Landscape no. 4 (sheet no. 1) and landscapes nos. 1-3 (sheet no. 2) are printed in the upper margin, and there are four frames with illustrations in the lower margin (no. 4 on the first sheet and nos. 5-7 on the second sheet):
Frame 4 is very poorly preserved in this scroll. Based on other scrolls decorated with the same border, it likely represents Ahasuerus and Esther's wedding ceremony. The scene is witnessed by a group of men standing on the right and a group of women standing on the left. The Book of Esther does not mention this episode, and so the source for this representation is likely midrashic. It may have been influenced by European paintings of the marriage of the Virgin Mary and Joseph. This may also explain the garb of the man standing in the center which suggests the high priest's robes.
Frame 5: On the right side of the frame, a man aims at a Zodiac wheel on the left with a bow and arrow. The background consists of a vast landscape. This scene depicts Haman casting lots (Es. 3:7). The Book of Esther does, of course, mention casting lots to determine the Jews' fate, but there is no reference to the signs of the Zodiac in the text.
Frame 6: On the left side of the frame, a mounted messenger is carrying the edict of Haman in his right hand (Es. 3:13). In his other hand, he holds a French horn. He is riding towards a man sitting under a tree, most likely Mordecai, who tears his clothes as a sign of mourning (Es. 4:1).
Frame 7: On the left, Haman stands in front of Ahasuerus, who is attended by a group of men (either his advisers or servants). The vizier holds a set of scales with which he is going to weigh some silver for the king (Es. 3:9). The king's palace is depicted in the background.
Length of the sheets in the scroll: 1) 395 mm, 2) 384 mm, 3) 395 mm, 4) 418 mm.
An average text column: 93x68 mm.
C | Columns
H | Herm(a)
A | Acanthus Leaf
G | Garland
P | Putto (Putti in Plural)
B | Basket | Basket with flowers
V | Vase
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Haman casting the lot/Pur - Haman aiming at the Zodiac wheel (based on Midrash)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Messenger(s) delivering the decree of Haman (Es. 3:13)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Mordecai in mourning (Es. 4:1)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Haman entreats Ahasuerus to issue a decree destroying the Jews (Es. 3:9)
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) | Ahasuerus' and Esther's wedding
O | Ornamentation: | Main text framed
The scroll is preserved in a satisfactory state.
The opening decoration and the border on the first membrane - especially on the lower margin - are very poorly preserved; in the initial panel, only the central scene of the upper register is partly visible. This membrane is also seriously crumpled.
Similarly, some parts of the decoration in the lower margins of the third and fourth sheets are damaged.
Some parts of the text are difficult to decipher.
The sheets are sewn together in a not aesthetic manner.
In the benedictions' formulas, only the opening words are legible, the rest of the text is almost invisible.
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 26 lines, except for col. 14 which has 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 the parchment membranes.
On the basis of the picture, it cannot be determined whether the letter ח (Es. 1:6) is marked in any way. The letter ת (Es. 9:29) is enlarged and bolded. Other enlarged and diminished letters are included in col. 14.
The initial word of the Megillah is enlarged and bolded.
The sheets in the scroll are stitched.
The ruling and pricking cannot be determined because they are not visible in the photos.
The benedictions: from their texts, only the initial words ברוך are well visible. They are written in the square script and the letters in them are enlarged and bolded; they seem to be written in darker ink.
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).
Similar narrative scenes are included in the scrolls with "portrait medallions" (see in the Index); some of them are their mirror image.
The former number of the manuscript is Ms 311.
The Hebrew inscription of the former owner on the blank side of the sheet is placed: הק' וואלף ליב אבילעס מק'ק אטטערסדארף - "The humble Wolf Leib Abeles from the holy community of Ottersdorf".
The scroll was acquired in Brno. It was among the Judaic objects gathered by the Nazis between 1942 and 1945.
The scroll is described 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], Praha 2006, 37.
Images of the scroll are available http://collections.jewishmuseum.cz/index.php/Detail/Object/Show/object_id/221264 (accessed on 21.10.2020).
Other scrolls sharing the same or similar pattern are discussed for example 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.
Victor Klagsbald, Catalogue raisonné de la collection juive du Musée de Cluny, Paris 1981, 63-64, object 72.
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.