Opening decoration: the scroll opens with a panel containing several narrative scenes from the Esther story. In the decorative panel, in the central part of the upper register, there is the royal couple seated on the throne with a canopy that is placed on a pedestal. 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, Esther's maidservants are standing (Es. 2:9). Below, there are three rectangular frames: the central panel contains the benedictions recited before the Megillah reading, while 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 Hatakh (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).
The first membrane of the scroll includes also the first four text columns (nos. 1-4), and four frames with the narrative scenes (nos. 1-4). Only three of the text columns and narrative scenes are visible in the image.
Column 1: In the upper margin, landscape no. 1 is printed and in the lower margin, the feast of Ahasuerus is represented (Es. 1:3-8). Six men are seated at a round laid table. On either side of the table, servants are visible.
Column 2: In the upper margin, landscape no. 2 is printed and in the lower margin, Queen Vashti is portrayed while she is strangled by two women standing on either side of her. During the execution, she stands with her arms spread, and her crown lies on the floor. The Book of Esther does not mention the fate of Vashti after her refusal of the king's order and the source for this representation remains unknown.
Column 3: In the upper margin, landscape no. 3 is printed and the frame in the lower margin contains the depiction of the walled city. In the central part of the wall, there is a gate at which a man (Mordecai) is seated (Es. 2:19, 2:21).
On the left, a wooden case can be seen.
An average letter in the scroll is 2 mm high.
The case: 330 mm (height), 55 mm (diameter).
P | Putto (Putti in Plural)
A | Acanthus Leaf
G | Garland
B | Basket | Basket with flowers
V | Vase | Vase with flowers
H | Herm(a)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | *Esther's Story Characters (depicted not in narrative scenes): | Ahasuerus and Esther, enthroned
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) | 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's triumph (Es. 6:11)
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)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Execution of Vashti - strangulation
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Mordecai at the king's gate (Es. 2:19 and/or 2:21)
O | Ornamentation: | Main text framed
The lower margins are not straight.
The opening decoration is crumpled.
The sheets are sewn together in a not aesthetic manner.
Book of Esther in Hebrew with the initial benedictions recited before the Megillah reading
The scroll is formed of 4 sheets containing a total of 16 columns of the text with 22 lines per each, except for col. 14 which includes 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 written in Hebrew square Ashkenazi script in brown ink on the flesh side of parchment sheets that are rather bright and smooth.
The scroll starts with an enlarged word ויהי.
The letters ח (Es. 1:6) and ת (Es. 9:29) are enlarged; the first of them is additionally highlighted by its form. Other enlarged and diminished letters are included in col. 14.
Col. 14 includes unusual and decorative letters פ.
The ruling - horizontal and vertical lines - is made with a hardpoint and barely visible. The horizontal lines are well visible on the blank side of the membranes.
The pricking is invisible.
The sheets in the scroll are stitched together.
There are ligatures of א and ל letters in the benedictions.
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 herms, the pedestals with angel's heads and bases were added, therefore, the text panels 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 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.
A short description of the scroll and its images are available on https://data.jck.nl/page/aggregation/jhm-museum/M000413 (accessed on 10.07.2021).
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.
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.