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Painted Esther Scroll (Northern Italy, 18th century)
Painted manuscript of the Book of Esther, rolled for use on the holiday of Purim. The Hebrew text, in Ashkenazi squared Hebrew script (without Masoretic punctuation), is set in 15-line sections throughout the manuscript.
The first thirteen sections (until Esther 4:1) are decorated with painted scenes illustrating the story narrated in the text. The remaining sections bear marks made in preparation for further decorations.
Illustrated scenes include: king Ahasuerus' banquet (Esther 1:3); queen Vashti's banquet (section 2; Esther 1:9); the king's ministers requesting the queen's presence at the king's banquet (section 3; Esther 10-12); the king and the seven princes of Persia and Media (section 4; Esther 1:14); the king's emissaries visiting young women (section 5; Esther 2:2); young women brought to the king's palace (section 6; Esther 2:3); the interiors of the royal palace and Hegai, keeper of the women (section 7; Esther 2:8); the encounter between Esther and the king (section 8; Esther 2:16); Bigthan and Teresh, the rebellious ministers (section 9; Esther 2:21); the king's servants warning Mordecai by the king's gate (section 10; Esther 3:3); Mordecai refuses to bow to Haman (section 11; Esther 3:5-6); the king's scribes (section 12; Esther 3:12); the king and Haman sit down to drink (section 13; Esther 3:15).