Topsy-Turvy Land eBook

Samuel Marinus Zwemer
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 72 pages of information about Topsy-Turvy Land.

But even now there is no one preaching the gospel in Hassa nor in all the interior of Arabia.  Why?

XIII

ARAB BABIES AND THEIR MOTHERS

An Arab baby is such a funny little creature!  In Christian lands babies, as soon as possible, are given a warm bath and dressed with comfortable clothing.  But in Arabia the babies are not washed for many days, only rubbed over with a brown powder and their tiny eyelids painted round with collyrium.  They are wound up in a piece of calico and tied up with a string, just like a package of sugar.  Their arms are fastened by the bandage so that they cannot possibly move them.  The Arab mothers say that if the arms and legs of babies were left hanging loose the poor things would never sleep.  A small, tight bonnet for the head completes the baby’s wardrobe.  A few blue beads or buttons are sewn on the front of this cap to keep off the evil-eye, for Moslem women all believe that if a stranger looks at a baby it may turn sick and die.

On the day when the baby is named a sacrifice is slain and eaten and silver offerings are given to the poor, equal to the weight of hair on the infant’s head.  The poor baby’s hair is all shaved off to be weighed in the balance.  Poor people who cannot afford this offering omit the custom.  Charms are placed on the arms or around the neck of the child.  A few verses from the Koran are written out and put in a leather or silver case and also tied around the arm or neck of the baby.  If the child shows signs of illness the mother makes it swallow some of the Koran.  That is, a portion is written out and the ink is washed off with water and this dirty water is taken by the patient.  A prescription was sent to me once when I was ill by a Moslem mullah, or teacher, of this character and he was quite certain I would recover if I drank it.  I am glad to say I got better without the ink medicine.

[Illustration:  DATE-STICK CRADLE.]

When the baby is forty days old and has received its name a new date-stick cradle is triumphantly brought home from the market and the new baby placed in it.  And then Master or Miss Arab will get such a violent rocking that no Christian baby could stand.  The ground is uneven, for there are no wooden floors in Arabia, and the rockers are nearly straight so that you can imagine it is not the pleasantest thing in the world to be rocked in an Arab cradle.  In the picture you can see just what a date-stick cradle is like.

Arab babies cry a great deal; what with sand storms and flies and other insects they generally have sore eyes and apparently need strong treatment to make them quiet and give their mothers and sisters time to grind the wheat and churn the butter.  Everything is made fresh each day in an Arab household.  The rice must be cooked for the daily meal, the wheat ground for bread, and the milk put into the leather churn.  These people have no ice chest, not even

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Project Gutenberg
Topsy-Turvy Land from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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