Obj. ID: 23764
Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts JHM Colored Esther Scroll with Portrait Medallions, Amsterdam, first quarter of the 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. 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 (e.g. the JHM megillah) are filled with the Hebrew text. The panel above them is narrower than other panels; it was dedicated to a blessing after the Megillah that in some exemplars is inscribed in this place and sometimes it is also followed by the liturgical poem for Purim. The manuscript from the JHM collection is one of the very few examples of this type that is colored by hand.
Similar narrative scenes are included in "the scrolls with landscapes" (see their descriptions in the Index); some of them are their mirror image.
The scroll from the JHM collection is an exception because it contains only three sheets and not four as all other megillot decorated with this border. Sheet no. 3 is absent in the scroll, therefore some episodes (e.g. the triumph of Mordecai) are not represented in it.
In the last panel, just below the text of the Megillah, an inscription in Hebrew is written.
*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
V | Vase
L | Landscape
O | Ornamentation: | Architectonic motif
P | Putto (Putti in Plural)
L | Lion
G | Garland
O | Ornamentation: | Foliate and floral ornaments | Foliate motif
O | Ornamentation: | Main text framed
The lower margin of the second membrane is seriously damaged; some of its parts are missing.
The sewings are in poor condition and not esthetic.
The Book of Esther in Hebrew with the benedictions recited before the Megillah reading and the liturgical poem Asher Heni
The scroll is formed of 3 membranes containing benedictions recited before the Megillah reading + 12 columns of text + a final benediction panel. Each column includes 32 lines of text, except for col. 10 with 11 lines divided into two half-columns (the text in it is printed and not copied by hand).
Every sheet comprises 4 columns of the text each and the last sheet, additionally contains the benediction panel.
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 it is decorated with scrolled feet). The letter ת (Es. 9:29) is enlarged and bolded. Other enlarged and diminished letters are included in col. 10, however, this part of the scroll is printed and not penned by a scribe.
The final verse of the scroll is written in larger letters decorated with tagin.
There are some erasures and corrections in the text.
The ruling and pricking are invisible.
The sheets in the scroll are stitched together.
The benedictions: The initial benedictions are inscribed in the semi-cursive letters in the central panel of the opening decoration. All three words ברוך are enlarged and bolded.
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.
A short description of the scroll and images are available on https://data.jck.nl/page/aggregation/jhm-museum/M000414 (accessed on 17.07.2021).
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.
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.