Folk-lore of the Holy Land, Moslem, Christian and Jewish, by J. E. Hanauer , at sacred-texts.com
P. 141. Folks gentle and simple.--Considering the strange vicissitudes of Eastern history, it is not surprising that many people, now abjectly poor, should claim to be descendants of famous men. Orientals generally have great regard for pure blood and ancient lineage. Amongst the poor of Palestine there are many who, though obliged to do menial work to obtain a living, as household servants, labourers, etc., yet claim that they are "Awlad asl," i.e. "Children of stock" or of gentle descent, and that on this account, if they do their work faithfully, they should enjoy a degree of respect not shown to those low-born. It is related of one such that, being able-bodied and very strong, but having no other means of livelihood, he consented to accept employment from a poor peasant who had only one ox and could not plough for want of a second. The scion of nobility in his dire distress actually agreed to be yoked to the plough in the place of the missing animal; stipulating, however, that besides receiving food and wages, he was to be treated with the greatest respect, and always to be addressed as "O Emìr." In consequence of this arrangement the ploughman, while at work, was constantly calling out "Yamìnak ya Emìr," or "Shemâlak ya Emìr," i.e. "To the right, O Emìr," or "To the left, O Emìr."
There is at the present day a poor seamstress at Jerusalem whose family boast that they are descended from Chosroes, king of Persia. A fellâh for some time in the writer's service traced his lineage to the Fatimite Khalìfeh "Ed Dahìr," whilst a teacher in one of the Jerusalem Mission-schools in 1874 asserted that he was descended from the ancient kings of Armenia. There are some of these high-born people who have been more fortunate than others. Thus, the family of the celebrated Khalid ibn Walid, surnamed for his victories in the early days of Islam "The Sword of Allah," is still powerful at Jerusalem, 1 and there are, in the Lebanon, descendants of the
great and chivalrous Saladin, who are pensioners of the German Protestant Order of the "Johanniter" or Knights of St John of Jerusalem. The value placed upon connection with a good family is popularly expressed in the saying, "Take good stock, even on the mat," i.e. marry a woman of good family, even though she possess nothing but a mat. On the other hand, persons assuming an arrogant demeanour solely on the strength of their supposed noble ancestry, and whilst lacking any personal merit themselves, are mercilessly ridiculed, as it is right that they should be. The principle "Noblesse oblige" is perfectly well appreciated, in theory, at any rate.
P. 148. "Affixed to the gates of the Ka‘aba."--It was customary among the ancient Arabs to reward poets of acknowledged eminence by allowing copies of their verses to be affixed to the gate of the temple at Mecca. Seven such poems were thus distinguished, and are known in literature as the "Mo‘allakat" (Suspended Poems).
P. 148. Mûkleh.--An illustration of this form of head-dress will be found on page 49 of Lane's "Modern Egyptians," vol. i. It is not uncommon in Palestine, where there may, at the present day, be seen no fewer than sixty different forms of Oriental male head-gear, by which Christians, Jews, Moslems, Bedû, different classes of derwìshes and peasants from various districts, etc., may be distinguished from each other.
P. 150. Long hair of a priest of the Orthodox Church.--The ecclesiastics of the Orthodox Greek Community are remarkable for wearing their hair very long. Many Moslem derwìshes do the same, but amongst the Mohammedan peasantry it is customary to shave the head, leaving only a tuft called "shûsheh" on the crown. The tale often told by Christian dragomans to tourists is, that this tuft is left in order that Mohammed or good angels may have something to lay hold of, when carrying dead Mohammedans to heaven, in the same way that the Prophet Habakkuk was transported to Babylon. (See "Bel and the Dragon," verse 36.) However, the more reasonable explanation is that the custom originated in the fear that if a Moslem should fall into the hands of an infidel and be slain, the latter might cut off the head of his victim,
and, finding no hair by which to hold to, put his impure hand into his mouth, in order to carry it, for the beard might not be sufficiently long. (See Lane's "Modern Egyptians," vol. i. p. 40.)
