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considered the height of indecorum for her even to whisper to any one, except the old matron who accompanied her from her father's house, and who is generally her nurse. , Toward the end of the third day, the priest leads the bridegroom to the bride, removes the silken strings from their brows, and carries away the tinsel veil. The bride is now, for the first time, permitted to speak. According to the old laws, she was not allowed to open her lips in the presence of her mother-in-law, or her married sister-in-law, for one year; the practice is now less rigid, but the most profound respect, and implicit obedience, is still exacted from the bride toward the relatives of her husband. The marriages even of the poorest Armenians take place with all this ceremony and parade. Cooking utensils, robes, veils, &c., are kept stored in the churches, for the use of those who cannot afford to buy them for the occasion. The dress of the Armenian ladies is remarkably heavy and loaded, and their ornaments large and massive. They have black eyes, ruddy complexions, and in general coarse features, with little expression. When they go out, the face is muffled up with bandages so as to show only the eyes, and sometimes a part of the nose. In the house, as well as abroad, and by night as well as by day, they wear a nose band, the pressure of which makes that feature universally broad and flat. They allow none of their hair to be seen, except a long braid that falls down the back nearly to the ground. The custom of muffling themselves up, so that all look nearly alike, led Tournefort to say, facetiously, “An Armenian returning from a journey is not sure to find the same wife; he cannot tell whether she may not be dead, and whether some other woman may not have stepped into the place of the deceased.” The Armenian salutation, on entering a room, is to place the right hand rapidly to the breast, mouth, and forehead. The ladies throw off their slippers before they sit down. The manner of lowering themselves upon the divan, so as to assume the oriental posture, is said to be altogether inimitable by a European. For the sake of change in position, they sometimes kneel. Xenophon, in his Cyropaedia, relates a beautiful anecdote of an Armenian wife in very ancient times. The princes of the country having evaded the payment of their customary tribute to Persia, Cyrus made war upon them, and took the royal family prisoners. Tigranes, the king's son, had been recently married to a woman for whom he had very great love. The Persian monarch asked the prince what price he would give to regain her. Tigranes with great fervor replied, “Oh, Cyrus, I would save her from servitude at the expense of my life!” The noble conqueror replied, “Take your own to yourself; and do you, Armenian king, take your wife and children, without payment, that they may know they come free to you.” When the Armenians returned home, all were talking of the magnanimity, mildness, and beauty of Cyrus. Tigranes said to his wife, “And do you, Armenian dame, think Cyrus so very handsorhe?” “Truly,” said she, “I did not look at him.” “At whom then did you look?” inquired her husband. “At the man who said he would ranscn me at the expense of his own life,” she replied.
The Turks as Mohammedans may have four wives, and as many mistresses as they can maintain; but the common class of people rarely have more than one wife.
The Grand Sultan cannot marry one of his own subjects, and Christian princesses would not in general be willing to form one of his mumerous harem, even if such an alliance were not regarded as an abomination by the Moslems. His household is
therefore composed of beautiful female slaves, usually
presented by the first grandees of the empire, as one of the surest methods of obtaining royal favor. The . heir apparent is consequently always the “son of a slave;” a contemptuous epithet often applied to him in the hour of adversity. o Orkhan, the second emperor of the Turks, is the only one on whom a Christian princess was bestowed. Theodora, of the Greek empire, daughter of Cantacuzene and Irene, was given to the powerful Turk by her ambitious father, though he was well aware that he previously had many wives and favorites. No marriage ceremonies were performed; but the troops were assembled round a throne, on which
Theodora was seated concealed by silken curtains. At a signal from the emperor, the screens were withdrawn, and the bride discovered in the midst of kneeling eunuchs and blazing torches; while the joyful sound of trumpets and other instruments of music welcomed her appearance. Her father had stipulated that she should be allowed to preserve her religion in the midst of the harem, and he wrote much in praise of her charity and devotion in this difficult situation. Achmet I. is said to have had three thousand women in his harem, and the grandees of the empire generally have some hundreds. The rigid seclusion of Mohammedan women is said to have originated in the conduct of Ayesha, called Best Beloved Wife of the Prophet, and Mother of the Faithful. She went out into the desert to look for a pearl necklace she had lost, and on her return was accused of listening to the smooth words of an officer she met. Mohammed did not withdraw his affection, and publicly protested her innocence; but keenly alive to the dis. graceful report, he expressly forbade any Mussulman to speak to his wives, or to remain in his house after dinner, or to enter it in his absence. Harem is an Arabic word signifying sanctuary, These retreats are so carefully guarded, that little is known of their interior arrangements. Physicians, and the wives of European ambassadors, have sometimes gained access to seraglios, which they describe as follows: Favorites of the highest rank are called khatauns, of which there are seven. She who first presents the Sultan with a son becomes the sultana hasseki, and takes precedence of the others. Next in rank to the khatouns are the odahlycs, whose number is unlimited. Each of the khatouns has a seventh part of the odahlycs, and a certain number of eunuchs and slaves as her own peculiar attendants; and each has a separate court, garden, and bath, belonging to the pavilion in which she resides. These pavilions are adorned with marble, paintings in arabesque, gilding, mirrors, &c. The odahlycs, generally to the amount of some hundreds, sleep on sofas in a long high gallery, divided by a double row of chests of drawers, where they keep their clothing. The staircases to this gallery are secured by massive trap-doors, fastened with bars of iron. The inner courts of the harem are guarded by black eunuchs; with muskets always in their hands, and the outer by white eunuchs. Innumerable subordinate officers are appointed to settle disputes, and keep order within and around the harem. When any of the Sultan's women accompany him into the gardens, officers are in readiness to warn the gardeners and all other men to retire; and should any one be slow to obey, he would be killed on the spot. When the king's women are removed from one seraglio to another, they are accompanied by officers with staves to keep off the people, and to prevent the ladies from showing themselves by drawing the curtains of their litters. When ill the women are always attended by their own sex. Physicians are admitted into the harem only under the strictest guard, and on extraordinary