The scroll opens with a prefatory panel with a depiction of Esther and Mordecai, both clothed in Oriental garments. Esther sits on the throne on the left (her name in Hebrew characters is placed below the throne) with the Purim letter on her lap and gestures vividly with her left hand. Before her, Mordecai is standing. His name is written in Hebrew characters on the right margin, outside the decoration. It is followed by the next two decorative prefatory panels with the Hebrew inscription in large, hand-drawn, and painted letters. The first of them is surrounded with rosettes and filled with the inscription: מגלת אסתר המלכה ומרדכי היהודי which continues in the next panel: בן יאיר בן שמעי בן קיש; the rosettes appear in the second panel too. Similar letters can be seen around the second of the prefatory panels and along the whole length of the upper and lower margins of the scroll.
The length of the sheets in the scroll: 1) ca. 540 mm, 2) 455 mm, 3) 370 mm, 4) ca. 330 mm, 5) ca. 340 mm.
Dimensions of the selected details in the scroll:
- opening decoration: 63x55 mm;
- margins: max. 20 mm (height);
- panel filled with rosettes: 66x15 mm (outer dimensions);
- text panel: 63x60 mm (inner dimensions);
- an average letter: 2 mm (height);
- decorative letters on the margins: 11-12 mm;
- spaces between the lines of the text: 1-2 mm.
The roller: 222 mm (height).
O | Ornamentation: | Letter
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | *Esther's Story Characters (depicted not in narrative scenes): | Esther, the queen
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | *Esther's Story Characters (depicted not in narrative scenes): | Mordecai, the Jew
O | Ornamentation: | Foliate and floral ornaments | Floral motif
O | Ornamentation: | Main text framed
The scroll (the text, decorations, and parchments) is very well preserved, except for the edges of the first membrane that are slightly damaged. Also, the beginning of the fourth membrane is torn and it is repaired with tape.
The beginning of the manuscript is darker than the rest.
The roller is slightly damaged.
The Book of Esther in Hebrew with two prefatory panels and the traditional genealogies of Mordecai and Haman written in the margins
The scroll is formed of 5 sheets containing a total of 24 columns of the text with 15-20 lines, except for col. 20 with 11 lines divided into two half-columns.
The number columns per membrane: no. 1 - 4 (+ 2 prefatory panels), no. 2 - 6, no. 3 - 5, no. 4 - 4, no. 5 - 5.
The text is inscribed in the Hebrew square Oriental script with tagin in dense black ink on the flesh side of the parchment membranes that are thin and smooth. Both sides are similar, but on the blank side, traces of animal hair are visible.
The letters ח (Es. 1:6) and ת (Es. 9:29) are enlarged. Other enlarged and diminished letters are included in col. 20.
The text contains numerous elongated letters.
The ruling is made with a hard point.
The pricking is invisible.
The membranes in the scroll are stitched together.
Several scrolls decorated in a similar way are stored in private (e.g. BCM 75, Braginksy Collection, Zurich) and institutional collections (see "Related objects"), however, not all of them bear the note of Isaac Meir Hayyim Moses Gabbai of Baghdad and only the convergence of their style allows to attribute them to this artist-scribe. No other scroll sharing the same ornamentation contains a figurative scene.
For other scrolls decorated with Hebrew letters on the margins see "Amalek scrolls" in the Index.
The ink used in the scroll is shiny.
The seal of the Museum and the number of the manuscript on the blank side of the first membrane can be seen.
No bibliography on the manuscript is available but other scrolls featuring similar pattern are described in:
Schöne Seiten. Jüdische Schriftkultur aus der Braginsky Collection, eds. E. Schrijver, F. Wiesemann, E.M. Cohen, S. Liberman Mintz, M. Schmeltzer, Zurich 2011, 306‒307.
A Journey through Jewish Worlds: Highlights from the Braginsky Collection of Hebrew Manuscripts and Printed Books, eds. E.M. Cohen, E. Schrijver, S. Liberman Mintz, Amsterdam 2009, 272–273.
Isaiah Shachar, Jewish Tradition in Art, the Feuchtwanger Collection of Judaica, Jerusalem 1971, 158, object 417.
Chaja Benjamin, The Stieglitz Collection: Masterpieces of Jewish Art, Jerusalem 1987, object 191.