P. 155. Au afrìt.--The ‘afrìt is an especially malicious and mischief-loving demon whose abode is on house-tops, and in corners behind doors, as well as in cracks in walls or under thresholds. It is considered very dangerous, for women especially, to sit on the thresholds of doors after sunset, as then the ‘afarit issue forth from their lurking-places and might do them serious injury.
P. 157. Karakoz and ‘Iweyz.--Karakoz and ’Iweyz, something like the English "Punch and Judy," are the names of the actors in Oriental puppet-shows, for a description of which see Lane's "Modern Egyptians," vol. ii. p. 116.
(Karakoz is universal, but on the two occasions when I have seen the Kheyyâl-ez-Zull (shadow-shapes) referred to, there was no ’Iweyz. On one occasion, in Egypt, Asfûr was a leading character.--ED.)
P. 168. "The Kadi Abdullah el Mustakìm lived at Baghdad.--El-Mansûr, A.D. 941, having established his court at El Hashemìeh, was compelled by an insurrection to erect a new capital, and in the 145th year of the Hejira, laid the foundation of Baghdad, which, for nearly five centuries, remained the seat of Imperial Oriental luxury. (See Crichton's " History of Arabia," vol. xxxiii. p. 16.)
P. 181. Azrael and his son.--As a version of the foregoing story, which entirely, and also in scraps, the writer has several times heard told by natives of Palestine, is said to be found in Grimm's collection of fairy tales, it is difficult to determine whether its origin is Oriental or the contrary. The name of the hero of the following, which is in circulation among the peasantry of the native Christian village of Ramallah, situated about ten miles to the north of Jerusalem, would seem to indicate that it has been introduced by some Spanish or Italian monk. It has been told to the writer by four different persons, all of whom were natives, and on as many different occasions.
P. 182. Francesco's card-playing.--Though at first sight it may seem an anachronism to mention cards as having been played in the days of the Herods, seeing that the first actual mention of them as having been used in Europe dates back to the year A.D. 1388, and that their first introduction into France was during the reign of Charles VII. (1432-1461), yet some German savants are of the opinion that they were an invention of the Chinese, and reached Europe through an Arabian channel. (See Brockhaus, "Conversations-Lexikon" on "Spielkarten.")
P. 192. The plant feyjan.--This Arabic name is evidently only another form of the Greek πήγανον. According to Bishop Jeremy Taylor it was used by pretended exorcists in his day. He says: "They are to try the devil by holy water, incense, sulphur, and rue, which from thence, as we suppose, came to be called 'herb of grace.'"
P. 201. Baklâweh.--A kind of mince-pie pastry covered with syrup of sugar, and of which the natives are particularly fond. A story is told of an Arab who, when threatened with immediate death if he took any more of it, coolly commended his family to the protection of the would-be murderer, who stood over him with a drawn sword,--and took another mouthful. (See Note 48. "Tales told in Palestine.")
P. 208. "The Sultan could not make up his mind to kill her as was his duty since she had no brothers."--According to Oriental social ideas, the result, doubtless, of the fact that polygamy is allowed, it is the brother, and not the father, who is a girl's natural protector, her avenger if wronged, and her executioner in case she disgrace herself. This should be borne in mind when reading such scripture narratives as Genesis xxxiv. or 2 Samuel xiii.
P. 213. Wedding procession of the Jân.--Ten years ago, I was told in Jerusalem the story of a servant of the Latin Patriarch who played upon the reed-pipes very beautifully. This man was sent one night on an urgent errand to the head of a religious house at Nazareth, and as he rode out from the city down into the gloomy valley, he amused himself and supported his courage with the music of his favourite instrument. Suddenly he was surrounded with torches lighting dusky faces, and found himself in the middle of a wedding procession, the members of which besought him to stop and play for them. He cited the urgency of his errand, but they told him not to worry about that; they could take him further in an hour than he could
hope to ride in a night. By that and their peculiar faces he knew them for the Jân, so was afraid to deny them.
