Obj. ID: 34642
Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts MAHJ Gaster I Type Esther Scroll, Venice (?), second half of the 17th century (1665/1666?)
This scroll represents the type called Gaster I (for explanation, see "Additional Remarks"), lavishly decorated megillot produced in a mixture of print and manuscript techniques: the decorative border is printed as a copper engraving and colored by hand, while the Hebrew text of the Book of Esther is penned by a scribe. The opening section is filled with a rich, precisely rendered, decoration of tendrils, flowers, and animals that surround a cartouche. The upper and lower margins are filled with repeating endless knot motifs alternating with 20 cartouches enclosing one up to three scenes that chronicle the narrative of the Book of Esther. The background of the endless knot ornaments and the cartouches containing the narrative scenes originally could have been colored with a shade of dusty pink color that currently is faded. The ten text panels, in which nineteen text columns are included, are interspersed by stylized floral decoration. The same scheme repeats on all three membranes forming each scroll from this group. The pattern ends with a symmetrical decoration composed of large flowers and foliate ornaments surrounding a cartouche that in this manuscript contains a Hebrew inscription.
The scroll is mounted on a wooden turned rod and a wooden pull bar to the right edge of the first membrane is attached.
The name "Gaster I" was introduced by Mendel Metzger in his article entitled "The Earliest Engraved Italian Megilloth" (see "Bibliography"). The type was named after Moses Gaster (1856–1939), the rabbi, scholar, and manuscript collector, who owned a scroll adorned with this pattern (at present this is the scroll Gaster Hebrew MS 710 stored in the John Rylands Library in Manchester). At least 25 manuscripts representing this type are still extant and are preserved in private and institutional collections. For their descriptions see "Related objects".
The MAHJ stores another scroll representing the same pattern no. inv. 2017.18.004 (not included in the Index).
The pattern features a number of decorative elements common with the scrolls of Klagsbald type.
The scroll possibly contains the date of its production - see "Scribal Notes".
On the blank (hair) side of the first sheet, there is an inscription that is possibly composed of the letters ש, ל, ם in a cursive script.
Selected images are described twice; within a particular section containing the text column and upper and lower margins and once again as a separate image.
| inv. 2002.01.0679
The length of the membranes: 1) ca. 525 mm, 2) ca. 595 mm, 3) ca. 550 mm.
Dimensions of the selected details in the scroll:
- the print: ca. 165 mm (height);
- inner dimensions of the typical text panel: ca. 100 x 78 mm.
- an average letter: less than 2 mm (height)
- letters in col. 16: over 3 mm (height);
- letters forming the Tetragrammaton inscribed in the cartouche at the end of the scroll: ca. 10 mm and
- letters in the word שויתי: ca. 8 mm high.
The scroll: ca. 300 mm (height).
Pull bar: ca. 215 mm (height).
The scroll consists of 3 membranes with 19 columns (9 double text panels and a single text panel) with 22 lines per column, except for col. 16 with 11 lines, divided into two parts, written in a large script. The membranes contain respectively 6, 8, and 5 text columns.
The text is written on the flesh side of the parchment membranes in a small, square Italian script, in brown-black ink.
The ruling is made by a stylus and consists of 22 horizontal lines that are ruled across the width of the entire sheet. The vertical lines were made as well; inside the text panel, they are 1+2+1.
Pricking is not visible.
A brief description of the manuscript in French: Rouleau d'Esther, Italie, 1666 available on https://www.mahj.org/fr/decouvrir-collections-betsalel/rouleau-d-esther-63901 (accessed on 04.05.2020).
Selected bibliography concerning other scrolls decorated with the same border:
Mendel Metzger, The Earliest Engraved Italian Megilloth, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 1966, 48/2, 381–432.
Cornelia Bodea, Treasures of Jewish Art. The 1673 Illuminated Scroll of Esther Offered to a Romanian Hierarch, Iaşi–Oxford–Palm Beach–Portland 2002.
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, 240-241.
Schöne Seiten. Jüdische Schriftkultur aus der Braginsky Collection, eds. Emile Schrijver, Falk Wiesemann, Evelyn M. Cohen, Sharon Liberman Mintz, Menahem Schmeltzer, Zurich 2011, 262-263.
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, 1:99-119, 2:64-69.
Dagmara Budzioch, "An Illustrated Scroll of Esther from the Collection of the Jewish Historical Institute as an Example of the Gaster I Megilloth," Kwartalnik Historii Żydów 2013, no. 3 (247), 533–547.