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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

Divorces in Persia are not common


the other hand, the bridegroom, or his parents for him, have to settle a sum of money on the bride before she consents to the marriage, and this is legally settled upon her by the Mullah in the wedding contract. She has a right to demand it whenever she pleases.

It can be seen by all this that a Persian legal marriage is not a simple matter nor a cheap undertaking. The expense and formalities connected with each wedding are enormous, so that even if people were inclined to polygamy it is really most difficult for them to carry their desire into effect. Among the nobility it has become unfashionable and is to-day considered quite immoral to have more than one wife.

Partly because the marriages are seldom the outcome of irresistible--but fast burning out--love; partly because it is difficult for a husband and almost impossible for a wife to be unfaithful, divorces in Persia are not common. Besides, on divorcing a wife, the husband has to pay her in full the settlement that has been made upon her, and this prevents many a rash attempt to get rid of one's better-half. To kill an unfaithful wife is, in the eyes of Persians, a cheaper and less degrading way of obtaining justice against an unpardonable wrong.

One hears a good deal in Persia about a famous and extraordinarily deep well--near Shiraz, I believe--into which untrue wives were precipitated by their respective offended husbands,

or by the public executioner; and also how dishonoured women are occasionally stoned to death; but these cases are not very frequent nowadays. The Persian woman is above all her husband's most intimate friend. He confides all--or nearly all--his secrets to her. She does the same, or nearly the same with him. Their interests are mutual, and the love for their own children unbounded. Each couple absolutely severed from the outside world, forbidden to get intoxicated by their religion, with no excitements to speak of, and the wife in strict seclusion--there is really no alternative left for them than to be virtuous. Women have in Persia, as in other countries, great influence over their respective husbands, and through these mediums feminine power extends very far, both in politics and commerce.

At the husband's death the property is divided among his children, each male child taking two shares to each one share for every girl's part, after one-eighth of the whole property has been paid to the deceased's widow, who is entitled to that amount by right.

Most praiseworthy union exists in most Persian families, filial love and veneration for parents being quite as strong as paternal or maternal affection. Extreme reverence for old age in any class of man is another trait to be admired in the Persian character.


Persian women--Their anatomy--Their eyes--_Surmah_--Age of puberty--The descendants of Mohammed--Infanticide--Circumcision--Deformities and abnormalities--The ear--The teeth and dentistry--The nose--A Persian woman's indoor dress--The _yel_--The _tadji_ and other jewels--Out-of-door dress--The _Chakchur_--The _ruh-band_--The _Chudder_.

Persia, they say, is the country of the loveliest women in the world. It probably has that reputation because few foreign male judges have ever seen them. The Persians themselves certainly would prefer them to any other women. Still, there is no doubt, from what little one sees of the Persian woman, that she often possesses very beautiful languid eyes, with a good deal of animal magnetism in them. Her skin is extremely fair--as white as that of an Italian or a French woman--with a slight yellowish tint which is attractive. They possess when young very well modelled arms and legs, the only fault to be found among the majority of them being the frequent thickness of the wrists and ankles, which rather takes away from their refinement. In the very highest classes this is not so accentuated. The women are usually of a fair height, not too small, and carry themselves fairly well, particularly the women of the lower classes who are accustomed to carry weights on their head. The better-off women walk badly, with long steps and a consequent stoop forward; whereas the poorer ones walk more firmly with a movement of the hips and with the spine well arched inwards. The neck lacks length, but is nicely rounded, and the head well set on the shoulders.

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