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Obj. ID: 1279
Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts
  Vienna Mahzor for Hazzan, Upper Rhein, 1350?

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

The manuscript is an undated mahzor of the Ashkenazi rite, which includes the prayers for Shabbat Hanukkah, the four special Sabbaths, Purim, Passover and Shavuot. It was probably the first part of a two-volume mahzor for Jewish festivals, the second part including the prayers for New Year, Day of Atonement and Sukkot is missing. Some prayers are specific to the Upper Rhine region's custome (Worms, Mainz, Köln), such as Arvit for the last night of Passover (fols. 306v-309, see: Goldsmidth, Passover, pp. 368-371), Arvit for the second day of Shavuot (fols. 408v-412, see: Goldshmidt, Shavuot, 2000, p. 42 and ff.). The ofanim (one of the part of the Reading of Shema in the morning service) were added later in the margins, some of them probably by the scribe himself (e.g. fols. 51), while other additions to the prayer are in semi-cursive Ashkenazi script by a later scribe (fols. 115, 129v, 147-167), Yisrael, who marked his name with a crown within his text (see fol. 157v). Part of these additions are according the Polish rite.

This mahzor has no colophon stating the place and date of production, nor the names of the scribe or the patron. However its codicological and paleographical features clearly indicate its 14th century Ashkenazi origins.

The style of the four illuminated initial word panels opening four of the yozerot (special hymns for the Morning service; fols. 26, 49v, 173v, 338, see: Decoration Program) is very close to that of a group of Hebrew illuminated manuscripts produced in the Upper Rhine area during the first half of the 14th century (see: Sed-Rajna, “G. Filigree Ornaments”, 1986/87). Amongst this group is a mahzor for the High Holidays, today housed in a private collection in France (see: Sed-Rajna, Bibliothèques de France, 1994, no. 68), also missing the colophon, but whose script and rite are attributed to Northern France around 1300, while its decoration is attributed to Upper Rhine region of the first or the second decades of the 14th century (see: ibid., p. 174). The style of the decoration of our mahzor is not as delicate and accurate as the mahzor in the Private Collection. However, both manuscripts are decorated with the same decorative motives, colours and compositions: both include initial word panels on a filigree background, decorated with extending tendrils and fleuronné framing the text space in the outer and inner margins, and with medallions encircling hybrids and various kind of animals in spare-ground technique on a coloured ground. Moreover, in both manuscripts the fleuronné framing the text is composed of an  "I" band decoration stemming from the panel's sides and running along the text column, decorated with bold circles, and both share the same filigree motif of the "drop" at the lower margins, filled with an animal motif (see for example on fol. 338 in our manuscript, and on fol. 22 in the Private Collection mahzor). This particular type of frame for the text space is typical of the Upper Rhine School of Illumination of Latin manuscripts. It can be found in manuscripts produced in the area of Basel around 1330, such as the Antiponarium housed in Aarau (Kantonsbibliothek, ms. Muri 11), where on fol. 257v appears also the inhabited, drop-shaped medallion (see: Beer, E. J., oberrheinischen Buchmalerei, 1959, Abb. 51-55). (Andreas and/or Karl-George: you are welcomed to make your comments to this comparison, maybe you can find something even more relevant to compare!!).


Other Hebrew manuscripts produced and illuminated in the Upper Rhine region are the “Double Mahzor of Vienna and Jerusalem (Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, cod. Hebr. 163, see cat. No.-----,  & Jerusalem, Jewish National and University Library, Hebr. 8° 5214); the "Vienna SeMaG" (Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, cod. Hebr. 34 I-II, see cat. No.-----); the “Cambridge Hagiographa” (Cambridge University Library, Ms Ee 5.9), the only one dated and signed (dated 1347). These manuscripts seem to be the last group to have been illuminated in the Upper Rhine region before the expulsion of the Jew from the area in 1349 (see remarks on "Vienna SeMaG", cat. No.-----).

