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is certainly just, that nothing can be more disagreeable to the eyes of those that are unaccustomed to the sight; for these pendants, by their weight, widen so extremely the hole of the ear, that one might put in two fingers, and stretch it more than one that never saw it would imagine. That intelligent traveller saw some of these ear-rings with figures upon them, and strange characters, which he believed were talismans or charms; but which were probably the names and symbols of their false gods. The Indians say they are preservatives against enchantment; upon which he hazards a very probable conjecture, that the ear-rings of Jacob's family were perhaps of this kind, which might be the reason of his demanding them, that he might bury them under the oak before they went up to Bethel.
Besides those ornamental rings in the nose and the ears, they wore others round the legs, which made a tinkling as they went. . This custom has also descended to the present times; for Rauwolff met with a number of Arabian women on the Euphrates, whose ankles and wrists were adorned with rings, sometimes a good many together, which moving up and down as they walked, made a great noise. Chardin attests the existence of the same custom in Persia, in Arabia, and in very hot countries, where they commonly go without stockings, but ascribes the tinkling sound to little bells fastened to those rings. In the East Indies, golden bells adorned the feet and ankles of the ladies from the earliest times; and from the banks of the Indus, it is probable the custom was introduced into the other countries of Asia *.
The Arabian females in Palestine and Syria, delight in the some ornaments, and according to the statements of a recent traveller, seem to claim the honour of leading the fashion. “ Their bodies are covered with a long blue shift ; upon their heads they wear two handkerchiefs; one as a hood, and the other bound over it, as a fillet across the temples. Just above the right nostril they place a small button, sometimes studded
* Maurice's Hist. of the East Indies, vol. 2. p. 38.
with pearl, a piece of glass, or any other glittering substance; this is fastened by a plug thrust through the cartilage of the
Sometimes they have the cartilaginous separation between the nostrils bored for a ring as large as those ordinarily used in Europe for hanging curtains; and this pendant in the upper lip covers the mouth ; so that, in order to eat, it is necessary to raise it. Their faces, hands and arms, are tattooed, and covered with hideous scars; their eye-lashes and eyes being always painted, or rather dirted with some dingy black or blue powder. Their lips are dyed of a deep and dusky blue, as if they had been eating black berries. Their teeth are jet black; their nails and fingers brick red; their wrists, as well as their ankles, are laden with large metal cinctures, studded with sharp pyramidal knobs and bits of glass. Very ponderous rings are also placed in their ears."
But the persons of the Assyrian ladies are elegantly clothed and scented with the richest oils and perfumes ; and it appears from the sacred Scriptures, that the Jewish females did not yield to them in the elegance of their dress, the beauty of their ornaments, and the fragrance of their essences.
So pleasing to the Redeemer is the exercise of divine grace in the heart and conduct of a true believer : “How much better is thy love than wine, and the smell of thine ointments than all spices? The smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon *. When a queen was to be chosen by the king of Persia instead of Vashti, the virgins collected at Susana, the capital, underwent a purification of twelve months duration, to wit, “ six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odours t." The general use of such precious oils and fragrant perfumes among the ancient Romans, particularly among ladies of rank and fashion, may be inferred from these words of Virgil : “ Ambrosiæque comæ divinum vertice odorem Spiravere: pedes vestis fluxit ad imos." Æn. b. 1. 403. Song iv. 10, 11.
+ Esther ii, 12.
“ From her head the ambrosial locks breathed divine fragrance; her robe hung waving down to the ground.” In the remote age of Homer, the Greeks had already learnt the lavish use of such perfumes; for in describing Juno's dress, he represents her pouring ambrosia and other perfumes all over her body:
Αλειψατο δε λιπ ελαιω, ,
1. 6. 12. 1. 197. Hence, to an eastern lady, no punishment could be more severe, none more mortifying to her delicacy, than a diseased and loathsome habit of body, instead of a beautiful skin, softened and made agreeable with all that art could devise, and all that nature, so prodigal in those countries of rich perfumes, could supply. Such was the punishment God threatened to send upon the haughty daughters of Zion in the days of Isaiah: “ And it shall come to pass, that instead of perfume there shall be ill savour; and instead of a girdle, a rent; and instead of well set hair, baldness; and instead of a stomacher, a girding of sackcloth; and a sun-burnt skin instead of beauty *."
