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Author Topic: of Torties, Calicos & Calamancs  (Read 11092 times)
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JoMax
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« on: September 09, 2009, 05:56:29 AM »

The debate on Tortie/Calico (started in Eppie's thread in 'the Den') reminded me of some research I did last year into the term Calamanc which I'd come across whilst looking into northern UK dialects:-

The term ‘Calamanc/o’ in relation to tortie cats seems to come from the mottled pattern of a cloth which then became used to describe the cat’s coat – much as the epithet ‘tabby’ most likely comes from the eastern ‘tabiyah’ patterned rugs.

I particularly like this Lancashire dialect reference which was where my hunt started (when I was researching UK dialects in my first year!):

From:  Dialect - A Glossary of Lancashire Words as Spoken in Mawdesley:
     CALAMANCA. a tortoiseshell cat.
http://www.mawdesley-village.org.uk/dialect.html

I was intrigued so searched for the origin of this word :
1.  From: "The London encyclopaedia, or Universal dictionary of science, art, literature, and practical mechanics, comprising a popular view of the present state of knowledge”  - 1837
      CALAMAN'CO. Lat. caula monicha, a sort
      of woollen stuff, so called from being used by
      monks. In the middle ages Dr. Johnson says it
      signified a hat. It is manufactured in England,
      Brabant, and Flanders, particularly at Lisle,
      Tournay, Antwerp, and a few other towns. It has
      a fine gloss ; and is chequered in the warp, whence
      the cheques appear only on the right side. Some
      calamancoes are quite plain, others hare broad
      stripes adorned with flowers, some with plain
      broad stripes, some with narrow stripes, and
      others watered.
http://www.archive.org/stream/londonencyclopae05londiala/londonencyclopae05londiala_djvu.txt

2.  from Brewers Dictionary of Phrase and Fable:
E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
      Calamanco Cat (A).  A tortoise-shell cat. Calamanco is a glossy woollen fabric,
      sometimes striped or variegated. It is the Spanish word Calamáco.
http://www.bartleby.com/81/2817.html[/color]

The use must have been widespread enough to have migrated to the US - it appears in the
Dictionary of American Regional English
I cant get images to embed in my postings (???my browser) so trying attaching + here's the link:
http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=MdENdlKWZ8AC&pg=RA1-PA509&lpg=
RA1-PA509&dq=%22calamanco%22+cat&source=bl&ots=J3M2JvmFfD&sig=
C7thy36FsftTXvJJa5XbXxMbEiE&hl=en&ei=4omnSraPEcHajQfLrsy3CA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6#v=onepage&q=%22calamanco%22%20cat&f=false


* c2.bmp (96.12 KB, 512x384 - viewed 376 times.)
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"I can think of many ways in which I would become a better person if I were more like my cats. But I cannot think of a single way in which my cats would be any better for being more like me."  A.N.Wilson
JustMe
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« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2009, 06:11:47 AM »

Thanks, JoMax.  I find this an interesting subject. 

The first image here is described as a "calicomanco" cat.  Two of my kitties are similar to this one.  My husband lovingly refers to them as "painted cats".  I think of them as "patchwork cats" like a patchwork quilt where one pattern of fur abrubtly ends and another pattern begins.  Quite fascinating.  I could look at their fur for quite awhile and still see different patterns I hadn't noticed before. 

http://catslovely.blogsome.com/2009/03/31/tortoiseshell-and-calico-cats/

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Eventually they will understand,
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For I will whisper into their hearts
That I am always with them
I just am....forever and ever and ever.
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JoMax
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« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2009, 08:18:22 AM »

I think the term calico is one we dont hear over here (UK) - they are always labelled tortie / tortie/white.
What I loved was the way it comes from such an old word.

And here's another excuse to post a pic of my eppie - I think she's mostly a calico, running to tortie mottling around her rear - but I love the older term calamanc - it does have a lanky dialect ring (I live in the beleaguered south but my sister is in Lancaster!)




