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Obj. ID: 1235
Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts
  Vienna Woman's Siddur, Italy, Second half of the 15th century

© Center for Jewish Art, Photographer: Unknown,
Summary and Remarks

The ViennaWoman's Siddur (Cod. Hebr. 86) is a tiny prayer book of Roman rite for weekly prayers with special additions for Festivals and High Holidays. It is evident that this prayer-book was intended for the use of a woman, as indicated by the first two in the preliminary morning service, ending with the formula: "…who did not made me a shifha (female slave)" (...שלא עשני שפחה); and "... who made me as He wished" (... שעשני כרצונו) on fol. 3v. Interesting to notice that the third blessing usually referring to gender שלא עשני גוי / שעשני ישראל, is totally missing in this manuscript. In other prayer-books of the Roman rite, produced in Italy apparently in the third and last quarter of the 15th century (see: Cohen, "Women's Prayer Books", pp. 305-312) one can find the same variants in the preliminary blessing. This indicates that the manuscripts, as well as Cod. Hebr. 86, were copied for a woman, as sometimes is also attested in the colophons, as for example in a Siddur copied by Abraham Farissol in 1471 or 1478 (New York, Jewish Theological Seminary Library, ms. 8255; here the scribe states he copied the manuscript for a male owner, whose name is erased, and his wife, who was the actual user of the Siddur, as also attested by the preliminary morning blessings on fol. 5v; see: Cohen, ibid., pp. 308-310).

Although the manuscript is lacking a colophon stating the date and place of production, the name Arieh is emphasized three times within the text (fols. 54v, 56v and 100v), and we believe it being the name of the scribe, whose hand is unknown from other manuscripts (the name Arieh is emphasized also in another Mahzor of Italian rite of the 15th century, yet the script is clearly different than that of the Vienna Woman's Siddur; see: Parma, Biblioteca Palatina, Parm. 2405, fol. 100).

The codicological features as well as the script of the Vienna Woman's Siddur are clearly of Italian type. Moreover, ruling by ink gives approximately the year 1427 as terminum post quem (see: Beit-Ariè, Hebrew Codicology, 1981, p. 78). The meager decoration program of the manuscript consists of only two pen-drawn text illustrations for two passages of the Haggadah, recurring in most Italo-Ashkenazi illuminated haggadot and prayer books from the 14th till the early 16th century. The first depiction, a round medallion reminding the seder plate enclosing the initial word "This [is the bread] (הא [לחמא]) (fol. 181), is actually less frequent, as usually this passage is illustrated with a depiction of the seder basked containing the three mazzot, raised by a group of people or simply by hands, as for example in a Mahzor of Roman rite, copied in Fermo in 1431, (formely: London, Jew's College, Montefiore Library, ms. 213, fol. 88; see comparison # 1; Narkiss, Italian Manuscripts;). The depiction in the Vienna manuscript with a large roundel looks more like the depiction of the large Mazzah within the text space of the text it illustrates, appearing in some Italian manuscripts, such as in the Bodleian Italian Mahzor (Oxford, Bodliean Lib. Mich. 610, fol. 94v; see comparison # 2; Narkiss, Italian Manuscripts, No. 49). In the Vienna Woman's Siddur the passage of "Mazzah" is not illustrated.

The second illustration depicts one hand with no arm holding a bunch of lettuce illustrating the passage of Maror (fol. 189). The representation of the Maror as a bunch of lettuce leafs recalls the analogous illustration in many other Italian manuscripts of the 15th century, in particular that in the "Rothschild-Weil Mahzor" (see: vol. I in Jerusalem, Jewish National and University Library, 8° 4450; fol. 120v – see: comparison # 3), dated around 1460-1470 (see: Metzger, "Un Mahzor"). Both manuscripts display the detail of the detached hand holding the bunch, whose wrist is decorated with a scalloped sleeve.

Both illustrations in our manuscript are executed in fine uncoloured pen-drawing, most possibly by the same hand, which is remaining unidentified. Possibly other decoration was intended to be added in the manuscript but never executed, as indicated by large space left empty around some initial words, such as for the first initial word "These" (אלו [מאה ברכות] ) on fol. 2v, and for the opening of the section for the Sabbath (fol. 64).

In conclusion, the Vienna Woman's Siddur was copied and decorated for a woman, in the second half of the 15th century in Central-Northern Italy. 


