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Obj. ID: 37876
Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts
  JML Esther Scroll with Portrait Medallions, Amsterdam, early 18th century

© Jewish Museum in London (JML), Photographer: N/A, -

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. In a rectangular panel, directly above, the Hebrew words ברכת מגילה - "blessings for the Megillah" are printed. 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 the exemplar from the London collection are filled with Hebrew inscriptions. The panel above them is narrower than other panels; it contains a blessing after the Megillah and a liturgical poem for Purim.

Underneath the opening section of the scroll, a piece of fabric is stitched.

The scroll is mounted on a wooden roller with ivory finials.

6 image(s)

sub-set tree:

JML Esther Scroll with Portrait Medallions | Unknown
Object Detail
Monument Setting
Early 18th century
Synagogue active dates
Reconstruction dates
Artist/ Maker
Unknown (Unknown)
Historical Origin
Community type
Unknown |
Unknown |
Scrolls with portrait medallions|

The family of Dutch Esther scrolls from the early 18<\/span>th<\/span> century designed by an anonymous engraver whose decorative scheme features decorative medallions surrounded by acanthus containing busts of the Esther story protagonists, except for the last that is filled with a printed word <\/span>\u05d1\u05e8\u05d5\u05da <\/span>barukh<\/span><\/em> (“blessed<\/span>”). The medallions are placed in upper margins, above text panels. The text columns are 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 the figurative scenes that chronicle the Purim story or allude to<\/span> midrashim<\/span><\/em> and other sources. They are separated by the octagons (placed beneath the decorative pillars) filled with different land- and seascapes. At the end of the scroll there are five full figures of the Esther story protagonists.<\/span><\/p>"}

Period Detail
Documentation / Research project
Ink on parchment (printed decoration, handwritten text) + wood and ivory + silk (?)
Material Stucture
Material Decoration
Material Bonding
Material Inscription
Material Additions
Material Cloth
Material Lining
Tesserae Arrangement
Construction material
The scroll: 197x1855 mm.
Length of the sheets in the scroll: 1) 575 mm, 2) 395 mm, 3) 385 mm, 4) 500 mm.
Dimensions of the selected details in the scroll:
- text panel: 110x70 mm;
- opening decoration with the first column: 145 mm (width);
- frames with illustration(s): 31x70 mm (inner dimensions);
- an average letter: 2 mm (height);
- letters in the initial word of the scroll: 5 mm (height);
- an average letter in benedictions: 2 mm .

The roller: 400 mm (height).
Panel Measurements

There are serious damages to the print on the first sheet and the final section of the scroll.

The text in many places is faded.

The sheets, but especially the first one, are crumpled.

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
Languages of inscription
Type of grave

The Book of Esther in Hebrew with initial and final benedictions, and a liturgical poem אשר הניא "Asher Heni"


The scroll is formed of 4 sheets containing a total of 16 columns of text and two additional benediction panels at the beginning and the end of the manuscript. Each column includes 24 lines of text, except for col. 14 with 11 lines divided into two half-columns.

Every sheet comprises 4 columns of the text.

The text is inscribed in the Hebrew square script with tagin, in brown ink, on the flesh side of parchment membranes of different thicknesses. The side of the text and decorations is brighter and smoother than the other one that is suede. 

The scroll opens with an enlarged and bolded initial word.

The letter ח (Es. 1:6) is highlighted by its and form - it is very wide, composed of two elements joined with a roof, and is decorated with scrolled feet. The letter ת (Es. 9:29) is enlarged and bolded. Other enlarged and diminished letters are included in col. 14.

In some places, letters פ with a flourish inside can be seen.

The letter ע in the final word of the scroll is decorated.

The ruling is invisible.

The pricking is visible only at the very end of the scroll, close to the roller.

The sheets in the scroll are stitched together.

The benedictions: The initial benedictions are inscribed in the central panel of the opening decoration. Two of the formulas are inscribed partly in square and partly in semi-cursive script, while the third one is penned in a square script.

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 semi-cursive script but the letters opening the subsequent verses are inscribed in the square script (they are bolded too). The first word - אשר - is enlarged and bolded.

Number of Lines
Hebrew Numeration
Blank Leaves
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


Scribal Notes
Trade Mark
Decoration Program
Summary and Remarks

Before the opening decoration, there is a blank space that is 80 mm wide.

The text in column no. 14 is printed.

Suggested Reconsdivuction
Main Surveys & Excavations

No bibliography on the manuscript is available but other scrolls sharing the same pattern are discussed in:

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.

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.

Short Name
Full Name
Dagmara Budzioch | 2021
Author of description
Dagmara Budzioch | 2021
Architectural Drawings
Computer Reconstruction
Section Head
Language Editor
Negative/Photo. No.