An Illustrated Scroll of Esther from the Collection of the Jewish Historical Institute as an Example of the Gaster I Megilloth

Dagmara Budzioch

An Illustrated Scroll of Esther from the Collection of the Jewish Historical Institute as an Example of the Gaster I Megilloth

The illustrated Esther’s scroll C-331 from JHI collections is one of about twenty preserved manuscripts falling into the category described as Gaster I. They can now be found in various collections in Europe, Israel and the United States. These scrolls were produced in Italy (most likely in Venice) in the latter half of the 17th century (arguments to support the hypothesis are presented in the text). They stand out with the richly ornamented borders (illustrations embracing no fewer than 36 episodes based on the narrative from Esther’s Book, pleatings, a floral pattern, an expansive decoration with which the scroll begins and ends), which were impressed on parchment from copperplate engraving. The copies were painted by hand with multi-color tempera, and the Hebrew text of Esther’s Book was written by a scribe. In addition to the embellishments, the article presents the handwriting and the alignment of the text in the scroll, with a brief history of megilloth Esther ornamentation presented in the foreword.

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