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Ymysg y rhestrau geiriau a luniodd yr ysgrifydd John Jones o Gellilyfdy pan oedd yng ngharchar y Fflyd yn y 1630au, ceir y rhestr ddiddorol hon o chwaraeon a gemau. Dyma’r 49fed allan o 130 rhestr ganddo ac fe’i lluniwyd tua diwedd 1632. Mae’n gymysg o gemau a chwaraeon plant ac oedolion ac, fel sy’n arferol ganddo, mae’n dilyn trefn thematig yn hytrach na threfn yr wyddor.

Ar ôl cyfres o eiriau cyffredinol, mae’n cychwyn gyda gemau plant (9–14). Mae chwarae chwyrligwgan (12) ‘troi top’ a chwarae mig ymguddied (13) ‘chwarae cuddio’ yn ddigon cyfarwydd. Prin yw’r cyfeiriadau at chwarae buarth baban y tu allan i’r rhestr hon, ond disgrifir y buarth baban yn y geiriadur (GPC) fel rhyw fath o ffon danllyd a droellid i ddifyrru plentyn. Peryglus! Mae chwarae dwylo gwynion (10) yn ddirgelwch, ond ceir disgrifiad da o chwarae minddu manddell (11) gan y geiriadurwr Thomas Wiliems o Drefriw wrth iddo ddiffinio’r Lladin digitis micare yn ei eiriadur (Peniarth 228, 1604–7): ‘pan fo un yn codi’i fysedd a’r llall, yn troi ymaith oddi wrtho, a ddyfala pesawl un a gyfyd ef … yng Nghymru Chwarae Minddu Manddell’. Gêm ddyfalu faint o fysedd felly. Methais ddod o hyd i esboniad am chwarae cat i’r wern (144), ond mae nifer o gemau plant yn yn cynnwys yr elfen cat neu gath.


Mae’r chwech nesaf (15–20) yn gemau taro. Mae’n bosibl mai fersiwn ar gnapan yw horling pen ffon (15), gêm o daro pêl bren galed â ffon. Wrth drafod y gêm hurling yng Nghernyw meddai George Owen o Henllys (1552–1613): This plaie is vsed in Wales, and the balle is called Knappan … and our ancient cozens the Cornishmen haue the selfe same exercise among them yet obserued, which they call hurlinge. Posibilrwydd arall yw mai rhyw fath o hoci yw horling pen ffon, tebyg i’r hurling traddodiadol a chwaraeir yn Iwerddon.


Mae’r siŵr mai ffurf ar coetan yw coeta (16), sef ‘quoits’, gêm o daflu cylch dros bèg, a dyna hefyd yw pedoli’r gaseg (20), ond gan ddefnyddio pedolau ceffyl yn lle’r cylchoedd arferol. Roedd caelys (17) yn dipyn o ddirgelwch i mi nes dod o hyd i gyfeiriad yng nghyfrol Vernon Bartlett, The Past of Pastimes, at gêm o’r enw kayles (o’r Ffrangeg quilles), a chwaraeid ‘many centuries ago, with the players throwing a stick at the “kittle pins”, the tallest of which was the “king pin”.’ Dyna darddiad y gair kingpin felly! Roedd nawtwll (18) yn gêm arall yn seiliedig ar gael pêl i darged (OED nineholes ‘Any of various games of skill involving nine target holes, spots, etc.’) ac mae’n siŵr mai’r un fath o gêm yw sitenna (19), er na lwyddais i ddod o hyd i unrhyw wybodaeth amdani.


Nesaf cawn gyfres o gemau yn ymwneud â tharo pêl â bat, llaw, neu droed: chwarae pêl ddwylo (21) a chwarae pêl draed (22) – ac mae’n ddiddorol mai traed, nid troed, a geir yn y cyfeiriadau cynharaf at y gêm hon. Wedyn chwarae tenys (23) a chwarae palet (24) sy’n debygol o fod yn fersiynau ar real tennis neu royal tennis, rhagflaenydd ein tennis modern ni, yna chwarae’r humog (25) sydd eto’n gêm o daro pêl, ond y tro hwn â human, sef bat fforchog, fel y disgrifiodd John Jones ef yn 1618: Human: fforch i chware â phêl. Mae’n bosibl mai rhyw fath o hoci yw bwrw’r gamog (26), ond ni ellir bod yn sicr.


