Opening decoration: The scroll opens with a panel containing several narrative scenes from the Esther story. In the central part of the upper register, the royal couple seated on the throne with a canopy that is placed on a pedestal is represented. The king and the queen are accompanied by courtiers; on the right, the princes of Media and Persia are standing (Es. 1:14) and on the left, there are Esther's maidservants (Es. 2:9). In a rectangular panel, directly below, the Hebrew words ברכת מגילה - "blessings for the Megillah"; their outlines are printed but they are decorated by hand with a pen and brown ink. Below, there are three rectangular frames: the central panel contains the benedictions recited before the Megillah reading that is also decorated by hand, the panel on the right shows the chamberlains, Bigthan and Teresh, hanging on two gallows (Es. 2:23), whereas the one on the left depicts Haman and his sons hanging on three gallows (Es. 7:10 and Es. 9:14 or Es. 9:25). The lowest register contains three episodes that are (from right to left): Mordecai receiving the clothes from Hatach (Es. 4:4), Haman leads Mordecai through the streets of Susa (Es. 6:11), Esther and Mordecai write letters instructing the Jews to observe Purim (Es. 9:29).
Text column no. 1 (sheet 1): The initial word of the Megillah (ויהי) is highlighted by its large hand-drawn letters. Every one of them is placed in a separate frame that is filled with foliate motifs and the letter ה is additionally decorated with a vase. In the upper margin, above the column, a medallion with a bust of the king flanked by acanthus leaves is depicted. In the lower margin, the feast of the king is shown (Es. 1:3-8) - there are six men seated at a round laid table; additionally, on either side of the table, servants are visible.
In the octagons separating the frames are depicted (from right to left): 1) a mask, 2) a (palace?) garden with a fountain.
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Ahasuerus and the seven princes of Persia and Media (Es. 1:13-15) | Seven princes of Persia and Media (Es. 1:14)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Seven maidens given to Esther (Es. 2:9)
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) | Mordecai receiving clothes from Hatach (Es. 4:4)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Mordecai's triumph (Es. 6:11)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Haman hanged (Es. 7:10)
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) | Mordecai and Esther writing the Purim letter (Es. 9:29)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Ahasuerus' banquet (Es. 1:3-8)
C | Columns
A | Acanthus Leaf
M | Mask
V | Vase | Vase with flowers
P | Portrait | Portrait medallion
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | *Esther's Story Characters (depicted not in narrative scenes): | Ahasuerus, the king
O | Ornamentation: | Initial word, decorative
L | Landscape
The Book of Esther in Hebrew with the benedictions recited before and after the Megillah reading and the liturgical poem אשר הניא
The scroll is formed of 4 sheets containing a total of 16 columns of text and two additional benediction panels at the beginning and the end of the manuscript. Columns include 27, 28, or 30 lines of text, except for col. 1 with 20 lines and the initial word that is written in a separate line, and col. 14 with 11 lines divided into two half-columns.
Every sheet comprises 4 columns of the text.
The text is inscribed in the Hebrew square script with tagin, in brown ink, on the flesh side of parchment membranes.
The scroll opens with a decorative initial word in which every letter is separated and surrounded with a filigree ornament.
The letter ח (Es. 1:6) is highlighted by its size (it is enlarged and bolded) and form (it is composed of two elements joined with a roof and has scrolled feet). The letter ת (Es. 9:29) is enlarged and bolded. Other enlarged and diminished letters are included in col. 14; additionally, every letter in this section is outlined with a thin, light brown line.
The ruling and pricking are invisible.
The sheets in the scroll are stitched together.
The benedictions: The initial benedictions are inscribed in the central panel of the opening decoration. The words ברוך are separated from the rest of the formulas written in the square script. The background is filled with a filigree ornament drawn in brown ink.
The final blessing starts with a decorative word ברוך in which every letter is separated and surrounded with a filigree ornament. In the column below it, the Purim poem is copied in a semi-cursive script; only the letters opening the subsequent verses are inscribed in the square script (they are bolded too), and two large letters - א and ש - against a decorative background drawn in brown ink are incorporated.
For other scrolls sharing the same or similar pattern see IDs: 1545, 1547, 23764, 36305, 37876.
For related scrolls see IDs: 1545, 36305, 37875.
The manuscript is unique due to col. 14 in which the text is written by hand, while the gallows is printed and it lacks the filigree ornament that should surround the text (in other scrolls sharing the same border, both the text and decorations are printed; the gallows is placed in the center and the ornament behind the text appears). Additionally, this is the only manuscript in which large, decorative letters are incorporated.
The scroll is mentioned in:
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 megillot Ester w XVII i XVIII wieku. Zarys problematyki], Warsaw 2019, 1:176-188.
Manuscripts sharing the same pattern are described in:
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.
Jiřina Šedinová, From the Mss. Collections of the State Jewish Museum in Prague. The Scrolls of Esther, "Judaica Bohemiae" 1979, nr 15/2, 80-83.