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Author Topic: Semantron / Xylon / Wood Plank & Mallet  (Read 2069 times) Average Rating: 0
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kansas city
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« on: July 02, 2010, 02:37:35 PM »

I searched but came up with nothing.  Forgive me if this has already been discussed.

The large planks of wood that are struck with a mallet in many monasteries in lieu of or in addition to bells.
 
Does anyone have information about their liturgical use, historical anecdotes, or specifically about their construction?
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augustin717
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« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2010, 02:57:35 PM »

linden wood is said to be the best.
"May-the semantron (toaca) -kill -him" is a nick-name for the devil in Romanian.
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kansas city
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« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2010, 11:26:12 PM »

A colorful overview of their use and design.. as well as vampires and zen.

http://www.newmusicbox.org/article.nmbx?id=4600

A lot of youtube hits as well.  Search for Toaca.  I think it's the Romanian word for it..? (Thanks Augustin)

It really is just a plank and hammer, the wikipedia entry mentioned "scoops" removed but I don't see those in the videos.  

Any further information is still really very welcome.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2010, 11:53:03 PM by kansas city » Logged
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« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2010, 09:03:07 AM »

It developed in lands that were under Turkish rule since bells were outlawed. People still needed to know when church started so they would play the bell patterns on wood.
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« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2010, 11:15:27 AM »

It developed in lands that were under Turkish rule since bells were outlawed. People still needed to know when church started so they would play the bell patterns on wood.
I'm not  convinced that this is entirely the case. Was it perhaps that some villages couldn't afford the bells?
Btw, in the principalities of Moldova and Wallachia the Turkish rule  always allowed for full religious freedom (no mosques were built there), yet the "toaca" was still widely used there.
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« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2010, 12:16:48 PM »

I've heard it said that, when the muslims dominated Wallachia and Moldavia, they forbade the ringing of bells; hence, the use of the toaca.

A simple plank, struck with mallets, was probably the first semantron; later versions became more elaborate.  Unfortunately, for this discussion, my knowledge of the history of the semantron, whether in Romania or elsewhere, is exceedingly limited.
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augustin717
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« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2010, 12:27:07 PM »

I've heard it said that, when the muslims dominated Wallachia and Moldavia, they forbade the ringing of bells; hence, the use of the toaca.

A simple plank, struck with mallets, was probably the first semantron; later versions became more elaborate.  Unfortunately, for this discussion, my knowledge of the history of the semantron, whether in Romania or elsewhere, is exceedingly limited.
Bells, construction of churches and monasteries etc, were never forbidden during the Turkish suzerainty.
Plus, the semantron is also widely used in Transylvania proper which was never under Turkish occupation.
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ialmisry
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« Reply #7 on: July 03, 2010, 12:39:52 PM »

I've heard it said that, when the muslims dominated Wallachia and Moldavia, they forbade the ringing of bells; hence, the use of the toaca.

A simple plank, struck with mallets, was probably the first semantron; later versions became more elaborate.  Unfortunately, for this discussion, my knowledge of the history of the semantron, whether in Romania or elsewhere, is exceedingly limited.
Bells, construction of churches and monasteries etc, were never forbidden during the Turkish suzerainty.
Plus, the semantron is also widely used in Transylvania proper which was never under Turkish occupation.
Yes, it was: after all they occupied Budest and went to the gates of Vienna.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principality_of_Transylvania
Beyond that though, there is the question of the Phanriot period, when things going on in the Middle East (like the black hats) were brought into Europe, because "that's what's done in the Ancient Patriarchates."
« Last Edit: July 03, 2010, 12:44:56 PM by ialmisry » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: July 03, 2010, 12:41:54 PM »

I keep reading that the semantron predates bells.  I was also told that Greek tradition holds that the Semantron was used by Noah to call the animals to the ark.  A friend who's spent time in Greece said that she saw a massive one hung at a monastery with a sign above telling the Noah connection.  

Also, it's used seasonally when the bells are not to be rung.

There's actually a good deal of information online, I just couldn't find it before I brought the query to the forum.

Please continue to throw in what you know, as I think it's a great tradition of the church that people could learn about and hopefully return to favor.

I'm sure there's opportunity for a Turkish Yoke thread elsewhere.  I'd really like to collect as much information on the instrument as possible.
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« Reply #9 on: July 03, 2010, 12:45:28 PM »

I've heard it said that, when the muslims dominated Wallachia and Moldavia, they forbade the ringing of bells; hence, the use of the toaca.

