Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/125

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
106
PERSIA.

cautiously preserves all the bones. He invites his friends, relations, and the poor in the highways, to partake of this food, from which he and his wife are excluded, and having selected a clean place near some running water, he there buries them.

They adopt also certain ceremonies about shaving the child's head. It frequently happens after the birth of a son, that if the parent be in distress or the child sick, or there be any other cause of grief, the mother makes a vow that no razor shall come upon the child's head for a certain portion of time, and sometimes for all his life. If the child recovers, and the cause of her grief be removed, and if the vow be but for a time, then she shaves his head at the end of that time, makes a small entertainment, collects money and other things from her relations and friends, which are sent as nezers (offerings) to the mosque at Kerbelah, and there consecrated.

The circumcision of the children of people of distinction is always attended with extraordinary festivities, in which parents display all the profusion that their circumstances admit of. Mr. Franklin happened to be at Shiraz, when the son of Djafar Khan, prince of that city, was circumcised. All the bazars were illuminated, and adorned with lustres and coloured lamps; the walls were hung with beautiful tapestry, and decorated with mirrors, flowers, and pictures; and the shops were embellished with the greatest care. Companies of musicians and female dancers were to be seen night and day, in the streets and public places, exhibiting pantomimes and other entertainments. These festivities lasted a whole week.

The Persians have no family name. Every male at his birth receives one taken From the Old Testament, the Koran, or the Mahometan history, or compounded of two words, the first signifying servant, and that which follows being one of the epithets of God. They have also pre-names and surnames, to which they affix the names of their father and ancestors, if they are desirous of indicating their descent. In the pre-name it is common to add-to the word abou, father, that of a man's son: the surname is almost always an epithet or title of honour. This practice is common among the Arabs, as well as the Persians. The great Saladin, for instance, was called Aboul-Modhaffer Yousef-ben-Ayoub Selah-eddin. His pre-name was Abou'l-Modhaffer, father of the victorious; his proper name, Yousef, that of his father, Ayoub, ben signifying son; and his surname, Selah-eddin, the support of religion. To these denominations is sometimes appended an adjective denoting a person's birth-place, or the tribe to which he belongs.