Under Reconstruction!
Art Alone

Img. ID: 342288

© Cambridge University Library, Photographer: Unknown, 2020

Sheet no. 2

Cartouche 7 (upper margin): On the right, a man (possibly Haman) dictates the decree against the Jews to a scribe who sits at a table, attended by two other men (Es. 3:12). On the left, the crowned Esther is shown in a courtyard surrounded by a wall. A man (possibly her servant, Hatach) wearing a turban is facing her as if speaking, and two maid-servants stand behind her. In the background, in front of the palace gate, another man in a turban (most likely Mordecai) is shown (Es. 4:4).

Cartouche 8 (lower margin): Both episodes included in the cartouche depict Hatach delivering the messages between Esther and Mordecai. On the right, Esther sits on a throne topped by a canopy, flanked by two maid-servants, holding a scepter in her left hand. She is pointing at a man (possibly Hatach) who stands facing her and raises his hands in a gesture of speech (Es. 4:5). On the left, Mordecai stands with folded arms within the palace gate facing a man (Hatach) who also raises his hands in a gesture of speech (Es. 4:5-7).

Cartouche 9 (upper margin): On the right side of the cartouche, Ahasuerus sits on his canopied throne and extends his scepter to the crowned Esther. Esther kneels before him and reaches out to touch the tip of the scepter. Two men stand behind the throne and Esther is accompanied by two maid-servants (Es. 5:2-3). On the left side of the cartouche, the first banquet given by Esther is depicted. Esther, Ahasuerus, and Haman sit at a round laden table set in the palace gardens. A male servant is approaching the table, holding dishes (Es. 5:5). 

Cartouche 10 (lower margin): On the right, Haman (wearing a turban) stands and talks to two women; one of them is most likely Zeresh, Haman's wife, meaning this might depict the moment she suggests he build a gallows for Mordecai (Es. 5:14). The gallows prepared for Mordecai by Haman stand in the central part of the cartouche (Es. 5:14). On the left, Ahasuerus reclines on a bed while two men stand before him; one of them reads to him from an open book (Es. 6:1).

Cartouche 11 (upper margin): On the right, Ahasuerus stands next to his throne and points at Haman who stands before him while they are talking (Es. 6:6-10). On the left, Mordecai rides a horse followed by two men and Haman walks before him while blowing a trumpet (Es. 6:11). The scene of the triumph of Mordecai is supplemented by the depiction of Haman's daughter who, from a window above, empties a chamber pot on her father's head (Megillah 16a).

Cartouche 12 (lower margin): On the right, the second banquet given by Esther is shown (Es. 7:1). The queen sits at a round laid table and is accompanied by Ahasuerus (who sits on the canopied throne) and Haman (who sits between them). In the central part of the cartouche, Haman is begging for his life and is prostrated on the floor before Esther while Ahasuerus is returning from the palace gardens (Es. 7:7-8). On the left, Ahasuerus stands in the palace garden with a scepter in his hand, accompanied by two chamberlains; one of them may be Harbonah, who suggests hanging Haman on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai (Es. 7:9).

Cartouche 13 (upper margin): On the right, Haman is hanged on the gallows (Es. 7:10). A ladder leans against it and three guards, holding spears, stand on the left. At Haman's feet, there is a dog that is looking up at him. On the left, Ahasuerus sits on the canopied throne and extends his scepter to Esther, who kneels at his feet and touches the tip of the scepter. Mordecai stands in the background and watches the scene (Es. 8:1-4). This either depicts the moment when the king gives Haman's properties to Esther (Es. 8:1) or when Esther is pleading to annul Haman's decree (Es. 8:3-4).

Cartouche 14 (lower margin): On the right, Ahasuerus sits on a throne under a canopy and extends the scepter to Esther, who kneels at his feet and touches the tip of the scepter. Behind the throne stands a man (possibly Mordecai) and in the background, two king's scribes sit at a table and write the king's decree (Es. 8:9). On the left, two mounted messengers ride towards a walled city on the far left (Es. 8:14).

