Esther Scroll (VII.2)
Italy, Venice (?)
Second half of the 17th century
Printed and hand-painted border Ink and gouache on parchment, 3 membranes, 19 text columns, 22, 23 lines per column 173 × 1545 mm (6.8 × 60.8 in.) Wooden roller, 235 mm (9.3 in.)
This lavishly decorated and illustrated megillah was embellished with a printed and hand-colored border and belongs to a group of scrolls that the scholar Mendel Metzger has characterized as Gaster I type (see also HUC scrolls number 7, 9, 10, 11). The first membrane of the scroll was trimmed into the funnel-like shape and therefore part of the opening decoration is lacking. The scroll opens with decorative foliage, flowers, and the images of the four animals mentioned in the tractate Pirkei Avot 5:23 (a deer, a leopard, an eagle and a lion). The upper and lower margins contain illustrations enclosed in polylobed frames, alternating with interlaced patterns. The text panels are separated by floral decoration with acanthus leaves. The scroll ends with decorative foliage, flowers and a blank cartouche. The dating of this group of Esther scrolls is based on two examples which contain the dates: 1666 (2002.01.0679, Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaïsme, Paris) and 1673 (BAR MS 405 Oriental, Biblioteca Academiei Române, Bucharest).