Object Alone

Obj. ID: 19117
Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts
  Volterra Annual Wall Calendar, Reggio Emilia, 1536-1537

© BSB, Photographer: Unknown,
Summary and Remarks

The wall calendar for the year 1536-1537 was written by the scribe Meshulam of Volterra son of Isaac of Reggio (משולם בן יצחק מארייו). It was produced inItalyand possibly meant to be hung in a synagogue. The calendar includes the relevant calendrical information for the Jewish observance and the correlative dates in the Christian calendar. The moon and a star on the right of the calendar and the sun with a face on the left and their inscriptions symbolise the solar and lunar cycles which are prominent in the Jewish calendar, since the months are lunar and the year is solar.

The necessity for both Hebrew and Christian calendars mirrors the close contact of the Jewish community with its surrounding culture and meets the immediate economic needs in matters of commerce and trade.

Calendrical material was usually included in prayer books such as mahzorim (prayer books for festivals), and sifrei minhagim (Books of Customs) and other compendia. In the early modern period this information was concentrated separately in Sifrei Evronot (Books of Intercalations); this text continued to be cultivated in manuscript while simultaneously emerging in print (Straus 2006, Introduction; Carlebach 2011:49).

In contrast to a relatively large number of print and manuscript versions of Evronot books, single-year calendars were fewer and printed mainly to be hung on synagogues' walls or posted in public spaces (Carlebach 2011:32).

Carlebach, however, points out that while printed calendars promoted uniformity in forms and texts, many errors plagued the texts during the printed process. Consequently, paying for a scribal copy may have been better alternative long into the age when print versions had become available (Ibid.:51-54, 59). In the case of our scribe Meshulam of Volterra, although it is hard to know the reason for copying by hand, the basic structure of his calendar follows certain conventions in form and material that have been formulated for printed wall calendars throughout the early modern period in Europe (Carlebach 2011:66-67, and

cf. figs. 1 and 2). However, whereas relatively many printed Hebrew calendars have survived (see Ibid.), manuscript calendars are rarely found. Our calendar survived only because it was kept within a book (Cod.hebr. 425; see History).



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Volterra Annual Wall Calendar | Unknown
Object Detail
Monument Setting
Synagogue active dates
Reconstruction dates
Historical Origin
Community type
Unknown |
Unknown |
Period Detail
Germany | Munich | Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (BSB)
| Cod.hebr. 154 (Steinschneider 1895, No. 154)
Documentation / Research project
Iconographical Subject
Unknown |
Textual Content
Unknown |
Languages of inscription
Shape / Form
Material / Technique
One single paper sheet.
Material Stucture
Material Decoration
Material Bonding
Material Inscription
Material Additions
Material Cloth
Material Lining
Tesserae Arrangement
Construction material
Full sheet 440 x 290 mm.
Panel Measurements
Was folded in four; some stains and damaged edges, and a hole in the centre.
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
Hebrew manuscript wall calendar for the year רצ"ז 5297 (1536-1537), entitledז'ש'ג' פשוטה . This abbreviation indicates the type of year (out of the 14 possible types), which is a Regular (פשוטה, Peshuta) as well as a Perfect Year (ש, Shelema) of 355 days. In this type of year the first day of New Year falls on the Sabbath (ז) and Passover on a Tuesday (ג). The calendar includes the non-Jewish counterparts, and consists of 13 horizontal sections, 12 for the months, staring with the month of Tishrei and its first day, the Jewish New Year, Rosh ha-Shanah, and one for the next New Year, and 6 vertical columns. The Jewish dates appear on the right; Christian dates are shown on the left. The first and second columns on the right indicate the date of the new moons (moladot). The first column calculates the hour and its divisions ((דקים, either of the day or night of the new moons. The second column commencing with 'the real one' (והאמיתי), specifies the astronomical dates and zodiac signs, beginning with Libra for Tishrei. The third and wider column includes the name of the new Jewish month, the name of each week's Torah portions (according to the Italian rite), the holidays or fast days and the main ritual events in the Jewish year which occur during that month. The fourth column commencing with 'contrary to' (וניגודו) calculates the dates of the new moons in the Christian calendar in correlation with the Hebrew dates. The fifth column marking the new tekufot according to the 2nd-century Babylonian school of Mar Shmuel (ותקופתו כמר שמואל), and notes the proper day on which Jews begin to recite the prayer for rain (שאלת מטר). The final column on the left contains the Hebrew date of the beginning of the Christian months and the movable Easter feast in this year. The names of the Christian months are in Italian in Hebrew characters: Sitimri, Otobri (September, October), etc.
Meshulam of Volterra son of Isaac of Reggio יצחק מארייו)).
Written in cursive Italian script in black ink, except for various titles in built-up square script.
Number of Lines
6 columns of varying widths. The 12 monthly sections are written in 4-5 lines; specifications on the year 1537 at the top and the 13th section at the bottom are in 6-7 lines.
Ruling in pencil: usually for the first horizontal line of each of the section; and 1+ 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 vertical lines.
Pricking is noticeable in the left, upper and lower margins in accordance with the ruled lines.
Hebrew Numeration
Blank Leaves
The back of the sheet is blank.
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
At the bottom of the page is the scribe's colophon: הצעיר משולם מוולטירה בכמ'ר' יצחק מארייו ז'צ'ל' (The young Meshulam of Volterra, son of Isaac of Reggio (יצחק מארייו), the righteous of blessed memory). The name of his father's town ארייו is identified by Steinschneider (Ibid.) as Arezzo and by Beit-Arié (2013:132) as Reggio. The date at the top of the sheet, the year 5297 (שנת רצ"ז) from the creation of the world (1536-1537), is followed by chronological dates from the creation to the destruction of the Temple.
Scribal Notes
Trade Mark

