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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

With unusually long and supple fingers


Jewish girls when very young are nice-looking without being beautiful, very supple and pensive, and with expressive eyes. They lack the unsteady, insincere countenance of the men, and have reposeful, placid faces, with occasional good features. There is a good deal of character in their firmly closed lips, the upper lip being slightly heavy but well-shaped. The inside of the mouth is adorned with most regular, firm, and beautiful teeth. Curiously enough, the typical Jewish nose--so characteristic in men--is seldom markedly noticeable in women. I have even seen Jewish girls with turned-up noses. Their arms are beautifully modelled, and the hands as a whole extremely graceful, with unusually long and supple fingers, but with badly-shaped nails of an unwholesome colour.

Jewesses in Persia are not kept in seclusion and go about with uncovered faces, which exposes them to constant and unpleasant insult from the Mahommedans. They dress differently from Persian women, with a long skirt of either black, blue, or coloured cotton. The head is framed in a white kerchief, leaving exposed the jet black hair parted in the middle and covering the temples. Over that is worn a long cloak, either black or white, almost identical with the Persian "chudder."

Jewesses are said to be most affectionate and devoted to their husbands and their families. They are extremely amenable to reason--except in cases of jealousy, which is one of the leading characteristics of the race in general and of Jewish women in particular. They are hard-working, intelligent, thrifty. They take life seriously: are endowed with no sense of humour to speak of--it would be difficult to have any under their circumstances--and whether owing to severe anaemia, caused by wretched and insufficient food, or to some external influence, are often affected by melancholia.

Soft and shy in manner and speech, under normal circumstances, pale and silent, the Jewish woman is not unattractive.

One of the few occupations open to Jewesses is the practice of midwifery.

Hunted as the Jews are by everybody in the streets, and in the bazaar, insulted, spat upon, the women often compelled to prostitution, it is to be marvelled that any honesty at all is left in them.

The higher Persian schools and colleges do not admit Jews as students, nor is education permitted to them even in the lower Persian schools. Therefore, the welcome work of Mr. Garland is much needed and appreciated. A special quarter is reserved in which the Jews must live, huddled together, the majority of them in abject poverty. Until of late no peace was given them. Their customs were interfered with in every way by vagabond Persians, and the little money they made by industrious habits was extorted from them by officials or by the enterprising Persian to whom the Jewish community was farmed out.

The Jews of a city are taxed a certain sum, usually beyond what they can afford to pay. Some speculator undertakes to pay the amount for them to the local Governor and receives authority to compensate himself from the Jewish community as best he can, either by making them work, or trade, or by selling their clothes or depriving them of the few articles of furniture they may possess.

Until quite lately, at public festivities the meek and resigned Jews were driven before an insulting mob who held them in derision, and exposed them to most abject treatment; some of their number ending by being pitched into the water-tank which adorns the courtyard or garden of most residences. Little by little, however, with the spread of civilisation, Jews have been spared the torture of these baths.

The Jew is looked upon as unclean and untrustworthy by the Persian, who refuses to use him as a soldier, but who gladly employs him to do all sorts of dirty jobs which Persian pride would not allow him to do himself. His social level therefore stands even lower than that of the Shotri of India, the outcast who does not stop at the basest occupations.


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