The scroll opens with a sophisticated composition resembling a Torah ark based on double columns that enframes all three blessings recited before the Megillah reading. In similar arches decorated with birds and animals, floral motifs, and flowers, the Hebrew text of the Book of Esther is written. The details between the arches are drawn against a black background. The columns of text are separated with entwined columns and various floral patterns. In the eleventh column of the text are incorporated two narrative scenes from the Book of Esther - the hanging of Haman (Es. 7:10) and his ten sons (Es. 9:6-10). The scroll ends with the only rectangular panel that includes the benediction recited after the Megillah reading and the liturgical poem אשר הניא Asher Heni that start with large and decorative words. Just below, in a separate frame, are depicted five standing figures of the Esther story heroes. All upper and lower margins are decorated with foliate and floral ornaments. Some decorative details in the scroll are painted with tempera, while others are only pen-and-ink drawings.
At least two other manuscripts by the same artist-scribe are extant.
It seems that in the upper part of the opening decoration, on the right-hand side, some traces of Hebrew letters can be noticed.
The words ברוך could be originally painted in gold; currently, they are green.
The artist filled all available space on the membranes.
The right margin of the first membrane is blank (it is ca. 90 mm wide).
A similar scroll is stored at the Klau Library, the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati (scroll no. 55 (V.8)) available on https://huc.on.worldcat.org/oclc/1015672768 (accessed on 28.06.2021).
| C-324 (former number C-254/1)
C | Columns
O | Ornamentation: | Architectural frame
A | Animals and Beasts
L | Lion | Lion rampant
O | Ornamentation: | Foliate and floral ornaments
O | Ornamentation: | Foliate and floral ornaments | Flower
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Esther story protagonists
O | Ornamentation: | Initial word, decorative
O | Ornamentation: | Ornament
O | Ornamentation: | Main text framed
The length of the membranes in the scroll: 1) ca. 625 mm, 2) ca. 545 mm, 3) 595 mm, 4) ca. 590 mm, 5) ca. 490 mm, 6) 65 mm.
Dimensions of the selected details in the scroll:
- upper margins: 27 mm (height);
- lower margins: 23 mm (height);
- opening decoration: 280x168 mm;
- final decoration with five figures: 100x112 mm;
- decorations between the text panels: ca. 25 mm (width);
- gallows on which Haman is hanged is ca. 155 high and the gallows on which his sons are hanged is ca. 65 mm high;
- an average text panel (inside): 162 x ca. 222 mm;
- an average letter: 4 mm;
- letters in col. 11: 10 mm;
- letter in words ברוך: ca. 17 mm;
- spaces between the lines: 4 mm.
In general, the manuscript is well preserved, although there are three holes in the first membrane.
The text is preserved in good condition, except for the places where the membranes are folded (e.g. on sheet no. 3).
In some places, the paints are flaked off.
Book of Esther, benedictions recited before and after the Megillah reading, and a liturgical poem for Purim
The scroll is formed of 6 sheets containing opening benedictions + 14 columns of the text with 27-29 lines each, except for col. 11 which includes 11 lines divided into two half-columns + final benediction and liturgical poem Asher Heni.
The number of columns per sheet: no. 1 - benedictions + 2, nos. 2-4 - 3, no. 5 - 2 + benediction and liturgical poem, no. 6 is blank.
The text is written in Hebrew square script with tagin in black ink on the flesh side of parchment sheets that are rather grey and suede. The membranes differ in thickness but they all are rather thin and not stiff. Both sides of the membranes are similar but the side of the text and decorations is brighter than the blank side.
The letters ח (Es. 1:6) and ת (Es. 9:29) are enlarged; they are 6 mm high. Other enlarged and diminished letters are included in col. 11.
Every column starts with the word המלך which are written just under the arches.
In cols. 10 and 14 there are numerous elongated letters.
The ruling is made with a hardpoint and is well visible on the blank side of the membranes.
The pricking is visible on the membranes' edges.
The sheets in the scroll are stitched together but in the upper and lower parts of the membranes, additional reinforcement was used. They are parchment strips glued to the membranes and colored with the same paints, so they are barely noticeable.
The Hebrew colophon of the artist-scribe is placed at the end of the scroll. It says: סליק המגילה אני הצייר נתן בן הרר יוסף סופר סתם בקק זלאטווי "This is the end of the megillah. I am the painter - Nathan the son of rav and master Josef, sofer stam [an expert, religious scribe] in the holy community of Zolochiv (Złoczów).
Online collection of the ritual objects from the E. Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute is available on https://cbj.jhi.pl/documents/597197/0/ (accessed on 28.06.2021).
Iwona Brzewska, Magdalena Sieramska, Katalog, rzemiosło artystyczne, [in:] Muzeum Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego. Zbiory artystyczne, Warszawa 1995, 33–34 and fig. 57.
Kalendarz żydowski 1986–1987, Warsaw 1986, p. 32 and pages in color after pp. 144, 160.
Kultura ocalona. Katalog wystawy poświęconej kulturze Żydów polskich, eds. Barbara Askanas, Bogna Piotrowska, Tomasz Fedorowicz, Warsaw 1983, p. 3, object no. 3.
Izabella Rejduch-Samkowa, Jan Samek, Dawna sztuka żydowska w Polsce, Warsaw 2002, 55–57.
Marian Fuks, Zygmunt Hoffman, Maurycy Horn, Żydzi polscy. Dzieje i kultura, Warsaw 1982, 103 (a reproduction of the fragment).
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, 1:190-206.