Gemau neu chwaraeon a ddisgrifir yn draddodiadol fel y Pedair Camp ar Hugain a geir nesaf, sef gemau yr oedd disgwyl i bob uchelwr gwerth ei halen fod wedi eu meistroli, yn enwedig yn y bymthegfed ganrif: saethu gyda bwa saeth neu gyda dryll (28), rhedeg (29), neidio (30), bwrw maen a throsol (31, 32) ac ati, ac yna gemau ymladd gydag arfau (36–42), gan gynnwys y cleddau a bwcled (38), lle byddai dau ymladdwr yn ymladd â’i gilydd gan ddal tarian fach gron, y bwcled, yn y llaw chwith a chleddyf byr yn y llaw dde.


Daw’r rhestr i ben gyda gemau bwrdd (43–8), gan gynnwys y gemau traddodiadol gwyddbwyll (46), tawlbwrdd (47), a ffristial chwegwyr (48) sydd hefyd yn cael eu rhestru ymysg y Pedair Camp ar Hugain. Mae’n debyg mai rhyw fath o gêm o symud gwerin ar glawr yw ffristial – ac mae’n siŵr mai fersiwn gyda chwech o werin yw hon. Daeth chwarae disiau (43) a chardiau (45) yn arbennig o boblogaidd tua diwedd yr unfed ganrif ar bymtheg, ac yn wir daeth gamblo yn dipyn o broblem gymdeithasol. Roedd gan John Jones ddiddordeb arbennig mewn gemau cardiau – ac mewn llyfr nodiadau a luniodd pan oedd yn yr ysgol ramadeg, ceir disgrifiadau o sawl gêm gardiau ganddo, a chyfarwyddiadau ar sut i gael y gorau (yn seicolegol, yn aml!) ar eich gwrthwynebydd!

Nodiadau

  • Daw’r ddelwedd o’r gêm gwyddbwyll uchod o wynebddalen y gyfrol J. Barbier, The Famous Game of Chesse-play (London, 1652)

Am ragor o wybodaeth am rai o’r gemau a grybwyllir yma, gweler

  • D. Parry-Jones, Welsh Children’s Games and Pastimes (Denbigh, 1964)

  • Vernon Bartlett, The Past of Pastimes (London, 1969)

Ar y Pedair Camp ar Hugain, gweler gwefan ‘Cymru Guto’: http://www.gutorglyn.net/gutoswales/cy/diddordebau.php

  • Ymhellach ar restrau geiriau John Jones, gweler y postiadau blaenorol.


Games and Pastimes in the 17th Century

Among the lists of Welsh words that the scribe John Jones of Gellilyfdy compiled whilst incarcerated in the Fleet Prison in the 1630s is this interesting list of games and pastimes. This is his 49th list of 130, and was written towards the end of 1632. It contains a mixture of children’s and adult’s games and, as was his usual practice, it follows a thematic rather than an alphabetic order.

After opening with a few general terms, he starts with children’s games (9–14). Chwarae chwyrligwgan (12) ‘to spin a top’ and chwarae mig ymguddied (13) ‘to play hide-and-seek’ are familiar enough. The references to chwarae buarth baban outside this list are scarce, but buarth baban is defined in the dictionary (GPC) as some sort of blazing stick that was twirled to entertain a small child. Sounds dangerous! Chwarae dwylo gwynion (10), literally ‘to play white hands’, is a mystery, but the lexicographer Thomas Williems of Trefriw has a good description of Chwarae minddu manddell (11) in his entry under digitis micare in his Latin–Welsh dictionary (Peniarth 228, 1604–7): ‘when one person raises some fingers and the other, facing away from him, tries to guess how many fingers he has raised … in Wales Chwarae Minddu Manddell’. So it’s a game of guessing how many fingers. I failed to find an explanation of chwarae cat i’r wern (144), but many children’s games contain the element cat or cath.


The next six (15–20) are games involving the striking of a ball. Horling pen ffon (15), may be a variant of cnapan, a game of striking a hard wooden ball with a stick. Commenting on the game of hurling in Cornwall, George Owen of Henllys (1552–1613) said: This plaie is vsed in Wales, and the balle is called Knappan … and our ancient cozens the Cornishmen haue the selfe same exercise among them yet obserued, which they call hurlinge. Another possibility is that horling pen ffon is a type of hockey, similar to the traditional hurling played in Ireland.


