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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

Infanticide after birth is not very common in Persia


Whether

this is a fact or not, I cannot say, but it is certain that the Sayids are a superior race altogether, more wiry and less given to orgies--drinking and smoking,--which may account for their natural powers being preserved to a later age than with most other natives of Persia. Their women are very prolific. Sayid men and women are noticeable even from a tender age for their robustness and handsome features. They are dignified and serious in their demeanour, honest and trustworthy, and are a fine race altogether.

Infanticide after birth is not very common in Persia, but abortion artificially procured has, particularly of late, become frequent for the prevention of large families that cannot be supported. This is done by primitive methods, not dissimilar to those used in European countries. Medicine is occasionally also administered internally. These cases are naturally illegal, and although the law of the country is lenient--or, rather, short-sighted--in such matters, any palpable case, if discovered, would be severely punished.

The umbilicus of newly-born children is inevitably tied by a doctor and not by a member of the family, as with some nations. Circumcision is practised on male children when at the age of forty days. It is merely performed as a sanitary precaution, and is not undergone for religion's sake.

There are few countries where deformities and abnormalities are

as common as they are in Persia. In women less than in men; still, they too are afflicted with a good share of Nature's freaks. The harelip is probably the most common abnormality. Webbed and additional fingers and toes come next. Birth-marks are very common--especially very large black moles on the face and body.

Persian ears are very seldom beautiful. They are generally more or less malformed and somewhat coarse in modelling, although they seem to answer pretty well the purpose for which they are created. But although the hearing is very good in a general sense, I found that the Persian, of either sex, had great difficulty in differentiating very fine modulations of sounds, and this is probably due to the under-development or degeneration of the auricular organ, just the same as in the ears of purely Anglo-Saxon races.

To an observant eye, to my mind, there is no part of people's anatomy that shows character and refinement more plainly than the ear. Much more delicate in texture than the hands or feet, the ear is, on the other hand, less subject to misleading modifications by artificial causes which are bound to affect the other extremities.

The ear of a Persian is, in the greater percentage of cases, the ear of a degenerate. It is coarse and lumpy, and somewhat shapeless, with animal qualities strongly marked in it. Occasionally one does come across a good ear in Persia, but very rarely.

Similar remarks might apply to teeth. When young, men and women have good teeth, of fairly good shape and length, and frequently so very firmly set in their sockets as to allow their possessors to lift heavy weights with them, pulling ropes tight, etc., when the strength of the hands is not sufficient. One frequently notices, however, irregularity, or additional teeth--caused again by intermixture of race--the upper teeth not fitting properly the lower ones, and causing undue friction, early injury to the enamel, and consequent decay. This is also greatly intensified by the unhealthy state of Persian blood, especially in people inhabiting the cities, where the worst of venereal complaints has crept in a more or less virulent form into the greater part of the population. Add to this, a disorganized digestion, coloration by constant smoking, and the injury to the enamel brought on by the great consumption of sugary stuff; and if one marvels at all it is that Persian teeth are as good and serviceable as they are to a fair age.


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