Object Alone

Obj. ID: 1495
Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts
  Italian Mahzor for High Holidays and Sukkot, North-Central Italy, late 14th century

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

Cod. Hebr. 172 is the second part of a Mahzor of the Roman rite, including prayers for High Holidays, Sukkot, various prayers for the life cycle, as well as piyyutim, selihot and prayers for various occasions and holidays (see: Content). Originally, the manuscript included the first part of the Mahzor, which included prayers from the special Shabbats till 9th of Av, now lost, as indicated by the alphabetic Hebrew numeration of this Mahzor starting from 226 (רכו) on fol. 1v. The manuscript ends with three additional single folios (fols. 207-209), on which later Hand 3 (fol. 207) and Hand 4 (fols. 208v-209) added missing texts. Other two additions are present within the manuscript: on original fols. 193v-195, Hand 1 has added a prayer by Isaac son of Benjamin son of Shlomo Finzi, who seems to have been active in Umbria during the 14th century, while on fols. 138-140 Hand 2 copied a prayer for protecting the community from tragic events, inserting two bifolia within quire XIV (see: Scribes; Quires). The main scribe of the manuscript was responsible also of some of the additions and corrections of the text (e.g. fols. 41v, 49, 51v, 60, 82v, 117v, 186v). Within the text, we can find later interpolations by Hand 5, who was the proof-reader (e.g. marginal additions on fols. 116-117 and added text on fol. 130v).


Although the manuscript has no colophon stating the name of the scribe, the date or the place of production, the manuscripts must have been produced after 1321, since the prayer for a public fast on fols. 190v-191 was instituted on a specific historical occasion (the date appearing in the annotation preceding the prayers on top of fol. 190v), when an expedition from the Jewish community of Rome was sent in that year to the court of Pope John XXII in Avignon, to try to rescind his decree of expulsion of the Jews of Rome (see: Milano, Ebrei d’Italia, pp. 148-149).


This manuscript is decorated from its beginning until fol. 176v with pen-work panels for titles, initial words and instructions. However, the scribe left space for three more initial word panels, or even illustrations, as indicated by the large spaces left empty before the Redemption of the First-Born (fol. 177), the Circumcision (fol. 178) and the Marriage ceremony (fol. 180) services, which were never filled.

The panels are decorated with flourishes that extend sometimes along the margins, with beads, foliate scrolls and “strung bead and circlet” motifs, all executed by one single artist. The artist usually works in a crude style, with thick frames for initial words of the main prayers and simplifies the forms, as in the decoration for single words within the text in almost each page, or in many of the initial word panels (e.g. fols. 42v, 44v, 45, 74, 77-77v, 143, 148-152v). He sometimes works more delicately as in the pen-work panels for the opening of New Year (fol. 1v), Sukkot (fol. 142) and Shemini Azeret (fol. 157) services and in a few other panels such as those on fols. 18, 19v, 50v, 91, 146v. The meeting points of the two types of work can be viewed in the panel for the title of Shemini Azeret (fol.157), where the red thick frame with stylized trefoils at the corners contrasts with the more delicate filigree work in violet ink that fills and outlines this panel.  


The style of the decoration is typical of the pen-work and filigree work of Italian Hebrew manuscripts during the 14th century and the beginning of the 15th century, and is very difficult to point to a precise school or area. It can well be considered a scribal work. Comparisons could be done amongst the Hebrew manuscripts with the scribal work in a mahzor for the entire year hold in Paris (Northern Italy, end of the 14th century, Bibliothèque Nationale, ms. Héb. 604, for example fol. 49v; see: Sed-Rajna, G. Les manuscripts Hébreux enluminés des bibliothèques de France, Leuven-Paris, 1994, no. 168), e.g. on fol. 49v, whose simple thin red ink stylized buds decorating the frames that outline the initial words recall those of our manuscript.