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Vienna Woman's Siddur | Unknown
Object Detail
Monument Setting
Second half of the 15th century
Synagogue active dates
Reconstruction dates
Artist/ Maker
Historical Origin
Community type
Period Detail
Austria | Vienna | Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (ÖNB)
| Cod. Hebr. 86 (Schwatrz No. 96)
Documentation / Research project
Iconographical Subject
Unknown |
Textual Content
Unknown |
Languages of inscription
Shape / Form
Material / Technique
Material Stucture
Material Decoration
Material Bonding
Material Inscription
Material Additions
Material Cloth
Material Lining
Tesserae Arrangement
Construction material
Panel Measurements
Fols. 1, 198-199 damaged, then restored. Restoration signs also on fols. 2-21.
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
Siddur of Roman rite for the whole year and Holidays with instructions. All punctuated. 100 Daily benedictions: (fol. 2v) אלו / מאה ברכות... וכשנכנס לבית הכנסת / להתפלל תפלת שחרית מתחיל ואומר Shaharit: (fols. 3-48) Instructions for Minhah: (fol. 48) Arvit: (fols. 48v-51) Shabbat (fols. 51-96): including: Arvit (fols. 51-58); Songs for the Sabbath meal (fols. 58v-63v); Kiddush (fols. 63v-64); Shaharit (fols. 64-85); Musaf (fols. 86-89v); Minhah (fols. 89v-91v); End of Sabbath (fols. 91v-95v) Blessing on the Full Moon: (fols. 95v-96) Havdalah: (fol. 96-101v) Addition for the Amidah: (fols. 102-102v) New Moon: (fols. 102v-107v) including: Hallel (fol. 102v); Musaf (fols. 105v); Yotzer for Shabbat and Rosh Chodesh (fol. 106v); Musaf for Shabbat and New Moon (fol. 107v) Hanukka: (fol. 109) Purim: (fol. 109v) Public fasts: (fol. 110) Fast of the 9th of Av: (fol. 110v) Passover: (fols. 111-116v) including: Shaharit (fols. 111-113v); additions for Arvit on End of Sabbath of Passover (fols. 113v-114); additions for Musaf (fols. 114-116) Shavuot: (fol. 116v-119v) including: Additions for Shaharit (fols. 116v-117); additions for Musaf (fols. 117-119v) Shevahot for Three Pilgrimages: fols. 119v-124v New Year: (fols. 124v-137) including: Shaharit (fols. 124v-128); Avinu Malkenu (fols. 128v-129v); Musaf (fols.129v-137) Day of Atonement (fols. 137-152v) including: Confessions (fols. 137v-139); Kol Nedarim (fols. 139-139v); Amida for Musaf (fols. 139v-144v); Confessions for Shaharit (fols. 144v-147v); Confession for after Minhah (fols. 147v-152v); Amidah for Ne’ilah (fols. 152v-160) including the Confessions (fols. 156v-160) Sukkot and Shemini Azeret: (fols. 160v-164v) including: Musaf for both holidays (fols. 160v-164); additions to Musaf for the days of Chol Ha-mo'ed (fols. 164-164v) Hosha’anah Rabah: Hosha`anot (fols. 164v-177v) Passover (fols.178-199v) including: Bedikat Chametz and Bi'ur Chametz (fol. 178); instructions for the seder (fol. 178v), Kiddush for Passover which falls on a Sabbath (fols. 178v-179), Kiddush for Passover which falls on end of Sabbath (fols. 170v-180); Kiddush for Passover which falls on a weekday (fols. 180-180v); Instructions for the seder (fol. 180v); Haggadah including instructions and Piyyutim (fols. 181-199v).

Parchment, 199 + I (paper leaf pasted to fol. 199 and foliated fol. 200) leaves (see Qiures).


Full page: (100-103) x (74-79) mm

Text space: (67-70) x (43-48) mm



One single scribe: Arieh (who emphasizes his name on fols. 54v, 56v, 100v, see Scribal Notes)



The main text is written in semi-cursive Italian script in brown ink

The opening words for passages and new sections are in square Italo-Ashkenazi script

Instructions written in semi-cursive Italo-Sephardic script in the same brown ink (e.g. fols. 43v, 51, 91, 91v, 129v, 160, 178-178v, 180v, 190-190v, 193)

Confessions for Ne'ilah (fols. 156v-160) are written in square Italo-Ashkenazi script in large letters in brown ink


Number of lines

The whole text

14 lines per page (except for fols. 157–159v, which are 9 lines per page)



Ruling by ink on both sides, 14 horizontal lines and 1+1 vertical lines (except for fols. 161v-163v which are 1+2+2+1 and fol. 165 which is 1+1+1)



No pricking is visible



20 quires of 10 leaves each, except for XX5+4 (fol. 200 is a paper leaf which was pasted to fol. 199 serving as the last leaf for this quire).