Coeta (16) is probably a form of coetan or ‘quoits’, a game involving throwing a ring over a peg, and the same is also true of pedoli’r gaseg ‘shoeing the mare’ (20), but using horseshoes instead of the usual rings. Caelys (17) was a bit of a mystery to me until I found a reference in Vernon Bartlett’s volume, The Past of Pastimes, to a game called kayles (from the French quilles), played ‘many centuries ago, with the players throwing a stick at the “kittle pins”, the tallest of which was the “king pin”.’ So that is the origin of the word kingpin! Nawtwll (18) was another game based on getting a ball to a target (OED nineholes ‘Any other games of skill involving nine target holes, spots, etc.’) and sitenna (19) is probably the same type of game, although I failed to find any information about it.


Next we have a series of games involving the hitting of a ball with a bat, hand, or foot: chwarae pêl ddwylo ‘handball’ (21) and chwarae pêl draed ‘football’ (22) – and it’s interesting that the earliest references to this game are to traed ‘feet’, not troed ‘foot’. Then chwarae tenys (23) and chwarae palet (24) are likely to be versions of real tennis or royal tennis, the precursor of lawn tennis. Chwarae’r humog (25) is again a ball-striking game, but this time with a human, a forked bat, as John Jones described it in 1618: ‘Human: a fork to play with a ball’. Bwrw’r gamog (26) may be some kind of hockey, but we cannot be certain.


Games or sports traditionally described as the Pedair Camp ar Hugain ‘The Twenty-four Feats’ come next, games that every nobleman worth his salt was expected to have mastered, especially in fifteenth-century Wales: saethu ‘shooting’ with a bow and arrow or a gun (28), rhedeg ‘running’ (29), neidio ‘jumping’ (30), bwrw maen and bwrw trosol ‘pitching a stone or iron bar’ (31, 32) etc., followed by fighting games with weapons (36–42), including cleddau a bwcled ‘sword and buckler’ (38), where two opponents would fight each other holding a small round shield, the buckler, in the left hand and a short sword in the right hand.


The list ends with board games (43–8), including the traditional games of gwyddbwyll ‘chess’ (46), tawlbwrdd ‘backgammon’ (47), and ffristial chwegwyr (48) which are also listed among the ‘Pedair Camp ar Hugain’. Ffristial is probably some kind of game involving moving pieces or pawns on a board – and this is probably a six-pawn version. Chwarae disiau ‘dice’ (43) and cardiau ‘cards’ (45) became especially popular towards the end of the 16th century, and indeed gambling became quite a problem in society. John Jones was particularly interested in card games – and in a notebook he wrote when he was in grammar school, there are descriptions of several games, and instructions on how (often psychologically!) to get the better of your opponent!

Notes

  • The image of a chess game above comes from the title-page of J. Barbier’s The Famous Game of Chesse-play (London, 1652)

For further information on some of the games mentioned here, see:

  • D. Parry-Jones, Welsh Children’s Games and Pastimes (Denbigh, 1964)

  • Vernon Bartlett, The Past of Pastimes (London, 1969)

For the Twenty Four Feats, see ‘Guto’s Wales’:

http://www.gutorglyn.net/gutoswales/en/diddordebau.php

  • Further on John Jones’s wordlists, see previous posts.

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  • Ann Parry Owen

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Ymysg y rhestrau geiriau a luniodd yr ysgrifwr John Jones o Gellilyfdy yng ngharchar y Fflyd rhwng 1631 a 1633, y mae sawl rhestr sy’n ymwneud â gwaith yr amaethwr gan gynnwys y da byw yn ei ystyr letaf, sef anifeiliaid y fferm. Rwyf wedi bod yn ar un o’r rhestrau hyn yr wythnos hon: Y bugail a’i berthynas (‘y bugail defaid a’r hyn sy’n berthnasol iddo’), ac mae dau air yn arbennig wedi achosi tipyn o grafu pen i mi, sef ystofi defaid ac ystofiad (ac ystofiad yn amlwg yn cyfeirio at y weithred o ystofi defaid).