Stylistic comparison of similar tendrils and scrolls decorating the margins, with floral motifs, especially trefoils in spare-ground technique, dotted flowers, circlets and beads motifs, other floral motifs sparse in the margins, which we find in Cod. Hebr. 172 (e.g. on fols. 5, 19v, 146, 157), could be made with manuscripts decorated in Perugia in the workshop of Matteo di Ser Cambio, who was active in Central Italy between the 1350’s till 1377, such as a liturgical miscellany in a Private Collection (see: de Polo, "codice umbro", fig. 6). The pen-work flourishes, and particularly the trefoil motifs, which tend to look like acorns, are very common, on the other hand, to the Bolognese atelier of Niccoló da Bologna, such as the manuscript housed in Salzburg (Stiftsbibliothek St. Peter, Cod. A. XII, or a Missal in the PaulGettyMuseum(ms. 34), attributed to his workshop, active in the last quarter of the 14th century-beginning of the 15th century.


In conclusion, cod. Hebr. 172 is a mahzor of Roman rite for the entire year, now missing its first part, only partially decorated with simple pen-work ornamentations by the hand of the scribe himself, produced towards the end of the 14th century inNorthern-Central Italy.


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Italian Mahzor for High Holidays and Sukkot | Unknown
Object Detail
Monument Setting
Late 14th century
Active dates
Reconstruction dates
Artist/ Maker
Historical Origin
Community type
Unknown |
Period Detail
Austria | Vienna | Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (ÖNB)
| Cod. Hebr. 172 (Schwarz no. 98)
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
Spots of water in the middle of the upper margins: e.g fols. 116-124, that in some pages damaged the ink of the script (fols. 118v-121v).
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
Second part of a Mahzor of the Roman rite with liturgy from New Year to Sukkot and other prayers for life cycle and other special events. The first part is missing (see: Remarks). Punctuated and decorated until fol. 177. Reshut "מתני אחזי חלחלה" for the piyyut Shoshan Emek [see: Davidson, III, מ'2780]: (fol. 1), New Year (fols. 1v-18): first day: Arvit (fols. 1v-5); Shaharit (fols. 5-8v); Shofar blowing (fol. 9); Musaf (fols. 9-17); Yozer מלך אדיר ונורא [Davidson III, מ'1523] for second day (fols. 17v-18) Shabbat Shuva (fols. 18v-19) Day of Atonement (fols. 19v-137v): Minha for the eve of Day of Atonement (fols. 19v-20v); Kol Nedarim (fol. 21); Arvit (fols. 21v-29v); Shaharit (fols. 30-77); Musaf (fols. 77v-103v); Minha (fols. 104-117v); Ne’ilah (fols. 118-135). Other piyyutim and selihot for Day of Atonement (fols. 135v-137v) Prayer for protecting the community from tragic events (גזרוות אשכנז): (fols. 138-140v) Sukkot (fols. 142-172v): Arvit (fols. 142-143v); Shaharit (fols. 144-146v), including: Yozer for second day (fols. 145v-146v); Musaf (fols. 147-147v); Hol Hamoed (fols. 148-148v); Shabbat Hol Hamoed (fols. 149-149v); Hosha'anot (fols. 150-156v); Shemini Azeret: Arvit (fols. 157-158v); Shaharit (fols. 159-159v); Minha (fols. 160-161); Prayer for Rain (fols. 161v-163v); Reshut for Hatan Torah (fols. 164-171); Reshut for the Kaddish of R. Judah (fols. 171v-172v) Additional prayers: Reshut for the Shavuot Nishmat of R. Joab (fol. 172v); Reshut for the Kaddish of R. Joab son of Benjamin (fols. 173-174); Geulah of Ibn Ezra (fols. 174-175v) with addition of a stanza by Shelomo son of Isaac in the lower margin of fol. 174. Redemption of the First-Born: fols. 177-178 Circumcision: fols. 178-178v Marriage blessings: fols. 178v-180 Death and burial: fol. 180-181v Aramaic translations of the haftarot of Passover and Shavuot: fols.182-190 Collection of prayers composed for tragic events which took place in Italy: fols. 190v-193v Reshut to the Nishmat of Ibn Ezra for New Year and Day of Atonement: fol. 193v Prayers for decrees by Isaac son of Benjamin son of Shlomo Finzi: fols. 194-195 Other selihot for various occasions: fols. 196-207 Reshut for Nishmat by Shemuel of Ravenna: fol. 208v Another Selihah by Shemuel of Ravenna: fols. 208v-209

Material:  Parchment, II + 209 + II leaves. 

