Digital Library > Gallery > The Cycle of the Year > Purim > Illustrated Megillat Esther

Illustrated Megillat Esther

 Illustrated Megillat Esther (Book of Esther) – Ferrara (Italy) 1616

​The National Library has in its collection several illustrated Megillot Esther, but the most unique one of all is also the most ancient, and perhaps one of the earliest Megillot Esther in the world, dating from the year 1616. The Megilla was written and illustrated by Moshe ben Avraham Peshkarol in the city of Ferrara, Italy. The scroll is over four meters long and 27 cm tall. It was ordered for a man named Mordechai ben Eliyahu Halevy, who lived in Brescello, a small town near Parma. We are privy to this biographical information because it is written in the Megilla itself.

​The Megilla is quite colorfully decorated, and is divided into sections by blue-green columns — between these columns is a vase from which a branch adorned with flowers emerges. Each column rests on a rectangular base on which there is an illustration of an animal, bird, or plant. Above each page: a protome of a man in full attire. Above the columns of text there are illustrations of situations depicted in the Megilla, demonstrating the Italian, rather than the Persian, materialistic culture (attire, food, dwelling) of the time. 


For the full catalogue listing of the Megilla, click here.

For pictures of the Megilla from the Digital Library, clic​k here.