MANNERS AND CUSTOMS.
Chaldaea, unlike Egypt, has preserved to our day but few records of the private or domestic life of its inhabitants. Beyond the funereal customs, to which reference was made in the last chapter, we can obtain from the monuments but a very scanty account of their general mode of life, manners, and usages. Some attempt, however, must be made to throw together the few points of this nature on which we have obtained any light from recent researches in Mesopotamia.
The ordinary dress of the common people among the Chaldaeans seems to have consisted of a single garment, a short tunic, tied round the waist, and reaching thence to the knees, a costume very similar to that worn by the Madan Arabs at the present day. To this may sometimes have been added an abba, or cloak, thrown over the shoulders, and falling below the tunic, about half-way down the calf of the leg. The material of the former we may perhaps presume to have been linen, which best suits the climate, and is a fabric found in the ancient tombs. The outer cloak was most likely of woollen, and served to protect hunters and others against the occasional inclemency of the air. The feet were unprotected by either shoes or sandals; on the head was worn a skull-cap, or else a band of camel’s hairs—the germ of the turban which has now become universal throughout the East.
The costume of the richer class was more elaborate. A high mitre, of a very peculiar appearance, or else a low cap ornamented with two curved horns, covered the head. [PLATE XIX. Fig. 1.] The neck and arms were bare. The chief garment was a long gown or robe, extending from the neck to the feet, commonly either striped or flounced, or both; and sometimes also adorned with fringe. This robe, which was scanty according to modern notions, appears not to have been fastened by any girdle or cincture round the waist, but to have been kept in place by passing over one shoulder, a slit or hole being made for the arm on one side of the dress only. In some cases the upper part of the dress seems to have been detached from the lower, and to have formed a sort of jacket, which reached about to the hips.
[Illustration: PLATE 19]
The beard was commonly worn straight and long, not in crisp curls, as by the Assyrians. [PLATE XIX., Fig. 2.] The hair was also worn long, either gathered together into a club behind the head, or depending in long spiral curls on either side the face and down the back. Ornaments were much affected, especially by the women. Bronze and iron bangles and armlets, and bracelets of rings or beads, ear-rings, and rings for the toes, are common in the tombs, and few female skeletons are without them. The material of the ornaments is generally of small value. Many of the rings are formed by grinding down a small kind of shell; the others are of bronze or iron.