Letter: T-S 13J7.30

Letter T-S 13J7.30


Input date

In PGP since 2018


Letter in Ladino from the merchant Avraham Mayo to his father, probably from Alexandria to Fustat/Cairo, dealing with numerous business transactions and the arrival of a Venetian ship. Avraham reports that he received his father's letter stating that he had selected the saffron and sold two out of three fardos (sacks) of גֿידארי (possibly an Indian textile known as "gudari"; possibly the Turkish headgear "çidari"; the diacritical mark over the ג indicates that it is not simply a hard "g"). Avraham and his partner Sulaymān will purchase as much גֿידארי as they can find and send it. "Here, he and I are like brothers. Just so, you and Khuḍayyir should be like brothers. Always help him." Avraham then mentions five sacks of raisins. He then lists the goods he has sent to his father: (1) fifteen panes of lead marked "Mayo Kavakado"; (2) five espuertas (baskets) of lead oxide (מרדסינך, probably from the Persian "murda-sang"; thanks to Professor Daniel Sheffield for this identification), which bear the seal of Sulaymān; (3) and 107 "kedives" (?) of fine Istanbul iron, which he has sent in the company of Khuḍayyir. The lead cost 3 ducats, amounting to 32 Venetian ducats and 33 muayyadis. The lead oxide cost 100 ducats, amounting to 845 [. . .], and the iron cost 182 ducats, amounting to [...]. Avraham paid 37 muayyadis for the גֿירמה (from context: the warehouse? See verso, l. 21). He then reports how much it cost him to transport each good to Rashid, whence they were presumably transported to Fustat/Cairo. Avraham paid 29.5 Venetian ducats for the five sacks of raisins—it seems this is equivalent to 60 muayyadis per qintal—and he is pleased to have gotten the best raisins from the ship at such a good price. He paid 100 Venetian ducats and 100 coronas for the "mersa" (? מירסה) and asks his father to write quickly [if he wants any], because mersa is in high demand. He also purchased some more raisins, and five qintals of cheese (? קיסה) for 1 corona per qintal. Avraham asks his father to send him some of the capital, because he needs to put it to use "between now and Sukkot" during the mercantile season, otherwise "large groups like those that come from Venice" [will outcompete us? the sentence seems incomplete], and it is better for his father to live on his earnings rather than on the business capital ("el cavdal"). Avraham further reports that the [...] of the city died yesterday after two days of suffering from the plague. 'The young son of the teacher (al-muʿallim) is wounded. The Muslims ("moros") are fighting once again ("de nuevo se hieren").' Avraham then gives instructions for what Bunyal should buy on his behalf ("not lentils, but rather a piece of רוודי מתלוק"). Avraham asks his father to inform Yaʿaqov b. Ḥabīb that Moshe b. Hīnī arrived and told Avraham that he had abandoned the gum (la goma) in Rashid, because he could not find cameldrivers and because it was too heavy to transport any other way. He left the gum there in trust ("encomendado"), with enough money for cameldrivers and other expenses for it to be transported onward. "When it arrives, we will be diligent to sell it, do not have any preoccupation." Avraham must have taken a break, because the next thing he writes is, "The gum has arrived." He concludes the letter with kisses for his mother and for Yizhaq and for Nissim. In a first postscript, he asks his father to go and examine Khuḍayyir's sacks of raisins and see if any bear the sign of the anchor and [...], and to write to Avraham with this information. In the second postscript, he asks his father to send good, big, "Qaitbey" [...]s (coins minted under Qaitbey?) with either Ibn Ḥabīb or with Bunyal, whoever comes, and that he is to leave them for Avraham in the גֿירמאס. But if neither of them plan to come, then the goods should be sent with Shemuel Kohen, "and write to him that they belong to Raḥamim." The last line of the letter mentions a cryptic good (linen? firewood? לינו די סאפאר) and says "do not write his response" (?), perhaps because it is a sensitive matter. Date: Plausibly written in 1513/14 CE, based on (1) a reference to Yaʿaqov b. Ḥabīb, who may be identical with the famous author of the ʿAyn Yaʿaqov who died in 1516 CE, and (2) a reference to a plague victim, and (3) a known recurrence of the bubonic plague in Egypt in 1513/14. On the other hand, there is at least one other Yaʿaqov b. Ḥabīb in Geniza documents from the early 18th century (see AIU VII.D.104 and AIU VII.E.30). Then again, Moss. VII,16.2 is a fragment of a Hebrew document from 1544/5 CE centered on an Avraham, a Raḥamim, and the raisin trade. Information largely from Grace Masback's edition and translation in her Junior Paper, "Avraham Mayo’s Egypt in the Age of Exploration." ASE.

T-S 13J7.30 1r



T-S 13J7.30 1v

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