Art Alone

Img. ID: 323849

© Dagmara Budzioch, Photographer: Budzioch, Dagmara, 29.10.2010

Cartouche 11 (upper margin): On the right, Ahasuerus stands next to his throne and points at Haman who stands before him while they are talking (Es. 6:6-10). On the left, Mordecai rides a horse followed by two men and Haman walks before him while blowing a trumpet (Es. 6:11). The scene of the triumph of Mordecai is supplemented by the depiction of Haman's daughter who, from a window above, empties a chamber pot on her father's head (Megillah 16a).

Cartouche 12 (lower margin): On the right, the second banquet given by Esther is shown (Es. 7:1). The queen sits at a round laid table and is accompanied by Ahasuerus (who sits on the canopied throne) and Haman (who sits between them). In the central part of the cartouche, Haman is begging for his life and is prostrated on the floor before Esther while Ahasuerus is returning from the palace gardens (Es. 7:7-8). On the left, Ahasuerus stands in the palace garden with a scepter in his hand, accompanied by two chamberlains; one of them may be Harbonah, who suggests hanging Haman on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai (Es. 7:9).

Cartouche 13 (upper margin): On the right, Haman is hanged on the gallows (Es. 7:10). A ladder leans against it and three guards, holding spears, stand on the left. At Haman's feet, there is a dog that is looking up at him. On the left, Ahasuerus sits on the canopied throne and extends his scepter to Esther, who kneels at his feet and touches the tip of the scepter. Mordecai stands in the background and watches the scene (Es. 8:1-4). This either depicts the moment when the king gives Haman's properties to Esther (Es. 8:1) or when Esther is pleading to annul Haman's decree (Es. 8:3-4).

Cartouche 14 (lower margin): On the right, Ahasuerus sits on a throne under a canopy and extends the scepter to Esther, who kneels at his feet and touches the tip of the scepter. Behind the throne stands a man (possibly Mordecai) and in the background, two king's scribes sit at a table and write the king's decree (Es. 8:9). On the left, two mounted messengers ride towards a walled city on the far left (Es. 8:14).

SBB Gaster I Type Esther Scroll | Unknown
Object Detail
text panels 6 and 7
second half of the 17th century
Active dates
Reconstruction dates
Artist/ Maker
Unknown (Unknown)
Italy | Veneto | Venice
| (?)
Historical Origin
Community type
Unknown |
Unknown |
Gaster I scrolls|
{"209":"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\u2012432, 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 Detail
Documentation / Research project
Material / Technique
Ink and paints on parchment
Material Stucture
Material Decoration
Material Bonding
Material Inscription
Material Additions
Material Cloth
Material Lining
Tesserae Arrangement
Construction material
The scroll: ca. 175 x ca. 1705 mm.
The length of the sheets: 1) ca. 645 mm, 2) ca. 520 mm, 3) ca. 540 mm long (the third membrane could not be measured precisely because it could not be completely unrolled).
Dimensions of the selected details in the scrolls:
- inner dimensions of a typical text panel: ca. 100 x 78 mm;
- an average letter: 1-2 mm (height);
- letters in col. 16: 4 mm (height);
- the space between the subsequent lines of the text: 2 mm.
Panel Measurements
The manuscript is preserved in good condition, although the last membrane is torn and a black stain in this place is visible. The edges of the membranes are straight. It seems that the details painted originally blue are almost completely faded. Cartouche no. 19 is almost colorless. In some places, the ink is faded and only remains of the letters are still noticeable.
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
Textual Content
Unknown |
Languages of inscription
Shape / Form
The Book of Esther in Hebrew

The scroll consists of 3 membranes with 19 columns (9 double text panels and one single panel) with 22 lines, except for col. 16 written in 11 lines divided into two parts. The membranes contain respectively 6, 8, and 5 text columns.

The text is written on the flesh side of parchment membranes in a small, square Italian script, in black ink. The handwriting of the second sheet is slightly different than the script on the first and the third sheets. The same is true as to the shade of the ink.

The letters ח and ת (respectively Es. 1:6 and Es. 9:29) are enlarged and bolded. Enlarged and diminished letters are also included in col. 16.

The ruling was made by a stylus and consists of 22 horizontal lines ruled across the width of the sheet but currently, they are only slightly visible; better visible are vertical lines (1+2+1 in the text panel).

The pricking can be discerned in some places. 

The membranes in the scroll are stitched together.

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
Scribal Notes
Trade Mark
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 that is described here). At least 25 manuscripts representing this type are still extant and are preserved in private and institutional collections. For their descriptions see "Related objects".

In the article by Mendel Metzger (Eine illustrierte...), the manuscript is called a "Marburger" megillah due to its previous storage location.

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

The opening decoration lacks its far-right part that is not printed. Also in some other places on the first and third sheets, the border is not entirely printed.

The color scheme of this manuscript is more limited than in many other scrolls decorated with the same pattern.

Suggested Reconsdivuction

Until 1970, this was in the collection of the Westdeutsche Bibliothek in Marburg (former Preussische Staatsbibliothek). Before the opening decoration, there is a blank fragment of parchment (ca. 120 mm wide) that contains two numbers written in black ink: "acc[?]. ms. or. 1929.130" and "Ms. or. oct. 2947", and a red stamp. Exhibited at the "Synagoga" exhibition in 1960/1961 in Recklinghausen and again in 1961 in Frankfurt am Main (respectively objects B 64 and 124 in the catalogues - see "Bibliography").

Main Surveys & Excavations

The scroll is mentioned in:

Ernst Róth, Hans Striedel. Wiesbaden: Steiner, 1965-1984. Hebräische Handschriften, 135.

Mendel Metzger, Eine illustrierte Estherrolle der zweiten Hälfte des 18. Jahrhunderts im Historischen Museum Frankfurt am Main, mit einem Anhang über Megilla-Hülsen, „Schriften des Historischen Museums Frankfurt am Main” 1972, no. 13, 95–116.

Synagoga. Kultgeräte und Kunstwerke von der Zeit der Patriarchen bis zur Gegenwart, Städtische Kunsthalle Recklinghausen, 3. November 1960 – 15. Januar 1961, ed. Anneliese Schröder, Recklinghausen 1961, object B 64.

Synagoga. Jüdische Altertümer Handschriften und Kultgeräte. Historisches Museum Frankfurt am Main, 17. Mai – 16. Juli 1961, Frankfurt am Main 1961, object 124.

Kitwe-jad - Jüdische Handschriften : restaurieren - bewahren - präsentieren; [Ausstellung der Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz, 4. Juli 2002 - 17. August 2002] / [Gesamtgestaltung: Stephan Rosenthal] Teil 1: Jüdische Kultur im Spiegel der Berliner Sammlung / [Ausstellung und Katalog: Petra Werner]. Berlin, 2002. 198 S. : zahlr. Ill. [Kat. Nr. 12]

A short description in German and English and digital images available on http://resolver.staatsbibliothek-berlin.de/SBB0001BF8000000001 (accessed on 23.05.2020).

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, 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.

Short Name
Full Name
Dagmara Budzioch | 2020
Author of description
Dagmara Budzioch | 2020
Architectural Drawings
Computer Reconstruction
Section Head
Language Editor
Negative/Photo. No.