CUL Gaster I Type Esther Scroll | Unknown
Object Detail
sheet 2 (text panels 4-7)
second half of the 17th century
Synagogue active dates
Reconstruction dates
Artist/ Maker
Unknown (Unknown)
Italy | Veneto | Venice
| (?)
Historical Origin
Community type
Unknown |
Unknown |
Gaster I scrolls|

The family of Italian Esther scrolls from the second half of the 17<\/span>th<\/span> century named by Mendel Metzger after Judaica collector, Moses Gaster (1856–1939), of whose collections an exemplar of this manuscript formed a part (see M. Metzger, “The Earliest Engraved Italian Megilloth”, <\/span>Bulletin of the John Rylands Library <\/span><\/em>48:2 (1966), 381\u2012432, esp. 390). It includes Esther scrolls produced in mixed technique in which decorative border is printed and colored by hand while the Hebrew text of the Book of Esther is penned by a scribe. The opening and final section of the scrolls are precisely filled with a rich decoration formed of tendrils, flowers, and animals (the latter contains no animal figures). The upper and lower margins are adorned with repeating endless knot motifs alternating with cartouches enclosing more than thirty scenes in total that chronicles the Book of Esther. The text panels, in which nineteen text columns are included (in most panels they are grouped in pairs), are interspersed by floral decoration. The same scheme repeats on all three sheets forming each exemplar. Many of decorative elements are common with Klagsbald scrolls. <\/span><\/p>"}

Period Detail
Documentation / Research project
Ink and paints on parchment (handwritten text, printed border)
Material Stucture
Material Decoration
Material Bonding
Material Inscription
Material Additions
Material Cloth
Material Lining
Tesserae Arrangement
Construction material
The scroll: 177 x ca. 1590 mm
The length of the sheets in the scroll: 1) ca. 530 mm, 2) ca. 520 mm, 3) ca. 540 mm (the sheets are wavy, and they cannot be measured precisely).
Dimensions of the selected details in the scroll:
- the print: 165 mm (height);
- floral decorations between the panels: 91x32 mm;
- upper and lower margins: 32 mm;
- cartouche with illustration(s): 97 mm (width);
- an average letter: higher than 1 mm;
- the letters in col. 16: 4 mm (height).

The roller: ca. 345 mm (height).
Panel Measurements
O | Ornamentation: | Foliate and floral ornaments | Floral motif
O | Ornamentation: | Endless knot
O | Ornamentation: | Cartouche
O | Ornamentation: | Foliate and floral ornaments
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Scribe(s) writing Haman's decree (Es. 3:12)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Mordecai in front of the palace gate (Es. 4:2)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Esther is informed of the plot by her maiden(s) and servant(s) (Es. 4:4)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Esther sends Hatach to speak to Mordecai (Es. 4:5)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Hatach before Mordecai (Es. 4:5-7)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Ahasuerus extending his scepter to Esther (Es. 5:2)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Esther touching the scepter (Es. 5:2)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Esther's first banquet (Es. 5:5-8)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Haman talks to his wife, Zeresh, and friends (Es. 5:14)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Gallows built for Mordecai (Es. 5:14)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Ahasuerus listening to the Book of Records (Es. 6:1-3)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Ahasuerus asks Haman how to honour a man he wishes to reward (Es. 6:5-10)
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's daughter empties a chamber pot on her father's head (Bab. Talmud, Megillah 16a)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Esther's second banquet (Es. 7:1)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Ahasuerus returns from the palace garden (Es. 7:8)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Haman begging for his life (Es. 7:8)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Harbona suggests to hang Haman (Es. 7:9)
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) | Ahasuerus giving Esther the house of Haman (Es. 8:1)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Esther at Ahasuerus' feet, pleading he annuls Haman's decree (Es. 8:3)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Ahasuerus extending his scepter to Esther (Es. 8:4)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | New decree allowing the Jews to defend themselves (Es. 8:8-10)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Ahasuerus' messenger(s) (Es. 8:14)
| (?)