At an early hour of the next morning, when the Patriarch was saying his first mass, he turned and saw this man kneeling in the church behind him. The service over, he called him and asked why he had not gone to Nazareth as he had been told to do. The man replied: "I have been and come again," and in proof of the assertion presented the answer to the message with which he had been sent. The patriarch led him straight to the confessional, and having heard his story, as a penance forbade him ever again to play the pipes, of whose music the Jân are known to be fond.--ED.
P. 217 ff. Uhdeydûn.--This, at first sight, appears a foolish story, but I seem to detect in it a legendary reminiscence of the destruction of a savage and cannibal race or their subjugation by men more civilised. The name Uhdeydûn, which is a diminutive of "Haddâd" (blacksmith), and the fact that his enemy had a copper cauldron temptingly suggest the Age of Iron conquering that of bronze.
P. 234. The magic mirror of ink and the sand-table.--For a description of the wonders performed by Oriental wizards with the Mirror of Ink, see Lane's "Modern Egyptians," vol. i. p. 367 ff., or Thomson's "The Land and the Book," in which Lane is quoted at p. 157 (edition of 1873). For the sand-table see Lane as above, page 362.
P. 234. Mahajaneh (more properly "Mahjaneh").--A stick with a peculiar crotch at one end, always cut from an almond-tree, and carried by derwìshes. Its handle is the same in shape as that of some symbolic staves often represented by the ancient Egyptians in the hands of their deities.
P. 237. The "maûsam" or season of pilgrimage.--This varies according to the dignity of the makâm. Many of the greater shrines of famous saints, such as Neby Mûsa and Neby Rubin, have their own maûsam which lasts a whole week.
P. 238. The machicolated window above the gate.--In the earlier part of the last century such "machicolations" or protected windows over doorways were very common in Jerusalem, not only over the entrances to monasteries and public buildings, but even in private dwellings. They are rarely met with nowadays.
P. 240 and following. Ignorance of Christian priests.----The Christians of the various sects in Palestine now generally appreciate the value of education, and vie with each other in providing schools, especially for the training of ecclesiastics. In and near Jerusalem, there are several such seminaries, and though there are still, in out-of-the-way places more particularly, ignorant ecclesiastics, yet the number of the latter is by no means so great as it was during the early part of last century, when the rural clergy belonging to the orthodox Greek Church was notorious for its dense ignorance, and no adequate provision was made for the instruction of the parochial ministers. Even in Jerusalem, it was the custom for the Sunday preacher to have to go during the previous week to a learned Archimandrite in order to be instructed in a sermon for the occasion. 1 It was also then the custom to provide a successor for a village priest who was becoming old or feeble, by selecting a likely lad from the hamlet, and sending him as a servant to the convent at Jerusalem. Here he had to attend the various services of the Church and commit to memory the liturgies for Sundays, feast-days, baptism, etc., so that, when occasion required, he could read them, if nothing else, from the prayer-books.
P. 254. The Hoopoe (Upupa Epops).--For particulars concerning the Hoopoe, see Tristram's "Natural History of the Bible," page 208 ff., and Hastings’ "Bible Dictionary," articles "Lapwing"; also the Koran xxvii. 20, where, however, Sale wrongly renders the Arabic name "Hud-hud" by "lapwing." It is also mentioned by that name in the English Bible, Lev. xi. 19. For the story of the Hoopoe in connection with Solomon and Belkis, see "Mejr-ed-dìn," vol. i. page 115, Cairo edition.
Most of the Animal Stories in this chapter appeared originally in the P.E.F. Quarterly Statements for July 1904 and April 1905. In the present reproduction I have altered some details and added others which I did not mention in my original paper. Other stories, for instance that about the old woman, and those on plant-lore, are, as far as I know, new to the English-speaking public.
P. 263. The dog who earned his right to decent burial.--Since I first contributed this story to the Quarterly Statement, as above
noted, I have, to my surprise, come across a version of it in an old eighteenth century Spanish edition of "Gil Blas."