The script of our manuscript seems different from that of the other manuscripts of the group, being less accurate, thicker and smaller in proportions, with almost no difference of passages between the quill's strokes, comparing with the other manuscripts. Moreover, its quires are composed of 8 leaves, as the Private Collection manuscript, while the other of the "later" group are composed mostly of 12 leaves. It can be concluded that the present mahzor has been copied around the same area, and then decorated by a less skilled artist under the influence of a manuscript similar to that in the Private Collection around the second half of the 14th century.



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Vienna Mahzor for Hazzan | Unknown
Object Detail
Monument Setting
Synagogue active dates
Reconstruction dates
Artist/ Maker
Historical Origin
Community type
Period Detail
Documentation / Research project
Iconographical Subject
Unknown |
Textual Content
Unknown |
Languages of inscription
Shape / Form
Material / Technique
Parchment, dark brown, red, violet and blue ink. Executed in filigree pen-work and spared-ground techniques.
Material Stucture
Material Decoration
Material Bonding
Material Inscription
Material Additions
Material Cloth
Material Lining
Tesserae Arrangement
Construction material
Panel Measurements
The rectangular red panel: ca. 51 x ca. 94 mm
The initial word: 29 x 76 mm
Panel Measurements
The manuscript is in good condition.
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
Initial word panel
Fleur de lys
Mahzor of Ashkenazi rite from Hanukkah till Shavuot. All punctuated. The Torah readings are also vocalized. Shahrit for Sabbath: (fols. 1–25v), from the preliminary morning service till the beginning of the Reading of Shema blessings. Shabbat Hanukkah: including: (fols. 26-49), first Sabbath (fols. 26-40); Second Sabbath (fols. 40v-49) Shabbat Shekalim: (fols. 49v-75v), including: Shaharit (fols. 49v-65); the Torah readings (fols. 65v-68v); Musaf (fols. 68v-75v). Yozer for the first Hafsakah: (fol. 76 -78) Or Zarua Zoreah (Davidson I, no. 1951, p. 90). Shabbat Zakhor: (fols. 78v- 93),including: Shaharit (fols. 78v-90); the Torah readings (fols. 91v-93). Purim: (fols. 93- 107v): including: Amidah (fols. 93-107); the Torah reading (fols. 107-107v). Yozer for the second Shabbat Hafsakah: Orot Me’ofel (fols. 107v-113v), Davidson I, no. 2004, p. 93. Shabbat Parah: (fols. 113v-126v), including: Shaharit (fols. 113v-124); the Torah readings (fols. 124v- 126v). Shabbat Ha-hodesh: (fols. 126v-152), including: Shaharit (fols. 126v-144); the Torah readings (fols. 144-146v), Musaf (fols. 146v-152). Shabbat ha-Gadol: (fol. 152-165v) including: Shaharit (fols. 152v-155v); Amidah (fols. 155v-161v), Adir Dar Metuhim (fols. 161v-165); Musaf (fols. 165-165v). Passover: fols. 166-333 • first day: (fols. 166-215), including: Arvit (fol. 166-173); Shaharit (fol. 173v-194v); Hallel (fol. 194v-198), the Torah readings (fols. 198v-203), Musaf (fols. 203-221v); including: the Prayer for the Dew (fols. 203-215). • Second day: (fols. 222-245v), including: Arvit (fols. 222-227v); Shaharit (fols. 227v-234); Amidah (fols. 235-242), the Torah readings (fols. 242v-245v). • Shabbat Hol ha-Moed: (fol. 245v-263v), including: Shaharit (fols. 245v-254v), Song of Songs (fols. 255-258v), the Torah readings for all the days of Hol ha-Moed but the fifth day (fols. 259-263v). • Seventh day: (fols. 263v-306v), including: Arvit (fols. 263v-268), Shaharit (fols. 268-275v); Amidah (fols. 276-298), Hallel (fols. 298v-301), the Torah reading: (fols. 301-306); Reshut (Davidson I, no. 2935, p. 137n): (fols. 306-306v). • Last day: (fols. 306v-333), including: Arvit (fols. 306v-309; with piyyut אור לשביעי Or L'shvi'i (Davidson, א', 1973) on fols. 306v-307v); Shaharit (fols. 309-331); the Torah readings (fols. 331v-333). Shavuot: (fols. 333v-457v): • first day: Arvit (fol. 333v-336v); Shaharit (fol. 336v- 375), with Yozer Sha'ashu'a Yom Yom (Davidson ש' 2087), Hallel (fol. 375-378v), the Torah readings (fols. 379v-387v), including the piyyut “Akdamut Millin” (fols. 380v-383); Musaf (fols. 388-407v). • Second day: Arvit (fols. 408-412); Shaharit (fols. 412-440); Ruth Scroll (fols. 440-443v); the Torah readings (fols. 443v-446v); Reshut for the Targum of the Shavuot haftarah - Davidson I, no. 8619, p. 390 (fols. 447-449); Musaf (fols. 449-456v), Reshut for the Targum of the Shavuot haftarah of Jacob b. Rabbi Meir – Davidson II, no. 3527, p. 420 (fols. 457-457v).

