Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Scroll case

Scroll case

  • Place of origin:

    Italian (probably, made)

  • Date:

    1780-1820 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pierced and engraved silver

  • Museum number:

    28&A-1896

  • Gallery location:

    Sacred Silver & Stained Glass, Room 83, The Whiteley Galleries, case 8A []

A megillah case is used in Jewish worship. It contains a scroll with the book of Esther, which is read in the synagogue during the Jewish festival of Purim. (This festival celebrates the rescue of the Jews of Persia in the 5th century BC.) During the reading, members of the congregation can follow the text with their own personal Esther scroll.
This example was believed to be Dutch when it entered the collections of the South Kensington Museum in 1896, but in fact the pierced silverwork suggests it is a late-eighteenth or early-nineteenth century case from Ancona or Lugo (on the North East coast of Italy). The pierced designs on the silver case would originally have echoed the cut-work characteristic of the ornament produced by the Jewish artisans there, and which would have decorated the upper and lower borders of the parchment scroll. The case is further linked to Ancona by the name of its owner, Yosef Haim al-Constantin, which is inscribed on the side. The al-Constantini family can be traced to Aragon in the fourteenth century, but by the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries they had moved to Ancona, where members acted as rabbis and community leaders, and where they adopted an Italian form of their name (Constantini).

Physical description

A silver megillah case consisting of a cylinder of pierced and engraved ornament with a panel inscribed in Hebrew. A spindle runs down the centre of the cylinder and terminates in a knob which is in the form of an open flower; this allows the scroll to be rolled and unrolled. The scroll is missing. A separate but matching piece of openwork, with ring attached, is provided for fixing to the end of the scroll. The inscription reads (this is the megillah of the scholar (?) Yosef Haim al-Constantin, may God protect and preserve him).

Place of Origin

Italian (probably, made)

Date

1780-1820 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Pierced and engraved silver

Marks and inscriptions

Engraved in Hebrew with 'This is the Megillah of the scholar [?] Yosef Haim al-Constantin, may God protect and preserve him'

Dimensions

Height: 11.3 cm of lid, Diameter: 4.4 cm, Width: 2.3 cm of lid, Depth: 1.8 cm of lid

Historical context note

Jewish Worship
Judaism is the oldest religion in the world to worship the one God.World Jewry has three main groups: Sephardic, Askenazic and Mizrahi (the Jews who never left the Middle East). All are bound together by a common history and their adherence to the Torah (the first five books of the Hebrew Bible) and the Talmud (a compendium of rabbinic law and lore).
Jewish religious traditions and rituals centre on the home, the community and the synagogue. Central to Judaism is the observance of the Sabbath. This is a holy day, set apart from the rest of the working week. It begins one hour before sunset on Friday and ends on Saturday evening when three stars can be seen in the night sky.
The Jewish year revolves around a number of festivals, such as Passover. These originated in ancient times and embody multiple layers of meaning, from agricultural festivals to historical events.

Descriptive line

Judaica. Silver, Dutch, 17th century

Megillah. Scroll case. Judaica. 17th century, silver, Netherlands.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Keen, Michael. Jewish Ritual Art at the Victoria and Albert Museum. London: HMSO, 1991, 54 p., ill. ISBN 0112904491
Sotheby's New York, Important Judaica, 19 December 2012, lot 128: 'An important decorated Esther Scroll in a matching contemporary case [Ancona: ca. 1800]'.
Available online [accessed 30/11/2015]:
http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/2012/judaica-n08922/lot.128.lotnum.html

Labels and date

Megillah Case
A megillah case is used in Jewish worship. It contains a scroll with the book of Esther, which is read in the synagogue during the Jewish festival of Purim. (This festival commemorates the deliverance of the Jews in the Persian Empire from massacre in the 5th century BC.)

During the reading, members of the congregation can follow the text with their own personal Esther scroll. These are sometimes supplied with a fashionable case, like this 17th-century Dutch example engraved with the name of the owner, Yosef Haim al-Constantin.

Case: The Netherlands, 1600-1700
Silver
Museum nos. 28&A-1896 [22/11/2005]

Materials

Silver

Techniques

Engraving

Categories

Judaism; Religion; Metalwork

Collection

Metalwork Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.