Sheet no. 4
Column 14: n the upper margin landscape no. 2 is printed and in the frame, in the lower margin two groups of people are shown. Some of them look upwards and this detail suggests that the scene should be interpreted together with the depiction of the scene of hanging of Haman’s ten sons (Es. 9:14) incorporated in the text column above. On every beam of a very high gallows, a single body of one of the sons is hanged. A high ladder leans on it and on its top an executioner is standing. It seems the people shown below are onlookers who are witnessing the execution.
Column 15: In the upper margin landscape no. 3 is printed and in the frame in the lower margin, two mounted troops are represented as fighting together (on the right). The clothing of the men on the left suggests that they are Jews who are fighting their enemies approaching from the opposite direction. This is one of the moments in the narrative when Jews battle their enemies but it is difficult to determine which particular episode is illustrated here (Es. 9:5-12). On the left, the royal couple sitting on the throne is represented, however, it is unclear which episode this illustrates; it can be the moment when Esther pleads with the king for an additional day of fights (Es. 9:13).
Column 16: In the upper margin landscape no. 4 is printed and in the frame in the lower margin, the feast with musicians and a group of dancing people of both sexes is shown (on the right and in the center). One of them is wearing clothing typical for the Jews at the time when the pattern was designed, another man is wearing a checkered costume, and yet another man has a long curly wig. It is difficult to determine if this can be the feast after the victory of the Jews over the enemies (Es. 8:16-17) or the first Purim feast (Es. 9:17-23). On the left, a ship on the sea is shown (alludes to Es. 10:1).
Length of the sheets in the scroll: 1) ca. 485 mm, 2) ca. 400 mm, 3) ca. 390 mm, 4) ca. 420 mm (the sheets are wavy, therefore it is difficult to measure them carefully).
Dimensions of the selected details in the scroll:
- decorations in the upper margins: ca. 32 mm;
- decorations in the lower margins: ca. 38 mm;
- text panel: 64 mm (width);
- spaces between the text panels: ca. 27 mm;
- frames with illustration(s): 38x73 mm;
- an average square letter: 2 mm (height);
- an average semicursive letter: 2 mm (height);
- the letters in the opening word of the Megillah, in the word ברוך, and in col. 14: 4 mm (height).
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | *Other topics related to the Megillah: | Group of onlookers
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | *Esther's Story Characters (depicted not in narrative scenes): | Ahasuerus and Esther, enthroned
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) | Esther asks the king for an additional day of fighting (Es. 9:13)
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) | First Purim feast (Es. 9:17-23)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | And the king Ahasuerus laid a tribute upon the land, and upon the isles of the sea (Es. 10:1)
L | Landscape
C | Columns
P | Putto (Putti in Plural)
G | Garland
V | Vase
B | Basket | Basket with flowers
A | Acanthus Leaf
O | Ornamentation: | Main text framed
The scroll is very well preserved.
There is a small loss in the lower edge of the first sheet that is caused by its original shape.
The Book of Esther in Hebrew preceded with the benedictions recited before the Megillah reading
The scroll is formed of 4 sheets containing a total of 16 columns of text with 24 or 27 lines, except for col. 14 with 11 lines divided into two half-columns. Additionally, initial benedictions are written within the opening decoration.
Every sheet contains 4 columns of text.
The text is inscribed in the Hebrew square script, in brown ink on the flesh side of parchment membranes.
The membranes vary: the first is very thick, the second is very thin, whereas the third is of medium thickness. The sheets are rather grey but the flesh side is brighter and smoother than the hair side that is darker and rather suede.
The letter ח (Es. 1:6) is marked by its form - it is decorated with scrolling feet. The letter ת (Es. 9:29) is enlarged. Other enlarged and diminished letters are included in col. 14.
The ruling is slightly visible.
The pricking is visible at the very beginning and the end of the scroll.
The membranes in the scroll are stitched together.
The benedictions are inscribed in the semicursive script except for their initial words in benedictions no. 1 and 3 or the first three words in benediction no. 2; they are written in the square, larger, and bolded letters.
There are two variants of the scrolls decorated with this pattern that in the Index are marked "I" and "II". In some exemplars, just below the decorative columns, the pedestals with angel's heads and bases were added, therefore, the text panels in these scrolls are higher; this type is marked with "II". Whereas, the rest of the manuscripts containing no pedestals with angel's heads and bases are marked with "I". The latter are more numerous.
The earliest scroll sharing a similar engraved pattern is dated to 1701; this is the megillah BCM 25 from the Braginsky Collection in Zurich (see http://braginskycollection.com/esther-scrolls/; accessed on 22.04.2020).
At least 25 manuscripts featuring a similar pattern are still extant.
Similar narrative scenes are included in the scrolls with "portrait medallions" (see in the Index); some of them are their mirror image.
The final part of the scroll - ca. 25 mm wide - is blank; only the pricking is visible on it.
A contrast between the border printed in black ink and the text inscribed in light brown ink can be seen. The letters in col. 14 are darker than the text in all other columns.
The former numbers of the manuscript are visible on the blank side of the opening section; they are 2241 (on a sticker) and C-254/4.
The scroll is described in:
Online collection of the ritual objects from the E. Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute is available on https://cbj.jhi.pl/documents/633638/0/ (accessed on 02.07.2021).
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, 1:163-176, 2:41-49.
Other scrolls sharing the same or similar pattern are discussed for example in:
Jiřina Šedinová, From the Mss. Collections of the State Jewish Museum in Prague. The Scrolls of Esther, „Judaica Bohemiae” 1979, nr 15/2, 79-80.
Olga Sixtova, O svitku / Form of the Scroll [katalog k výstavě konané v Galerii Roberta Guttmanna Židovského muzea v Praze od 22. června do 26. července 2006], Prague 2006, 37.
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, 234-237.
Schöne Seiten. Jüdische Schriftkultur aus der Braginsky Collection, eds. Emile Schrijver, Falk Wiesemann, Evelyn M. Cohen, Sharon Liberman Mintz, Menahem Schmeltzer, Zurich 2011, 282-283.
Victor Klagsbald, Catalogue raisonné de la collection juive du Musée de Cluny, Paris 1981, 63-64, object 72.