SAFFRON (Heb. כַּרְכֹּם, karkom), the Crocus sativus; an aromatic golden dye was extracted from the stigmas of its golden blossoms. It was also dried and used for flavoring foods. In the Bible karkom is mentioned once among the various spices that grew in the imaginary spice garden to which the charms of the beloved are compared (Song 4:14). Most of them are enumerated in an early baraita as ingredients of the incense used in the Temple (Ker. 6a; v. Pittum ha-Ketoret). Since both passages refer to tropical spices brought from distant lands, Immanuel Loew was of the opinion that the karkom is a tropical incense plant, the Curcuma longa, called by the ancients "Indian saffron," Crocus indicus. This belongs to the family of Zingiberaceae from whose rhizome a golden yellow material called Curcumin is extracted and used for dyeing and flavoring food, as well as for dyeing clothes. This identification is doubtful, however, because the substance is not especially aromatic, nor is there any reason to doubt the traditional explanation that biblical karkom is indeed identical with saffron (Sanskrit kurkuma, Gr. and Lat. krokos). It is a tuber which apparently originated in the mountains of the Caspian Sea region. Its name in Aramaic and Arabic is zafrana, from which the word saffron is derived. During the mishnaic and talmudic period saffron was widely used in Ereẓ Israel and Babylon. It was planted in fields, and a "field full of saffron" was considered very precious. According to tradition, Joshua the son of Nun had already made regulations with regard to this plant (BK 81a). The verb nitkarkem (i.e., "turned yellow," pale) derives from the yellow color of the karkom (Gen. R. 99:9 et al.). In the Talmud, Abbaye describes the structure of the stigma from which the saffron was extracted (Nid. 20a). In medieval times saffron was a valuable commodity and Jews traded extensively in it. Since some adulterated saffron by adding fibers of horse meat to it, Solomon b. Abraham adret of Barcelona in the 13th century forbade its use in food. The yellow badge the Jews were compelled to wear – according to the first papal decree instituting it – had to be dyed with saffron (see singermann in bibl.). The importance of saffron has diminished, although Oriental Jews occasionally use it to color and flavor their food. It is hardly grown at all in Israel. Seven species of crocus, some with very beautiful flowers, grow wild in Israel. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: F. Singermann, Ueber Juden-Abzeichen (1915); Loew, Flora, 2 (1924), 7–25; H.N. and A.L. Moldenke, Plants of the Bible (1952), index; J. Feliks, Olam ha-Ẓome'aḥ ha-Mikra'i (19682), 249–51. (Jehuda Feliks)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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  • Saffron — Saf fron (?; 277), n. [OE. saffran, F. safran; cf. It. zafferano, Sp. azafran, Pg. a[,c]afr[ a]o; all fr. Ar. & Per. za far[=a]n.] 1. (Bot.) A bulbous iridaceous plant ({Crocus sativus}) having blue flowers with large yellow stigmas. See {Crocus} …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Saffron — Saf fron (?; 277), a. Having the color of the stigmas of saffron flowers; deep orange yellow; as, a saffron face; a saffron streamer. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Saffron — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Samantha Marie Sprackling Información personal Nombre real Samantha Marie Sprackling Nacimiento 3 de junio, 1968 (41 años) Ibadan, Nigeria …   Wikipedia Español

  • Saffron — Saf fron, v. t. To give color and flavor to, as by means of saffron; to spice. [Obs.] [1913 Webster] And in Latyn I speak a wordes few, To saffron with my predication. Chaucer. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • saffron — [saf′rən] n. [ME saffroun < OFr safran < ML safranum < Ar zaʼfarān] 1. a perennial Old World plant (Crocus sativus) of the iris family, with funnel shaped, purplish flowers having orange stigmas 2. the dried, aromatic stigmas of this… …   English World dictionary

  • saffron — (n.) c.1200, from O.Fr. safran (12c.), from M.L. safranum (Cf. It. zafferano, Sp. azafran), ultimately from Arabic za faran, of unknown origin …   Etymology dictionary

  • saffron — ► NOUN ▪ an orange yellow spice used for flavouring and colouring food, made from the dried stigmas of a crocus. ORIGIN Arabic …   English terms dictionary

  • Saffron — For other uses, see Saffron (disambiguation). Saffron crocus …   Wikipedia

  • saffron — /saf reuhn/, n. 1. Also called vegetable gold. a crocus, Crocus sativus, having showy purple flowers. 2. an orange colored condiment consisting of its dried stigmas, used to color and flavor foods. 3. Also, saffron yellow. yellow orange. [1150… …   Universalium

  • saffron — [[t]sæ̱frɒn[/t]] 1) N UNCOUNT Saffron is a yellowish orange powder obtained from a flower and used to give flavour and colouring to some foods. ...saffron rice. 2) COLOUR Saffron is a yellowish orange colour. ...a Buddhist in saffron robes …   English dictionary

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