Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/145

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PERSIA.

eye constitutes with them the perfection of beauty, and diffuses an amorous softness over the whole countenance, infinitely superior to the piercing and ardent glance of majestic beauty. It is chiefly on this account that the women use the powder of antimony, which, although it adds to the vivacity of the eye, throws over it a kind bf voluptuous languor, which makes it appear dissolving, as it were, in bliss. Thus the chief characters of beauty with them are eyes like the antelope's, a full-moon face, and the stature of the cypress; but there are secondary ones, which the poets are fond of celebrating. Ferdousee, in the Shah Nameh, thus describes the females of Touran:—"Their stature is tall, like that of the cypress, and the locks of their hair black as musk. Their cheeks are covered with roses, and their eyes full of languor; their lips are sweet as sugar, and fragrant as the rose."

"Hark, O moon!" exclaims Hafiz in his Odes; "fresh spouse of heaven; show not thyself above the horizon, for we this day behold the full moon of the face of my beloved!"

"Ah! how admirable is thy form! how delightful thy converse! thy charms and thy gentleness enchant my soul. Thy heart is as tender as the bud of the rose is fresh; thy beauty is equal to that of the cypress of the eternal garden!"

Djami describes the charms of Leilah, in these terms:—"Her figure was tall and elegant, and in her graceful gait she resembled the partridge of the mountains. Beautiful without the assistance of art, nature had given the most delicate rosy tinge to her cheeks, radiant with freshness; her eyebrow was like a delicate bow, formed of precious amber, and her eyelashes, like so many little darts of musk, pierced all hearts; her lips had the lustre of rubies without their hardness. Her enchanting smile displayed teeth as white as the purest pearls; you would imagine you beheld the bud of the rose gemmed with the tears of morning."

Many of the women of Persia are as fair as those of Europe, but confinement robs them of that lovely bloom so becoming and so essential to female beauty. The Persian women have a curious custom of making their eyebrows meet; and if this charm be denied them, they paint their forehead with a kind of preparation made for the purpose.

The Persian ladies not only dye their hair and eyebrows, but also stain their bodies with a variety of fantastic devices, not unfrequently with the figures of trees, birds, and beasts, sun, moon, and stars, as we read was the practice of our ancient British ancestors.

This sort of pencil-work spreads over the bosom, and continues down as low as the navel, round which some radiated