Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/246

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


■v5

6 So?)2c Algerian Sitpe7'stitions.

the "evil eye" often betakes himself to a scribe in order to be cured.

The Shawia scribe of the Rassira who gave me some of the information set forth above, told me that in order to ascertain if a person is really suffering from the effects of an admiring glance, and, if so, whether the giver of that glance is a man or a woman, he measures the "patient's" arm from the shoulder to the tip of the middle finger; if the right arm is found to be too short a man is responsible for the harm, if the left arm is too short it is a woman who has caused the mischief.

In order to effect a cure the scribe reads the Koran, meanwhile gently rubbing the affected arm with the palm of his hand upon which he blows from time to time, the breath which reads the Koran possessing healing virtues which are thus transmitted to the patient.

This treatment cures the patient, causing the arm to resume its normal length, but the scribe also writes out for him a text from the Koran to be sewn up in leather and worn suspended from his neck.

My scribe friend is a leather worker by trade, and can therefore manufacture cases for his talismans as well as writing them ; in addition to this he foretells the future with the aid of a printed book called The Book of the Birds (which can be purchased for a franc or two at Batna or any large town) so that he makes a very fair income among a naturally superstitious people.

The town-dwelling Arabs are in the habit of throwing a handful of earth behind a known caster of the "evil eye" when such a person passes by.

Spells and Philtres. — Written talismans, upon which should always be inscribed the name of the Vv'earer's mother, are worn to protect the Shawia and Ouled Ziane from every sort of misfortune ; indeed, I was told that such a talisman is a necessary item in every necklet of charms and among both peoples evil spells are cast upon individuals