Cinnamologus
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Source: Museum Meermanno - MMW, 10 B 25 facsimile Copyright 2004 Museum Meermanno Manuscript description Museum Meermanno, MMW, 10 B 25, Folio 31v


 

Cinnamologus

Latin name: Cinnamulgus

Other names: Cinomolgus

An Arabian bird that makes its nest from the fruits of the cinnamon tree

 

 
General Attributes

The cinnamalogus is a bird that lives in Arabia. It builds its nest using the fruit of the cinnamon tree, which men value greatly. The men who want to cinnamon cannot climb the tree to reach the nest, because the nest is too high and the tree branches too delicate, so they throw lead balls to knock down the cinnamon. Cinnamon obtained from the nest of this bird is the most valuable of all.


Sources (chronological order)

Herodotus [5th century BCE] (History, book 3): Still more wonderful is the mode in which they collect the cinnamon. Where the wood grows, and what country produces it, they cannot tell - only some, following probability, relate that it comes from the country in which Bacchus was brought up. Great birds, they say, bring the sticks which we Greeks, taking the word from the Phoenicians, call cinnamon, and carry them up into the air to make their nests. These are fastened with a sort of mud to a sheer face of rock, where no foot of man is able to climb. So the Arabians, to get the cinnamon, use the following artifice. They cut all the oxen and asses and beasts of burthen that die in their land into large pieces, which they carry with them into those regions, and place near the nests: then they withdraw to a distance, and the old birds, swooping down, seize the pieces of meat and fly with them up to their nests; which, not being able to support the weight, break off and fall to the ground. Hereupon the Arabians return and collect the cinnamon, which is afterwards carried from Arabia into other countries. (The History of Herodotus (London, 1858/1997) Rawlinson translation)

Pliny the Elder [1st century CE] (Natural History, Book 10, 50): There is a bird of Arabia called the cinnamolgus which makes its nest out of cinnamon twigs; the people of that country knock the birds down with lead-weighted arrows, and use them for trade.

Isidore of Seville [7th century CE] (Etymologies, Book 12, 7:23): The cinnamologus is a bird from Arabia which gets its name from building nests from cinnamon bushes. The nests are built high up on fragile branches so men cannot climb up to reach them. Since merchants favor this cinnamon more than any other kind and pay high prices for it, men knock down the nests with leaded arrows.

Bartholomaeus Anglicus [13th century CE] (De proprietatibus rerum, book 17): Of Cannel and of Cassia men told fables in old time, that it is found in birds' nests, and specially in the Phoenix' nest. And may not be found, but what falleth by its own weight, or is smitten down with lead arrows. But these men do feign, to make things dear and of great price; but as the sooth meaneth, cannel groweth among the Trogodites in the little Ethiopia, and cometh by long space of the sea in ships to the haven of Gelenites. No man hath leave to gather thereof tofore the sun-rising, nor after the sun going down. And when it is gathered, the priest by measure dealeth the branches and taketh thereof a part; and so by space of time, merchants buy that other deal. (Mediaeval Lore from Bartholomew Anglicus (London, 1893/1905) Steele edition of 1905)


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