Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/124

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105
PERSIA.

to its sides, so that it cannot stir either hand or foot. They then place it under the same bed-clothes with the mother. The midwife pronounces in the ear of the child the profession of the Musulman faith, in virtue of which the child is received into the number of the true believers. It is remarkable, that immediately afterwards they perform a ceremony, which may be supposed to have an indistinct reference to Christianity; for in the room where the child is born, the midwife takes a sword, and with the point draws a line on the four walls. One of the women in attendance asks: "What are you about?"—the other answers: "I am tracing a tower for Mariam and her child." Mr. Morier says, that he could never learn the origin or intention of this ceremony. A similar practice, according to Buxtorf, is common among the modern Jews.

On the day of the woman's confinement, a certain food is prepared for her, of which all those present at the birth partake, and portions of it are likewise sent to all her other friends. On the third day after the delivery, she is taken to the bath, where she performs the ablutions and purifications prescribed by the Mahometan law. The eastern women suffer little from parturition, the better sort being frequently on foot the day after their delivery, and out of all confinement on the third day.

The Persians and the Asiatics in general suckle their children much longer than the Europeans: to a boy they give the breast two years and two months, and to a girl only two years complete. On the day that the child is to be weaned, they carry it to the mosque, and after performing certain acts of devotion, return home, and, collecting their friends and relations, give a feast of which they make the child also partake.

The evil eye is as much feared in Persia as in other parts of Asia. They hang about the child's neck, or sew to its cap, a bangle of the colour of a turquoise, which they look upon as most fortunate, and which serves to annul the glance of an evil eye. They also insert paragraphs of the Koran into little bags, which they sew on the child's cap, or on its sleeve, esteeming them great preservatives against sickness. If a visitor should praise the looks of a child, and the latter should afterwards fall sick, the visitor immediately gets the reputation of having an evil eye; and the remedy is to take part of his clothes, which, with the seed of a species of cress, they burn in a chaffing-dish, walking round and round the child. Him who has the reputation of having an evil eye, they keep at a distance.

The Persians observe the same ceremonies at the circumcision and naming of children as the Turks; but they have another custom on the occasion, called akikeh. The father of the child kills a sheep, of the flesh of which he makes broth, but