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Obj. ID: 35201  MOIJA Griselini Esther Scroll, Venice, 1740s

© Dagmara Budzioch, Photographer: Budzioch, Dagmara, 05.05.2015.

28 image(s)

MOIJA Griselini Esther Scroll | Unknown
Object Detail
Synagogue active dates
Reconstruction dates
Artist/ Maker
Griselini, Francesco (artist, engraver)
(1717, Venice–1787, Milan) began theological studies in Venice, but abandoned them in favor of history and science. He was active in many fields, including geography, cartography, agriculture, natural history, and economics; but he was also a writer, comic poet, traveler, journalist, botanist, and member of a Masonic lodge. One of his most important works is "Dizionario delle arte e de’ Mestieri", an encyclopedia on agriculture, mining, handicrafts, trades, and technology, which was issued in 17 volumes between 1768 and 1778. In 1764, he founded the agricultural periodical "Il Giornale d’Italia". His engravings adorn several editions of books printed in Venice between 1739 and 1755 (for his engravings see the Index). He also designed decorations for the sukkah.
Historical Origin
Unknown |
Unknown |
Griselini scrolls|

The family of Italian Esther scrolls from the 1740s produced in the mixed technique in which decorative border is printed and the Hebrew text of the Book of Esther is penned by a scribe. The lower-left corner of each sheet features a printed signature of Francesco Griselini (1717‒1787), the Italian engraver who designed the scheme. The decoration is based on the row of arcades under which individual columns of the Hebrew text of the Book of Esther are inscribed. On the arcades is placed a balustrade with oval medallions flanked by pairs of birds with their heads turned away; these sections are interspersed by flower-filled vases. Lower margins are filled with scenes illustrating the narrative of the Book of Esther, framed in rectangles that are separated by the columns’ bases. The scrolls in this family consist either of four or five sheets with four text panels each. The decorative scheme resembles the ornamentation of Gaster II scrolls.

Period Detail
Ink on parchment (printed decorations, handwritten text)
Material Stucture
Material Decoration
Material Bonding
Material Inscription
Material Additions
Material Cloth
Material Lining
Tesserae Arrangement
Construction material
The scroll: 270x2695 mm.
The length of the sheets in the scroll: 1) 670 mm, 2) 465 mm, 3) 460 mm, 4) 460 mm, 5) 640 mm.
Dimensions of the selected details in the scroll:
- the print: 260x470 mm;
- illustrations: 26x73 mm;
- an average letter: 3 mm (height);
- spaces between the text lines: 2 mm (height);
- letters in the opening words of the benedictions: 5 mm (height);
- semicursive letters in the benedictions panel: 1 mm (height).

Panel Measurements

The scroll (the text, print, and sheets) is very well preserved.

The third membrane is preserved in the worst condition.

The edges of the sheets are straight, the parchment is bright and clean. The sheets are stained - there are yellow discolorations but there is also a big stain of black ink.

Also, a piece added during the parchment restoration can be noticed - it features a different color and facture.

A part of the pattern is not printed and it was supplemented by hand.

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

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.

The final part of the scroll (ca. 165 mm wide) is blank.  

The scroll is mounted on a wooden carved roller.


The Book of Esther in Hebrew with the benedictions recited before and after the Megillah reading


The scroll is composed of 5 sheets containing 19 columns of the text (+ additional column with the benedictions) with 21 lines except for col. 16 which has 11 lines divided into two half-columns.

Each of the four sheets contains four text panels.

The text is inscribed in Hebrew square Italian script, in black ink, on the flesh side of the parchment membranes, which are rather thick and stiff. In addition, the side of the text and decorations is more matte and bright than the other side that is shinier and darker, and hair traces are well visible on it. However, the membranes vary.

The flags of the ל letters appearing in the first lines of the columns are elongated and fill the blank space in the arch.

The letter ח (Es. 1:6) is highlighted by its size (it is enlarged and bolded) and form (it is decorated with a single taga and the letter's legs end with small hooks). Similarly, the letter ת (Es. 9:29) is enlarged and bolded.

In col. 16, all the names (listed on the right) are written in the column of the same width, therefore numerous letters must be elongated. The column contains also enlarged and diminished letters.

The text columns are inscribed within the arches; the space just below the arch is blank, therefore, all the lines are of equal length.

The ruling is invisible; the lines could have originally been drawn with pencil and erased.

The membranes are stitched together.

Benedictions: all four formulas are inscribed in the last text panel in the scroll. Every one of them opens with an enlarged letter ב with a single tag.

The benediction panel contains short inscriptions in a semicursive script announcing the subsequent parts of the Megillah reading. The Tetragrammaton is replaced by two letters י with a long sloped dash and a short flag. The ligature of א and ל is used.

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
The scroll from the IJAM collection is an exception because the engraver's signatures are erased. All other copies featuring the same border are signed in the lower-left corners of the sheets.


Scribal Notes
Decoration Program
Summary and Remarks

Printed borders on all sheets are framed by black wide lines that were drawn by hand possibly with the same ink that was used for copying the text.

Scrolls decorated with this pattern all consist of either four or five sheets.

Some illustrations bear Arabic numerals.

The Griselini scrolls are a family of Italian Esther scrolls from the 1740s, in which the decorative and illustrative border is printed and the Hebrew text of the Book of Esther is handwritten by a scribe. The lower-left corner of each sheet features the printed signature of Francesco Griselini (1717‒1787), the Italian engraver who designed the scheme. The decoration features a row of arcades under which individual columns of the Hebrew text of the Book of Esther are written. The scrolls in this family 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 "Pseudo-Griselini 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 "Pseudo-Griselini" and "Gaster II" scrolls and in the Index).

Main Surveys & Excavations

Bibliography concerning the manuscript from the IJAM collection is unknown but other scrolls decorated with the same border are described in:

Mendel Metzger, The Earliest Engraved Italian Megilloth, "Bulletin of the John Rylands Library", 48/2 (1966), esp. 406–432.

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).

Dagmara Budzioch, The Decorated Megillot Esther in the Moses Gaster Hebrew Manuscript Collection at the John Rylands Library: a comparative analysis with reference to Eighteenth-century Italian scrolls, "Journal of Semitic Studies. Supplementary Series", in print.

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).

Short Name
Full Name
Dagmara Budzioch | 2020
Dagmara Budzioch | 2020
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