* EppGwydirBathrmshelf.JPG (103.05 KB, 287x400 - viewed 379 times.)
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"I can think of many ways in which I would become a better person if I were more like my cats. But I cannot think of a single way in which my cats would be any better for being more like me."  A.N.Wilson
catbird
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« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2009, 02:22:21 PM »

I do love seeing pictures of cute Eppie!  This is a subject of fascination to me, too, because three of my five cats are "variegated."  By the definitions that JustMe posted, however, only Phantom among mine would be considered a tricolor, because she has blue, cream, and white.  Her colors are patched in her head area, but more mottled on her body. 



What you can see close up is that there is a mottling of both cream and white through the grey ("blue") areas in Phantom's coat:



I had never heard the term "calamanc" for a cat before.  I wonder if that word is related to our word "calico", since they sound so similar.  Very interesting.

Phantom's picture here also serves to illustrate an observation I made before about the difference in face shape between British and American shorthairs.  Phantom has a typical American face shape, much more pointed than that of even Jo's male Max.

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The problem with cats is that they get the exact same look on their face whether they see a moth or an axe-murderer--Paula Poundstone
JoMax
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« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2009, 05:10:15 AM »

Ahhhh - Catbird she's gorgeous. What varegated colours are the others?
I think 'Calamanc' is one of those old-fashioned words which has survived only in regional dialects - including some of the American regional ones from that last dictionary entry.  I think it's due a revival tho!
(a bit like our word 'yon' which has died out in all but some rural northern parts.)

It's the same idea (mottled/patterned) but being made from wool a different type of cloth to calico which was made of cotton - look at this entry:
http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=58713

Most UK cats tend to be around 7-9lbs however, Eppie is only 7lbs, and Max 7-7.5 through the last 5 years I had him (when in ill periods he'd drop around c.6.5lbs)

Back to the muzzle thing - the only cats here who still have that longer face are the oriental pure-breds - in fact if we see a cat with a longer muzzle we usually surmise there's some siamese in the ancestry!
This is strange because its also a feature of cats in S.Europe who are ferals - I always notice this when I'm in Greece or Spain (see last pic).  So at some point the UK cat genetics moved in favour of the rounder-faces. - probably after cats crossed to the US with the early settlers/ships (? I assume that's how they got there, I don't think there were any indigineous ones?)

Hmmm - interesting topic, maybe someone else on the forums knows more about it all?
« Last Edit: March 19, 2010, 11:15:39 AM by JoMax » Logged

"I can think of many ways in which I would become a better person if I were more like my cats. But I cannot think of a single way in which my cats would be any better for being more like me."  A.N.Wilson
JoMax
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« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2009, 05:11:14 AM »

 (Must get the hang of embedded pics!)


* Foleg Chora - Kastro entrance 2 w catc.JPG (94.89 KB, 301x339 - viewed 384 times.)
« Last Edit: March 19, 2010, 11:16:05 AM by JoMax » Logged

"I can think of many ways in which I would become a better person if I were more like my cats. But I cannot think of a single way in which my cats would be any better for being more like me."  A.N.Wilson
petslave
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« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2009, 05:58:06 AM »

I've always loved the sweet round faces & big eyes of the British shorthairs too.  They are the quintessential cat to me.  I didn't realize they were also much smaller.  How very cute!

Actually, come to think of it, the original style siamese over here used to have a rounder face than the common domestic shorthair.  Now they have the very skinny look - face, legs, tail, huge ears.  Greta looks like a beautiful classic siamese.  What a wonderful present to receive while on a country walk.

Catbird, Phantom looks like a torbie - a tortie with tabby stripes.  I see a few little stripes peaking out on her sides and forehead.  Or a torbiecalamanc!
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JustMe
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« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2009, 06:10:47 AM »

They're beautiful kitties JoMax!

