I have made this preliminary English translation of the original Dutch text, in order to exchange information with some of the staff members of musee de Cluny. I would like to apologize in advance for any spelling errors, grammatical errors or just bad & awkward English that can still be found. Please feel free to educate me.

A la recherche de GIIOHARGIIIVS

by C.J. Verduin


The following is the report on a search "in progress" which started in august 1995 when I visited the Musee national du Moyen Age - Thermes de Cluny in Paris. It also shows that some things can't be planned.

The tapestry: ©RMN
I strolled through room 22, the weapons room, when my attention was caught by a tapestry showing two male figures on a background of flowers, plants, a few animals and a single tree (mille fleurs).
The figure on the right was an armed man forging a bar of iron on an anvil. The text identified him as Tubal Cain the inventor of the art of forging. (T@BAQAIH . TROVVA . LART . DE. FORGER . EN . TOVS . METAVLS.)
The figure on the left was richly dressed with a distinctive headgear and held a pair of scales in his right hand with large weights next to his feet. I didn't recognize his name and he supposedly was the inventor of weighing with weights. (GIIOHARGIIIVS . TROVVA . LART . DE . PAISSER . AUS . POIS)
I made the following note: Tapijt van G/ii/h/oharghius? en Tubalcain, uitvinder van de "pesee" (weegschaal) en de smeedkunst.
After I returned home I tried to find more about this GIIOHARGIIIVS, but without result. So I let it rest for a while.

GIIOHARGIIIVS: from a photograph by the author

Flavius Josephus

In january 1996 I was looking for information on Seth, the third son of Adam and Eve. I was reading a Dutch translation of Flavius Josephus' Jewish Antiquities as I came across the following text about the whereabouts of Cain after he murdered Abel:

Na dan verscheidene landen doorgetrokken te hebben, zette hij zich met der woon neer in eene plaats genaamd Nas: alwaar hij vele kinderen teelde. Maar 't was er zoo verre af dat zijne straffe hem eenigszins beter maakte, dat hij in tegendeel nog erger werd: hij gaf zich over aan allerlei wellusten, en pleegde ook geweld; hij roofde om zich te verrijken, eens anders goed; hij zamelde booswichten en schelmen, waarover hij zich tot hoofd stelde; en hij voerde hen aan om allerhande misdaden en goddeloosheden te bedrijven. Hij veranderde die eenvoudige manier van leven welke men in 't begin onderhield, vond gewichten en maten uit, doende de kunstgrepen en bedriegerij volgen op die gulhartigheid en oprechtheid, welke plaats had toen men van deze dingen niet wist. Hij was de eerste die palen stelde om landerijen te onderscheiden, en die eene stad bouwde welke hij naar den naam zijns oudsten zoons, Enos noemde. (Joodsche Oudheden, I, 60-62)

And when Cain had traveled over many countries, he, with his wife, built a city, named Nod, which is a place so called, and there he settled his abode; where also he had children. However, he did not accept of his punishment in order to amendment, but to increase his wickedness; for he only aimed to procure every thing that was for his own bodily pleasure, though it obliged him to be injurious to his neighbors. He augmented his household substance with much wealth, by rapine and violence; he excited his acquaintance to procure pleasures and spoils by robbery, and became a great leader of men into wicked courses. He also introduced a change in that way of simplicity wherein men lived before; and was the author of measures and weights. And whereas they lived innocently and generously while they knew nothing of such arts, he changed the world into cunning craftiness. He first of all set boundaries about lands: he built a city, and fortified it with walls, and he compelled his family to come together to it; and called that city Enoch, after the name of his eldest son Enoch. (Whiston translation)

As I read the text, I immediately was reminded of the tapestry in Musee de Cluny and the idea that Cain could be the man with the scales, seemed likely to me. But what about the strange name?

Back to Paris

In August 1996 I returned to Paris and a few days before my departure I send a Fax to Musee de Cluny in which I said to have information that might identify the man with the scales as Cain.
Within two days I received a response of one of the conservators of the museum, Pierre-Yves Le Pogam, in which he said to be interested by the idea (because of family tie between Cain and Tubal Cain) and to accept my proposal to meet me during my stay in Paris.
When I met Le Pogam I showed him the text of Flavius Josephus, philosophized about possible meanings of the name (maybe it is a corruption of the greek GEORGIOS (=farmer)) and made two photographs of the tapestry. Le Pogam made a few photocopies of the only (black&white) photograph the museum has of the tapestry.
Le Pogam thought that is was important to check literary sources from the period when the tapestry was made or earlier for references to such a theme (the invention of weighing). He thought that the tapestry might be part of a series of "inventors". He also made a remark on the loose handling of the spelling of the texts (note for example the H for N and the missing L in T@BAQAIH) which complicates the identification of the name GIIOHARGIIIVS.
The card next to the tapestry read:
Gioharghius (?) et Tubalcain. Invention de la pesee en de l'art de forger.
Pay Bas du Sud debut du XVI siecle. tapisserie: laine
Trouvee vers Bernay en Normandie: vers 1880-1885; coll. Jadin (Paris), Saint Marceaux (Paris); attribution de l'office de bien et interests privee, 1951. Inventoriee en 1966. CL 22845.