The calendar is folded in 40 and kept within a sheet of folded blue paper (235 x185 mm).


Decoration Program

The scribal decoration at the top of the calendar consists of blessings and biblical quotations in dark brown built-up letters within red and blue frames. The initials and Christian months are marked in blue and red.

  1. Two text illustrations.
  2. Decorated initial word (שנת, The Year).
  3. Decorated frames.
Suggested Reconsdivuction
Annotations by Steinschneider in pencil: In the upper margin, the year 1535-1536 (should be 1536-1537, see Colophon). Next to the date of the calendar, numerical values for the years 5296 (should be 5297 for (שנת חמשת אלפים ורצ"ז and 1466 (for אלף תס"ו, underlined in pencil). The Calendar is kept within a sheet of folded blue paper. In the upper left-hand corner in pencil and on sticker with the library shelf-mark: Cod.Hebr. 154. In the centre is a German inscription: Wandkalender für das Jahr 5296 (1535) (Wall Calendar for the year 5296 (1535)), probably written by Steinschneider. On the verso of the calendar is the former library shelf-mark in pencil: Zu Cod. hebr. 425. The number 425 has been crossed off and replaced by the present one 154. Below is another inscription in pencil: Hebraeisch (?) als besond.(ere) N.(ummer) aufzustellen. The Calendar reached the BSB in 1909 from Neuburg in the Pfalz. It was kept as a separate sheet in Cod.hebr. 425, a miscellany including a Book of the Customs (ספר המידות), which belonged to the library of the elector Ottheinrich von der Pfalz (Róth 1965, Cat. 330).
Main Surveys & Excavations
Beit-Arié 2012 M. Beit-Arié, Hebrew Codicology, Historical and Comparative Typology of Hebrew Medieval Codices based on the Documentation of the Extant Dated Manuscripts in Quantitative Approach, Pre-publication internet version 0.2 (2013). Carlebach 2008 E. Carlebach, "Palaces of Time: Illustration of Sifre Evronot", Images 2 (2008):21-44. Carlebach 2011 E. Carlebach, Palaces of Time: Jewish Calendar and Culture in Early Modern Europe, London 2011. Róth 1965 E. Róth, Hebräische Handschriften, part 2 (Verzechnis der Orientalischen Handschriften in Deutschland vol. VI, 2, ed. H. Striedl), Wiesbaden 1965. Steinschneider 1895 M. Steinschneider, Die Hebräischen Handschriften der K. Hof- und Staatsbibliothek in München, Munich 1895, No. 154. Straus 2006 J. P. Straus, Calculating Celestial Cycles, Courses and Conjunctions: An Introduction to Sifrei Evronot (Books of Intercalculation), unpublished thesis, Washington, University, Saint Louis 2006.
Anna Nizza | 2008
Author of description
Anna Nizza; Prof. Aliza Cohen-Mushlin; Yaffa Levy | 2009; 2009, 2013; 2009, 2013
Architectural Drawings
Computer Reconstruction
Section Head
Michal Sternthal; Project Head: Prof. Aliza Cohen-Mushlin |
Language Editor
Christine Evans | 2013
Supported by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation |
Negative/Photo. No.
The following information on this monument will be completed:
Unknown |