This lavishly decorated scroll features a printed border designed by Francesco Griselini which surrounds the handwritten Hebrew text of the Book of Esther. The main part of the pattern consists of a series of arcades, under which the text is inscribed. The text panels are interspersed by columns whose shafts are decorated with different patterns and bases contain floral designs.
The upper margins are filled with a balustrade on which are placed cartouches flanked by flowers and pairs of turkeys, roosters, parrots, or hoopoes with their heads turned away; on each membrane, all four pairs of birds are printed in the same sequence. Additionally, above the cartouches between turkeys and parrots, double-headed eagles are placed, whereas turkeys or peacocks are above cartouches between roosters and hoopoes. The sections with birds are interspersed by vases with flowers or small citrus trees.
The lower margins are decorated with narrative scenes from the Book of Esther, set within rectangular Italian architectural frames separated by the columns' bases.
*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
Length of the sheets in the scroll: 1) 450 mm, 2) 450 mm, 3) 455 mm, 4) 455 mm, 5) ca. 485 mm.
Dimensions of the selected details in the scroll:
- an average letter: ca. 2 mm (height);
- spaces between the lines of the text: 2-3 mm.
In general, the manuscript is preserved in good condition, although its beginning is damaged and dark.
The ink flaked off in some places and not everywhere the text is well preserved.
Some damages of the parchments can be seen.
The Book of Esther in Hebrew followed by the benedictions recited before and after the Megillah reading, fragments of the liturgical poem Shoshanat Yakov and the poem Korei Megillah.
The scroll is formed of 5 sheets containing a total of 17 columns of text and three panels at the end of the scroll are filled with additional texts. Each column includes 21 or 22 lines of text, except for col. 14 which has 11 lines divided into two half-columns and col. 17 with 15 lines.
The first four sheets comprise 4 columns of text and on the fifth sheet, a single column is written. It is followed by three columns with the benedictions and the liturgical poems for Purim.
The text is written in Hebrew square Italian script with tagin in black ink (tagin are marked in light brown ink) on the flesh side of parchment membranes that are very thick and stiff. The side of the text and decorations is brighter and more matte, while the blank side is yellower and more glossy.
The scroll opens with an enlarged and bolded initial word which is written separately in the first line.
The letters ח (Es. 1:6) and ת (Es. 9:29) are enlarged and bolded. Additionally, the letter ח is highlighted by its form. Other enlarged and diminished letters are included in col. 14.
There are some corrections added above the lines of text.
The ruling is made with a hard point. In general, the lines are barely visible, but on the last membrane, they are well visible.
The pricking can be seen after the last text panel.
The sheets in the scroll are stitched together.
The benedictions start with enlarged and bolded words ברוך. The Tetragrammaton is replaced by the ligature of א and ל. In the words אלהינו, the letter ה lack their leg.
The Griselini scrolls consist either of four or five sheets with four text panels each.
The decorative scheme resembles the ornamentation of Gaster II scrolls.
In the Index, megillot Esther confusingly similar to Griselini scrolls, but not printed by Griselini himself, are called "Griselini-Related scrolls". The decoration of Griselini scrolls also resembles that of the Gaster II scrolls, but without decoration at the beginning and the end (see descriptions of "Griselini-Related" and "Gaster II" scrolls and in the Index).
On the second membrane, the frames enclosing illustrations are diagonally placed to the lower margin.
The scroll belongs to the H. Ephraim and Mordecai Benguiat Family Collection.
A short characteristic of the scroll and its images are available on https://thejewishmuseum.org/collection/21909-esther-scroll (accessed on 28.04.2021).
Bibliography on scrolls sharing the same pattern:
A Journey through Jewish Worlds: Highlights from the Braginsky Collection of Hebrew Manuscripts and Printed Books, eds. Evelyn M. Cohen, Emile Schrijver, Sharon Mintz, Amsterdam 2009, pp. 242–245 (additionally pp. 126-127 for the Bible of 1739 illustrated with Griselini's engravings).
Schöne Seiten. Jüdische Schriftkultur aus der Braginsky Collection, eds. Emile Schrijver, Falk Wiesemann, Evelyn M. Cohen, Sharon Liberman Mintz, Menachem Schmeltzer, Zurich 2011, pp. 264‒265 (additionally pp. 246-247 for the Bible of 1739 illustrated with Griselini's engravings).
Mendel Metzger, The Earliest Engraved Italian Megilloth, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 1966, 48/2, esp. 406-432.
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, 1:128–136.
Biography of Griselini in Italian and bibliography available on http://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/francesco-griselini_(Dizionario-Biografico)/ (accessed on 11.04.2020).