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Click to Expand/Collapse OptionEtymArab
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marṭabān مَرْطَبان , var. martabān , baṭramān , →barṭamān , pl. ‑āt
ID 817 • Sw – • BP ... • APD ... • Aut SG
MRṬB
n.
(syr. ) jar made of glass or pottery with a lid for preserving fruit, pickles, marmelade, etc.; (eg. ) = →barṭamān – WehrCowan1979.
After Martaban (Mottama), now a village, in the Middle Ages a city in Southern Burma from which a kind of precious vessel with lid was imported. From the fact that in Pers, into which the word passed from Ar, martabān means ‘a vessel of the finest porcelain which poison cannot penetrate’ (Steingass) it can be inferred that the reason for the vessel’s fame and market value was the high quality of the material which made the vessel walls impermeable/impenetrable.
According to some (e.g., Kluge, Vennemann), Ar marṭabān is the etymon of European words for marzipan/marchpane, the semantic link being little boxes called marzapane in which the delicious sweet was packed in Venice for shipping. The name of the receptable then was transferred to its favourite contents.
1881 Dozy ‘(dans les dict. pers. aussi martabān ) [...] vase de porcelaine dans lequel on serre des médicaments, des confitures, des épices ou de l’encre’, taken from al-Bustānī’s Muḥīṭ al-muḥīṭ , where it is arranged under the root RṬB and classified as a ʕāmmiyya word.
1887 Wahrmund ‘glasiertes Gefäß’.
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According to Vennemann2006 (and Kluge2002), the ‘receptacle made of porcelain for keeping medicine, confiture, spices, or ink’ was named after Martaban (Mottama), now a village, in the Middle Ages a city in Southern Burma, where this kind of jars were produced and from where they were imported, among other regions, into the Arab World, obviously on account of the impermeability of this type of high quality pottery.
▪ Unrelated to √RṬB or √RTB .
It seems not unlikely that marṭabān‑ is the etymon of the Eur words for marzipan/marchpane (Kluge2002, Vennemann2006). From Ar, the word seems to have passed into Italian by way of trading, and by the turn of C13 to C14, marzapane appears in Venetia as a term for a little box that was used as a container of marchpane, esp. for export (cf. also Sicilian marzapani and Calabrian marzapane ‘wooden box, band-box’). In C14 the term for the box was transferred to its contents, and with the latter then made its way into the rest of Europe. In Ge, e.g., the word is attested from eC16 (EtDUD ). – For another etymology of marzipan / marchpane see →waṯaba .
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