This Italian and Jewish surname of PERLMAN was an occupational name for a trader in pearls, which in the Middle Ages were fashionable among the rich for the ornamentation of clothes. The name was rendered in medieval documents in the Latin form PERLA. The name was also an Ashkenazic Jewish ornamental name, an Anglicized form of the Yiddish female given name PERL, a translation of the Hebrew MARGALIT. The name was originally from a Latin female personal name MARGARITA, and was borne by several early Christian saints, and became a popular female given name throughout Europe. Other spellings of the name include PEARL, PEREL, PERLE, PEARLMAN, PERELSMAN, PERLESMAN, PERLI, LA PERNA and PERLA to name but a few. Despite evidence that hereditary surnames were in use in the Venetian Republic as early as the 10th Century, the origin of many Italian surnames is unclear. There is still a great potential for research into medieval Italian records while documented evidence indicates the adoption of the father's name as a surname is the most common form. The familiar endings of "i" and "o", meaning to be a member of a certain family, bears this out. The Church played a very important role in Central Italian heraldry and many Italian families who derived their titles from popes incorporated elements of the papal insignia, notably the papal tiara and the crossed keys, on their Coats of Arms. As in the rest of Europe, the turbulent history of Italy in the Middle Ages is reflected in its heraldry. Traces remain from the successive invasions of the Germans, French, Spanish and Austrians. Certain characteristics, such as the use of horse-shaped shields which were put on the foreheads of horses during tournaments, remain uniquely Italian. A notable member of the name is Itzhak PERLMAN, born in 1945. The Violinist, born in Tel Aviv, the son of Polish immigrants, he was crippled by polio as a child, and took up the violin with enthusiasm, playing in public from the age of nine. He studied at the Juilliard School, New York City, and made his debut at Carnegie Hall in 1963, and in London in 1968. He is a noted chamber music player, and has recorded almost all the standard violin works.
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