publisher colophon

56. Seal of Master Joshua Co[n]stantini

[on the left]

*R Yehosha (?)Kustantini

*Master Joshua Co[n]stantini

[on the right]

*Reb Iosva

*Rab Joshua

Dimensions: 22 mm.

Location: unknown.

Bibliography: Schlumberger and Blanchet, 1914, No. 677.

This seal impression, which we know only from a poor photograph, starts with a star, the Hebrew legend running around to the left and the Latin legend running around to the right, between solid lines. The device is a shield, with two branches—perhaps palm branches—filling the space between the shield and the legends. Within the shield are what look like two cauldrons, one above the other, with horizontal bands. The meaning of these unusual symbols is not known.

Since this seal came from a French collection, it would normally be considered French, probably from the Midi because the form of the shield shown on the seal is rounded at the bottom, a style which Adrien de Longpérier identifies as peculiar to seals of the thirteenth century from Languedoc, Provence, and Piedmont. However, Schlumberger and Blanchet specifically state that it comes from Spain. It should be kept in mind that the sharp division we now make between northern Spain and southern France did not exist in the medieval period and that certain small lands in or close to the Pyrenees owed allegiance at various times to principalities now part of France or Spain.

The seal is unusual in form in that the owner refers to himself as master or rab, the letter (resti) preceding his first name. The normal inscription was an honorific title referring to the father rather than the son.

Schlumberger and Blanchet report this seal as belonging to Rabbi Joshua Constantini, rather than Costantini, which does not conform to the Hebrew shown, apparently because they assume that the seal belongs to a person from Constantinople or whose family came from that city; and in Hebrew, though the name of Constantinople is spelled several ways, it often excludes the first n, and is Kustantini. The Spanish family whose name is closest to this is the Alconstantini from Saragossa, one of the most aristocratic Sephardic families, which had great political and financial influence in the thirteenth century. If the seal is from this family (among whose famous members there is no one with the first name of Joshua), it is among the most important Jewish medieval seals simply as a material testimonial to past Spanish Jewish glories.* Yitzhak Baer (1966, 1:399, n. 53) notes a signature in Hebrew of a Bahye Alconstantini on a document of 1238, which reads run together, as we see twice in the seal of Todros Halevi (No. 50), which of course would be Al. After the Spanish expulsion the family emigrated to Ancona in Italy, where several members achieved local prominence, and dropped the Al, calling themselves Constantini.


*A similar seal is that of Joseph Ibn Ferrizuel, known to the Christian as Cidellus, doctor and intimate of Alfonso VI of Castile. Other than a brief historical reference, we know nothing more of the seal. (Eliyahu Ashtor, The Jew of Moslem Spain, Phil. 1984), 3:211.

*A similar seal is that of Joseph Ibn Ferrizuel, known to the Christian as Cidellus, doctor and intimate of Alfonso VI of Castile. Other than a brief historical reference, we know nothing more of the seal. (Eliyahu Ashtor, The Jew of Moslem Spain, Phil. 1984), 3:211.

Schlumberger and Blanchet report this seal as belonging to Rabbi Joshua Constantini, rather than Costantini, which does not conform to the Hebrew shown, apparently because they assume that the seal belongs to a person from Constantinople or whose family came from that city; and in Hebrew, though the name of Constantinople is spelled several ways, it often excludes the first n, and is Kustantini. The Spanish family whose name is closest to this is the Alconstantini from Saragossa, one of the most aristocratic Sephardic families, which had great political and financial influence in the thirteenth century. If the seal is from this family (among whose famous members there is no one with the first name of Joshua), it is among the most important Jewish medieval seals simply as a material testimonial to past Spanish Jewish glories.* Yitzhak Baer (1966, 1:399, n. 53) notes a signature in Hebrew of a Bahye Alconstantini on a document of 1238, which reads run together, as we see twice in the seal of Todros Halevi (No. 50), which of course would be Al. After the Spanish expulsion the family emigrated to Ancona in Italy, where several members achieved local prominence, and dropped the Al, calling themselves Constantini.

Additional Information

ISBN
9780814344859
MARC Record
OCLC
1055142843
Pages
132-132
Launched on MUSE
2018-10-02
Open Access
Yes
Creative Commons
CC-BY-NC-SA
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