In this post from a few months ago I expressed my pleasure at finding “a strange international word of the day [the early 19th century] that’s been utterly forgotten,” and now I’ve run across another one. I’m back to Veltman, reading his 1835 story “Эротида” [Erotida], which involves a frame story in which a Poet is telling, or rather reading (his guests “frowned at the word read“), a tale of a brigadier who never tired of reliving his glory days under Catherine and who was bringing up his daughter Erotida (“he loved enigmatic Greek names and he had found this one either in the Hypotyposis or in the Complete Church Calendar“) exactly as he would have brought up a son, giving her toy soldiers to play with, teaching her to march and ride, and in general “preparing her for service in the dragoons” (all my English quotes are from the translation by James Gebhard in Selected Stories, to my knowledge the only Veltman available in English). In discussing the bygone delights of aristocratic life at Kuskovo in the previous century, Veltman indulges his love of obscure and foreign words (Russian below the cut):

Having dined, the honored guests would sit down to play préférence, la mouche, panfil, tercet, bassette, mariage, hombre . . . The ladies would stroll in the garden, where the trees would be hung from top to bottom with pineapples, oranges, and peaches . . . On the pond from a gilded boat came the sound of horn music — as if it were the last coming. Then would come a brilliant theatrical performance . . . Oh, the mastery of the actors and all of them homegrown! As for stagecraft, there were all kinds of machines — things moved by themselves! Then would come the ball: the polonaise, the pergu[r]din, the monimaska, the minuet. And what gowns!

It goes on, but we’ve come to the part I want to single out. I noticed pergu[r]din (пергурдин) because it was clearly a variant of перигурдин, which I had just encountered in Sollogub’s История двух калош [Story of two galoshes] and which this site tells me represents French Périgourdine (presumably a dance originating in Périgord). But what really caught my attention was monimaska (манимаска), which reminded me of bergamasque: what kind of name was it? French, Italian, Spanish? The truth turned out to be much stranger.
After various flailings I won’t trouble you with, I discovered this site, where if you scroll down to MONEY MUSK/MONYMUSK you will discover a lengthy history of what turns out to be a Scottish dance tune:

A pipe tune (written within the range of nine notes, with the so-called ‘double tonic’ tonality) and the name of an Aberdeenshire, Scotland, estate called Monymusk House, long in the possession of the Grant family. ‘Moneymusk’ is the ‘Englished’ version of the Gaelic words Muine Muisc meaning a noxious weed or bush. The tune was composed by Daniel (sometimes Donald) Dow (1732‑1783) in 1776 and first appeared in his Thirty Seven New Reels, c. 1780 (pg. 5), under the title “Sir Archibald Grant of Monymusk’s Strathspey” […] Linscott (1939) says the melody was called “The Countess of Airly” in the early 18th century, and came from the village of Monymusk, in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, although by what authority he makes this claim is not known. […] It has since that time [1799] been generally known simply as “Monymusk” or its alternate spellings and variations. Christine Martin (2002) uses the tune as an example of one of the vehicles for a foursome reel, and says “Monymusk” is often used for dancing the Highland Fling.

And scrolling down a little further I struck pay dirt: “Paul Gifford reports that a history of Romanian music by Poslusnicu gives that ‘Money Musk’ (recorded as ‘manimasca’) was one of the dances at a nobleman’s ball in Bucovina, Moldavia, sometime after 1812, and that the music was not unlikely played by Jewish musicians.” Bucovina is one of Veltman’s old stomping grounds, and he may well have heard it there and noted down the Romanian form of the name, manimasca, squirreling it away for future use. Thus does a Scotch reel turn up in an evocation of Catherinian noble balls! (I presume Gebhard changed the first a in manimasca to o to better suggest the English source.)
The OED has a new entry (Third Edition, September 2002) s.v. money musk defining it as “A kind of country dance for three couples in longways sets” and giving the etymology as “< Monymusk (formerly also Monemusk, Moneymusk), the name of a village in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, which was rebuilt in the 18th cent. as a planned village for estate workers by Sir Archibald Grant (see below).” The first citation is from 1792 (E. P. Simcoe Diary 4 June vii. 86, “I was very near fainting after having danced Money Musk”) and the last from 1999 (Boston Globe 28 Feb. [New Hampshire Weekly] 11 “Bob McQuillen, piano, Jane Orzechowski, fiddle and Deanna Stiles, flute..took a crack at ‘Money Musk’, a difficult contra dance tune that dates back hundreds of years”).

The original:

откушают — почетные садятся играть в преферанс, в ламуш, в панфил, в тресет, в басет, в марьяж, в ломбер… Дамы идут прогуливаться в сад, деревья от маковки до корня унизаны ананасами, апельсинами, персиками… На пруду раззолоченная шлюпка, роговая музыка гремит, как на страшном суде. Потом театр воздушный… что за актеры!.. а все доморощенные!.. про кулисы и говорить нечего: машина на машине — сами двигаются!.. Потом откроется бал… пойдут полонез, пергурдин, манимаску, менуэт… А что за наряды!


  1. There seems to be more uncertainty than I’d expect on Monymusk:
    monadh-muice ‘boar’s hill’ (and explicitly disclaiming the next).
    Monadh ‘a hill’ and musach ‘low marshy ground’.
    “so named from the two-fold nature of the ground it consists of”.
    moine musgach ‘filthy bog’.

  2. French Périgourdine
    any connection to Argentine <- Italian slang “perigundin / pirigundin”, a dance salon of ill repute where the men could pay for a “lata”, a tin token entitling its holder to a set number of dances with a hired woman?

  3. No wonder you like a good ‘tec story, Hat. Well done.

  4. There was at least one person with Aberdeen connections at Catherine’s court: Dr Thomas Dimsdale (English-born, but a graduate of Aberdeen University) who was notable for inoculating the Russian royal family against smallpox.
    And perhaps slightly more relevantly, her personal physician and adviser, John Rogerson, was a Dumfriesshire man who would certainly have been no stranger to Scottish country dances.

  5. marie-lucie says

    la périgourdine
    The TLFI does not have a separate entry for this word but mentions it under the adjective périgourdin as a dance performed in le Périgord (a province in SW France) . It does not describe this dance but refers the reader to les olivettes, a similar dance from Provence which was performed after the olive harvest. These dances were similar to la farandole, a better-known Provençal dance.
    These are all lively, fast “chain dances” in which the dancers form a single line, holding each other’s hands. For les olivettes, which was performed outside, the line snakes in and out and around three trees. It seems that la périgourdine substituted chairs for trees for performance indoors.
    It is not surprising that the word périgourdine should have been altered in the process of borrowing in various languages. The Argentine word is no doubt the same one. My guess is that one dance hall adopted the word as its name and it then spread to other such places as a generic word.

  6. “There seems to be more uncertainty than I’d expect on Monymusk”: heavens, even the derivation of Dumfries, a modestly important county town, is just rather feeble guesswork.
    Awfully dark, the Dark Ages. And, at that latitude, awfully long.

  7. I wonder though (pretty much unanswerable questions) how much the music to which the manimasca was danced resembles the scottish country dance tune. I suspect that it was one tune that had its own unique dance (i. e. not a class of tunes like minuets). Probably underwent some changes on the eastward trip. Is it possible, I wonder, that a descendant of the tune may have been recorded in the repertoire of folk musicians in Moldavia or elsewhere?

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