Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

supposed to mean, by - renting the eyes" (not, as we render it, with painting, but) with (710,) lead ore. The sooty colour, which is thus communicated to the eyes, is thought to add a wonderful gracefulness to persons of all complexions. The practice may be traced to a very remote period; for, besides the instance mentioned by Jeremiah, we find in the passage where Jezebel is said to have painted her face, the original words O7la'y tidDwn, that is, she adjusted (or set off) her eyes with the powder of pouk, or lead ore.* The prophet Ezekiel alludes to the same practice in these words: (799 nbna.) cahailt anaich, 6 Thou hast dressed thine eyes with Al ka-hol;" which the Septuagint render 6516138 78s opdaapers o8, 6thou hast dressed thine eyes with stibium.” They interpret the word pouk in the same manner, which, in our version, is to paint the face ; whence it is probable that Pouk and Cahal, or, in the Arabic form Al kahol, meant the same thing; and were names of the same mineral which the modern orientals use for dressing their eye-lids. Dr. Shaw says, it is a rich lead ore pounded into an impalpable powder, that imparted a jetty blackness to the eye-lid, and set off the whiteness of the eye to great advantage. But, in attempting to ascertain the date of this custom, we must ascend to an age long anterior to those we have mentioned ; for Keren-bappuc, the name which Job gave to his youngest daughter, which signifies the horn of pouk, or lead ore, seems to relate to this practice, which was, perhaps, the invention of a still remoter period.

This method of tinging the eye-lids a jetty black, was imported into Egypt, and generally adopted by the inhabitants; for, among other curiosities that were taken out of the catacombs at Sahara, relating to the Egyptian women, Dr. Shaw had the opportunity of seeing a joint of the common reed, or donax, which contained one of these bodkins, and an ounce or more of this powder, agreeably to the fashions and practice of modern times. The custom was also received by the Greeks and the Romans; for, according to Xeno

[merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

nose.

phon, the eye-lids of Astyages, the grandfather of Cyrus, and the principal persons of his court, were dressed with lead ore;* and both Dioscorides and Pliny speak of the power of stibium in dilating the eyes of women.t

The nose jewel is another ornament peculiar to the east, which the Jewish females were accustomed to wear.

It is mentioned in several parts of Scripture ; thus the prophet Ezekiel : 66 And I put a jewel on thy forehead;" or, as it should have been rendered, on thy

This ornament was one of the presents which the servant of Abraham gave to Rebecca, in the name of his master: 6 I pat,” said he, 6 the ear-ring upon her face ;" more literally, I put the ring on her nose. They wore ear-rings besides; for the household of Jacob, at his request, when they were preparing to go up to Bethel, gave him all the ear-rings which were in their ears, and he hid them under the oak which was by Shechem. The difference between these ornaments is clearly stated by the prophet: “ I put a jewel on thy nose, and ear-rings in thine ears.” The nose jewel, therefore, was different from the ear-ring, and actually worn by the females as an ornament in the east. This is confirmed by the testimony of Sir John Chardin, who says, “It is the custom in almost all the east, for the women to wear rings in their noses, in the left nostril, which is bored low down in the middle. These rings are of gold, and have commonly two pearls and one ruby between them, placed in the ring; I never saw a girl, or young woman in Arabia, or in all Persia, who did not wear a ring after this manner in her nostril.” Some writers contend, that by the nose jewel, we are to understand rings, which women attached to their forehead, and let them fall down upon their nose; but Chardin, who certainly was a diligent observer of eastern customs, no where sąw this frontal ring in the east, but every where the ring in the nose. His testimony is supported by Dr. Russel, who describes the women in some of the villages about Alep

Xen. Cyrop. b. 1. sec. 11.

† Dioscor. b.3. ch.99. and Pliny, b. 33. ch. 6. # Gen. xxxv. 4.

po, and all the Arabs and Chinganas (a sort of gypsies), as wearing a large ring of silver or gold, through the external cartilage of their right nostril. It is worn, by the testimony of Egmont, in the same manner by the women of Egypt. The difference in the statements of these travellers is of little importance, and may be reconciled by supposing, what is not improbable, that in some eastern countries they wear the ring in the left, and in others in the right nostril; all agree that it is worn in the nose, and not upon the forehead. Some remains of this custom have been discovered among the Indians in North America, where Lewis and Clark, in their travels to the sources of the Missouri, fell in with some tribes that wore a long tapering piece of shell, or bead, put through the cartilage of the nose.

Two words are used in the Scriptures to denote these ornamental rings, Oi and Say; Mr. Harmer seems to think they properly signified ear-rings ; but this is a mistake; the sacred writers use them promiscuously for the rings both of the nose and of the ears. That writer, however, is probably right in supposing that nezem is the name of a much smaller ring than agil, Chardin observed two sorts of rings in the east; one so small and close to the ear, that there is po vacuity between them; the other so large, as to admit the fore: finger between it and the ear; these last are adorned with a ruby and a pearl on each side, strung on the ring. The circle of some of these large ear-rings is sometimes four inches in diameter, and almost two fingers thick, made of several kinds of metals, wood and horn, according to the rank of the wearer. The remark of Chardin 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. T'he Indians say they are

[ocr errors]

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 Rauwolf met with a num; ber 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 ex: istence 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 same 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 with pearl, a piece of glass, or any other glittering substance; this is fastened by a plug thrust through the cartilage of the nose. 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 dirtied with some dingy black or blue powder. Their lips are dyed of a

* Maurice's Hist, of the East Indies, vol. 2. p. 38.

L

deep and dusky blue, as if they had been eating blackberries. 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, 6 six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odours.”+ 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. 1.1. 403. « 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, ,
Αμβροσιω. .

Il. 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 * Song iv. 10, 11.

† Esther ii, 12.

« VorigeDoorgaan »