Daw’r geiriau hyn ar ddechrau’r rhestr: enwir y bugail (a’r lluosog bugeiliaid a bugelydd), ei grefft yw bugeila, ac wrth ei waith bydd yn corlannu defaid mewn corddlan / corlan (dwy ffurf ar yr un gair). Rhwng y geiriau corddlan a corlannu defaid y daw ystofi defaid ac ystofiad, a chan mai geirfa wedi ei threfnu’n thematig yn ôl ystyr yw hon, mae’n rhaid cadw’r lleoliad mewn cof wrth ddyfalu’r ystyr.

Mae tair berf ystofi yn cael eu rhestru yng Ngeiriadur Prifysgol Cymru (GPC), a’r tair yn ddigon hen a pharchus:

  • ystofi1: ‘trefnu edafedd yn ystof’ (term o fyd y gwehydd), a defnydd ffigurol ohoni yng nghyswllt rhoi trefn ar bethau eraill, fel tŷ (dechrau’r 17g. ymlaen)

  • ystofi2: ‘cyflwyno’, gair o’r Saesneg stow, fel yn bestow (1672 ymlaen)

  • ystofi3: ‘dofi, darostwng’, yn cynnwys y ferf dofi. (16g. ymlaen)

Gallwn ddiystyru ystofi2. Ystyriais ddefnydd ffigurol o ystofi1 yn ofalus: y syniad o roi trefn ar ddefaid sydd â thuedd naturiol ynddynt i fynd ar chwâl, gan eu dychmygu’n ymlwybro i mewn i’r gorlan, yn drefnus fesul un fel mae edafedd y gwehydd wedi eu gosodiad ar y gwŷdd. A’r un syniad yn fras o ran ystofi3, a’r defaid yn ymddwyn yn ‘ddof’ wrth ‘ddarostwng’ i ddymuniad y bugail. Er nad oedd y naill na’r llall yn taro deuddeg yn llawn, teimlwn fod potensial gan y ddwy ferf.

Yna, fel sy’n digwydd yn aml, digwyddais ddod ar draws esboniad posibl arall, wrth chwilota mewn llyfr am rywbeth hollol wahanol. Y llyfr oedd cyfrol hyfryd Hugh Evans, Cwm Eithin (Lerpwl, 1933), sy’n disgrifio bywyd cefn gwlad yn ardal Llangwm, yn yr hen sir Ddinbych, yng nghanol y 19g. Wrth chwilota drwy’r tudalennau daliodd y pennawd ‘Diwrnod Hel Defaid fy sylw. Yno esbonia Hugh Evans mai dal defaid a wnâi cŵn y bugail erstalwm ac mai arfer cymharol ddiweddar oedd defnyddio ci i hel defaid at ei gilydd. Esbonia:


Y pryd hynny [h.y. pan oedd yn blentyn], nid oedd y ci hel wedi dyfod i Gymru, dim ond y ci dal, fel y byddai’n rhaid i’r holl deulu droi allan i hel defaid. Y gwahaniaeth rhwng ci dal a chi hel defaid yw hyn. Arfer y ci dal oedd rhedeg ar ôl y ddafad a ddangosid iddo, a’i dal gerfydd ei gwar, a hynny’n dyner heb adael ôl ei ddannedd ar y ei chroen … Nid oedd y ci dal lawer o werth i hel y defaid at ei gilydd.


Felly darostwng y ddafad, ei dofi yn yr ystyr o wneud iddi ildio i ddymuniad y ci, sef aros yn llonydd nes bod y bugail yn cyrraedd ‘ac yn rhoddi’r cwplws am ei gwddf, ac yn hwylio tuag adref’! Ystofi3, felly.


Mewn rhestr arall, lle mae John Jones yn enwi’r gwahanol fathau o gŵn, cawn y pâr bugeilgi a dafatgi – ond nid oes sôn am gi defaid, sy’n gyfuniad dipyn diweddarach (1848 yw’r dystiolaeth gynharaf drosto yn GPC). Felly i bob pwrpas mae gwahaniaeth rhwng y dafatgi, sef y ci dal defaid, a’r ci defaid, sef y ci hel defaid. Ac o ran dafatgi, wrth gwrs, mae’n dilyn patrwm yr hen eiriau traddodiadol eraill: adargi ‘ci dal adar’, hyddgi ‘ci dal hyddod’, &c.

