Wax, but no Brazilian

Words, how can you not love them?

Since before recorded history, words have been our constant companions. We give birth to them every time we open our mouths and speak. They laugh with us, cry with us and grow old with us. They are a part of what differentiates us, as sentient creatures.

Passions, needs and desires were the first expressions of universally understood words. It is thought that the first written words were devised to communicate laws and instructions for living. Over time, words both written and spoken have become the most significant and efficient means of controlling large numbers of people.

Single words can pertain to something unique while two words conjoined often impart meaning greater than the sum of their parts.

Two such words are Sine and Cera. Sine from the Latin (sin) meaning without and Cera which means wax. Conjoined the meaning is “without wax.”

At least two derivations may be gleaned from the joined words. Sine cera, in one sense, has come to mean authentic, real, faithful and original. Whilst also in another sense it pertains to honesty, trust and sincerity.

In ancient times, Romans described their most precious works of original art as being Sincere (Without Wax). This derives from a technique employed by unscrupulous dealers to increase the value of marble sculptures. As marble ages, tiny cracks appear in the patina which they filled with wax to make them indistinguishable from new and thus command higher prices. Ironically, in the 21st Century, classical works which have not been tampered with and which are consequently cracked and uneven tend to be considerably more valuable.

A further meaning of Sine Cera is derived from letter writing and the safe, or trusted, carriage of documents. In days long gone, letters and deeds of trust were sealed with wax, the seal to be broken only by the recipient. The contents of these documents were private and the carriers, being mostly strangers, should not, as a matter of honour, break the seal (break their trust).

On the other hand, a document without a seal of wax, often signed Yours sincerely (Yours without wax), implies that those entrusted with its safe delivery, as well as the recipient, were sincere, trustworthy and honest.

© Rod McRiven 2020

Photo by: Zack Jarosz
Photo by: Anna Shvets

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