Obj. ID: 39462
Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts MOIJA Gaster I Type Esther Scroll with Colorless Background, Venice (?), second half of the 17th century
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 - that in this scroll is partly preserved - 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 left colorless and both cartouches are blank.
The scroll is mounted on a wooden turned roller.
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 Klagsbald type.
The roller: 400 mm.
The manuscript is preserved in fair condition. It lacks the right edge of the first membrane, therefore a part of the opening decoration is not preserved.
The membranes are damaged in many places; they are crumpled, torn, and their edges are not straight. Due to this, it was reinforced with some pieces of parchment that are glued underneath the membranes.
In general, the coloring in the scroll is damaged.
Some illustrations are badly preserved; additionally, some of them (e.g. cartouche no. 5) were badly printed.
A large part of the text is also poorly preserved and in many places, only brown remains of the letters are visible (an exception is the final part of the manuscript). Due to its state of preservation, the color of ink is difficult to determine, but it seems that originally it was black.
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 the flesh side of parchment sheets. The blank side of the membranes is more yellow than the side of the text and decorations; some hair traces can be seen on it.
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.
Donated to the Museum by Erna Ascoli in memory of her husband.
A short description of the scroll is available on https://museums.gov.il/en/items/Pages/ItemCard.aspx?IdItem=ICMS-EIT-0493 (accessed on 28.06.2021).
Selected bibliography concerning other scrolls decorated with 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.