The scroll executed in a mixed technique; the text was written by a scribe within a printed decoration designed by Shalom ben Mordecai Italia (also known as Shalom D'Italia). It opens with a symmetrical pattern composed of a flower placed in the central part of it and six birds grouped in pairs. In the central part of the decorative scheme, there are roundels in which the text of the Book of Esther was inscribed. Above each of them, there are three animals: a lion (on the right), a lamb (in the center), and a bear (on the left) that can be symbols of – respectively ‒ Persia, the nation of Israel, and Media. Below the roundels, the scenes from the Book of Esther narrative placed in rectangles with decorative frames are depicted. They are surrounded by vases filled with bouquets of flowers that are standing on tall and narrow carved columns. The background is precisely filled with minor details such as birds and with cross-hatching.
The length of the sheets in the scroll: 1) 655 mm, 2) 555 mm, 3) 610 mm.
Dimensions of the selected details in the scroll:
- roundel: 60 mm (diameter);
- illustration: 18x47 mm;
- an average letter: 1 mm (height);
- space between the lines: ca. 1 mm.
In general, the manuscript is preserved in very good condition, although the right edge of the first membrane is very damaged and an additional piece of parchment is sewn with a burgundy thread.
The print is partly erased, especially on the opening part of the scroll.
The Book of Esther in Hebrew
The scroll is formed of 3 sheets containing a total of 19 columns of the text (18 roundels and 1 rectangle) with 21 or 22 lines, except for the Haman's sons section that is on the right side of col. 17 and contains 11 lines divided into two hal-columns.
All sheets contain 6 roundels; but on the final part of the third sheet, a rectangular column is added.
The text is inscribed in the Hebrew square Ashkenazi script with tagin, in brown-black ink, on parchment membranes that are thin and delicate but not soft. The blank side is darker and hair traces are slightly visible on it.
The letter ח (Es. 1:6) is highlighted by its form - it is composed of two elements joined with a roof. The letter ת (Es. 9:29) is enlarged.
The length of the lines of the text fits the text panels.
The ruling is invisible.
The membranes in the scroll are stitched together.
The text of the Megillah is inscribed in roundels can be rarely found in decorated Esther scrolls.
Blots of ink are visible on some illustrations and their frames.
The margins around the print are of different widths.
The scroll is mentioned in:
Sharon Assaf, Emily D. Bilski, Salom Italia’s Esther Scrolls and the Dutch Golden Age, Amsterdam 2011.
Bibliography concerning the scrolls designed by Shalom Italia or attributed to him:
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, 228-231 (describes another scroll designed by Shalom Italia).
Michael Garel, An Esther Scroll by Shalom Italia, "The Israel Museum Journal" 5 (Spring 1986), 107–108.
Mordecai Narkiss, Yeẓurato shel Shalom ben rabbi Mordechai Italia (1619–1655?) [The Oeuvre of the Jewish Engraver Salom Italia (1619–1655?)], “Tarbiz” 25(4), 1956, 441–451, and: ibidem no. 26(1), 1957, 87–101.
Shalom Sabar, A New Discovery: The Earliest Illustrated Esther Scroll by Shalom Italia, „Ars Judaica” 2012, no. 8, 119–136.
Schöne Seiten. Jüdische Schriftkultur aus der Braginsky Collection, eds. Emile Schrijver, Falk Wiesemann, Evelyn M. Cohen, Sharon Liberman Mintz, Menahem Schmeltzer, Zurich 2011, 274‒279.
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, 1:155‒159.
Dagmara Budzioch, Italian Origins of the Decorated Scrolls of Esther, “Kwartalnik Historii Żydów” 1/2016, no. 257, esp. 45‒47.