Jen Taylor Friedman (hatam_soferet) wrote,
Jen Taylor Friedman

Look what's on sale at Sotheby's!

A Highly Important Decorated Esther Scroll, Venice: 1654 Scribe: Estellina daughter of Menahem

Estellina daughter of Menachem!

*Jen waves at Estellina across the centuries*

If you've got a very good imagination, you might be able to picture how happy I was when this Sotheby's catalogue arrived in my email (thanks, Lipman and PR). You don't need any imagination at all to understand why, though.

The other deeply pleasing dimension of this particular scroll is that there are no known complete decorated Esther scrolls predating this one. There are fragments, but no complete ones.

Here's a section from the catalogue text (page 272):
The present scroll is extraordinary on several accounts, first and foremost in its pride of place as the earliest complete decorated megillah. As attested to by the dated colophon at the conclusion of the text, the scroll was completed on Tuesday, 3 Adar, 5324 [= 15 February, 1564] in the city of Venice. The colophon however reveals an even more remarkable feature the individual who wrote this scroll was a woman, Estellina daughter of the Katzin Menahem, son of the Rosh Katzin Jekutiel. Estellina was clearly a member of a wealthy and eminent family indicated not only by the titles accorded to her father and grandfather (both Katzin and Rosh Katzin denote distinguished official positions within the Jewish community) but also by the presence of a coat of arms painted onto the scroll directly after her colophon. Prominently displayed in an elaborate gold frame festooned with flowing ribbons and occupying an entire column, the coat of arms consists of a gold crown above another image that is difficult to decipher, as the paint has been abraded.

As well as being "[t]he earliest complete decorated Esther Scroll," the cataloge describes it as "[t]he only known Esther Scroll to have been written by a woman in the pre-modern era."

I'm writing to Sotheby's to ask if I might be allowed to see it in person, even though there's no chance of my buying it ($600,000 to $800,000, says the catalogue. Hollow laughter). Given that I'm among the first of her successors, and all that.

I wonder who taught Estellina halakha. I wonder if her mother was cross with her for writing a Megillah instead of doing ladylike things such as embroidery. I wonder if she read from it.

I'm so glad to have met her!

Originally posted at Dreamwidth. Re-enabling comments over here because dreamwidth fail at LJ integration. Pity, because they have principles.
Tags: purim, sofrot

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