The description which Pietro della Valle gives of his own wife, an Assyrian lady, born in Mesopotamia, and educated at Bagdad, whom he married in that country, will enable the reader to form a pretty distinct idea of the appearance and ornaments, of an oriental lady in full dress. “Her eye lashes, which are long, and according to the custom of the east, dressed with stibium, (as we often read in the holy Scriptures of the Hebrew women of old; and in Xenophon of Astyages, the grandfather of Cyrus, and the Medes of that line), give a dark, and at the same time a majestic shade to the eyes.
“ The ornaments of gold, and of jewels for the head, for the neck, for the arms, for the legs, and for the feet, (for they wear rings even on their toes), are, indeed, unlike those of the Turks, carried to great excess, but not of great value; for in Bagdad, jewels of high price either are not to be had, or are not used; and they wear such only as are of little value, as turqoises,
* Isa, iji. 24.
small rubies, emeralds, carbuncles, garnets, pearls, and the like. My spouse dresses herself with all of them, according to their fashion ; with exception, however, of certain ugly rings, of very large size, set with jewels, which, in truth, very absurdly, it is the custom to wear fastened to one of their nostrils, like buffaloes; an ancient custom, however, in the east, which, as we find in the holy Scriptures, prevailed among the Hebrew ladies, even in the time of Solomon * These nose rings, in compliance to me, she has left off; but I have not yet been able to prevail with her cousin, and her sisters, to do the same; so fond are they of an old custom, be it ever so absurd, who have been long habituated to it."
ILLUSTRATIONS OF SCRIPTURE FROM THE MEALS AND PUBLIC
ENTERTAINMENTS OF THE EAST.
In Greece and other countries, they had their morning meal, consisting of bread and wine unmixed with water; but to eat and drink in the morning was considered in Israel as an act of debauchery; and Solomon pronounces a woe upon the land, when the people of rank and influence indulged in the pleasures of the table at such an unseasonable time: “Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child, and thy princes eat in the morning.” The Jews might, perhaps, take a slight repast like the Greeks, about sun rising, although this is very uncertain ; but they neither sat down to meat, nor drank wine till after the morning sacrifice. The Syrians of the present day breakfast as soon as they get up in the morning, on a variety of solid food t ; which seems to indicate a change in the manners of the country in this instance. They dine about eleven o'clock in the fore
of Russel's Hist.
* Proy, xi. 22.
moon in winter, and rather earlier in summer; and sup
about five o'clock in the winter, and six in the summer. Their dinner is more sparing and short; their supper more rich and magnificent. Such also was the mode of living, in the primitive ages of Greece and Rome; frugal and temperate, they thought it sufficient to take a moderate and hasty breakfast; and after the business and labour of the day was over, refreshed themselves with a plentiful meal *. In many parts of the New Testament, the supper is in like manner mentioned as the principal meal: “Herod on his birth-day, made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee t;" and in the parable, a certain man made a great supper, and bade many 4. When Jesus visited Lazarus and his sisters, on his way to the passover, “they made him a supper 8."
The entertainments among the Jews appear to have been all of one kind, provided at the expense of one man; we have no instance in Scripture of the spavos so common among the Greeks ; an entertainment made at the common charge of all present, in which every man contributed his proportion. The materials of which the Jewish entertainments consisted, were at first plain and simple; these were commonly bread and milk, and fruits and herbs. Sparing in the use of flesh, like all the nations of the east, the chosen people usually satisfied their hunger with bread, and quenched their thirst in the running stream. So necessary were bread and water to their subsist. ence, that under these two words, they comprehended every species of food. Their bread was generally made of wheat or barley, or lentiles and beans. Bread of wheat flour, as being the most excellent, was preferred; barley bread was used only in times of scarcity and distress. It must not however be omitted, that in making bread, barley was used before any other sort of corn ; for it is reported, says Artemidorus, that this was the first food which the gods imparted to mankind; and
* Potter's Antiq. vol. 2. p. 353,
§ John xii. 2. VOL. II.