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Click to Expand/Collapse OptionEtymArab
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muqarnaṣ مُقرْنص , var. muqarnas , pl. ‑āt
ID 689 • Sw – • BP – • APD ... • Aut SG
n., adj.
type of corbel employed as a decorative device in traditional Islamic and Persian architecture, architectural ornamentation reminiscent of stalactites – .
According to Heinrichs1997, muqarnaṣ/s most likely is the PP of a denominative verb *qarnaṣ/s‑ , derived from Ar qurnās ‘mountain-nose, mountain-jut, overhanging cliff’. Other etymologies, such as the most common one—from Grk korōnís ‘crook-beaked, curved’—or from Syr mqarnas ‘hammered; grooved’, seem to be less plausible.
The word is not attested in medieval Arabic dictionaries as an element of architecture, but is mentioned as such in the travels of Ibn Ǧubayr (lC12). Given the appearance of the muqarnaṣ in architecture in eC11 (almost simultaneously in Iran and NAfrica), this seems to be one of the earliest attestations with the specialised meaning.
lC12 wa-dāḫila hāḏihi ’l-qubbati ṣanʕatun min al-qarnaṣati ’l-ǧiṣṣiyyati rāqiyatu ’l-ḥusn (Ibn Ǧubayr, Riḥla , 101), muqarnaṣāni qad zuyyinā bi-rasmin yataḍammanu ʔanwāʕan min al-ʔaṣbiġati ʔilā mā yaṭūlu waṣfuh (195), etc.
Medieval Ar dictionaries “present [for the root qrns/ṣ ] a bewildering jumble of meanings with no common denominator” (Heinrichs1997) and no relation to architecture. Cf. Kazimirski1860 [practically identical with Freytag1835]: qarnas 1) ‘muer (se dit d’un oiseau de proie)’. 2) ‘Courir avec rapidité pour fuir, et avoir alors les plumes du collier en désordre (se dit d’un coq au retour d’und combat)’. 3) ‘Avoir le chaperon sur les yeux, avoir les yeux bandés (se dit d’un oiseau de proie avant qu’on le lance sur la proie)’. qirnis = qirnās 2 . – qirnās 1) ‘rocher saillant et formant une fointe de terre’. 2) ‘Qui a les côtés du ventre très-saillants (chamelle)’. [3) Freytag1835: ‘Locus ubi deciduum gossipium in fila ducitur’. Kam. ] – qarānīsᵘ pl. ‘Les premiers flots du torrent qui arrivent charriant des débris et des fétus’. – muqarnas ‘Qui forme des retraits, qui est en étagère, en escalier (toit, etc.)’. [Freytag1835: ‘Scalae formam habens tectum . Kam. (Quod in quibusdam Kamusi exemplaribus sayf gladius pro saqf legitur, vitiosum est. ]’ // qarnaṣ‑ 1) = qarnas‑2 . 2) ‘Se procurer, acheter un faucon pour la chasse’. 3) ‘Être acheté pour la chasse (se dit d’un faucon)’. – qurnūṣ pl. qarānīṣᵘ 1) ‘Couture à l’empeigne de la bottine’. 2) ‘La partie antérieure, le devant d’une bottine’. – Of these, Lane vii (1885) has only qarnaṣa al-bāzī [acc] ‘he acquired for himself, permanently, for the chase, the hawk, or falcon (Ṣ, Ḳ, TA), by tying it up in order that its feathers might drop off (TA)’; [intrans.] q. al-bāzī [nom] ‘the hawk, or falcon, became a permanent acquisition’; bāz muqarnaṣ ‘a hawk, or falcon, permanently acquired for the chase (Ṣ, TA), by the means mentioned under qarnaṣ‑’. – Dozy gives also qurnās (aram. qôrnēs ) ‘marteau’. – muqarnas ‘sorte de faucon’. – qaranṣaẗ (esp.) ‘pointe de fer longue et aiguë qu’on met aux colliers des gros chiens’
According to Heinrichs1997 muqarnas/ṣ most likely is the PP of a denominative vb. *qarnas‑ from qurnās (or qirnās ) ‘mountain-nose (?)’, attested already in preIsl poetry (‘mountain-jut, overhanging cliff’); qarnas‑ would then have meant like ‘to furnish a structure with projecting overhanging elements’. (The etymology of qurnās itself, suggested by Y.M. Nawabi 1971, from an Iranian *gar-nās ‘mountain nose’, is discarded by Heinrichs as both wrong and unnecessary, given already its pre-Islamic occurrence in this sense.) – Less plausible etymologies (according to Heinrichs): < Syr mqarnas ‘hammered; grooved’ (qurnāsā ‘hammer’, qarnes ‘to hammer’); “unless one could prove that the use of the term originated in metalwork and was then transferred to architecture this etymology is unlikely”. – Little plausible [as, e.g., in EI2 , “muḳarnaṣ” (Behrens-Abouseif1991)]: < Grk korōnís ‘crook-beaked, curved’; no architectural meaning in Roman and Byzantine Grk; but “at some point in the history of the Greek language” the word korōnís also acquired (by extension?) the meaning of ‘cornice’. Heinrichs rejects this etymology mainly because, “if the muqarnas was developed in northeastern Iran, as Oleg Grabar suggests [...], the influence of Greek artists is less likely” (1997: 179).
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