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Toilette Of The Hebrew Lady
by [?]

According to the rank or vanity of the wearer, this tunic was made of more or less costly materials; for wool and flax was often substituted the finest byssus, or other silky substance; and perhaps, in the latter periods, amongst families of distinction in Jerusalem, even silk itself. Splendor of coloring was not neglected; and the opening at the throat was eagerly turned to account as an occasion for displaying fringe or rich embroidery.

Bottiger remarks, that, even in the age of Augustus, the morning dress of Roman ladies when at home was nothing more than this very tunic; which, if it sate close, did not even require a girdle. The same remark applies to the Hebrew women, who, during the nomadic period of their history, had been accustomed to wear no night-chemises at all, but slept quite naked, or, at the utmost, with a cestus or zone: by way of bed-clothes, however, it must be observed, that they swathed their person in the folds of a robe or shawl. Up to the time of Solomon, this practice obtained through all ranks; and so long the universal household dress of a Hebrew lady in her harem, was the tunic as here described; and in this she dressed herself the very moment that she rose from bed. Indeed, so long as the Hebrew women were content with a single tunic, it flowed loose in liberal folds about the body; and was fastened by a belt or a clasp, just as we find it at this day amongst all Asiatic nations. But, when a second under-garment was introduced, the inner one fitted close to the shape, whilst the outer one remained full and free as before.

II. No fashion of the female toilette is of higher antiquity than that of dyeing the margin of the eyelids and the eyebrows with a black pigment. It is mentioned or alluded to, 2 Kings, ix. 30, Jerem. iv. 30, Ezek. xxiii. 40; to which may be added, Isaiah, iii. 16. The practice had its origin in a discovery made accidentally in Egypt. For it happens, that the substance used for this purpose in ancient times, is a powerful remedy in cases of ophthalmia and inflammation of the eyes;–complaints to which Egypt is, from local causes, peculiarly exposed. This endemic infirmity, in connection with the medical science for which Egypt was so distinguished, easily account for their discovering the uses of antimony, which is the principal ingredient in the pigments of this class. Egypt was famous for the fashion of painting the face from an early period: and in some remarkable curiosities illustrating the Egyptian toilette, which were discovered in the catacombs of Sahara in Middle Egypt, there was a single joint of a common reed containing an ounce or more of the coloring powder, and one of the needles for applying it. The entire process was as follows:–The mineral powder, finely prepared, was mixed up with a preparation of vinegar and gall-apples–sometimes with oil of almonds, or other oils–sometimes, by very luxurious women, with costly gums and balsams. [Footnote 3] And perhaps, as Sonnini describes the practice among the Mussulman women at present, the whole mass thus compounded was dried and again reduced to an impalpable powder, and consistency then given to it by the vapors of some odorous and unctuous substance. Thus prepared, the pigment was applied to the tip or pointed ferule of a little metallic pencil, called, in Hebrew, Makachol, and made of silver, gold, or ivory; the eyelids were then closed, and the little pencil, or probe, held horizontally, was inserted between them:–a process which is briefly and picturesquely described in the Bible. The effect of the black rim, which the pigment traced about the eyelid, was to throw a dark and majestic shadow over the eye; to give it a languishing and yet a lustrous expression; to increase its apparent size, and to apply the force of contrast to the white of the eye. Together with the eyelids, the Hebrew women colored the eyebrows, the point aimed at being twofold–to curve them into a beautiful arch of brilliant ebony–and, at the same time, to make the inner ends meet or flow into each other.