Italian Esther scroll, beautifully illuminated in colour.
Text divided into 11 parshiyot of 28 lines each, and a compartment dedicated to the
schematic drawing of the hanging of Haman’s 10 sons.
The decoration is composed of colourful ornamental borders on an ochre-yellow
background: upper border with intertwining green branches, lower border with a
white vine-stem and crowns, large flowers and medallions depicting the zodiac signs in
the columns that separate the compartments.
The Book of Esther is part of Ketuvim (Writings), the third section of the Hebrew
Bible. It tells the story of a Jewish girl named Esther who became queen of Persia and
thwarted a plan by Haman to commit genocide against her people. Also called The
Megillah, the book is the basis and an integral part of the Jewish celebration of Purim.
Its full text is read aloud twice during the celebration, in the evening and again the
following morning. Besides Song of Songs, it is the only book in the Bible that does not
explicitly mention God.
“Since the Talmudic period it has been customary to write the Book of Esther
on parchment in the form of a scroll, and the rules governing its production and
writing are basically the same as those for a traditional Torah scroll. It is not known
when and under what circumstances artistic embellishment of Esther scrolls
began. The earliest extant illuminated examples emanate from 16th-century Italy,
commissioned by well-to-do Italian Jews.” (Encyclopaedia Judaica)
Illuminated scroll on parchment, 3 spliced sheets, 25.5 x 202.7 cm. Hand-coloured decorations possibly later.
Some wear and loss of colour, small tears; repairs to the back of first sheet.
Stock ID: 91530