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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

And softened by eyelashes of abnormal length


Anatomically,

the body is not striking either for its beauty or its strength or suppleness. The breasts, except with girls of a very tender age, become deformed, and very pendant, and the great tendency to fatness rather interferes with the artistic beauty of their outlines.

The skeleton frame of a Persian woman is curiously constructed, the hip-bones being extremely developed and broad, whereas the shoulder blades and shoulders altogether are very narrow and undeveloped. The hands and feet are generally good, particularly the hand, which is less developed and not so coarse as the lower limbs generally and the feet in particular. The fingers are usually long and quite supple, with well-proportioned nails. The thumb is, nevertheless, hardly ever in good proportion with the rest of the hand. It generally lacks length and character. The feet bear the same characteristics as the hands except, as I have said, that they are infinitely coarser. Why this should be I cannot explain, except that intermarriage with different races and social requirements may be the cause of it.

[Illustration: Persian Woman and Child.]

[Illustration: A Picturesque Beggar Girl.]

The head I have left to the last, because it is from an artist's point of view the most picturesque part of a Persian woman's anatomy. It may possibly lack fine chiselled features and angularity; and the first

impression one receives on looking at a Persian woman's face is that it wants strength and character--all the lines of the face being broad, uninterrupted curves. The nose is broad and rounded, the cheeks round, the chin round, the lips large, voluptuous and round--very seldom tightly closed; in fact, the lower lip is frequently drooping. But when it comes to eyes, eyelashes and eyebrows, there are few women in the world who can compete with the Persian. There is exuberant fire and expression in the Persian feminine organs of vision, large and almond-shaped, well-cut, and softened by eyelashes of abnormal length, both on the upper and lower lid. The powerful, gracefully-curved eyebrows extend far into the temples, where they end into a fine point, from the nose, over which they are very frequently joined. The iris of the eye is abnormally large, of very rich dark velvety brown, with jet black pupils, and the so-called "white of the eye" is of a much darker tinge than with Europeans--almost a light bluish grey. The women seem to have wonderful control over the muscles of the eyelids and brows, which render the eyes dangerously expressive. The habit of artificially blackening the under lid with _Surmah_, too, adds, to no mean extent, to the luminosity and vivid power of the eyes in contrast to the alabaster-like, really beautiful skin of the younger Persian women.

I said "younger," for owing to racial and climatic conditions the Persian female is a full-grown woman in every way at the age of ten or twelve, sometimes even younger. They generally keep in good compact condition until they are about twenty or twenty-five, when the fast expanding process begins, deforming even the most beautiful into shapeless masses of flesh and fat. They are said, however, to be capable of bearing children till the mature age of forty to forty-five, although from my own observation thirty-five to forty I should take to be the more common average at which Persian women are in full possession of prolific powers.

In the case of Sayids, the descendants of Mahommed, both sexes of whom are reputed for their extraordinary powers and vitality, women are said not to become sterile till after the age of fifty.


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