophon
None
Scribal Notes
Watermark
Hallmark
Group
Group
Group
Group
Group
Trade Mark
Binding
Decoration Program
Summary and Remarks

The name "Gaster I" was introduced by Mendel Metzger in his article entitled "The Earliest Engraved Italian Megilloth" (see "Bibliography"). The type was named after Moses Gaster (1856–1939), the rabbi, scholar, and manuscript collector, who owned a scroll adorned with this pattern (at present this is the scroll Gaster Hebrew MS 710 stored in the John Rylands Library in Manchester - ID 36150). At least 25 manuscripts representing this type are still extant and are preserved in private and institutional collections. For their descriptions see "Related objects".

The pattern features a number of decorative elements common with the scrolls of Klagsbald type.

Originally the cartouches and the endless knot motifs may have been painted gold; some traces of paint are still visible on the first membrane.

The opening edge of the scroll is cut in the shape of a multifoil arch, while its final edge is cropped straight and is perforated with four holes which were probably used for holding the (missing) rod. 

The word "Esther" is written in a Latin cursive script (in pencil) on the recto side of the opening edge of the scroll.

Suggested Reconsdivuction
History/Provenance

The former shelfmarks are written on the blank (hair) side of the opening section of the scroll: 3944 (in ink), 48339 and RFAN (in pencil). The collection of eight megillot Esther stored in the Jewish Historical Institute contains the manuscripts taken from three places: 1) Kunzendorf (Trzebieszowice) village in the Lower Silesian Voivodeship, 2) collection point of the Ministry of Culture and Art in Bożków (Lower Silesian Voivodeship), 3) city museum of Toruń. It cannot be determined in which of these places the scroll was previously stored.

Main Surveys & Excavations
Bibliography

Bibliography concerning the scroll from the JHI collection:

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, 1:99-119, 2:64-69.

Dagmara Budzioch, "An Illustrated Scroll of Esther from the Collection of the Jewish Historical Institute as an Example of the Gaster I Megilloth," Kwartalnik Historii Żydów 2013, no. 3 (247), 533–547.

Marian Fuks, Zygmunt Hoffman, Maurycy Horn, Żydzi polscy. Dzieje i kultura, Warszawa 1982, 102.

The online collection of the ritual objects from the E. Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute is available on http://cbj.jhi.pl/collections/964689

Selected bibliography concerning other scrolls decorated with the same border:

Mendel Metzger, The Earliest Engraved Italian Megilloth, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 1966, 48/2, 381–432.

Cornelia Bodea, Treasures of Jewish Art. The 1673 Illuminated Scroll of Esther Offered to a Romanian Hierarch, Iaşi–Oxford–Palm Beach–Portland 2002.

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, 240-241.

Schöne Seiten. Jüdische Schriftkultur aus der Braginsky Collection, eds. Emile Schrijver, Falk Wiesemann, Evelyn M. Cohen, Sharon Liberman Mintz, Menahem Schmeltzer, Zurich 2011, 262-263.

Dagmara Budzioch, "An Illustrated Scroll of Esther from the Collection of the Jewish Historical Institute as an Example of the Gaster I Megilloth," Kwartalnik Historii Żydów 2013, no. 3 (247), 533–547.

Short Name
Full Name
Volume
Page
Type
Documenter
Yaffa Levy; Keren Katsir; Dagmara Budzioch | 1994; 2020
Researcher
Dagmara Budzioch | 2020
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Computer Reconstruction
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Section Head
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Language Editor
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Donor
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Negative/Photo. No.