Y cyfan a erys bellach o ran y ferf ystofi, yw darganfod dyfyniad sy’n sôn am ddafatgi yn ystofi dafad. Gadewch i mi wybod os cewch hyd i un!

Nodiadau


The shepherd, his dog and sheep

Amongst the wordlists that the scribe John Jones of Gellilyfdy produced between 1631 and 1633, whilst incarcerated in the Fleet Prison, are several concerning the work of a farmer, including lists relating to livestock. It is one of these lists that I’ve been working on this week: ‘The Shepherd and related items’, and two entries in particular have been rather perplexing, namely ystofi defaid and ystofiad (the first a verb whose object is defaid ‘sheep’, and the second a noun relating to the action of the verb).


These words are found at the beginning of the list: the bugail ‘shepherd’ is named (plural bugeiliaid and bugelydd), his craft is bugeilio (‘shepherding’, ‘tending the sheep’), including corlannu defaid in a corddlan / corlan (‘placing sheep in a fold or pen’). The words ystofi defaid and ystofiad come between corddlan and corlannu, and this is important to remember, as the list follows a thematic rather than an alphabetical order.

There are three verbs ystofi listed in Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru (GPC)

  • ystofi1: ‘to arrange threads so as to form a warp’ (a weaving term), and more generally used for putting other things in order, such as a house (early 17th century onwards)

  • ystofi2: ‘bestow’, from the English stow, as in bestow (1672 onwards)

  • ystofi3: ‘to tame, subdue’, containing the verb dofi ‘to tame’ (16th century onwards)

We can rule out ystofi2. I considered the figurative use of ystofi1: the idea of trying to organize sheep whose natural tendency it is to scatter, imagining them stepping methodically into a pen, one by one, just as the weaver’s threads are laid out on the loom. Similarly with ystofi3, the idea that sheep are tamed as they yield to the shepherd’s wishes and behave as he wants them to. I felt that both verbs had potential despite not being quite right.

Then, as often happens, I came across another possible explanation whilst looking in a book for something completely different. The book was Hugh Evans’s Cwm Eithin (Liverpool, 1933), which is a wonderful description of rural life in Llangwm, in the old Denbighshire, in the middle of the 19th century. Whilst flicking through its pages I happened upon the heading ‘Sheep herding day’, where Hugh Evans explains that the shepherd’s dog used to restrain sheep in the past, and that the practice of using a dog to herd sheep is a fairly recent one. He explains:

Y pryd hynny, nid oedd y ci hel wedi dyfod i Gymru, dim ond y ci dal, fel y byddai’n rhaid i’r holl deulu droi allan i hel defaid. Y gwahaniaeth rhwng ci dal a chi hel defaid yw hyn. Arfer y ci dal oedd rhedeg ar ôl y ddafad a ddangosid iddo, a’i dal gerfydd ei gwar, a hynny’n dyner heb adael ôl ei ddannedd ar y ei chroen… Nid oedd y ci dal lawer o werth i hel y defaid at ei gilydd.

At that time [i.e. when he was a child], the ci hel ‘herding dog’ had not yet arrived in Wales, there was only the ci dal ‘restraining dog’, so that the whole family would have to turn out to gather in the sheep. The difference between a ci dal and a ci hel is this. The ci dal’s way of working was to run after a sheep that had been shown to it, and to grasp that sheep by its neck, very gently and without leaving any teeth marks on its skin ... The ci dal was not much use in gathering sheep together.

The dog’s role therefore was to restrain the sheep, ‘taming’ (dofi) it in the sense of making it submit to the dog’s will, staying still until the shepherd arrived and put a leash on it before heading back home. Ystofi3, therefore.

In another list, where John Jones names various breeds of dog, we find the pair bugeilgi and dafatgi – but there is no mention of ci defaid, which is a much more recent collocation (the earliest occurrence in GPC is dated 1848). There seems therefore to be a distinction between the dafatgi, the dog which catches and restrains (dal) sheep, and the ci defaid, the dog which rounds up sheep. And dafatgi, of course, follows the pattern of the other old traditional names: adargi ‘bird-hunting dog’, hyddgi ‘deerhound’, &c.

All that remains then, as far as the verb ystofi is concerned, is to discover a quotation which mentions a dafatgi restraining (ystofi) a sheep. Do please let me know if you find one!