Material: Parchment; III + 456 (foliated 457, since fol.  343 mistakenly foliated 344, thus it is foliated 1-342, 344-457) + III.

It is hard to distinguish between the flesh and the hair sides, except for a few pages, e.g.: fols. 36-39,  192r, 193v, 194r, 195v.




Full page: (194-200) x (148-154) mm

Text space: (113-118) x (78-83) mm

Torah reading: (131-137) x (93-94) mm

Text with piyyutim: ca. 119 x c.93 mm

Column width: ca. 41-42 mm




The manuscript has been copied by a single scribe.



The manuscript is written in square and smaller square Ashkenazi script in dark brown ink.



Number of lines

The Mahzor text

16 lines per page

The Torah readings

21 lines per column (2 columns), except for the reading for Purim, written in one column (fols. 107-107v) and part of reading for Passover, fols. 301v, 303-306



A) Pages written in one column: ruling by plummet on both sides, 17 lines and 2+2 lines (e.g. fols. 35-35v, 76-77v, 291-294).

B) Pages in which the first and last lines are in large script and the lines between them are in smaller script, ruling is by pencil on both sides. 17 horizontal and 3 + 3 vertical lines (e.g. fols. 1, 6, 7, 8, 9, 16, 21, 36, 37, 68, 182v, 197-197v).

C) Pages including piyyutim: 1 + 1 + 1 + 1+ 1+ 1+ 1 vertical lines (e.g. on fols. 246-248); or: 3 + 2 vertical lines (e.g. fols. 71-72, 118, 119); 

D) For Torah Readings, haftarot and the megillot (except for: seventh day of Passover, fols. 301v, 303-306): 21 horizontal lines and 2 + 2 + 2 vertical lines (e.g. fols. 201-201v).




Pricking is discernible in the inner margins (double-pricking, fols. 20) and in the outer margins (e.g. on fols. 1-8, 13v, 20, 97-104) corresponding to the horizontal lines; in the upper and in the lower margins, corresponding to the vertical lines.

Double pricking for 3rd, 8th, 10th, and 15th ruled lines, e.g. fols. 81, 108-112; 182-184.



59 quires of 8 leaves each except for: III8+1 (fol. 25v widow, stab visible between fols. 16v-17, no text is missing), VII4+3 (fol. 52 is widow, stab visible between fols. 54v-55, no text is missing), XX4+5 (fol. 160 widow, stab visible between fols. 153-154, no text is missing) XXI4, XLIII5+4 (fol. 337 widow, stab visible between fols. 339-340) XLIX2+1+1 (a binio and two single leaves, fols. 384 and 387), LII4 and LIX2.



Catchwords written horizontally in the lower left-hand corner of the last versos of each quire. Catchwords missing at the end of quires III (fol. 25v), VI (fol. 49v), XXI (fol. 165v), XXII (fol. 173v), XXVIII (fol. 221v), XLIL (fol. 387v).

(catchword shimekha (שמך) on fol. 33v at the end of quire IV does not fit the following words, yishtabah shimekcha (ישתבח שמך), which means that the scribe rewrote the two last words of the quire on the first folio of the next one).