A simple plank, struck with mallets, was probably the first semantron; later versions became more elaborate.  Unfortunately, for this discussion, my knowledge of the history of the semantron, whether in Romania or elsewhere, is exceedingly limited.
Bells, construction of churches and monasteries etc, were never forbidden during the Turkish suzerainty.
Plus, the semantron is also widely used in Transylvania proper which was never under Turkish occupation.
Yes, it was: after all they occupied Budest and went to the gates of Vienna. Beyond that though, there is the question of the Phanriot period, when things going on in the Middle East (like the black hats) were brought into Europe, because "that's what's done in the Ancient Patriarchates."
Sorry, ialmisry, but the Principality of Transylvania proper kept its autonomy, hindered somehow by the surrounding Turks granted, even after the hungarian kingdom fell at Mohacs.
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« Reply #10 on: July 03, 2010, 12:54:27 PM »

They paid a tribute, bud didn't have Ottoman administration on their territory, unlike Hungary.
Neither Moldova, Wallachia or Transylvania ever became "pashalic"s. They always kept their internal affairs pretty much unhindered from direct Turkish intervention.
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« Reply #11 on: July 03, 2010, 01:09:38 PM »

My Romanian history book says that the Turks sought cooperation with the Romanian principalities in their fights with the Austrians, but that does not mean that passing Turkish armies did not inflict a great deal of damage, particularly when collecting taxes or 'on leave.'  I saw numerous 'portable churches' in my travels in Romania, including Transylvania and Mara Mureş, indicating that there were problems with Turks burning churches in the north, too.  Remember, a Turkish soldier could pretty much do whatever he wanted because, even with autonomy, who would the Romanians turn to for justice?

However, one must remember that bells were and are expensive, and represented a significant technological feat in the early era.  Therefore, the semantron was widely used because it attracted fewer Turks, or Turkish bandits to be precise, not to mention the local trouble-makers.  Banditry dogged the Church from the earliest days, which is why many monasteries are built like forts.  The semantron makes sense when you want less obvious wealth, or are simply poor.

By the way, it was said that, during the siege of Vienna, the conscripted Romanians loaded their guns with hay!  The Turks partly lost because they counted on troops forced into battle who had more of a vested interest in the breaking of the siege than the breaking of the Austrians.

I'm of the opinion that Western Europe owes its freedom to the Romanians.  They slowed the Sublime Port to a crawl, and helped turn back the tide.


I've heard it said that, when the muslims dominated Wallachia and Moldavia, they forbade the ringing of bells; hence, the use of the toaca.

A simple plank, struck with mallets, was probably the first semantron; later versions became more elaborate.  Unfortunately, for this discussion, my knowledge of the history of the semantron, whether in Romania or elsewhere, is exceedingly limited.
Bells, construction of churches and monasteries etc, were never forbidden during the Turkish suzerainty.
Plus, the semantron is also widely used in Transylvania proper which was never under Turkish occupation.
Yes, it was: after all they occupied Budest and went to the gates of Vienna. Beyond that though, there is the question of the Phanriot period, when things going on in the Middle East (like the black hats) were brought into Europe, because "that's what's done in the Ancient Patriarchates."
Sorry, ialmisry, but the Principality of Transylvania proper kept its autonomy, hindered somehow by the surrounding Turks granted, even after the hungarian kingdom fell at Mohacs.
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« Reply #12 on: July 03, 2010, 03:00:23 PM »

Father, in the northen parts of what is today Romania it was the Tatars and then the Habsburgs (Transylvania) that demolished and burned much more Orthodox churches than the Turks.
The Tatars kept raiding Moldova and parts of Transylvania until the early part of the 18th century.
The Cossacks too, plundered some churches in Moldova, even though they were Orthodox.
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« Reply #13 on: July 03, 2010, 03:37:39 PM »

It developed in lands that were under Turkish rule since bells were outlawed. People still needed to know when church started so they would play the bell patterns on wood.

I heard this too, but I can't back it up.  I have heard that Mohammad did not like bells and there was some kind of ancient Islamic law or tradition that said Christians could not use bells where they could be heard by Muslims. 

I recall just a few years ago reading about a Coptic church in Egypt which was burnt down because it had new bells that were loud enough to be heard by the nearby Muslims.
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ialmisry
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« Reply #14 on: July 05, 2010, 08:27:03 AM »

It developed in lands that were under Turkish rule since bells were outlawed. People still needed to know when church started so they would play the bell patterns on wood.

I heard this too, but I can't back it up.  I have heard that Mohammad did not like bells and there was some kind of ancient Islamic law or tradition that said Christians could not use bells where they could be heard by Muslims. 

