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Old 17th April 2009, 06:06 PM   #9
Jim McDougall
EAA Research Consultant
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 6,685

Well placed observation Ward, there are distinct similarities in many of the tamgas, which rather than alphabetic characters are more of a 'brand' type concept. These were Turkic based symbols used throughout the steppes tribes and became well established in many cultural groups of Eastern Europe.
The Polish people take a great deal of pride in thier ancestries from many of these groups, including the Sarmatians, whose tamgas are often seen in the devices in Polish heraldry.

I believe however, that the runic type symbols are more in vertically situated geometric linears, and many of these medieval symbols that developed into the type marking used in the Masonic and other guild and individual marks may have some degree of similarity. These marks were customized to other family members and associates often by the addition of simple marks in strategic location on subsequent marks. I think was much in the way coats of arms developed in compexity as more charges and devices were added.

The tamgas are really a fascinating subject, just like heraldry and other types of symbolism. I recall some research years ago in which a tamga was in niello on the scabbard mounts of a Chechen shashka, and seeing many of the examples of Sarmatian and other groups including Tatars in trying to match somewhat the one I was focused on.

Excellent example Michael of the marks used by Masons and how these were used as sort of a basis for makers marks. I was surprised to learn that the use of these markings in architectural work was from Byzantine masons who had come into building some European structures, I think it was St. Marks in Venice. I'm sure there are widely diversified views on the accuracy of that...we'll see

I really like the tavern 'tab' example!! Actually it seems those are more 'tally' marks, as the use of lines drawn across a base line in keeping count. In the types of marking used by makers, the numeric count of lines in varying postition were consistantly applied and recognized as to a certain maker.
If these marks in the tavern were posted, and a separate tally applied next to that mark, then its different.

I really do love the study of markings and symbolism, and its exciting to share ideas with you and Ward here!!! Thank you so much guys,

All the best,
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