Hebrew numeration



Blank leaves

Fols. 1-2r (for recto)

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
Fol. 54v and 56v – the letters forming the name אריה are marked within the text in acrostic form Fol. 100v – the name אריה appearing in the text is marked by a scroll made of dots, extending into the margin: Instructions to say Kaddish (written by the scribe?) in Italo-Sephardic semi-cursive script 1. Fol. 43v, 6th line from the top: ואומ' קדיש עד לעולם ומוציאין ס"ת [ספר תורה] וקורין/בענינו של יום וקדיש עד לעולם ואומר/אשרי ואחכ אומ "And say Kaddish up to "all times" then take the Torah out of the Ark and recite the readings of the day and Kaddish up to "all times" (again), then say Ashrei and then continue [with the text which follows in the siddur]". 2. Fol. 48, 3rd line from the bottom: למנחה/אומ אשרי וקדיש עד לעולם ושמנה עשרה/בלחש וברכת [?] ליוצר וקדיש גמור ואומ "For Minhah one says Ashrei and Kaddish up to "all times" and Shmoneh-Esre (Amidah) in silence and the blessing […] for Yozer? And full Kaddish and continues [with the text which follows in the siddur]". 3. Fol. 51, 5th line from the bottom: קדיש עד לעילא (?) / עשרה עלינו לשבח וגו' / בערב שבת אומ' (?) / וקדיש עד לעילא בסדר החול ואח"כ אומ' / מעריב של שבת "Kaddish up to לעילא? ("beyond all"), Shmoneh-Esre(?), Aleinu Leshabeh, etc. In Sabbat Evening say […] and Kaddish up to "all times" in weekly service and then continue with the Arvit for Sabbath".
Trade Mark
Decoration Program

The decoration was made in one stage probably by the scribe himself. It consists of pen-drawings in light brown ink in the same tonality as the script.

  1. Text illustrations: one within initial word panel, for "This [is the bread] (הא [לחמא]) (fol. 181); one in the margins, for maror (fol. 189).
  2. Decoration of descenders: small foliate flourishes extending from the legs of letters final nun (e.g. fols. 31, 139) or kof (e.g. fols. 15, 16, 20, 24, 67, 73, 91, 94v), when appearing on the last line of the page.


Suggested Reconsdivuction
Censor’s signatures: Fol. 199: “Visto per me Gi[ovann]I Dominico Carretto 1619 Fol. 199v: “Clemente Renatto" Front cover: Per mano saced[ote] B[ea]to Fol. 131v: censor’s erasure (rubbed out) from שהם משתחוים till ואנו כורעים Fol. 84v: censor’s erasure (ערלים) and correction (אחרים) Fol. 1: later inscription in semi-cursive Italian script and below it in larger square script, another inscription: סדור מהתפילה [...] (Siddur from the prayer) Fol. 3: upper margin, later Hebrew inscription in square script "תפלת ש " meant to be a title for the opening page to Shaharit. Back past-down: unreadable inscriptions in Latin script; Hebrew pen-trials. Inner front cover: later inscription in cursive Italian script in black ink [...] אתן לך ביום א' כ"ה תמוז התצ"ה [...], indicating to the date 1735. Purchased December 12th, 1846 from Simon Deutsch for 3 florins. Fol. 200v includes a restoration note in German written in pencil. Binding and leaves restored in Feb. 1919 by P. Genzinger (as annotated on the verso of the back flyleaf)
Main Surveys & Excavations
Beit-Arié, Hebrew Codicology, 1981 Beit-Arié, Malachi, Hebrew Codicology, Jerusalem, 1981. Cohen, Women's Prayer Books E. Cohen, "Women's Illuminated Hebrew Prayer Books in Renaissance Italy", in: Italia Judaica. Atti del IX Convegno internazionale dell'Associazione Italiana per lo Studio del Giudaismo: Donne nella storia degli ebrei d’Italia: Lucca, 6-9 giugno 2005, A cura di Michele Luzzati e Cristina Galasso, Firenze, 2007, pp. 305-312. Narkiss, Italian Manuscripts B. Narkiss, Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts in the British Isles. Italian Manuscripts, unpublished volume, Nos. 49, 50. Metzger, Un Mahzor M. Metzger, "Un Mahzor italien enluminé du XVe siècle", Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Instituts in Florenz, Vol. XX (1976), pp. 159-196.
Estherlee Kanon Anna Nizza | 2003-2004
Author of description
Anna Nizza Yaffa Levy | 2004,2008,2009
Architectural Drawings
Computer Reconstruction
Section Head
Michal Sternthal | 2003
Language Editor
Negative/Photo. No.
The following information on this monument will be completed:
Unknown |