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Obj. ID: 36155  Rylands Library Moshe ben Avraham Pescarolo Esther Scroll, Ferrara, 1618

© Copyright of the University of Manchester, Photographer: Unknown, 2016.

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Rylands Library Moshe ben Avraham Pescarolo Esther Scroll | Unknown
Object Detail
Synagogue active dates
Reconstruction dates
Historical Origin
Unknown |
Unknown |
Period Detail
Ink and paints on parchment + wood
Material Stucture
Material Decoration
Material Bonding
Material Inscription
Material Additions
Material Cloth
Material Lining
Tesserae Arrangement
Construction material
The scroll: 285 x ca. 4850 mm.
Dimensions of the selected details in the scroll:
- decorations in the lower margins: ca. 50 mm;
- an average text panel: 128x108 mm;
- illustration: 68x110 mm;
- an average letter: 3 mm;
- spaces between the lines: 7 mm;
The roller: ca. 440 mm.
Panel Measurements
Very good; only some damages in the sheets are visible. Both, the text and decorations are well preserved.
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

One of three currently known lavishly illustrated scrolls produced by Moshe ben Avraham Pescarolo. The upper margin of each membrane is filled with figurative scenes depicting the narrative of the Book of Esther supplemented with midrashic tales. Each figurative scene is painted within a rectangular frame; between each scene is either a figure of a nude woman or an urn with a flower. Every membrane contains three frames including a nude, two vases, and another nude. The columns of text are relatively small in comparison with the decorations. Panels with floral ornament separate the columns of text just as they separate each membrane of the scroll. The lower margins contain a belt decorated with floral patterns, within which griffins and birds flank frames in which an animal or a bird is depicted. There is one frame per membrane, placed at its center.

The scroll is accompanied by two separate undecorated benediction sheets.

The scroll is mounted on a wooden roller.


The Book of Esther in Hebrew accompanied by two separate sheets of benedictions


The scroll comprises 10 sheets containing 29 columns of text with 13 lines each, except for col. 24 which has 11 lines divided into two parts.

Every membrane contains 3 columns of text, except for the last membrane which has only 2 columns.

The text is inscribed in the Hebrew square Italian-Sephardi script with very high tagin, in brown-black ink, on parchment sheets that are of medium thicknes, though they are not stiff. The side with the text and decoration is brighter. The blank side is very smooth.

The ruling is invisible.

The membranes in the scroll are stitched.

Benedictions sheet no. 1: 

The text is inscribed in the Hebrew square Italian-Sephardi script.

Every benediction starts with an enlarged word, written separately from the rest of the formula.

The Tetragrammaton is replaced by an abbreviation of two letters י .

On the right edge, pricking is visible.

The final benediction is incomplete.

Benedictions sheet no. 2:

The text is inscribed in the Hebrew square Italian-Sephardi script.

Every benediction starts with an enlarged word, written separately from the rest of the formula.

The Tetragrammaton is replaced by an abbreviation of two letters י, a leg of the letter א, and a flag of the letter ל.

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

In the lower margin, below col. 30, there is the Hebrew note in cursive script by the maker of the scroll:

על פי הגורל יצאה לחלק בני בנימין מקאסטיל \ בולונייסי יום פורים משנת שין עין חית לפק \ מידי היתה זאת צעיר וקט במעשיו משה בן הגאון \ כמהר'ר אברהם פשקרול זלה'ה נכתב פה פיראר' \ יום הששי פרשת ומשה לא ידע כי קרן עור פניו בדברו \ אתו ה' יזכני להתהיל ולהשלים מגילות אחרות רבות

"Chance made it become the property of my son Benjamin, of Castelbolognese, on the Day of Purim 5378. By my hand it is, Moses, the young and humble in his works, son of the Gaon, the highly honoured Rabbi Abraham Pescarol [?], may he be remembered for the world to come; written here in Ferrara the sixth day [of the week] when the text is: And Moses knew not that the skin of his face shone, because he had spoken with him'. May God grant I begin and complete many other megilloth." (translation by M. Metzger, The John Rylands Megillah..., 170 - see "Bibliography").

Scribal Notes
Decoration Program
Summary and Remarks

The artist's family had immigrated from Germany to Italy one generation before Moshe ben Avraham, and some of its members were book printers.

In scholarly literature, different spellings of the surname can be found; the most popular are Pescarol and Pescarolo. Other variants include: Pascarolo, Pascarol ("פַּשְׂקַרוֹל"), Piscarol, Pescarolo, Poscarel, Poscarela, Pescaroli, Pescaraolo. See M. Mortara, Indice alfabetico dei rabbini e scrittori Israeliti, Padova 1886, p. 49.

Some details in the scroll were painted with gold paint, but at present, many of them are rather brown.

Main Surveys & Excavations

Images and a short description of the scroll available at http://enriqueta.man.ac.uk (accessed on 27.08.2020). 

This bibliography lists publications on all three currently known megillot Esther made by Moshe ben Avraham Pescarolo:

Florence Mansano Soulam, בסוד מגילותיו של הסופר-המאייר משה בן אברהם פשקרול: ניתוח מגילות פשקרול בתוך הקונטקסט ההיסטורי של איטליה בראשית המאה השבע-עשרה [Unveiling the Secrets of the Scrolls of Moshe Pescarolo Scribe and Artist. An Analysis of Pescarolo’s Scrolls in the Historical Context of Italy in the Early 17th Century], doctoral dissertation: Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2006.

Mendel Metzger, The John Rylands Megillah and Some Other Illustrated Megilloth of the 15th to 17th Centuries, "Bulletin of the John Rylands Library" 1962 (45), 148–184, esp. 166–171.

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 megillot Ester w XVII i XVIII wieku. Zarys problematyki], Warsaw 2019, 1:89-92.

Dagmara Budzioch, Midrashic Tales in Seventeenth and Eighteenth-century Illustrated Esther Scrolls, "Kwartalnik Historii Żydów” 2017, no 3 (263), 405–422, esp. 408, 410, 411, 414, 415.

Dagmara Budzioch, Italian Origins of the Decorated Scrolls of Esther, "Kwartalnik Historii Żydów" 2016, no 1 (257), 35–49, esp.. 40–43.

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