In general, the scroll is very well preserved - the membranes are in very good condition and the printed border is intact.

The text is relatively well preserved. On the first sheet of the scroll, the text is preserved in the best condition and it contrasts very strongly with the text on the second sheet that is preserved in worse condition than in other places (the second layer of ink is visible here and its shade is different). Some parts of the text are erased.

A part of the roller is damaged.

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
Languages of inscription
Type of grave
The Book of Esther in Hebrew

The scroll is formed of 3 sheets containing 19 columns of the text with 22 lines, except for col. 16 with 11 lines divided into two parts.

The number of text columns per sheet: no. 1 – 6, no. 2 – 8 columns, no. 3 - 5.

The text is inscribed in Hebrew square Italian script with tagin, in dark brown (almost black) ink on the flesh side of the parchment membranes, which are stiff and bright.

The thickness of the sheets varies – the thinnest is the last sheet in the scroll. Both sides of the membranes are different – the blank side is rather yellow and very smooth.

The letter ח (Es. 1:6) is highlighted by its form - it contains two elements joined with a roof; a few other letters ח are inscribed in the same way in the scroll. The letter ת (Es. 9:29) is enlarged and bolded. Other enlarged and diminished letters are included in col. 16. Additionally, in col. 16 two words – איש and עשרת – are smaller than all other words in the column.

Some words that were omitted by a scribe are added above the lines of the text.

The ruling – horizontal and vertical lines - is made with a hardpoint, only inside the text panels. The lines are well visible on the blank sides of the sheets.

The pricking on the third sheet is visible.

The membranes in the scroll are stitched together.

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

The name "Gaster I" was introduced by Mendel Metzger in his article entitled "The Earliest Engraved Italian Megilloth" (see "Bibliography"). The type was named after Moses Gaster (1856–1939), the rabbi, scholar, and manuscript collector, who owned a scroll adorned with this pattern (at present this is the scroll Gaster Hebrew MS 710 stored in the John Rylands Library in Manchester - ID 36150). At least 25 manuscripts representing this type are still extant and are preserved in private and institutional collections. For their descriptions see "Related objects".

The pattern features a number of decorative elements common with the scrolls of Klagsbald type.

Some details in the scroll – a part of endless knot ornaments and decorative belts along with the sheets - have have been originally painted gold; at present, the paint is not preserved. The number "add. 1013" is inscribed above the first endless knot motif in the upper margin. The library’s stamp on the blank side of the sheet is visible.

Suggested Reconsdivuction

According to Reif (see "Bibliography"): "Bought in 1873 from Fischl Hirsh."

Main Surveys & Excavations

Bibliography concerning the scroll from the Cambridge University Library:

Stefan C. Reif, Hebrew Manuscripts at Cambridge University Library, Cambridge 1997, 52.

Selected bibliography concerning other scrolls decorated with the same border:

Mendel Metzger, The Earliest Engraved Italian Megilloth, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 1966, 48/2, 381–432.

Cornelia Bodea, Treasures of Jewish Art. The 1673 Illuminated Scroll of Esther Offered to a Romanian Hierarch, Iaşi–Oxford–Palm Beach–Portland 2002.

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, 240-241.

Schöne Seiten. Jüdische Schriftkultur aus der Braginsky Collection, eds. Emile Schrijver, Falk Wiesemann, Evelyn M. Cohen, Sharon Liberman Mintz, Menahem Schmeltzer, Zurich 2011, 262-263.

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, 1:99-119, 2:64-69.

Dagmara Budzioch, "An Illustrated Scroll of Esther from the Collection of the Jewish Historical Institute as an Example of the Gaster I Megilloth," Kwartalnik Historii Żydów 2013, no. 3 (247), 533–547.

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