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45. Seal of Astrue of Canoniga

*S’. ASTRUC. DE. CANONIGA.

Dimensions: 26 mm. Matrix.

Location: Comtadin-Carpentras Museum, Collection of Mgr. d’Inguimbert, Bishop of Carpentras, No. 13.

Bibliography: Loeb, 1886; Gross, 1897; Bedos, 1980b, No. 3 (5).

The Inguimbertine Library at Carpentras, a city in the papal enclave of the Comtat Venaissin (see No. 40), has an early Jewish seal, believed to be a signet ring. Round in form, the circular inscription runs between solid lines. In the field is a six-pointed star, the classic Shield of David; in the center of the star itself is a Hebrew shin, probably standing for Shaddai.

There is no known place named Canoniga.* Tradition locates it as a suburb of Venice. Brigitte Bedos suggests that Canoniga is the Provençal spelling of Canonica, the Latin name for the French locality of La Canourgue, in the Department of Lozère. This notion makes sense, as the area once was a part of Languedoc, the center of southern French Jewry. However, the Astruc family—of great importance in the Jewries of southern France and eastern Spain—did not seem to have any members (or at least had no members of sufficient importance to be noted) who lived as far northeast as Lozère.

The seal of Astruc of Canoniga is without doubt genuine, but the Hebrew shin within the star appears to indicate that it was made after the fifteenth century. Although Brigitte Bedos rightly points out that the general seal style is that of the thirteenth century, the mystical and cabbalistic use of this letter for the name of the Almighty is not seen on any other medieval seal. The post-medieval provenance is even more likely if it were originally a signet ring, since signets were more common in a later period among the bourgeoise.

It may be that the shin has another meaning; it may stand either for the first letter of the seal owner’s Hebrew name or may be some symbolic reference not clear to us. On this premise, then the seal may indeed come from medieval times.


*Two scholars have studied the Jews of Carpentras, Isidor Loeb (1886) and Henri Gross (1897, s.v. “Carpentras”). Neither mentions an Astruc de Canoniga in their lists of all known family names.

*Two scholars have studied the Jews of Carpentras, Isidor Loeb (1886) and Henri Gross (1897, s.v. “Carpentras”). Neither mentions an Astruc de Canoniga in their lists of all known family names.

There is no known place named Canoniga.* Tradition locates it as a suburb of Venice. Brigitte Bedos suggests that Canoniga is the Provençal spelling of Canonica, the Latin name for the French locality of La Canourgue, in the Department of Lozère. This notion makes sense, as the area once was a part of Languedoc, the center of southern French Jewry. However, the Astruc family—of great importance in the Jewries of southern France and eastern Spain—did not seem to have any members (or at least had no members of sufficient importance to be noted) who lived as far northeast as Lozère.

Additional Information

ISBN
9780814344859
MARC Record
OCLC
1055142843
Pages
110-110
Launched on MUSE
2018-10-02
Open Access
Yes
Creative Commons
CC-BY-NC-SA
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