Jacob van Maerlant

In November 1996 I visited the Jacob van Maerlant exhibition in the literary museum in The Hague. I happened to read a page from a manuscript from 1450 of the Spieghel Historiael (Mirror of History) (item 61 of the exhibition) that was opened at the misdeeds of Cain.
It appeared to be a paraphrase of the Josephus text and it also mentioned the invention of measures and weights, as can be read from the following lines: Hi was dalre eerste die stichte, Mate, lantgesceet ende gewichte (he was the first to found measures, boundaries and weights).
The text of the Spieghel Historiael dates from around 1285 and the Speculum Historialis of Vincent of Beauvais, on which Maerlant's Spieghel Historiael was based, had a first edition around 1245. This closed a gap of about 1200 years between the text of Flavius Josephus and the tapestry.
The Speculum Historialis could be the literary source Le Pogam had wished for the theme of the tapestry. I hadn't been able to inspect the Speculum Historialis text however, so I couldn't be sure whether Maerlant's text was also based on Beauvais. Jacob van Maerlant had used Beauvais' Speculum Historialis for his Spieghel Historiael but he had not made an exact translation of it.

The Two Mirrors

On January 2, 1997, I went to the university library to inspect the Spieghel Historiael for the text on the crimes of Cain. I also checked a modern edition of Maerlant's Rijmbijbel (Bible in rhyme), but it didn't contain the text on Cain. What the Rijmbijbel did contain, can be read in my report on Jonitus.
The library doesn't have a complete set of the Speculum Historialis. (They only have part IV, and I needed part II). It happened so that the specific part of the text that I needed from the Speculum was reproduced in a footnote in the text from the Spieghel Historiael. It appeared to be a rather exact Latin abstract of the Josephus text.

Jacob van Maerlant Spieghel Historiael
Van Cayms quaetheden XI
1Van allen quaden menscen thovet
So es Caym, dies ghelovet.
Hi was deerste in alle lant;
Daermen vrecheit ane vant,
5Hi was deerste, hebt gheloof
die veste stichte ende roof;
Dies maecti veste ghewelt,
Omme dat hi daer den roof onthelt;
Hi was dalre eerste die stichte
10Mate, lantgesceet ende gewichte
Hi keerde der lieder simpelhede
Ter vrecheit ende gierecheide
Want voer seine coemst alleene
So was deerdsche goet gemeene

Vincentius van Beauvais Speculum Historiale II, Caput 57.
quasi civis terrenus civitatem in terra
primus condidit, rapanis et violentia opes congregans
suos ad latrocinina invitavit, ac simplicitatem vite
homininem adinventione mensurarum et ponderum permutativit
atque ad calliditatem et corruptionem perducit;
terminos terre primus posuit, civitates muravit, et
timens quos ledebat, ob securitatem suos in urbibus collegit

More about the name

The name of GIIOHARGIIIVS (or Gioharghius as it is spelled by Le Pogam) is still an enigma. My choice for the way the name is spelled in this text is based on the (photocopies of) photographs of the tapestry. Perhaps that II makes an i and that III can be read as hi but I don't see enough evidence for that.
The fore mentioned solution GEORGIOS which describes the person as a farmer (as Cain was at first) by means of pseudonym, stretches at least my own belief in a corrupted text to the limit (and probably beyond).
I came to an another solution after I read the Greek text of Josephus. It had seemed to me for some time already a likely hypothesis that the name was of Greek origin (which had led to the GEORGIOS attempt). I did a manual dictionary search for words that described Cain and looked like GIIOHARGIIIVS. In that way I came across the word GNOHRIMOS (he who is recognized, he who is known). This assumes however that the first II is a corrupted N and that III is a M. The want for agreement in the midsection of the words (ARG versus RI) is to put it euphemistically 'an additional problem'. At last I rejected this solution.
These trials (and errors) show that some phantasy can take you quite far; whereto it does take you however is not always clear. The field is still very much open and I would like to invite everyone to put in his or her five cents worth.

