Cartouche 15 (upper margin): On the right, Ahasuerus sits on a throne topped with a canopy and holds a scepter in one hand and with the other hand, he points at Mordecai, who stands before him wearing a turban and an overcoat and bows slightly before the king (Es. 8:15). In the center, the figures are depicted fighting in a field; two men are lying on the ground. This is 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 laid table. The scene most likely depicts the happiness of Jews at the news of the king's new decree (Es. 8:16-17). The top of the sheet is torn.
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 Jews who battle their enemies (Es. 9:5-12) or an additional day of fights of Jews against their enemies (Es. 9:15-16).
| inv. 2002.01.0679
The length of the membranes: 1) ca. 525 mm, 2) ca. 595 mm, 3) ca. 550 mm.
Dimensions of the selected details in the scroll:
- the print: ca. 165 mm (height);
- inner dimensions of the typical text panel: ca. 100 x 78 mm.
- an average letter: less than 2 mm (height)
- letters in col. 16: over 3 mm (height);
- letters forming the Tetragrammaton inscribed in the cartouche at the end of the scroll: ca. 10 mm and
- letters in the word שויתי: ca. 8 mm high.
The scroll: ca. 300 mm (height).
Pull bar: ca. 215 mm (height).
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)
O | Ornamentation: | Foliate and floral ornaments | Floral motif
O | Ornamentation: | Endless knot
The scroll consists of 3 membranes with 19 columns (9 double text panels and a single text panel) with 22 lines per column, except for col. 16 with 11 lines, divided into two parts, written in a large script. The membranes contain respectively 6, 8, and 5 text columns.
The text is written on the flesh side of the parchment membranes in a small, square Italian script, in brown-black ink.
The ruling is made by a stylus and consists of 22 horizontal lines that are ruled across the width of the entire sheet. The vertical lines were made as well; inside the text panel, they are 1+2+1.
Pricking is not visible.
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). 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 MAHJ stores another scroll representing the same pattern no. inv. 2017.18.004 (not included in the Index).
The pattern features a number of decorative elements common with the scrolls of Klagsbald type.
The scroll possibly contains the date of its production - see "Scribal Notes".
On the blank (hair) side of the first sheet, there is an inscription that is possibly composed of the letters ש, ל, ם in a cursive script.
Selected images are described twice; within a particular section containing the text column and upper and lower margins and once again as a separate image.
A brief description of the manuscript in French: Rouleau d'Esther, Italie, 1666 available on https://www.mahj.org/fr/decouvrir-collections-betsalel/rouleau-d-esther-63901 (accessed on 04.05.2020).
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.