P. 264. Bìr el Kelb.--It seems probable that the true origin of the legend about the "Bìr el Kelb" is the fact that the Tombs of the King, only a few yards distant, are generally called by the Jews "the Tomb of Kalba Shebua." This person is said by tradition to have been the father-in law of Akiba. He is said to have distinguished himself by supplying food, at his own cost, to the poor of Jerusalem during the time of a great famine. (This tradition is probably based upon the historical fact connected with Helena of Adiahene and her almsgiving). The grotto where Kalba Shebua distributed his bounty is pointed out in the vicinity of the traditional tomb of Simon the Just.
P. 270. " When a male hyæna is seven years old it becomes either a female of the same species or else a bat."--See Dr J. Levy's "Neu-Hebräisches and Chäldaisches Wörterbuch," twelfth part. "A male hyæna after seven years becomes a bat, a bat after seven years becomes a vampire, that animal after seven years becomes a nettle, a nettle after seven years becomes a thorn, a thorn after seven years becomes a demon." "Bava Kama," fol. 16. Coli. Quoted by Hershon, "Talmudical commentary on Genesis," page 136. 1
P. 272. Story of the man who won the heart of the hyena.--I relate the story as it was told me by a lady who had heard it from a fellaheh. It seems to be Seneca's well-known tale of the runaway slave and his grateful king of beasts (first mentioned, so it is said, in his "De Beneficiis"). The lion has been extinct in Palestine for centuries, the leopard is rare, though now and then met with, and so, the hyæna, at present the largest of the Judean Carnivora (the bear being found only in the Lebanon and the anti-Libanus), whose name "Ed-Daba’," is somewhat like the name "Es-Seba’," by which the lion is most frequently known, has taken his place in the story.
P. 275. and following pp. The fox, the eagle, and the leopard.--A version of this fox story is related by F. Baldensperger in Quarterly Statement for July 1905, pp. 199, 201.
P. 283.--The spinal cord of a man becomes a serpent....See Hershon's commentary as above.
P. 283. A serpent at the age of a thousand, becomes a whale.--P. Baldensperger in Quarterly Statement, 1905, p. 204.
P. 283. Time required by different creatures to reproduce their species.--Twenty-one days are required for the full formation of a hen in the egg and a similar period is required in the vegetable kingdom for that of almonds; fifty days for that of a dog and figs; fifty-two for that of a cat and mulberries; sixty for that of swine and apples; six months for that of foxes and all sorts of insects and cereals; five months for that of small cattle and grapes; twelve months for that of large unclean animals (such as horses, etc.) and palm trees, nine months for that of large clean animals (as oxen) and olives, three years for that of the wolf, lion, bear, hyæna, elephant, and chimpanzee, and a fruit resembling figs; seventy years elapse before the viper can reproduce its own species, and a similar period is required for the carub-tree. The wicked serpent requires seven years, and nothing in the vegetable kingdom requires a similar period. . . . In so far, then, as there is nothing corresponding to it in the vegetable kingdom, the serpent is cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field. Bechoroth, fol. 8, col. I. Quoted by Hershon, page 134.
P. 289. The tortoise-herb.--Cf. "Einiges aus dem Pflanzenreich," by L. Baldensperger. In "Evangelische Blätter aus Bethlehem." Juli 1906. Pp. 21 et seq.
311:1 The late Yussif Pasha El Khaldi, one of the representatives of p. 312 Turkey at the Berlin Conference, and sometime Mayor of Jerusalem, belonged to this old family; so also one or two of the Imperial Ottoman Commissioners appointed to supervise the excavations of the Palestine Exploration Fund.
316:1 See William's " Holy City," vol. ii. p. 548.
317:1 The hyæna from its habit of digging up and devouring dead bodies is often called ghûleh by the fellahìn, and confused with the genuine ghoul. Indeed, there seems a general tendency among the ignorant to impute a demoniacal character to wild animals. A fellâh in Egypt described a travelling menagerie to me as "all kinds of afârìt in cages," and I spent a strange morning in the Zoological Gardens at Ghizeh with a hashâsh, who took the majority of the creatures there displayed for devils and mocked them, exulting in their captivity.--ED.