Catchword mal’hiv (מלהיב) on fol. 96v does not fit the following word on fol. 97, lalhav (ללהב). No text is missing.

Catchword for quires XXVII-XXVIII on fol. 213v (Lord– אל) is decorated with a head of an animal.


Hebrew numeration



Blank leaves


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
Hebrew instructions guiding the prayer within the text, in smaller square Ashkenazi script by the scribe's hand, e.g. on fols. 47v, 144, 200, 201v, 244v, 260v-263v, 331v, 332v, 379, 408, 412, 446. Hebrew instructions for the hazzan, e.g. on fols. 65, 198v, 199v, 263v, 449. Fols. 67v, 93, 126v, 449 within the text, scribal note ve’omer hana’ar (ואומר הנער), after the haftarah readings. Fol. 203, 449 within the text, scribal note “and the congregation says sh’monah esreh” (והקהל אומרים שמונה עשרה) The letter "taf" (ת') is marked in some places with a half leaf in light brown ink, e.g. on fols. 51, 81, 82v, 205v, 315, 392v, 418. The word Yisrael is emphasized within the text (e.g. fols. 327).
Trade Mark

See private document (Hebr71_binding). Parchment binding, fragment of a 15th century Antiphonal, but with fly leaves from the late 16th century, according to the watermark (see Briquet, no. 278).


Decoration Program

The main decoration was done in one stage by one artist, after the writing of the text. The four coloured initial word panels are executed in red, blue and violet ink, used mainly for filigree pen-work but also for the backgrounds of the figures and patterns executed in spared-ground technique. One of the initial words is in burnished gold (fol. 338).

Decorated words and letters with brown ink are by the scribe himself.


I.          4 pen-work initial word panels: for the opening of four Yozerot for: Shabbat Hanukkah (fol. 26), Shabbat Shekalim (fol. 49v), the first day of Passover (fol. 173v) and the first day of Shavuot (fol. 338). The panels occupy the width of the text space, filled with filigree penwork decorated with small medallions enclosing hybrids, animals, geometrical and floral patterns, executed in spare-ground technique. Filigree tendrils and fleuronné extend from the panel along the margins framing the text space.

II.         Black display initial words: for the opening of main prayers (fols. 228, 268v, 309v, 387), some of them decorated with a small circle with a dot inside it placed on the junction of the letters (e.g. on fols. 78v, 93, 152v).

III.        Decoration of the acrostic names or alphabetic order for the piyyutim: with a simple half leaf in ink (e.g. on fols. 102-103, 173v-178v, 208v-210, 245v-251), sometimes with a fine curl in light brown ink (e.g. fol. 231). One hand holding a flower (fol. 409) illustrating the Hebrew letter כ'.

IV.        Decorated words: with wriggly lines (fol. 1), illustration of a rose (fol. 105). One decorated catchword with a dog's head (fol. 213v).

