Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/244

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


234 Some Algerian Supcrstitioiis.

piece which may represent a heart in a conventionaHzed form. In the Pitt-Rivers Museum, too, there are some cornelian points which are said to have been worn by Arabs as being " good for the blood."

Certain objects worn as charms, among which, if the sheykh is to be believed, we ought perhaps to include the glass points mentioned above, appear to intend to threaten with injury the eye of the giver of the admiring glance rather than the jinn which accompanies it.

Among both the Shawia and the Ouled Ziane small pieces of white crumbling stone or of "plaster" are worn as charms against the " evil eye," w^ith the idea, I was told, that they would enter into the eye of the admirer and blind it. I collected a disc of chalk which was suspended upon the swinging cradle of an Ouled Ziane child for this purpose, and the silver models of " hands," more or less convention- alized in form, so universally worn by Algerian women, are considered by Professor Doutte ^ to be representations of the gesture of holding up the hand, fingers and thumb out-stretched with the palm towards the offender when an unqualified flattering remark has been made about a person, an animal, or an object, a gesture that should be accompanied by a remark " Five in thine eye " (Khamsa fi ainek) or " I was born on Thursday" (zit bel khamis). The sheykh told me that this gesture implies that the giver of the admiring glance should have the fingers and thumb of the hand thrust into his eyes.

I do not think, however, that the silver hands are regarded by the Shawia as very efficacious for their purpose of protecting the wearer against the " evil eye." They are easily purchasable from the women, and the scribe in the Rassira valley informed me that they are worn only on account of their ornamental qualities. They may be, like coral in the estimation of the Shawia, of some value as charms, but mainly worn for their beauty.

"Doutte, Magie ct Religion dans P Afriqtie du A'ord, p. 143.