In this richly decorated megillah, a variety of motifs in a unique arrangement fills all the available space on each membrane. The Hebrew text of the Book of Esther is written within mostly circular text panels, though the shapes of the circles do differ slightly. The Hebrew text is framed by "rings" formed of flowers (e.g. carnations, roses, tulips, and lilies), fruits (e.g. apple, pear, grape bunches, blackberries), fruiting trees in pots, elaborate acanthus leaves, birds (mainly colorful parrots), angels' heads, and signs of the Zodiac. Most uniquely, the text Haman's sons by name (Es. 9:6-10) is surrounded by small gallows. The spaces between the roundels are filled with illustrations from the Book of Esther and its midrashim, as well as portraits of the Purim story's protagonists. Some decorations are not directly related to the Esther narrative. The manuscript is incomplete.
The length of the sheets in the scroll: 1) 425 mm, 2) 700 mm, 3) 695 mm, 4) 690 mm, 5) 730 mm, 6) ca. 675 mm.
Dimensions of the selected details in the scroll:
- an average roundel outside: 280 mm;
- an average roundel inside: 207 mm;
- an average letter: 3 mm;
- spaces between the lines of the text: 5 mm.
The manuscript lacks some text at the beginning; currently, the text starts at Es. 2:7. The remaining part of the manuscript is preserved in good condition.
The decoration is quite well preserved and the text is in perfect condition.
The sheets are rather dirty and dark; this concerns especially the opening and final parts of the scroll.
There are some white stains on the first membrane.
The Book of Esther in Hebrew (the text is incomplete)
The scroll is formed of 6 sheets containing 13 text panels with 21-24 lines, except for roundel 11 which has 11 lines divided into two parts.
Col. 10 is not a roundel but a very narrow "chimney".
The text is inscribed in Hebrew Ashkenazi script with tagin, in black ink on the parchment, which is of medium thickness but rather stiff, suede, and dark.
The length of the lines of the text differs to fit the space in the roundels.
The letter ת (Es. 9:29) is highlighted by its size. Enlarged and diminished letters are included in roundel 11.
The highlighted letters of the Tetragrammaton are marked in roundels 1 and 3.
The ruling - made with a stylus - along with the breaks between membranes is visible.
The pricking is visible on the sheets' edges.
The membranes in the scroll are glued together.
The details suggest that the text was penned and decorated by the same person.
The decoration of the scroll shows some common features with the Book of Psalms of 1706 by Shabetai Scheftel ben Zalman Auerbach (see ID 21819) and Esther scroll C-325 from the JHI collection in Warsaw (see ID 62).
In this group of scrolls, figures in the biblical narrative are depicted as belonging to the higher social class of the artist’s day. These possibly represent court Jews, who could also be patrons and users of these manuscripts.
The scroll is discussed in:
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, 1:248-272.