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Obj. ID: 58
Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts
  JHI Blue-Red Esther Scroll with Birds and Floral Motifs, Ancona (?), second half of the 18th century

© The Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw (JHI), Photographer: Kwolek, Grzegorz, 09.2017

The scroll opens with a benediction sheet that is stitched to its first membrane. Both - the benediction sheet and the scroll - are framed with the same ornamentation. The text panels along all the membranes are framed by stenciled repeating decorations. They are composed of "white" (in reality it is the color of the parchment) pairs of stylized birds and floral motifs (only some elements of them are painted in blue, red, or gold), and gold palmettes. The background of the sections is alternately painted in red or blue. The scroll ends with a decorative cartouche with a coat of arms with a double-headed eagle. Another family emblem in a decorative cartouche is partly preserved on the right edge of the first membrane; probably it is a rampant lion turned to the left, with a palm (?) branch or a lulav in its forelegs.

The scroll is mounted on a wooden roller.

Summary and Remarks

The ornamentation of the scroll shows a close relationship with several other decorated scrolls and ketubbot; see e.g. the scroll VI.7 (36), Klau Library, Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati (its images are available on https://mss.huc.edu/manuscripts/esther-scroll-vi-7/). On the basis of the latter, the manuscripts can be dated to the second half of the 18th century and connected with artists active in Ancona and/or Lugo.

All details are sketched in black ink and colored with blue, red, or old paints.


10 image(s)

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JHI Blue-Red Esther Scroll with Birds and Floral Motifs | Unknown
Object Detail
Monument Setting
Second half of the 18th century
Synagogue active dates
Reconstruction dates
Artist/ Maker
Italy | Marche | Ancona
| (?)
Historical Origin
Community type
Unknown |
Unknown |
Period Detail
Documentation / Research project
Textual Content
Unknown |
Languages of inscription
Shape / Form
Material / Technique
Ink and paints on parchment
Material Stucture
Material Decoration
Material Bonding
Material Inscription
Material Additions
Material Cloth
Material Lining
Tesserae Arrangement
Construction material
The scroll: 251-260 x ca. 5390 mm.
Length of the sheets in the scroll: 1) (benediction sheet) ca. 650 mm, 2) 725 mm, 3) ca. 660 mm, 4) ca. 665 mm, 5) ca. 710 mm, 6) ca. 655 mm, 7) ca. 655 mm, 8) ca. 670 mm.
Dimensions of the selected details in the scroll:
- opening decoration (partly preserved, placed just after the benediction sheet): 150x55 mm;
- decorations between panels: 37-40 mm (width);
- decorations on the upper and lower margins: 47 mm (height);
- columns of text: 152-153x169-177 mm;
- panel 1: 147x171 mm;
- panel 3: 151x172 mm;
- panel 17: 153x177 mm;
- an average letter in the scroll: 4 mm (height);
- letters in col. 17: 10 mm;
- spaces between the lines of the text: 5 mm;
- an average letter in the liturgical poems: 2 mm (height);
- benediction panel: 150x172 mm;
- panel with "Korei Megillah" piyut: 150x173 mm;
- panel with cartouche with an inscription: 153x131 mm;
- final panel: 243x167 mm;
- cartouche in the final decoration: 193x165 mm;
- frames surrounding columns of text: 3 mm (blue paint) + 2 mm (gold paint).

The roller: 480 mm (height).
Panel Measurements

The benediction sheet is seriously damaged; it is seriously torn and the place was repaired with tape.

The opening decoration is partly preserved (around half of it is still visible).

The first sheet (at the center of col. 3) is torn and was partly sewn up.

A part of the second sheet is missing.

Parts of the text and decoration have flaked off (especially details colored with blue paint are damaged). Other parts of decoration are very well preserved.

The upper finial of the handle is partly broken.

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

The Book of Esther in Hebrew that is preceded by the benedictions recited before and after the Megillah reading followed by portions of the piyut Shoshanat Yaakov and the piyut Korei Megillah.


The scroll is formed of 8 membranes in total containing the benedictions and the liturgical poems (written on the first membrane) and 20 columns of text with 15 lines per each, except for col. 17 that has 11 lines divided into two half-columns. The first membrane contains benedictions and liturgical poems for Purim.

Membranes nos. 1-7 contain 3 columns of text and no. 8 contains 2 columns.

The text is written in square Italian script with tagin in dark brown ink on the flesh side of parchment membranes that are of medium thickness. The sides of membranes are different - the side of the text and decorations is brighter and smoother than the blank side that is yellower but the shade is not the same on all membranes.

The letters ח (Es. 1:6) and ת (Es. 9:29) are slightly larger than an average letter in the scroll. Enlarged and diminished letters are included in col. 17.

The letters in col. 16 are very narrow.

In col. 18, above the right arm of the ע letter in the word עשרת, several tiny dots are visible.

Some erasures and corrections are visible. Some other corrections are added above the lines, e.g. in col. 22 the word אדר was later added to the top left corner by another hand in light brown ink.

The ruling -  horizontal and vertical lines - is made with a hard point and is barely visible. Only in the last panel, it is more visible.

The pricking is not visible.

The membranes in the scroll are sewn together by a leather thread.

The benedictions are written in the same script as the megillah itself. They start with enlarged word ברוך. The name of God is written as two letters י with a stroke above them. In the word אלהינו the letter ה is replaced by ק.

No tagin are added to the letters in the piyut Korei Megillah.

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
Suggested Reconsdivuction

יעקב הכהן יצ"ו גרדיש ת"ו

Originally, the inscription contained the name Yaakov but the letters were erased and instead of the name Yitzhak Ha-Cohen was written (the traces of original letters are still discernible underneath). The spelling of the other name - Gardish - is uncertain because the letters are barely legible.

On the opening edge the former shelfmark - 6012 - is written on the blank side. The scroll was probably transferred to the Jewish Historical Institute in 1948 from the Central Storage of the Ministry of Culture and Art in Narożyn in the Kłodzko region, Wroclaw county.

Main Surveys & Excavations

Online collection of the ritual objects from the E. Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute is available on https://cbj.jhi.pl/documents/974907/0/ (accessed on 15.06.2021).

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, 1:135, 2:11-16.

Yaffa Levy; Keren Katzir; Dagmara Budzioch | 1994, 2020
Author of description
Yaffa Levy; Keren Katsir; Dagmara Budzioch | 1994, 2019, 2020
Architectural Drawings
Computer Reconstruction
Section Head
Language Editor
Negative/Photo. No.
The following information on this monument will be completed:
Unknown |