Notes

  • National Library of Wales, Peniarth 305, fol. 62v.

  • Hugh Evans, Cwm Eithin (Liverpool, 1933), 142.


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Pan oedd John Jones o Gellilyfdy, yr ysgrifydd o sir y Fflint, yn garcharor yn y Fflyd yn Llundain tua 1630, ac yn disgwyl derbyn llawysgrifau gan gyfeillion i’w copïo, aeth ati i roi trefn ar restrau o eiriau y bu’n eu casglu ers troad y ganrif. Mewn cwta dwy flynedd llanwodd dri llyfr gyda geiriau dan amrywiol benawdau, ac yn y trydydd un ceir rhestrau’n ymwneud â byd natur. Rhestrodd enwau coed a phlanhigion o bob math, adar gwyllt a dof, anifeiliaid, pryfed mân (sef anifeiliaid bychan fel llyffantod, nadroedd, malwod ac ati) yna pryfed ehedawl, dyfrawl neu ymlusgawl (sef yr hyn y byddem ni’n eu galw’n bryfed heddiw).


O dan y pennawd Pysg eu henwau a physgota casglodd dros gant a hanner o enwau pysgod a physgod chregyn, gan ychwanegu disgrifiad difyr o sawl un ohonynt. Mae nifer o’r enwau bellach yn anhysbys, ond mae eraill yn gyfarwydd, er na ellir bod yn gwbl sicr bob tro mai’r un yw’r pysgodyn dan sylw â’r pysgodyn rydym ni’n ei adnabod gyda’r un enw heddiw.


Soniwyd y tro diwethaf am yr abad, sef math o forgi neu siarc, y Rhina squatina. Mae John Jones yn rhoi cryn sylw i’r morgwn: cŵn coegion yw ei enw amdanynt. ‘Ffals’ neu ‘gwag’ yw ystyr arferol coegcneuen goeg ydi cneuen wag, fel yn y dywediad cneuen goeg sy galetaf. Yn yr Oesoedd Canol gallai coeg hefyd ddisgrifio person ‘dall’ neu un a chanddo ryw fath o nam ar ei lygad: Maredudd Goeg, er enghraifft, oedd enw mab dall yr Arglwydd Rhys o Ddeheubarth. Tybed ai cyfeirio at ryw nodwedd ar lygaid y morgwn a wna’r elfen coeg yn y cyfuniad ci coeg? Gwelaf o rai ffynonellau fod trydydd amrant pŵl gan nifer ohonynt, a allai beri iddynt edrych fel pe baent yn ddall.


Meddai John Jones:


Cŵn coegion yw yr henw cyffredin ar yr holl gŵn bysgod sydd yn magu yn y môr, ac y maent yn bwrw oddi wrthynt ac ohonynt beth a elwir esgid y frân, o’r hon y mae yr holl gŵn yn dyfod.


Mae’n rhaid mai’r mermaid’s purse yw esgid y frân, sef y cwdyn du caled yn dal wyau’r morgwn a’r môr-gathod a welir wedi sychu ar hyd y traethau yn y gaeaf. Ni lwyddais i ddod o hyd i unrhyw enghraifft arall o’r ffurf esgid y frân am y cwdyn hwn – pwrs y fôr-forwyn, term diweddar wedi ei gyfieithu o’r Saesneg, a geir yng Ngeiriadur Prifysgol Cymru ac yng Ngeiriadur yr Academi. O 1700 y daw’r dystiolaeth gynharaf am mermaid’s purse yn Saesneg, ond o tua’r un cyfnod (1688) ceir enw arall amdano, sef y crow-purse – a’r elfen crow, fel yr elfen brân yn yr enw Cymraeg, yn cyfeirio at liw du’r cwdyn wyau pan fydd wedi sychu ar y traeth.

O ran y mathau o gŵn coegion mae John Jones yn enwi’r cadell fantach fel y banw o’r cwn coegion (sef y pysgodyn benyw, a mantach yn cyfleu’r ffaith ei bod yn ddiddanned neu ag ychydig iawn o ddannedd); a’r gwryw, meddai, yw’r ci pigog. Yna rhestrir y ci brych, y penci brych a’r ci glas i gyd fel aelodau o rywogaeth y cŵn coegion.