These are some of my kitties, the ones for lack of a better description I think are calicotorties, torties, and a torbie (tortie and tabby combo)






   




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Eventually they will understand,
Replied the glorious cat
For I will whisper into their hearts
That I am always with them
I just am....forever and ever and ever.
Poem for Cats, author unknown

"A kitten in the animal kingdom is like a rosebud in a garden", author unknown
JoMax
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« Reply #8 on: September 10, 2009, 10:21:45 AM »

Justme - they're lovely, but who is who?
The first one in pics 1 & 2 is a def calico - she has that same impudent look as eppie too!  I just love how the mottling extends to the paw-pads too - so cute.

Are pic 3 & 4 different cats ? - sorry markings look similar altho' one darker & eyes look different colours but that could be the light.

I think pic 5 is the same cat as 4?

What a wonderful palette of tortie-calico-calamanc-calbie/torbies.
But not to sideline that loveley tabby & white in pic 5 either - looks like a boy?

Is that 5 or 6 different cats you have....or more?
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"I can think of many ways in which I would become a better person if I were more like my cats. But I cannot think of a single way in which my cats would be any better for being more like me."  A.N.Wilson
catwoods
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« Reply #9 on: September 10, 2009, 12:23:32 PM »

I just love this thread in so many ways! For one thing, the photos of all these gorgeous cats! Between my Mom's house and mine, we've had three tortie/calico/calamancs, but the photos of them are not on digital so I can't display them here.

Another thing, I'm fascinated by word origins and regional language variants, as well the way slang and innovation, words from other languages, and regional ways of speech all work together to expand the language. In The Lives of a Cell, science writer Lewis Thomas included an essay on the ways language changes and said, "Language is the one great project worked on by the whole of humanity without any one individual being aware of his role in the process".

JustMe, I love those descriptions of the cats that you and your DH use!

I like the following quote even though it might be viewed as advocating a particular religeous path; I think it's more like, using the concepts. (I myself see truth in all paths when it comes to spiritual matters). In My Cat Spit McGee, Mississippi author Willie Morris speaks of a kitten that he and his wife have rescued, "...started purring all over. I began examining her calico spots, black, orange, and tan, interspersed with creamy white, which looked so perfectly contrived that even the most adamant disbeliever might have been seduced into seeing in their incredible symmetry the touch of a divine hand". this reminds me of William Blake's "Tyger, tyger, burning bright....."

Although I like the quote, I do disagree about the patterning being "symmetry". Most of the calico/tortie/calamancs I have seen have markings I would call charmingly asymmetrical. The faces especially, like we see here on Phantom, Cassi, and Eppie; and the front legs, which on one of mine, were dilute (blue) on one leg, and white on the other.

I think the breeding of the Siamese with narrow faces is a more recent trend. Some breeders still breed more traditional Siamese, which are called "apple heads", but their faces are still not as round as the faces of British kitties.

I've read that cats weren't native to America and did come on ships. And also that cats were always crucial on ships to control the rats, and so cats went everywhere in the world. That is, in the days before rodenticides.  Tongue
« Last Edit: January 15, 2010, 05:16:35 PM by catwoods » Logged
catbird
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« Reply #10 on: September 10, 2009, 02:22:04 PM »

Cool stuff!  Thanks for the additional cat pictures, Jo, it is always very interesting to compare cats around the world.  They are very beautiful.  I have noticed that Japanese cats seem to be smaller, stockier, and rounder than our American cats, too--maybe August could comment on that?

Catwoods, I love the comparison of Willie Morris's description of the calico with Blake's "Tyger, tyger!"  (one of my favorite poems BTW, simply for the power of the language and the description of the tiger.)

