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Zaibat arabice argentum vivum sed apud Alhaui zauch dicitur et apud Alchimicos azoch.


Zaibat ABC | Zaibart f | Zahibat ms. e | Zabiac or Zabiat p | Zaibas j {< *Zaibac with 'c' misread as 't' see Commentary below.}
apud | aput p | om. f
Alhaui AC ep | alhani B f {'u' misread as 'n'} | halam j {'ui' misread as 'm'}
zauch B p | zahuch f | zaruch ms. e | zauth AC {'c' misread as 't'} | zuch j
et apud Alchimicos azoch om. j
Alchimicos AC p | alkimicos B | alkimikos ms. e | alchimistas f


Zaibat is Arabic for Latin argentum vivum {"mercury"}, but in Alhaui it is called zauch and the alchimists call it azoch.


The forms mentioned by Simon are zaibat, zauch and azoch.

< *Zaibac stands for classical Arabic ﺯﻳﺑﻳﻖ /zībaq/, cf. Wehr (1976): ﺯﺋﺑﻖ /ziʔbaq/ "quicksilver, mercury". Siggel (1950: 81): ﺯﻳﺒﻖ /zībaq/ Qu. {i.e. "quicksilver"};

zauch etc. :
cf. Siggel (1950: 81): ﺯﺍﺅﻭﻖ /zāʔūq/, ﺯﺍﻭﻭﻖ /zāwūq/ Qu. {i.e. "quicksilver, mercury"};

< article ﺍﻝ /al-/ + ﺯﻭﻕ /zawq/ or dialectal /zōq/ = ﺍﻟﺰﻭﻕ /az-zauq, az-zōq/.

As often Simon's vocalisations differ from those of classical Arabic, but a closer vocalisation is found in Vocabulista, a glossary/dictionary from the Spain of the end of XII or the beginning of XIII centuries; here the Latin translation offered is only argentum, i.e. "silver" rather than argentum vivum: ed. Schiaparelli (1871: 114): ﺯﻳﺒﻖ /zaibaq/, ﺯﻭﻕ /zawq/ Argentum [[1]]; (1871: 251): ARGENTUM ﺯﻳﺒﻖ /zaibaq/, ﺯﻭﻕ /zawq/ [[[2]].

Cf. Corriente (1989: 134): s.v. *Z'BQ …>zaybaq< azogue {i.e. "quicksilver"}; (1989: 142): s.v. *ZWQ (II) … >zawq< azogue … . Cf. also Corriente (1997: 237) s.v. *(ZWQ) "quicksilver".

Cf. Dozy (1877-81: I.616): ﺯﻳﺒﻖ /zaibaq/ pour ﺯﺋﺒﻖ /ziʔbaq/ vif-argent {i.e. "quicksilver"} with Vocabulista as one of his sources; (1877-81: I.614): ﺯﻭﻕ /zawq/ vif-argent with Vocabulista as his source.

Karbstein mentions both forms with a vocalisation identical to Simon's, thereby showing that as late as the early 17th c. these words were still in use in the Morisco community in Northern Spain: (2002: 121, 10) Quecksilber {i.e. "quicksilver"}: ﺯﻳﺒﻖ ﻭﺯﻭﻕ ﻋﺠﻤﻴﺔ ﺍﺭﺟﺎﻧﺖ ﺑﺒﻪ /zaibaq wa-zawqi … ʕağamīya arğanti bibuh/ - "/zaibaq/ and /zawqi/ are in Romance /arğanti bibuh/ {cf. Catalan: argentviu IPA [ərʒen'biu]}.

The fact that the form ﺯﻭﻕ /zawq, zōq/ is shown to be prominent in Spain – cf. Spanish azogue < /az-zōq/ {"quicksilver"} - tallies with more general observations made by different scholars:

  • e.g. Karbstein (2002) also mentions that ﺯﻭﻕ /zawq/ is used in Maimonides as the Maghribic word for ﺯﻳﺑﻳﻖ /zībaq/;
  • or: Goltz (1972: 269-71), who states that the form /zāwūq/ is the usual one in the Western part of the Arabic speaking world and that it was this form that became prominent in the medieval Latin alchemist literature, a fact to which Simon alludes in this entry. The variant forms Goltz mentions are azoc, azot, azoch and azoth. This word is used especially in the alchemists' quicksilver-sulphur theory, cf. Gibb (1954: 113), s.v. AL-KĪMIYĀ [[3]].

The use of zauch in Rhases' ﻛﺘﺎﺏ ﺍلحاوي /kitāb al-ḥāwiy/ still needs to be confirmed.

WilfGunther 11:36, 4 October 2014 (BST)

See also: Zibatum

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