V.         Decorated letters: fols. 51, 81, 372

Suggested Reconsdivuction
Later additions in the margins by different hand: 1. On fol. 51, in the outer margin, addition of ofan for Shabbat Shekalim, in semi-cursive Ashkenazi script in light brown ink, according to the Polish rite. 2. On fols. 115, 129v, in the outer margins, additions of ofanim for Shabbat Parah and for Shabbat ha-Hodesh by a later hand, in semi-cursive Ashkenazi script in light brown ink. 3. On fols. 147v-167v: in the upper, outer and lower margins, additions for Musaf for Shabbat Ha-hodesh and for Shaharit for Shabbat Ha-Gadol, some of them according to the Polish rite, by the same later hand. The word “Yisrael,” in the lower margin of fol. 157v, is marked with a crown in light brown ink, perhaps indicating the name of this later hand. Later owner’s notes in semi-cursive Ashkenazi script in black ink: 1. On fol. 379v, in the outer margin: היותי גרשון לא [---] (“Being me Gershon, not [---]”) 2. On fol. 381, in the lower margin,”נחמן איז[---]” (“Nahman Eis[---]?”) 3. On fol. 408, in the lower margin, a partially deleted Yiddish inscription in later semi-cursive Ashkenazi script can be read as: (על איז איין תקא=??). Latin inscriptions in cursive script by the librarian Sebastian Tengnagel (prefect of the Hofbibliothek, between 1608-1636): 1. on fol. 1: In the upper margin: “Mahzor sive Rituale Vetustum Hebraeorum / conferatur cum excusis. / Mss.[Manuscripta] Hebr.[Hebraica] Tengnag.[Tengnagelii] / N.33”. (“Mahzor according to Ancient Rite of the Jews, accompanied by explanation, Number 33 among the Hebrew Manuscripts of Tengnagel.”) In the outer margin: “Ex Libris Sebastiani / Tengnagel I.V.D. et / Caes[arei] Bibliothecar[ii]. A[nno] / 1616”. (“Ex Libris of Sebastian Tengnagel I.V.D. and of the Imperial Library. Year 1616”). At the bottom of the outer margin: “Empt[us] VI flor[enis].” (“Bought for 6 florins.”) 2. On fol. 97 the note in Latin “NB in Christianos” (“NB against Christians”) is written near the beginning of the twelfth blessing “al hamalshinim – on the slanderers” in the Amidah. 3. On fol. 104 the word “Mesias” (“Messiah”) is written in the outer margin near the 14th blessing of the Amidah. 4. On fol. 293v “Esau” is written in the outer margin near the text which mentions Esau. 5. On fol. 294, in the outer margin, “(E)dom et Ismael” is written near the text which mentions Edom and Ishmael. 6. On fol. 295 the German word “Meschiah”, is written near the Kedusha for the Amidah for the seventh day of Passover, which mentions the salvation of the Jewish people from the diaspora in the messianic era. On fols. 1 and 457v, the red circular stamp of the Bibliothèque Imperiale of Paris, enclosing a standing eagle with open wings, surmounted by a royal crown, and the name of the library along the inner contour of the circle. The manuscript was in fact taken by Napoleon’s troops and kept in Paris between 1809-1814. On fols. 1, 457v, the rectos of the first three fly leaves, and the versos of the last three ones, the violet stamp of the Hofbibliotheque: within a hardly visible rectangular frame, the script k. k. Hofbibliothek is written below the Imperial Crown.
Main Surveys & Excavations
Deutsch, S. Die hebraischen Manuscripte der k. k. Hofbibliothek zu Wien. Osterreichische Blatter fur Literatur und Kunst, 63, (1846) 492. Nessel, 155 (Nr. 134). [Kurzbeschreibung] Kraft LX, pp. 76-77; Schwarz, 1925, no. 93, pp. 93-95. Kraft/Deutsch, 76-77 (Nr. 60) L. Zunz, Literaturgeschichte der synagogalen Poesie. Frankfurt a. M. 1865, 508. [erwahnt] Buchkunst des Morgenlandes, Nr. 26. [erwahnt] On the School of Illumination: Beer, E. J., oberrheinischen Buchmalerei, 1959; Christie's, Amsterdam, 21.6.1989, no. 390 Garel, M., D'un main forte, Paris, 1991, no. 73. Scheiber, A., Mahzor Metsuyar, (Scheiber, Alexander, "Mahzor Metsuyar Miymei Habeinayim BeUngaria", in Areshet, 2, 1960, pp. 408-412, in Hebrew). Sed-Rajna, “G. Filigree Ornaments”, 1986/87 (Sed-Rajna, G., “Filigree Ornaments in 14th century Hebrew Manuscripts of the Upper Rhine”, Jewish Art, vol.12/13, 1986/87, pp. 45-54) Sed-Rajna, Bibliothèques de France, 1994 Sotheby's, New York, 18.12.1986, no. 105
Allicia Fried Anna Nizza | 1998 July 2001
Author of description
Anna Nizza | April 2002
Architectural Drawings
Computer Reconstruction
Section Head
Michal Sternthal | 2002
Language Editor
Judy Cardozo | June 2002
Negative/Photo. No.
The following information on this monument will be completed:
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