Here are my other variegated cats.  First, two views of Kalahari, who is definitely a tortie-tabby.  She has a classic tabby (as opposed to mackerel tabby) pattern, overlaid with splotches of orange:


From the front, what you mostly see is tabby.  But with other views, the variegation in her coloring and the amount of orange is more noticeable:




I've always said that Isis, my black-and-orange cat, looks like an orange tabby that someone tried to spray-paint black, and didn't quite finish the job.  She has both lighter and darker orange, and in the larger orange areas, as on her chest and the top of her head, there is clearly orange striping:

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catwoods
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« Reply #11 on: September 10, 2009, 03:29:29 PM »

Catbird, although my Pretty Girl and her daughter are mackerel tabbies or torbies, the daughter looks alot like Kalihari. (When PG walked up and claimed our grounds as her own, she already had two kittens with her. We keep all our cats spayed and neutered.) The girl was adopted by a friend, and our vet found a good home for the boy.)

PG has a few orange places blended in, very small ones on her head and neck, and a larger patch just behind her shoulders. The girl kitten has many more orange spots, like Kalahari; along with those beautiful green eyes, also shared by PG. Maybe PG met a fella who had more orange than she did. Smiley

Love your "spray-paint" explanation for the way that Isis got her markings.

The Blake "Tyger" poem is one of my favorties, too.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2009, 03:40:25 PM by catwoods » Logged
petslave
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« Reply #12 on: September 10, 2009, 07:52:52 PM »

Kalahari also looks like a British shorthair!  She's got the black feet typical of a tabby, how cute.

My Callie cat that I lost about 5 years ago was a torbie Cymric, which is a long hair Manx.  She was small and soft and very sweet.  Very different from my crazy big short hair tabby/white male Manx that I have now.  Info on Cymrics:

http://www.acfacat.com/cymric_synopsis.htm
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JoMax
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« Reply #13 on: September 11, 2009, 07:18:08 AM »

"Spraypaint"  Grin Grin
My ex & I used to look at Eppie's markings with amusment/fascination
I sometimes used to ask: "Did they run out of black half way through your face". 
And, as I may have said on Eppie's thread, he used to say: "Jackson  Pollock did your coat".


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"I can think of many ways in which I would become a better person if I were more like my cats. But I cannot think of a single way in which my cats would be any better for being more like me."  A.N.Wilson
JustMe
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« Reply #14 on: September 11, 2009, 08:39:30 AM »

Justme - they're lovely, but who is who?
The first one in pics 1 & 2 is a def calico - she has that same impudent look as eppie too!  I just love how the mottling extends to the paw-pads too - so cute.

Are pic 3 & 4 different cats ? - sorry markings look similar altho' one darker & eyes look different colours but that could be the light.

I think pic 5 is the same cat as 4?

What a wonderful palette of tortie-calico-calamanc-calbie/torbies.
But not to sideline that loveley tabby & white in pic 5 either - looks like a boy?

Is that 5 or 6 different cats you have....or more?


Thanks JoMax,

All girls, 4 of my 16 cats.  The remainder are black/white combos, silver/white, buff-orange/white, and lots of black ones.

Photos 1 and 2 are the same cat, Cassiopeia/Cassi.  She's my "walk on the wild side, patchwork/painted, gypsy kitty.   Tongue

Photos 2, 3, and kitty on the left in #4, are the same kitty, Freddie (my hubby calls her Sphynx because our cats seem to like the sound....spffffffhnxxxxx, with the accent on the "f"sound.

Photo #5 is my little kitty, Calli/Baby Cat, another painted/patchwork quilt.   Tongue

Kitty on the right in photo 4 is Smokey.  She's got like 4 colors going there.  White bib/paws, black stripes, gray, reddish brown dabs , tabby markings, stripes and swirls on each side.  Smokey is momma cat to all the newcoming youngsters, even though she never had a litter of her own.  Freddie snuggles with Smokey at nap time.




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Eventually they will understand,
Replied the glorious cat
For I will whisper into their hearts
That I am always with them
I just am....forever and ever and ever.
Poem for Cats, author unknown

"A kitten in the animal kingdom is like a rosebud in a garden", author unknown
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