Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Quill and Qulmus

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For ABC Wednesday I found not one but two words beginnings with Q:
quill and the Hebrew word qulmus, which means quill.

This nice little video at the Israel Museum showed how a sofer stam , a scribe for holy writing, cuts a turkey or goose feather in a special way, turning it into a quill.
He then dips the qulmus in specially prepared black ink and "hangs" the Hebrew letters from the sirtut lines he has etched into the parchment. (Look closely and see his guide-lines in the photo.)

See more about this process at Wiki and Torah Tots.

Even more ancient than the feather quill is the reed quill.
Our Talmudic sages taught that to write a Torah scroll one must not use a quill from a cedar tree that stands tall and arrogant, rather a quill from a reed, which is soft, flexible, and humble.

The Hebrew word qulmus (also transliterated kulmus) come from the ancient Greek kalamos (and Latin calamus), meaning reed or reed pen.

The basis for this meaning is the story of the Greek mythological figure Kalamos, son of Maiandros (god of the Maeander river).
Two youths, Kalamos and Karpos, were competing in a swimming contest in this river when Karpos drowned.
In his grief, Kalamos allowed himself to drown also.
He was then transformed into a water reed whose rustling in the wind was interpreted as a sigh of lamentation.
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On a happier note, have fun listening to Hora Ha-Kulmus, Dance of the Quill, for reed instruments!
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UPDATE  See Bibi Netanyahu pen a word of Torah in the scroll-writing project in the synagogue atop Masada! 

12 comments:

NixBlog said...

Very interesting post, Dina.I think Hebrew script looks very beautiful and learning that it is written with a quill makes it all that more special.

Robert Geiss said...

The writing indeed looks like a piece of art. Thank you for teaching me something that I did not know before. Please have a good Wednesday.

Carver said...

Great Q words and post. It always amazes me how people can write the beautiful letters like that. Carver, ABC Wed. Team

Birdman said...

Q, I would think is tough. For a writer... great find.

Meryl said...

What a great post of "Q" I loved the facts and the clip. Have a great week.

Roger Owen Green said...

sad tale

ROG, ABC Wednesday team

chubskulit said...

These are two new words I learned today.

Come and take my Dementia Quiz
Rose, ABC Wednesday Team

cieldequimper said...

I wish I could write so beautifully!

Scrappy Grams said...

learning on your blog is so fulfilling to me!

ChrisJ said...

Fascinating information!

Pietro said...

A charming writing indeed.

Reader Wil said...

Hi Dina! I listened to the Dance of the Quill. It's beautiful! Thank you for sharing . This post is interesting too as always. Have a good day tomorrow.