Art Alone

Img. ID: 327679

© Dagmara Budzioch, Photographer: Budzioch, Dagmara, 29.03.2012

The final decoration in the scroll is a symmetrical composition of flowers and tendrils that surrounds a cartouche with the four letters of the Tetragrammaton. This is the only scroll representing Gaster I type in which this detail appears.


MAHJ Gaster I Type Esther Scroll | Unknown
Object Detail
final decoration
second half of the 17th century, 1665/1666?
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 + wood
Material Stucture
Material Decoration
Material Bonding
Material Inscription
Material Additions
Material Cloth
Material Lining
Tesserae Arrangement
Construction material
The scroll: 168 x ca. 1670 mm.
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).
Panel Measurements
The condition of the scroll is satisfactory, but a number of defects can be seen in it. The beginning of the first sheet is particularly damaged, but in all parchment membranes, there are also some stains, discolorations, holes, and tears. The parchment, in general, is dark but especially the hair (blank) side of the first sheet that is also severely cracked. The sheets are slightly wavy and the parchment in many places is creased, although its edges are still relatively straight. In the past, the sheets nos 2 and 3 must be separated and now they are stitched in a not aesthetic way. The text is seriously damaged similarly as the paints that are faded and cracked; only orange, green, yellow, and dusty pink paints are relatively good preserved. The right edge of the scroll is very loosely joined with the wooden pull bar. It seems that the manuscript was stored in difficult conditions.
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 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.

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
In the upper-right corner of the last sheet (outside the final decoration) the word שויתי is inscribed in large Hebrew letters. It can be assumed that this is a chronogram for the date given according to the Hebrew calendar. Possibly the letter ש is an abbreviation for the word שנת - "a year" and the gematrical value of the remaining four letters - 426 - is the number of the year. The year [5]426 in the Jewish calendar corresponds with 1665 or 1666 in the Gregorian calendar. The word שויתי together with the four-letters name of God that fills the cartouche in the final decoration alludes to a quotation from Ps. 16:8: שויתי ה 'לנגדי תמיד - "I have set God before me always".
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). 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.

Suggested Reconsdivuction
Purchased by the Museum in 1957. The former number of the manuscript: no. inv. IOB0307.
Main Surveys & Excavations

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.

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