A new candidate

On March 21, 1997, I went to the university library to consult the Historia Scholastica of Petrus Comestor. After browsing in the Patrologia Latina I finally arrived in the theology study room. I looked through the Etymologiae of Isidore of Seville to see what he had to say on weighing and measuring. Isidore attributes the invention of weighing to Pheidon (king) of Argos, which in Latin becomes Pheidon Argivus. This made some internal alarm go off as Argivus is very similar to -ARGIIIVS, the last part of GIIOHARGIIIVS.
April 3, 1997, I discovered that Rabanus Maurus in his De Rerum Natura (XVIII,1), in exactly the same words as Isidore of Sevilla (which should be no suprise), mentions Pheidon as the inventor of weighing and discusses scales in some detail.
Primum Fidon Argiuus ponderum rationem in Grecia constituit, et licet alii antiquiores exstiterint, sed iste hac arte experientior fuit pondus dicitur, eo quod in statera libratum pendeat. Hinc et pensum, abusiue autem pondus, libra una est. Vnde etiam dipondius dictum est, quasi duo pondera, quod nomen adhuc in usu retinetur.
Some digging learned me that Pheidon is already mentioned in Herodotus (Historiae, IV, 127) and in Plinius (Historia Naturalis, VII, 198) as the inventor of weighing. If the person on the tapestry is Pheidon, than there still remains the question about the first part of the name, GIIOH-.

Is music the answer?

Although GIIOHARGIIIVS was always in the back of my mind, I made no progress whatsoever during the next two years, until on the 17 of july 1999, it was a saturday morning and I had a short holiday, I was leafing through a booklet Inleiding tot de universiteit of J Stellingwerf.
Typus Musices: picture of music as a liberal art
Tubal Cain and Pythagoras
It is about the history of the sciences and the relation between the different sciences and a picture of music as one of the seven liberal arts caught my eye.
On the right side stands a man with scales who is weighing something and behind him is a blacksmith with the text TUBAL: bingo, the connection was music!
I was quite exhilarated and looked for other texts about the iconography of Music as a symbol. Ripa is talking in his Iconologia about scales and an anvil, but says nothing about the weighing man. The picture was not mentioned in the text of Stellingwerfs book but, it appeared to be from the Margarita Philosophica of Georg Reisch, a popular late medieval encyclopedia in one volume. The next monday I ordered a copy from the university library. The internet gave me some information, such as the identity of the weighing man: it was Pythagoras.
A few days I had a facsimile copy of the Margarita Philosophica, the 1517 edition, with a different version of the 'Music' picture: without Tubal this time but the weighing man was still present. Then the decoding started: As can be deduced from the title, the book is in Latin and printed in tiny characters. The text confirmed the identity of the weighing man: it definitely was Pythagoras.
I went to the university library again and searched in the Patrologia Latina (on CD) for Pythagoras combined with music or with Tubal Cain. This resulted in the following texts of Boetius and Isidore of Sevilla.

Cum interea divino quodam motu praeteriens fabrorum officinas, pulsos malleos exaudivit, ex diversis sonis unam quodammodo concinentiam personare. Ita igitur ad id quod diu inquirebat attonitus, accessit ad opus: diuque considerans, arbitratus est diversitatem sonorum ferientium vires efficere. Atque ut id apertius colliqueret, mutarent inter se malleos imperavit. Sed sonorum proprietas non in hominum lacertis haerebat, sed mutatos malleos comitabatur. Ubi igitur id animadvertit, malleorum pondus examinat.
Boetius de musica libri quinque, liber primus; CAPUT X. Quemadmodum Pythagoras proportiones consonantiarum investigaverit

1. Moyses dicit repertorem musicae artis fuisse Jubal, qui fuit de stirpe Cain ante diluvium. Graeci vero Pythagoram dicunt hujus artis invenisse primordia, ex malleorum sonitu, et cordarum extensione percussa.
Isidorus Hispalensis De Musica. 132 CAPUT XVI. De inventoribus ejus.

Both texts tell the same story. Boetius however has a more comprehensive version of the Pythagoras story. Once upon a time Pythagoras walked outside a forge and heard the sound of hammering on the anvil. He noticed that sounds of a different pitch were produced and he weighed the hammers to to able to quantify the difference in pitch. This is the origin of the Pythagorean scale. It is a nice touch that Jubal (not Tubal Cain) and Pythagoras are mentioned by Isidore in the same sentence.

What now?

So what were my ideas at that moment?
  1. Looking at the Reisch picture of musica, I thought that the tapestry from the Musee de Cluny could be the left part of a series of 2 or 3 tapestries which together represent the entire Reisch musica.
  2. I thought that Pythagoras could have been replaced by Pheidon: the weigher of hammers replaced by the inventor of weighing
  3. I realized I should make a new appointment with mr. Le Pogam.

