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Zengifur arabice cinabrium non uzufur ut quidam, zeniafarum scripsit Stephanus.


cinabrium | zinabrium BC p
uzufur AC ep | uzifur B f | usufur j
zeniafarum | Zeniefarum rubricated in f | zunafarũ B


Zengifur is Arabic for Latin cinabrium {"cinnabar"}, not uzufur as some say, and Stephanus writes zeniafarum.


Wehr (1976): ﺯﻧﺠﻔﺮ /zunğufr, zinğafr/ "cinnabar". Siggel (1950: 81): ﺯﻧﺠﻔﺮ /zunğufr/ Zinnober, auch Qu.-Oxyd. {i.e. "cinnabar, mercury(II) oxide"}.

Ruska (1895-6: 26, annotation 83) derives “Zunğufr” from Persian شنگرف /šngrf/; a lemma vocalised in Steingass (1892: 763) /šangarf/ with a variant form (1892: 703) /sinğarf/.
N.b. Goltz (1972: 286) states that according to Ruska زنجفر /zunğufr/ - in Ibn al-Baiṭār: /šunğufr/ - is loaned from Persian /šänkūf/, which is a printing error for /šangarf/.

Stephanus in his Breviarium writes: kinauaris ... zeuafarum [[1]].
Nb. Greek κιννάβαρι /kinnábari/, Latinised cinnabari / cinnabaris means “cinnabar”.

The word uzufur, uzifur, usifur for "cinnabar" is restricted mainly to alchemist texts. It is an unexplained variant for zunğufr, zinğafr, appearing in translations from Arabic, but it is difficult to see it derived from the Arabic word zunğufr. Attempts to derive it from ﻋﺼﻔﺮ /ʕuṣfur/ {"safflower"} Carthamnus tinctorius (Comp.), cf. Siggel (1950: 52), are hampered by the fact that cinnabar, the ore of mercury, is characterised by its vermilion colour and is consequently often used to denote any red substance, while safflower represents yellow. Simon obviously dislikes the variant uzufur, perhaps because it bears little resemblance to any possible Arabic source. Cf. Goltz (1972: 286ff).

Goltz (1972) also points out that during the Graeco-Roman Antiquity and the Middle Ages the metal ore of mercury but also a group of vermillion plant resins were known by the same name i.e. cinnabari(s), which caused long-standing confusion. However, in the Arabic alchemist/ chemical literature زنجفر /znğfr/ referred to the metallic substance, unless of course antique authors were quoted whose confusion was thereby imported on occasion.

WilfGunther (talk) 10:58, 15 January 2016 (GMT)

See also: Cinabar, Sedhe, Uzufar

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