SAPECA, SAPÈQUE, s. This word is used at Macao for what we call cash (q.v.) in Chinese currency; and it is the word generally used by French writers for that coin. Giles says: “From sapek, a coin found in Tonquin and Cochin-China, and equal to about half a pfennig (1/600 Thaler), or about one-sixth of a German Kreutzer” (Gloss. of Reference, 122). We cannot learn much about this coin of Tonquin. Milburn says, under ‘Cochin China’: “The only currency of the country is a sort of cash, called sappica, composed chiefly of tutenague (see TOOTNAGUE), 600 making a quan: this is divided into 10 mace of 60 cash each, the whole strung together, and divided by a knot at each mace” (ed. 1825, pp. 444–445). There is nothing here inconsistent with our proposed derivation, given later on. Mace and Sappica are equally Malay words. We can hardly doubt that the true origin of the term is that communicated by our friend Mr. E. C. Baber: “Very probably from Malay sa, ‘one,’ and paku, ‘a string or file of the small coin called pichis.’ Pichis is explained by Crawfurd as ‘Small coin … money of copper, brass, or tin. … It was the ancient coin of Java, and also the only one of the Malays when first seen by the Portuguese.’ Paku is written by Favre peku (Dict. Malais-Français) and is derived by him from Chinese pé-ko, ‘cent.’ In the dialect of Canton pak is the word for ‘a hundred,’ and one pak is the colloquial term for a string of one hundred cash.” Sapeku would then be properly a string of 100 cash, but it is not difficult to conceive that it might through some misunderstanding (e.g. a confusion of peku and pichis) have been transferred to the single coin. There is a passage in Mr. Gerson da Cunha’s Contributions to the Study of Portuguese Numismatics, which may seem at first sight inconsistent with this derivation. For he seems to imply that the smallest denomination of coin struck by Albuquerque at Goa in 1510 was called cepayqua, i.e. in the year before the capture of Malacca, and consequent familiarity with Malay terms. I do not trace his authority for this; the word is not mentioned in the Commentaries of Alboquerque, and it is quite possible that the dinheiros, as these small copper coins were also called, only received the name cepayqua at a later date, and some time after the occupation of Malacca (see Da Cunha, pp. 11–12, and 22). [But also see the quotation of 1510 from Correa under PARDAO. This word has been discussed by Col. Temple (Ind. Antiq., August 1897, pp. 222 seq.), who gives quotations establishing the derivation from the Malay sapaku.

[1639.—“It (caxa, cash) hath a four-square hole through it, at which they string them on a Straw; a String of two hundred Caxaes, called Sata, is worth about three farthings sterling, and five Satas tyed together make a Sapocon. The Javians, when this money first came amongst them, were so cheated with the Novelty, that they would give six bags of Pepper for ten Sapocons, thirteen whereof amount to but a Crown.”—Mandelslo, Voyages, E.T. p. 117.

[1703.—“This is the reason why the Caxas are valued so little: they are punched in the middle, and string’d with little twists of Straw, two hundred in one Twist, which is called Santa, and is worth nine Deniers. Five Santas tied together make a thousand Caxas, or a Sapoon (? Sapocon).”—Collection of Dutch Voyages, 199.

[1830.—“The money current in Bali consists solely of Chinese pice with a hole in the centre. … They however put them up in hundreds and thousands; two hundred are called satah, and are equal to one rupee copper, and a thousand called Sapaku, are valued at five rupees.”—Singapore Chronicle, June 1830, in Moor, Indian Archip. p. 94.

[1892.—“This is a brief history of the Sapec (more commonly known to us as the cash), the only native coin of China, and which is found everywhere from Malaysia to Japan.”—Ridgeway, Origin of Currency, 157.]

SAPPAN-WOOD, s. The wood of Caesalpina sappan; the bakkam of the Arabs, and the Brazil-wood of medieval commerce. Bishop Caldwell at one time thought the Tamil name, from which this was taken, to have been given because the wood was supposed to come from Japan. Rumphius says that Siam and Champa are the original countries of the Sappan, and quotes from Rheede that in Malabar it was called Tsajampangan, suggestive apparently of a possible derivation from Champa. The mere fact that it does not come from Japan would not disprove this derivation any more than the fact that turkeys and maize did not originally come from Turkey would disprove the fact of he birds and the grain (gran turco) having got names from such a belief. But the tree appears to be indigenous in Malabar, the Deccan, and the Malay Peninsula; whilst the Malayal. shappannam, and the Tamil shappu, both signifying ‘red (wood),’ are apparently derivatives from shawa, ‘to be red,’ and suggest another origin as most probable. [The Mad. Gloss. gives Mal. chappannam, from chappu, ‘leaf,’ Skt. anga, ‘body’; Tam. shappangam.] The Malay word is also sapang, which Crawfurd supposes to have originated the trade-name. If, however, the etymology just suggested be correct, the word must have passed from Continental India to the Archipelago.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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