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 decorated 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 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. In the scroll from the MOIJA collection, the background of the endless knot ornaments and the cartouches containing the narrative scenes is painted in carmine and both cartouches are blank.
The scroll is mounted on a wooden roller.
The length of the sheets in the scroll: 1) 510 mm, 2) 513 mm, 3) 545 mm.
The roller: 525 mm (height).
In general, the manuscript is preserved in good condition, although some slight damages can be seen in it (e.g. in some places, the edges of the membranes are not straight, the coloring on the left margin of the final decoration is damaged).
Some details in the border are poorly printed (e.g. cartouche no. 13).
In many places, the gold paint is not well preserved.
The scroll is mounted on the roller but it is not stitched to it.
The Book of Esther in Hebrew
The scroll is formed of 3 sheets containing 19 columns of the text with 22 lines each, except for col. 16 which includes 11 lines divided into two half-columns.
The number of columns per sheet: no. 1 - 6, no. 2 - 8, no. 3 - 5.
The text is written in Hebrew square Italian script in black ink on parchment sheets.
The letters ח (Es. 1:6) and ת (Es. 9:29) are not highlighted in the text. Similarly, no enlarged and diminished letters are included in col. 16.
The ruling made with a stylus is slightly visible.
The pricking is invisible.
The sheets in the scroll are stitched together.
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 - ID 36150). 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 pattern features a number of decorative elements common with the scrolls of the Klagsbald type (in the Index see "Klagsbald type Esther scrolls").
It seems the text is written on the hair side of the second membrane; on the two remaining membranes, it is written on their flesh side.
Donated to the Museum by the Shapira family.
A short description of the scroll is available on https://museums.gov.il/en/items/Pages/ItemCard.aspx?IdItem=ICMS-EIT-0015 (accessed on 28.06.2021).
Selected bibliography concerning other scrolls sharing 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.