On My Mind: 3-8-20

"Daughters of Pacini, Giovannina and Amazilia" by Karl Bryullov

Giovannina and Amazilia/Amacilia - While looking at art by Karl Bryullov I came across a gorgeous painting of two girls who were the daughters of the Italian composer Giovanni Pacini. Their names were Giovannina, a diminutive of Giovanna, and Amazilia, sometimes called Amacilia. I can't find much on either version, except for a genus of hummingbird called Amazilia, but they're both gorgeous.

Artwork by Iben Sandemose
Iben - I have a soft spot for girls names that end in an N or an O or any other letter that seems to be more common for boys. Scandinavian Iben is no exception. Thought to possibly be a feminine form of the Danish nickname Ib, short for Jakob, it is also associated with the Danish word ibenholt, "ebony". Children's book author and illustrator Iben Sandemose gives it a touch of the whimsical.

Arantzazu - There's this Spanish painter, Arantzazu Martinez, who's work just takes my breath away. And her name does, too. It comes from a place near the town Oñati where there is a Franciscan shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary called "The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Arantzazu". Arantzazu means "thorn-bush" or more poetically, "place abounding in hawthorn". The legend states that the Virgin Mary appeared to the shepherd Rodrigo de Balanzategui in a thorn-bush, and he cried out "Arantzan zu?" meaning "Thou, among the thorns?".


  1. Amazilia really is an interesting name. At first glance it looks like an elaborated form of the Amazon River, doesn’t it?

    I tried searching for the source of the name. I found it used in a few plays set in the Incan Empire, the name Amazili used as the name of an Incan priestess or heroine. The name’s use seems to have originated from a French novel titled Les Incas (1777) by Jean-François Marmontel, the name of the Incan heroine, whose name was Amazili. I don’t know for sure but it seems that Marmontel likely based it from the Amazon River, and Amazilia was adopted from the name Amazili.

    There’s a play titled Jessonda (1822) which seems to be set in India, with a character (I’m assuming she’s Indian) named Amazilia

    An opera titled Alonso e Cora (written around the 1780s) written by an Italian composer who based it on Marmontel’s novel.

    There’s also a play called The Virgin of the Sun by German dramatist August von Kotzebue which seems to have been inspired or based on Alonso e Cora, but I’m not sure.

    I posted a few links below if you want to look through them.

    [] http://westtexashummingbirds.com/information/species-accounts/violet-crowned/






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