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Art Alone

Img. ID: 332910

© Gross Family Collection, Photographer: Bar Hama, Ardon, -

Text column no. 4 (sheet 1): In the upper margin, a bust of a bearded man with a flat cap on the head (Mordecai?) is depicted. In the frame in the lower margin, a wedding ceremony of Ahasuerus and Esther is represented. The scene is witnessed by a group of men standing on the left and a group of women standing on the right. The Book of Esther does not mention this episode and the source for this representation remains unknown. It can be influenced by European paintings in which the scene of the marriage of the Virgin Mary and Josef was similarly composed. This can also explain the dress of a man standing in the center that refers to the high priest's robes.

Text column no. 5 (sheet 2): In the upper margin, a bust of a man in a long curly wig and tricorn hat on it (one of the princes of Media and Persia listed in Es. 1:14?, one of the servants?) is depicted. In the frame placed in the lower margin, a man with a bow in his hands is depicted; he is aiming at the wheel with the signs of Zodiac on its perimeter. The scene is shown against the landscape. The depiction symbolically shows the moment of casting lots by Haman (alludes to Es. 3:7). The Book of Esther mentions only casting lots that means appointing the least favorable period for Jews, but there is no reference to the signs of the Zodiac in the text.

Text column no. 6 (sheet 2): In the upper margin, a bust of the king is depicted. In the frame placed in the lower margin, on the right, a mounted messenger is carrying the edict of Haman that he holds in his left hand (Es. 3:13) and in his other hand, he has a French horn. He is riding towards a man sitting under a tree (on the left), most likely Mordecai, who tears his clothes as a sign of mourning (Es. 4:1).

In the octagons separating the frames are depicted (from right to left): 1) a ship on the sea, 2) a landscape with hills and a castle (?), 3) a castle (?) on a hill-island on the sea, 4) a harbor with a ship.

GFC Esther Scroll with Portrait Medallions | Unknown
Object Detail
cols. 4-6
Early 18th century
Synagogue active dates
Reconstruction dates
Artist/ Maker
Unknown (Unknown)
Historical Origin
Community type
Unknown |
Unknown |
Scrolls with portrait medallions|
{"215":"The family of Dutch Esther scrolls from the early 18th century designed by an anonymous engraver whose decorative scheme features decorative medallions surrounded by acanthus containing busts of the Esther story protagonists, except for the last that is filled with a printed word \u05d1\u05e8\u05d5\u05da barukh (“blessed”). The medallions are placed in upper margins, above text panels. The text columns are separated by pillars formed of a variety of motifs such as trees, flowers, acanthus leaves, heads of angels, and architectural elements. Lower margins are filled with the figurative scenes that chronicle the Purim story or allude to midrashim and other sources. They are separated by the octagons (placed beneath the decorative pillars) filled with different land- and seascapes. At the end of the scroll there are five full figures of the Esther story protagonists."}
Period Detail
Documentation / Research project
Material / Technique
Ink on parchment (printed decorations, handwritten text)
Material Stucture
Material Decoration
Material Bonding
Material Inscription
Material Additions
Material Cloth
Material Lining
Tesserae Arrangement
Construction material
The scroll: 197x1854 mm.
Panel Measurements
In general, the manuscript is preserved in good condition, although the decorations are better preserved than the text that in some places is faded. Some slight damages in the upper and lower margins are visible.
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 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.

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
Trade Mark
Decoration Program
Summary and Remarks

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.

Suggested Reconsdivuction
On the blank piece of parchment glued to the first membrane, there is an inscription: "Helen (?) Strauss / 2593 Coventry Rd".
Main Surveys & Excavations

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.

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