Text panels 4 and 5 (sheet no. 2) are surrounded by hand-drawn foliate and floral ornamentation with portrait medallions, putti, and fruit-filled vases. The medallions contain busts of Bigthan (on the first sheet), Teresh, Hegai, Shashgas, and Harbona (from the right to the left). The lower margins are adorned with cartouches (nos. 4 and 5) containing narrative scenes from the Book of Esther:
Cartouche 4 joins two episodes: the execution of the king's chamberlains, Bigthan and Teresh, on the gallows (Es. 2:23) on the right, and Mordecai sitting at the king's gate on the left. The latter possibly shows Mordecai, wearing a large black flat hat, who overhears the plot of the chamberlains against the king (Es. 2:21-22).
Cartouche 5 depicts Haman paying money to the king (Es. 3:9). The vizier is standing before the king with the scales in his hand. A tree is depicted on the left side of the cartouche.
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Bigthan and Teresh hanged (Es. 2:23)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Haman paying money to the king (Es. 3:9)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | *Esther's Story Characters (depicted not in narrative scenes): | Harbona
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | *Esther's Story Characters (depicted not in narrative scenes): | Hegai
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | *Esther's Story Characters (depicted not in narrative scenes): | Bigthan
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | *Esther's Story Characters (depicted not in narrative scenes): | Teresh
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | *Esther's Story Characters (depicted not in narrative scenes): | Shashgas
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Mordecai overhears the plot of Bigthan and Teresh (Es. 2:21-22)
H | Human Figure | Bust (Human figure)
P | Putto (Putti in Plural)
L | Lion
V | Vase | Vase with fruits
O | Ornamentation: | Foliate and floral ornaments
O | Ornamentation: | Cartouche
O | Ornamentation: | Main text framed
The manuscript (the text, decorations, and membranes) is very well preserved.
The Book of Esther in Hebrew
The scroll is formed of 6 sheets (the last sheet is blank and was used for stitching of the manuscript to the roller) containing 14 columns of the text of 28 or 29 lines, except for col. 12 which includes 11 lines divided into two half-columns.
Membranes nos. 1-4 include 4 columns of text and the fifth one includes 2 columns.
The text is written in Hebrew square Ashkenazi script with tagim, in brown ink on the flesh side of the parchment membranes.
The letter ח (Es. 1:6) is enlarged, bolded, and darker than all letters around. The letter ת (Es. 9:29) is enlarged and bolded. Other enlarged and diminished letters are included in col. 12.
Col. 11, in the last line, includes an extremely long letter.
The double-line ruling is well visible along with the membranes.
The pricking is invisible.
The membranes in the scroll are stitched together.
It seems the scroll was originally mounted on a roller and for this purpose the sixth, blank and short sheet was added.
Bibliography on scrolls made by Aryeh Leib ben Daniel of Goray or attributed to him:
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, 1:206-215.
Victor Klagsbald, Catalogue raisonné de la collection juive du Musée de Cluny, Paris 1981, 64-66, object 73.
Mendel Metzger, The Earliest Engraved Italian Megilloth, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 1966, 48/2, esp. 409, 422-425.
Ernest Namenyi, "The Illumination of Hebrew Manuscripts after the Invention of Printing," in Cecil Roth (ed.), Jewish Art, an Illustrated History (London, 1961), col. 435.
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], Prag 2006, 32-33.
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, 246-249.
Schöne Seiten. Jüdische Schriftkultur aus der Braginsky Collection, eds. Emile Schrijver, Falk Wiesemann, Evelyn M. Cohen, Sharon Liberman Mintz, Menahem Schmeltzer, Zurich 2011, 266-269.
A Fine Illustrated Esther Scroll, [ca. 1740], lot 105, Sotheby's New York Important Judaica, 20 December 2017 https://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/lot.105.html/2017/important-judaica-n09687 (accessed on 31.07.2020).
A Magnificent Esther Scroll Written and illustrated Aryeh Leib ben Daniel of Goray, Schwelm, 1737, lot 187, Sotheby's New York Important Judaica Including Property from the Estate of Shlomo Moussaieff, 15 December 2016 https://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/2016/important-judaica-n09589/lot.187.html (accessed on 31.07.2020).