Easy to distinguish between hair and flesh sides. The quires are arranged according to Gregory rule, beginning with the hair side (Andreas please check)


Full page: ca. 221 X159 mm

Text space: ca. 151 X101 mm



One main scribe: fols. 1-137v; 142-193v; 196-206v


Additions and interpolations by different hands in the main texts:

Hand 1: fols. 193v-195r (originally left blank). The added prayer is a copy of a piyyut by Isaac son of Benjamin son of Shlomo Finzi (who signs his name in the ending note in the lower part of fol. 195), who lived most probably in the region of Umbria during the 14th century.

Hand 2: fols. 138r-140v (two bifolia of different parchment added in the middle of quire XIV). This Hand copied the prayer for protecting the community from tragic events. The Hebrew numeration skips the two bifolia (fols. 137 and 142 are numerated respectively: 362 and 363 – שס"ב-שס"ג).

Hand 3: fol. 207 (single folio), the ending strophe of the last seliha (ישראל עם קדוש) copied on fol. 206v)

Hand 4: fols. 208v-209 (single folios, two more prayers by Shemuel of Ravenna (שמך נורא and שעה צור אל אמרתי).

Hand 5: the proof-reader: fols. 20v (outer margin), 116v-117 (in the margins; at the bottom of fol. 116v reference to the addenda on fol. 117: ואומ' אילו הפסוקי' אשפוך תחינה); 129v, 130v (most part of the page), 131 (in the inner margin, indication for this addition) and181.



Scribe A: The main text is written in semi-cursive Italian script; initial words are written in larger Italian square script, and the text "You reach out a hand to willful sinners" (אתה נותן יד לפושעים) in the prayer of Ne'ilah is also copied in the same large square script (fols. 120-121v; 124-125v)

Additional texts were written by five different hands all in semi-cursive Italian script (see: Scribes)


Number of lines

Main text written:

26 lines for page in one column

Piyyutim written:

26 lines for page in two columns (e.g. fols. 110, 112-114v, 115v-116)

End of Ne'ilah "You reach out a hand to willful sinners" (אתה נותן יד לפושעים)אתה נותן יד לפושעים:

13 lines in display script (fols. 120v-121v, 124-125v)



Ruling by stylus discernible on hair sides, 26 horizontal lines and 1 + 1 vertical lines.



Pricking discernible in outer and lower margins.



20 quires of 10 leaves each except for: XIII10+2 (fols. 121-132v: bifolium 129-130 has been added in a second stage by Scribe A himself, and include text not copied at the first stage); XIV10+4 (fols. 138-141 are a later insertion in different parchment in the middle of the quire, text added by Hand 2); XIX8 (fols. 187-194v); XX12 (fols. 195-206v); and three single leaves of different parchment: fols. 207, 208,209, in which were copied later addenda to the text by Hands 3 and 4.



Horizontal catchwords for quires appear in the lower left-hand corner of the last versos of each quire.


Hebrew numeration

Hebrew alphabetical numeration to the leaves appears in the upper right-hand corner of each verso, starting with רכו (=226) on fol. 1v and ending with תכר (=427) on fol. 206v. Fols. 138-141v and 207-209v, which are later additions, are not numbered, indicating that the Hebrew numeration was done close to the completions of the manuscript.


