Cartouche 15 (upper margin): On the right, Ahasuerus sits on a canopied throne, holding a scepter in one hand and pointing at Mordecai with the other. Mordecai stands before him wearing a turban and an overcoat, bowing slightly before the king (Es. 8:15). In the center part of this cartouche, figures are depicted fighting in a field; two men are lying on the ground. This is surely one of the moments when Jews battle their enemies, but it is difficult to determine which particular verse is illustrated here (Es. 9:5-12). On the left, five men sit around a table laden with food. The scene most likely depicts the happiness of the Jews at the news of the king's new decree (Es. 8:16-17).
Cartouche 16 (lower margin): Several figures are depicted fighting in a field flanked by buildings. Four soldiers holding spears emerge from the left and several bodies already lay on the ground. The scene can depict either the Jews defending themselves against their enemies (Es. 9:5-12) or the additional day of fighting between the Jews and their enemies (Es. 9:15-16).
Cartouche 17 (upper margin): On the right, Ahasuerus sits on the throne under a canopy and holds a scepter. The crowned Esther kneels before him, attended by her two maid-servants; she is likely asking the king to hang Haman's sons (Es. 9:13). On the left, Haman's ten sons are hanging on the same gallows with their hands tied. Two guards, holding spears, stand on either side of the gallows (Es. 9:14).
Cartouche 18 (lower margin): Seven men with turbans on their heads sit around a long table laden with food. Two servants carrying trays go out of the room from both sides (Es. 9:17).
Cartouche 19 (upper margin): On the right, the crowned Esther sits in an armchair at a table and writes the Purim letter. This is witnessed by two men wearing turbans who stand next to the table (Es. 9:29). On the left, two mounted messengers ride towards a city (Es. 9:30).
Cartouche 20 (lower margin): Five men wearing masks and tall pointed hats are dancing in a circle and playing musical instruments. The scene most likely depicts a Purim celebration contemporary to the manuscript's creator.
| Ms. or. oct. 2947
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.
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | The Jews had light, and gladness, and joy, and honour (Es. 8:16-17)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Jews battle their enemies (Es. 9:5-12)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Additional day of fighting (Es. 9:15-16)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Esther asks the king to hang Haman's sons (Es. 9:13)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Haman's sons hanged (Es. 9:14)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | First Purim feast (Es. 9:17-23)
O | Ornamentation: | Foliate and floral ornaments | Floral motif
O | Ornamentation: | Endless knot
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Esther writing the Purim letter (Es. 9:29)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Messenger(s) delivering the letter to all provinces (Es. 9:30)
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.
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.
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").
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.