Obj. ID: 1547
Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts JMP Esther Scroll with Portrait Medallions, Amsterdam, early 18th century
The scroll represents the type called "scrolls with portrait medallions" that are lavishly decorated and illustrated megillot produced in a mixed technique in which decorative border is printed as a copper engraving and the Hebrew text of the Book of Esther is penned by a scribe. It features decorative medallions placed in upper margins, above the text panels, containing busts of the Esther story protagonists except for the last one where a printed word ברוך – "blessed" is placed. The roundels are surrounded by acanthus leaves. The decorative scheme opens with a panel containing several illustrations from the Esther story; the central panel is designed for the benedictions. In a rectangular panel, directly above, the Hebrew words ברכת מגילה - "blessings for the Megillah" are printed. The text is written in regular rectangular columns enclosed in frames and separated by pillars formed of a variety of motifs such as trees, flowers, acanthus leaves, heads of angels, and architectural elements. Lower margins are filled with figurative scenes that chronicle the Book of Esther's narrative or allude to midrashim and other sources. They are separated by the octagons (placed beneath the decorative pillars) filled mainly with land- and seascapes, most likely with no direct relation to the Purim story. The scroll ends with five full representations of the Esther story protagonists holding oval shields that in some exemplars are filled with the Hebrew text. The panel above them is narrower than other panels; it is filled with a blessing after the Megillah and a liturgical poem for Purim.
*Manuscripts and Printed Books | Esther scroll (megillat Esther) | with printed border
*Manuscripts and Printed Books | Esther scroll (megillat Esther) | with benedictions
*Manuscripts and Printed Books | Esther scroll (megillat Esther) | with piyutim
P | Portrait | Portrait medallion
A | Acanthus Leaf
M | C | Columns
L | Landscape
O | Ornamentation: | Architectonic motif
P | Putto (Putti in Plural)
L | Lion
G | Garland
O | Ornamentation: | Foliate and floral ornaments | Floral motif
H | Human Figure | Bust (Human figure)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Esther story protagonists
O | Ornamentation: | Main text framed
The opening decoration of the scroll is partly preserved; it lacks its upper and lower registers.
Some minor damages in the edges of the first sheet can be seen.
The first membrane is darker than all remaining membranes in the scroll.
In general, the text is well preserved, although the sheets are crumpled; the text in the final panel is preserved in the worst condition.
The Book of Esther in Hebrew with initial and final benedictions, and a liturgical poem אשר הניא "Asher Heni"
The scroll is formed of 4 sheets containing 16 columns of text and two additional benediction panels at the beginning and the end of the scroll. Each column includes 26-27 lines of text. The text in col. 14 is printed; it contains 11 lines divided into two half-columns.
Every sheet comprises 4 columns of text.
The text is inscribed in the Hebrew square script in brown ink on the flesh side of parchment membranes.
The scroll opens with an enlarged and bolded initial word.
The letter ח (Es. 1:6) is highlighted by its size (it is enlarged and bolded), form (it is composed of two elements joined with a roof), and decoration (it is surrounded by hand-drawn tendrils). The letter ת (Es. 9:29) is enlarged and bolded. Other enlarged and diminished letters are included in col. 14, however, this part of the scroll is printed and not penned by a scribe.
The sheets in the scroll are stitched together.
The benedictions: The initial benedictions are inscribed in the square letters in the central panel of the opening decoration. All three words ברוך are decorated with a filigree ornament.
The final blessing starts with a printed word ברוך placed in the upper margin and is copied in a square script. In the column below it, the Purim poem is copied in a square script. The letters opening the subsequent verses are enlarged and bolded.
The former number of the manuscript is Ms 312.
The scroll is mentioned in:
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, 38.
Jiřina Šedinová, From the Mss. Collections of the State Jewish Museum in Prague. The Scrolls of Esther, "Judaica Bohemiae" 1979, nr 15/2, 80-83.
http://collections.jewishmuseum.cz/index.php/Detail/Object/Show/object_id/221258 (accessed on 31.10.2020).
Manuscripts sharing the same pattern are described 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.
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, 1:176-188.