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Oriental Women   By: (1864-1927?)

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WOMAN

VOLUME IV

ORIENTAL WOMEN

by

EDWARD B. POLLARD, Ph. D. Of the George Washington University

[Illustration: 1: REBEKAH AND ISAAC'S AGENT, ELIEZER After the painting by A. Cabanel Probably no feature in the social life of a people is of so universal an interest as its marriage customs, and there is no courtship, either ancient or modern, which has more enkindled the imagination and awakened the interest of men than that between Isaac and Rebekah..... It is a truly picturesque and even romantic story, which never loses its charm; and Rebekah, whether at the well or in her household, will always present a unique picture of womanly grace and beauty.

The ancient wooing of Rebekah is Isaac, though it is by no means typical in all its details, contains many elements that mark Oriental weddings..... The courage of Rebekah in consenting to mount the camel of a stranger and go into a far country to be wed is noteworthy. With all the apparent grace and gentleness of Rebekah, here was a pluck most commendable.]

WOMAN

In All Ages and In All Countries

VOLUME IV

ORIENTAL WOMEN

by

EDWARD B. POLLARD, Ph.D. Of the George Washington University

Illustrated

Philadelphia George Barrie & Sons, Publishers

PREFACE

The relative position which woman occupies in any country is an index to the civilization which that country enjoys, and this test applied to the Orient reveals many stages yet to be achieved. The frequent appearance of woman in Holy Writ is sufficient evidence of the high position accorded her in the Hebrew nation. Such characters as Ruth, Esther, and Rebekah have become famous. Wicked women there were, such as Jezebel, but happily their influence was not of lasting duration. No other ancient people so highly prized chastity in woman; motherhood was regarded as an evidence of divine favor, while barrenness was considered a curse. The home life was one of singular purity and sweetness. Idleness was deplored as a crime, and every child was taught to work with his own hands.

The deities of the Babylonians and Assyrians were feminine as well as masculine. Ishtar was the Venus of classical mythology the goddess of love, and the Babylonian Hades was presided over by a feminine deity. Rank, however, determined social freedom; the woman of the lowest class might go and come at will, but the woman of the high class was condemned to a life of isolation. Woman's position of honor in Egypt is evidenced by the presence of temples and monuments erected to her memory. She assisted her husband in the management of his affairs, and was granted a part in religious worship.

In the countries in which Brahmanism and Mohammedanism is the prevailing religion, the position of woman is relatively low. The Hindoo woman has no spiritual life apart from her husband; she can only hope for ultimate happiness through a union with him. The harem prevails, and woman is the slave of man.

In contrast to the position of woman in these countries and in China is the position she holds in Japan. While not yet occupying a place of respect equal to that accorded her in the Occident, she is coming gradually to be regarded as she deserves. There yet remain the loose morals, characteristic of the Oriental nature, and it is still regarded as right and proper that a good wife should barter her chastity if it is necessary in order to save her husband the disgrace of imprisonment for debt. The higher classes, however, are coming to treat woman with a respect far higher than that usually accorded her in the Orient. The process of her elevation must of necessity be slow, for no great reform is accomplished by a coup d'├ętat , but only through the ameliorating effects of enlightenment and education, and this alone will accomplish the final emancipation of the woman of the Orient from her present condition of servitude. E.B. POLLARD.

I

WOMEN OF THE DAWN

The story of the first woman in the Hebrew Scriptures and Semitic myth is as familiar as a household tale... Continue reading book >>




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