Blank leaves

Fols. 141, 141v, 176, 176v, 195v, 207v, 208


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
By Scribe A: Fol. 18v: at the beginning of the text space, within a red frame is a scribal note: סליק עניין ראש השנה / תהלה לאלקי קדם מעונה "Finished New Year section, praise to God …." Fol. 19v: beginning of the text space, within a decorative red frame: בשם הסולח עונות ופשעים / החל לכתוב סדר יום הכיפורים "In the name of the one who forgives sins and wrongdoings, I will start writing the prayers for the Day of Atonement" Fol. 111v: In the outer margin, next to the selihot for Minha of the Day of Atonement, scribal note states: ואם תרצה לומ' / במה אקדם / עיין בסוף עניין / צום כיפור “and if you would like to say במה אקדם look at the end of the section of the fast of the Day of Atonement”. Hence, the prayer is copied at the end of Day of Atonement prayers, on fols. 135v-137v Fol. 135v: after instructions for end of the Day of Atonement, in the middle of the page: נשלם עניין יום הכפורים/תהילה לאל משפיל ומרים "Concluded the Day of Atonement section, Praise to God…" Fol. 84v: emphasis of the aleph (א') of the name Asher, at the beginning of the second text line from the bottom, perhaps indicating the scribe’s name.
Trade Mark
Decoration Program

The decoration was done after the writing of the text. It consists of red pen-work decoration framing various texts, from its beginning until fol. 176v. Space left blank for decoration before the Redemption of the First-Born (fol. 177), the Circumcision (fol. 178) and the Marriage ceremony (fol. 180) services, was never filled with decoration. There is occasional use of spare-ground technique, a very slight use of gold-brush for the main panels, and of blue and violet ink. Although the style is not homogeneous, the work seems to have been executed by one single artist. His more delicate and accurate work is displayed in the large title panels and in a few smaller initial word panels, while his cruder style, with thicker pen-work and more stylized motifs can be seen through out most of the mahzor.


I. Three pen-work panels for new sections: for New Year (fol. 1v), Sukkot (fol. 142) and Shemini Azeret (fol. 157). The panel for Sukkot includes a sketchy unfinished human bust (fol. 142).

II. Many pen-work frames: for initial words of the main passages in the prayer, almost in every page e.g. fols. 1v, 5, 18v, 19v, 33v, 50v, 55, 77, 77v, 91, 117, 142, 174; for Hebrew instructions, for openings and endings of main sections, and for scribal notes: (e.g. fols. 2v, 4, 5, 5v, 8, 8v, 9, 11v, 12v, 13, 18, 19v, 20, 21, 21v, 24, 25, 29v, 37, 55, 77, 77v, 103, 146, 174); and simpler ink decoration on top of many words within the text: seen on almost every page of the decorated part of the manuscript, by means of a red line above the word, decorated mostly with a bud. One of them is decorated with a long-beaked bird standing on the line above the repeated words of the prayer (fol. 55).


Suggested Reconsdivuction
On fol. 174, in the lower margin, addenda of a stanza in the Geulah of Ibn Ezra (fols. 174-175v) by Shelomo son of Isaac. This addition was copied by a hand very similar to that of scribe A. Addenda in later semi-cursive Italian script by Hand 5 (for details see Scribes). Purchased by the Hofbibliothek in Vienna on July 15th 1865 from S. Schömblum, together with nine more Hebrew manuscripts (Cod. Hebr. 167-171; 173-176).
Main Surveys & Excavations
Bibliography for the manuscript: Hermann, Die handscriften und Inkunabeln der italianischen Renaissance, 2: Oberitalien: Venetien (Die illuminierten Handschriften und Inkunabeln der Nationalbibliotheck in Wien 6.2), Leipzig 1931, p. 17 Schwartz, A. Z., hebräischen Hss., Vienna 1914, pp. 70-71 (no. 46) Schwartz, A. Z., hebräischen Hss., Vienna 1925, pp. 101-102 (no. 98) Unterkircher 2 (1959), 38 History Background: Milano, Ebrei d’Italia A. Milano, Storia degli Ebrei d’Italia, Turin 1963, pp. 148-149 De Polo, codice umbro C. de Polo, “un codice umbro della seconda metà del trecento” in: La miniatura italiana in età romanica e gotica, (Congresso di Storia della Miniatura, Cortona, 1978) Florence 1979
Anna Nizza | 2003
Author of description
Anna Nizza | 2003 2006
Architectural Drawings
Computer Reconstruction
Section Head
Michal Sternthal | 2003, 2004, 2007
Language Editor
Judy Cardozo | 2006, 2007
Negative/Photo. No.
The following information on this monument will be completed:
Unknown |