Obj. ID: 36172
Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts Museo Sefardí Esther Scroll with Decorative Initials, USA or Israel, mid-20th century
The scroll: Every column of the text in the scroll starts with a decorative initial. The most impressive is the letter ו that opens the Book of Esther. The letters appearing at the beginning of all subsequent columns of the text are smaller and every initial is ornamented differently and painted in different colors. Col. 14 includes only 12 lines of the text and on the blank space below them, a difficult to determine decoration with two winged busts is placed.
A silver pull bar is stitched to the right edge of the first membrane.
The case: The scroll is housed in a cylindrical case of embossed silver with a crank. The opening from which the manuscript comes out is adorned with a crown and a figure of a rampant lion.
The manuscript is not signed, although its hand-drawn decoration reflects the style of Sol Nodel (1912‒1976). He was the American miniaturist and a calligrapher who contributed to the renewal of illumination in the 20th century and was called "one of the world's leading artist-illuminators". He was also a lecturer, art consultant, and violinist.
At least three more scrolls adorned in a similar style are extant (in the Index see ID 36104).
The scroll is displayed at the permanent exhibition in the Museum.
The case is very high in comparison with the manuscript.
The case: 535 mm (height), 105 mm (maximum diameter)
The Book of Esther in Hebrew
During the examination of the manuscript, it was not fully unrolled and its final part remained in the case.
The scroll is composed of 3 sheets with 17 (?) columns of the text with 24 lines except for col. 14 with 12 lines and col. 15 with 11 lines divided into two parts.
Sheets nos. 1 and 2 contain 5 columns of the text each and sheet no. 3 contains 6 columns but col. 14 includes fewer lines of the text, so the next column could start from the Haman's sons section.
The text is inscribed in the Hebrew Ashkenazi stam script in intense and shiny black ink on the parchment sheets that are bright and very thick and stiff.
The letter ח (Es. 1:6) is almost the same as the other letters ח in the scroll. Enlarged and diminished letters are included in col. 15.
The ruling is invisible; it could be drawn with a pencil and erased.
The membranes in the scroll are stitched.
Ana María López Álvarez, Catálogo del Museo Sefardí, Toledo 1986, 97-98.
A short description in Spanish and images are available on http://ceres.mcu.es/pages/Main?inventary=0096/001&museum=69 (accessed on 14.10.2020).
A similar scroll is mentioned in:
Manuel Sánchez Mariana, "Manuscritos ingresados en la Biblioteca Nacional durante los años 1978 y 1979", Revista de archivos, bibliotecas y museos 82/4 (1979), 854.
Francisco Javier del Barco del Barco, Catálogo de manuscritos hebreos de la comunidad de Madrid, vol. 2, Madrid 2003, pp. 22-23, 134 (object 85).