Paris, august 2000

After four years of silence I send a Fax to Paris on august 14, but this time I received no response. I arrived in Paris august 21 and learned from the very helpful Sophie Maire from the information counter of Musee de Cluny that Le Pogam was staying in Italy. I gave a copy of the Fax and when I returned after a few hours they had found an employee of the museum who was prepared to meet me. I received his name, Jean-Christophe Ton-That, his address and telephone number.
I phoned on tuesday morning and made an appointement for next day (wednesday) afternoon. That wednesday afternoon I presented my idea's and my latest 'findings'. I showed the picture from the Margarita Philosophica and I explained my Pheidon/Pythagoras hypothesis. From mr Thon-That's reaction I learned that, together with Le Pogam, I was still the only one who was doing 'research' on the tapestry. The file on the tapestry contained just two photo's, a description, a history on its origin (see also Back to Paris) en a few documents / copies I had left in 1996.
I confessed to be a bit stuck at that moment and not to know how to proceed from here. Jean-Christophe thought (like Le Pogam) that looking for literary sources was of great importance en he made some very helpful observations
I promised to make a English abstract of the web page. I received Ton-That's e-mail address, a
copy of the description of the whereabouts of the tapestry and some suggestions for visiting museums. After 1.5 hour I left Jean Christophe and I could look back on a meeting well spent.

In the mean time I think that Tubal Cain and his relation to music, needs further looking into, if only to find out when and by whom this connection was made first. This will probably help to get a more complete picture of the theme/tapestry. Le Pogam has also send me a few references (Petrus Comestor, Isidore of Seville and some old masonic manuscripts (Regius and Cooke)) which are in line with this approach.

Things to do next, february 4, 2001

Results from things to do next

In order not to burden this web page with too much stuff, I have decided to present the results from the work mentioned above in a two separate web pages that will appear in a new windows

Paris, august 2001

I had e-mailed Jean Christophe about my plans for another short holiday in Paris, but I got no reply. Monday august, 14 I arrived in my hotel in Paris and after half an hour I received a phonecall: it was Jean Christophe. He had just returned from holiday and we made an appointement for 15:00 next day. He reminded me of the fact that the museum was usually closed on tuesdays and that I should ring at the entrance.
Next day at about 15:00 I arrived at the entrance where I received a visitors badge and went up to the second floor. There I met Jean Christophe. He enquired whether I had had any contact with Le Pogam in the mean time, but I confessed that I had not. I showed my results with regard to the 'Jubal and Tubalcain' pictures from the various copies of the speculum salvationis humanae. As I had some problems with the reading of the description of the whereabouts of the tapestry we looked at the original text and corrected some faulty readings. Jean Christophe looked up some background information on the previous owners (father and son Jadin). He also showed me the report on the restauration in 2000 of the tapestry and let me have color copies of some of the photo's .

More about the name: part 2

As I mentioned before I was still puzzled by the name GIIOHARGIIIVS and early march 2002 I was juggling with characters in name of the Pheidon the Argosean king. When I wrote them down in capitals it looked like this: F E I D W N   A R G E I O S. I had already experienced before how small errors in copying form one text to another could corrupt the spelling of a Greek words .
April 2002, I borrowed the Chronici Canones of Eusebius Pamphilus that contains a reference to Pheidon: Fidon Argiuus mensuras et pondera primus inuenit. Eusebius dated this event 1219 years after the birth of Abraham. I consider it possible that Eusebius is the source for Isidore's knowledge of Pheidon.

I also decided to compile a list of texts that mention Pheidon of Argos.

Paris, august 2002

It was the end of Juli and I had e-mailed Jean Christophe about my plans for another short holiday in Paris. He agreed to meet me on the 19 of august when he would be back from holiday and suggested to have lunch together. I visited the musee on the friday before and I made a few observations when I saw the tapestry again.
  • One of the things that is puzzling is the absence of a second boundary tree. This was allready noted by Jean Christophe in august 2000.
    Just above the headgear of GIIOHARGIIIVS I now discovered a small part of the trunk of the second tree, the leaves of which fill up the left upper corner of the tapestry. The lower part of the trunk is hidden behind GIIOHARGIIIVS.
  • I noted that GIIOHARGIIIVS had a very light beard.
  • I allready mentioned in the beginning that Tubal Cain is shown as being armed. There is a clearly visible hilt of a large dagger or a small sword at his left side. The blade however is allmost invisible but seems to run in a skewed way just next his left knee. All this is not very clear as the part of the tapestry below the hilt is heavily restored. Being armed seems to be in line with texts by Josephus and Comestor describing Tubal Cain.


This list is incomplete, NB the years are of course the publication years of the original texts. They are just intended for reference purposes.
NB the quotations are typed manually and may contain errors

Last Update: november 8, 2002
Comments / Feedback to Kees Verduin

To my home page