I recall just a few years ago reading about a Coptic church in Egypt which was burnt down because it had new bells that were loud enough to be heard by the nearby Muslims.
I don't have the time right now, but yes, Muslim tradition states their prophet hated bells, and treaties of submission also state that the Christians will not ring them, and their are prohibitions in Islamic law.
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ialmisry
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« Reply #15 on: July 05, 2010, 08:32:46 AM »

My Romanian history book says that the Turks sought cooperation with the Romanian principalities in their fights with the Austrians, but that does not mean that passing Turkish armies did not inflict a great deal of damage, particularly when collecting taxes or 'on leave.'  I saw numerous 'portable churches' in my travels in Romania, including Transylvania and Mara Mureş, indicating that there were problems with Turks burning churches in the north, too.  Remember, a Turkish soldier could pretty much do whatever he wanted because, even with autonomy, who would the Romanians turn to for justice?

However, one must remember that bells were and are expensive, and represented a significant technological feat in the early era.  Therefore, the semantron was widely used because it attracted fewer Turks, or Turkish bandits to be precise, not to mention the local trouble-makers.  Banditry dogged the Church from the earliest days, which is why many monasteries are built like forts.  The semantron makes sense when you want less obvious wealth, or are simply poor.

Which brings up another issue: cannons.  The Ottomans owe their rise to the quick adaption of this new technology. It's how they finally captured Constantinople.  That would put a premimium in the metal market for resources that would have otherwise gone into bells.


Quote
By the way, it was said that, during the siege of Vienna, the conscripted Romanians loaded their guns with hay!  The Turks partly lost because they counted on troops forced into battle who had more of a vested interest in the breaking of the siege than the breaking of the Austrians.

I'm of the opinion that Western Europe owes its freedom to the Romanians.  They slowed the Sublime Port to a crawl, and helped turn back the tide.

The pope in the Vatican, giving St. Stefan the Great the title "Athlete of Christ" seemed to be of the same opinion. St. Stefan spoke of the "thanks" he got in the form of wounds in the back by his "Christian brothers."


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Question a friend, perhaps he did not do it; but if he did anything so that he may do it no more.
A hasty quarrel kindles fire,
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If you blow on a spark, it will glow;
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                           and both come out of your mouth
ialmisry
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« Reply #16 on: July 05, 2010, 08:45:29 AM »

I've heard it said that, when the muslims dominated Wallachia and Moldavia, they forbade the ringing of bells; hence, the use of the toaca.

A simple plank, struck with mallets, was probably the first semantron; later versions became more elaborate.  Unfortunately, for this discussion, my knowledge of the history of the semantron, whether in Romania or elsewhere, is exceedingly limited.
Bells, construction of churches and monasteries etc, were never forbidden during the Turkish suzerainty.
Plus, the semantron is also widely used in Transylvania proper which was never under Turkish occupation.
Yes, it was: after all they occupied Budest and went to the gates of Vienna. Beyond that though, there is the question of the Phanriot period, when things going on in the Middle East (like the black hats) were brought into Europe, because "that's what's done in the Ancient Patriarchates."
Sorry, ialmisry, but the Principality of Transylvania proper kept its autonomy, hindered somehow by the surrounding Turks granted, even after the hungarian kingdom fell at Mohacs.
Ceaucescu's Romania had its autonomy too.

Transylvania, for instance, didn't keep its sons: all sorts of renegade Transylvanians turn Turk.  One Hungarian Unitarian Transylvanian, after apostacy to Islam, became the father of Turkish printing.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ibrahim_Muteferrika

Btw, the Diet of Transylvania proclaimed secession from the Ottomans on April 23, 1661
http://books.google.com/books?id=VElpAAAAMAAJ&q=23+April+Transylvanian+turks&dq=23+April+Transylvanian+turks&hl=en&ei=-9cxTI-_D6jrnQfZ1en9Aw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CDIQ6AEwAg
http://books.google.com/books?id=rUFpAAAAMAAJ&q=%22On+23+April+1661+the+Transylvanian%22&dq=%22On+23+April+1661+the+Transylvanian%22&hl=en&ei=YdkxTOGqKMqUnQeDrqG1Aw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCUQ6AEwAA
« Last Edit: July 05, 2010, 09:09:09 AM by ialmisry » Logged

Question a friend, perhaps he did not do it; but if he did anything so that he may do it no more.
A hasty quarrel kindles fire,
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If you blow on a spark, it will glow;
if you spit on it, it will be put out;
                           and both come out of your mouth
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