Saturday, March 06, 2004

Kaul and Cowl

The head garment worn by the ancient priests, e.g. the Egyptian Monks, is a COWL and this too continues the similar etymology we have found for KAUL generally as involving the head.

I. Marc Carlson has compiled a "Glossary of some medieval clothing terms" from which the following entry is taken:


[The derivation and form-history present difficulties. OE. renders L. cuculla by cuele, cule, cuhle and cule, weak fem.; also cufle wk. f. The former comes down in 12-13th c. cole, and the coule, cowle (coole) of later times; cufle may be the parent of kuuele (which in Ancren R. would regularly stand for kuvele), couele, kuuel, couel. OE. cuele is cognate with OHG. cucula, cugula, chugela (MHG. kugele, kugel, gugel, LG. kogel), a. eccl. Lat. cuculla monk's cowl, from cl. L. cucullus hood of a cloak. OE. cufle appears to be cognate with MDu. covele, cövel(e fem., in Kilian kovel, mod.Du. keuvel 'cowl', and to be connected with (perh. the origin of) Icel. kofl, kufl str. masc. 'cowl'. The history of cufle and its allied forms is obscure.]

A garment with a hood (vestis caputiata), worn by monks, varying in length in different ages and according to the usages of different orders, but 'having the permanent characteristics of covering the head and shoulders, and being without sleeves' (Cath. Dict.). Also, formerly, a cloak or frock worn by laymen or by women. The cl. Lat. cucullus was the hood of a cloak, covering the head only. The cowls of the early Egyptian monks covered the heads, and barely reached the shoulders; by 800 the cowls of monks had become so long as to reach their heels, when St. Benedict restricted their length to two cubits. In the 14th c. the cowl and the frock were often confounded; but it was declared at the Council of Vienne 'we understand by the name of cuculla a habit long and full, but not having sleeves, and by that of floccus a long habit which has long and wide sleeves'. See Du Cange s.v. Cuculla.

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