Disgrifia’r morgath fel a thornback, gan esbonio:


pedwar rhywogaeth morcath y sydd, sef cath felen, bila gwyn, clwt y torddu, cath bigog – a honno yw’r iawn thornback.


Tybed ai’r thornback ray (Raja clavata) yw’r gath bigog (cf. GPC morcath bigog), ac ai’r blonde ray yw’r gath felen? Byddai’n braf cael rhagor o wybodaeth am glwt y torddu (?pysgodyn sy’n edrych fel clwtyn ac iddo fol tywyll) a’r bila gwyn.


Nodiadau


Cats, dogs and crows


When John Jones of Gellilyfdy, the scribe from Flintshire, was incarcerated in the Fleet, London, in around 1630, and awaiting the arrival of manuscripts from friends to copy, he resumed work on wordlists that he had been collecting since the turn of the century. In just two years he filled three books with words under various headings, the third of which contains lists relating to the natural world. For example, he listed the names of trees, various kinds of plants, wild and domesticated birds, small animals such as lizards, snakes and snails, etc., and ‘flying’, ‘aquatic’ and ‘crawling’ insects.


Under the heading ‘Fish, their names and fishing’, he collected over a hundred and fifty names of fish and shellfish, adding short and interesting definitions to many entries. Many of the names are unidentifiable, others are known, but still we cannot be completely sure in each instance that the name we know today corresponds to the fish John Jones had in mind.


In the last post I discussed the abad ‘abbot’, probably the angel shark, Rhina squatina. John Jones pays particular attention to the dogfish or small sharks: he calls them cŵn coegion. Coeg usually means ‘false’ or ‘empty’ – for example cneuen goeg refers to an empty nut, as in the old saying cneuen goeg sy galetaf ‘the empty nut is the hardest’. In the Middle Ages coeg could also describe a blind person, or one with some sort of deformity in his eye: for instance the blind son of the Lord Rhys of Deheubarth was known as Maredudd Goeg. Is it possible, therefore, that coeg in the name ci coeg refers to a feature of the dogfish’s eyes? I see from some sources that dogfish have a third translucent eyelid which could give them the appearance of being blind.


John Jones says:


Cŵn coegion yw yr henw cyffredin ar yr holl gŵn bysgod sydd yn magu yn y môr, ac y maent yn bwrw oddi wrthynt ac ohonynt beth a elwir esgid y frân, o’r hon y mae yr holl gŵn yn dyfod.


Cŵn coegion is the general name for all dogfish that are reared in the sea, and they cast from them, and from within them, something that is called esgid y frân, from which all the dogs come.


From the description we can infer that esgid y frân ‘crow’s shoe’ refers to the mermaid’s purse, the tough, black, dried egg cases of sharks and rays that are often found washed up on our beaches in winter. I have been unable to find any other instances of the name esgid y frân – the modern term pwrs y fôr-forwyn, given in the University of Wales Dictionary and Geiriadur yr Academi, is a direct translation of the English mermaid’s purse. The Oxford English Dictionary gives 1700 as the date of the earliest evidence for mermaid’s purse, and interestingly, from about the same period (1688) comes another name for it, the crow-purse – with the element crow, like the Welsh brân, referring to the blackness of the dried pouches.

John Jones names the cadell fantach as the female of the dogfish (y banw o’r cwn coegion, with the element mantach meaning ‘toothless’ or ‘with very few teeth’), and the male, he says, is the ci pigog (‘spiny dog’). The ci brych (‘spotted dog’), penci brych (probably ‘spotted nursehound’) and ci glas (‘blue’ or ‘grey dog’) are also ‘of the species of dogfish’ (o rywogaeth y cŵn coegion).


He further describes the morcath (‘skate’ or ‘ray’, lit. sea cat) as a thornback, explaining:


pedwar rhywogaeth morcath y sydd, sef cath felen, bila gwyn, clwt y torddu, cath bigog – a honno yw’r iawn thornback.


there are four species of rays, namely cath felen, bila gwyn, clwt y torddu, cath bigog – and the last one is the correct thornback.


Can the cath bigog be identified with the thornback ray (Raja clavata, GPC morcath bigog), and the cath felen with the blonde ray? But what about clwt y torddu (?a black-bellied fish shaped like a piece of cloth), and the bila gwyn, which is presumably of a light colour?

Notes

Croeso i chi gysylltu!

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