An Account of the Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians Written in Egypt during the Years 1833-1835

By Edwsard William Lane | Go to book overview

female relations and friends Is of a person deceased to meet together by his house on each of the first three days after the funeral, and there to perform a lamentation and a strange kind of dance. They daub their faces and bosoms and part of their dress with mud, and tie a rope-girdle, generally made of the coarse grass called "halfa," round the waist. Each flourishes in her hand a palm stick, or a nebboot (a long staff), or a spear, or a drawn sword, and dances with a slow movement and in an irregular manner, generally pacing about, and raising and depressing the body. This dance is continued for an hour or more, and is performed twice or three times in the course of the day. After the third day, the women visit the tomb and place upon it their rope-girdles; and usually a lamb or a goat is slain there, as an expiatory sacrifice, and a feast made oil this occasion.

Having now described the manners and customs of the Muslims of Egypt in the various stages and circumstances of life, from the period of infancy to the tomb, I close my account of them, as a writer of their own nation would in a similar case, with "thanks and praise to Him who dieth not."


CHAPTER XXIX.
THE COPTS.

THE fame of that great nation from which the Copts mainly derive their origin renders this people objects of much interest, especially to one who has examined the wonderful monuments of Ancient Egypt; but so great is the aversion with which, like their illustrious ancestors, they regard all persons who are not of their own race, and so reluctant are they to admit such persons to any familiar intercourse with them, that I had almost despaired of gaining an insight into their religious, moral, and social state. At length, however, I had the good fortune to become acquainted with a character of which I had doubted the existence -- a Copt of a liberal as well as an intelligent mind; and to his kindness I am indebted for the knowledge of most of the facts related in the following brief memoir.

-521-

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