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  • Alastair Millar
    I thought that that was a subject line that would grab everyone s attention... I have a translation problem that is really pulling the wool over my eyes - in
    Message 1 of 3 , Nov 18, 1999
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      I thought that that was a subject line that would grab everyone's
      attention...


      I have a translation problem that is really "pulling the wool over my
      eyes" - in the early Middle Ages (10th century), the common form of exchange
      in Prague, as recorded by Arab travellers of the time, was not coins, but
      squares of finely woven material, called "��te�ky" ("satecky" w/o
      diacriticals) in Czech. Does anyone know of an equivalent English word that
      I can use for these? (Otherwise, I shall have to use a descriptive phrase,
      which seems to be a very inelegant solution).

      Thank you!

      Alastair <alastair@...>
    • Melvyn Clarke
      Hello Alastair, ... I thought the pyramid-scheme spammers had hit the list already :) ... Well funnily enough, I had this same problem only a few weeks ago
      Message 2 of 3 , Nov 18, 1999
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        Hello Alastair,
        >
        >I thought that that was a subject line that would grab everyone's
        >attention...

        I thought the pyramid-scheme spammers had hit the list already :)
        >
        >
        >I have a translation problem that is really "pulling the wool over my
        >eyes" - in the early Middle Ages (10th century), the common form of
        >exchange
        >in Prague, as recorded by Arab travellers of the time, was not coins, but
        >squares of finely woven material, called "��te�ky" ("satecky" w/o
        >diacriticals) in Czech. Does anyone know of an equivalent English word that
        >I can use for these? (Otherwise, I shall have to use a descriptive phrase,
        >which seems to be a very inelegant solution).



        Well funnily enough, I had this same problem only a few weeks ago which does
        not necessarily mean that I can help you. I asked around about whether this
        platno (hence "platit", I am told) was used for any other purpose (e.g.
        blowing noses, wiping parts of anatomy, tucking under chin etc - in which
        case I would have used some more specific word like kerchief, napkin or
        whatever) but I was left with the impression that such were not the primary
        uses.

        Nor could I find anything in scripophily or "history of money" resources to
        suggest that a specialist term exists.

        So my reasoning was something like yours. If it was cloth then just call it
        cloth, and let the anticipated readership determine what degree of
        explanation you give.

        I did find the following at
        http://books.philly.com/chapter/nonfict/richie_a01.asp

        An even more detailed record is found in one of the most extraordinary
        travel diaries
        in the history of central Europe, the eye-witness account
        written in 970 by the
        Jewish merchant Ibrahim
        ibn Ja'quab. Ibrahim was born in Muslim Spain and travelled
        north as an envoy for
        the caliph of
        Cordoba. Like so many masterpieces of the ancient world the
        diary was saved by
        an Arab scholar, in
        this case the eleventh-century Abu Obaid Abdallah al Bekri,
        who found it so
        impressive that he
        reproduced it in his Book of Ways and Lands. Ibrahim ibn
        Ja'quab's journey took
        him along the
        established trade routes through Prague and probably to
        Cracow, and then
        towards Mecklenburg,
        where it is thought he described the settlement at Schwerin.
        He was struck by the
        large, secure Slavic
        fortresses with their high wooden walls strengthened by
        mounds of packed earth
        and protected by
        rivers so that one could only reach them on `a wooden bridge
        over the water.
        Evidence shows that
        even the smaller fortresses at Potsdam, Treptow and
        Blankenburg were built on
        islands and were not
        merely defensive but housed carpenters, weavers, tanners,
        furriers and other
        tradesmen. Ibrahim ibn
        Ja'quab noted that the Slavs `are especially energetic in
        agriculture'. The
        fortresses also provided a safe
        haven for the priestly hierarchy who kept the shrines for
        Dazbag, the god of the
        sun, Jarovit, the god of
        spring, and the fertility gods Rod and Rozanicy in their
        midst. Ibrahim also
        recognized that the Slavs
        were skilled merchants and that `their trade on land reaches
        to the Ruthenians
        and to Constantinople'.
        The fortresses of Spandau-Burgwall and Kopenick had grown
        powerful from their
        position on an
        important medieval east -- west trade route which extended
        from the Rhine and
        Flanders through
        Magdeburg, on to Brennabor, over the Berlin area to Leubus
        and Posen and on to
        Kiev. Muslims and
        Jews were the most influential traders, regularly travelling
        from China to Africa and
        up the Caspian
        Sea and the Volga to the Baltic; trade with the Latin west
        was maintained primarily
        by Jewish
        merchants who, according to the early ninth-century
        geographer Ibn
        Khurradadhbeh, were highly
        sophisticated and could `speak Arabic, Persian, Greek,
        Frankish, Spanish and
        Slavonic. They travel
        from west to east and from east to west, by land and sea.'
        The Jews were not the
        only merchants to
        visit the fortresses, however, and although the Slavs
        themselves used cloth as
        currency around 1,000
        foreign coins of Arabian, German, English, Scandinavian,
        Polish, Bohemian and
        Hungarian origin have
        been found there.
        ////////////
        BTW I have heard Ibrahim variously described as an Arabic-Jew or a Moorish
        Jew.

        Plati?

        Melvyn
      • Alastair Millar
        Melvyn - Thanks for yours... Yes, platno meaning piece of cloth/fabric perhaps being related to platidlo or medium of exchange . The medieval pieces
        Message 3 of 3 , Nov 19, 1999
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          Melvyn -

          Thanks for yours...

          Yes, 'platno' meaning 'piece of cloth/fabric' perhaps being related to
          'platidlo' or 'medium of exchange'. The medieval pieces were apparently used
          for nothing else - and from the archaeology seem to have been high quality,
          finely woven items that were presumably created especially for the function
          of payment. Interestingly, metal coins were used at the time for trade with
          foreign merchants - 1 silver denarius was worth a stable 10 woven 'satecky'
          through the 9th and 10th centuries.

          >http://books.philly.com/chapter/nonfict/richie_a01.asp

          I will have a look at this this evening - again, thanks.

          The article that I am translating talks a great deal about Ibrahim ibn
          Ya'qub, who is the first written source to mention these pieces of cloth.
          Anyone know of an English translation of his writings? (I know these have
          survived only fragmentarily, but I assume that they have been brought
          together somewhere). I ask because the translator must already have worked
          around this problem, and I'd like to know
          how!!!!

          Didn't the Chinese have something similar at one time?

          Ibrahim was born to a Jewish family in Tortosa in Andalusia - I have a fifty
          line biography of him in this catalogue, so if anyone wants a copy
          (off-list!!) let me know. (Current format Word97, convertible to anything
          else).

          Re coins:
          [quote]
          Archaeological witness to this interest is offered by the numerous Baltic
          finds of silver coins in circulation from the mints of the Caliphates and
          the Sassanids; until the beginning of the 9th century the products of
          western Islamic mints dominated, and were then gradually eased out by the
          Asian mints of the Abbasids. The second half of the tenth century is then
          characterised by coins of the Central Asian Samanids, and the period around
          the year 1000 by a flood of Buwayhid (Buyid) and Ziyarid coins.
          [unquote]

          Some names for the glossary:
          Samanids = samanove
          Sassanids = sasanove
          Buwayhids (a.k.a. Buyids) = bujove
          Ziyarids = zijarove

          I'll keep digging - if I find a good translation, I'll let you know.

          Alastair
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