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Toilette Of The Hebrew Lady
by [?]

V. The Hebrew women of high rank, in the flourishing period of their state, wore NECKLACES composed of multiple rows of pearls. The thread on which the pearls were strung, was of flax or woollen,–and sometimes colored, as we learn from the Thalmud, VI. 43; and the different rows were not exactly concentric; but whilst some invested the throat, others descended to the bosom; and in many cases, even to the zone. On this part of the dress was lavished the greatest expense; and the Roman reproach was sometimes true of a Hebrew family, that its whole estate was locked up in a necklace. Tertullian complains heavily of a particular pearl necklace, which had cost about ten thousand pounds of English money–as of an enormity of extravagance. But, after making every allowance for greater proximity to the pearl fisheries, and for other advantages enjoyed by the people of Palestine, there is reason to believe that some Hebrew ladies possessed single pearls which had cost at least five times that sum. [Footnote 4] So much may be affirmed, without meaning to compare the most lavish of the ladies of Jerusalem with those of Rome, where it is recorded of some elegantes, that they actually slept with little bags of pearls suspended from their necks, that even when sleeping, they might have mementos of their pomp.

But the Hebrew necklaces were not always composed of pearls, or of pearls only–sometimes it was the custom to interchange the pearls with little golden bulbs or berries: sometimes they were blended with the precious stones; and at other times, the pearls were strung two and two, and their beautiful whiteness relieved by the interposition of red coral.

VI. Next came the BRACELETS of gold or ivory, and fitted up at the open side with a buckle or enamelled clasp of elaborate workmanship. These bracelets were also occasionally composed of gold or silver thread; and it was not unusual for a series of them to ascend from the wrist to the elbow. From the clasp, or other fastening of the bracelet, depended a delicate chain-work or netting of gold; and in some instances, miniature festoons of pearls. Sometimes the gold chain-work was exchanged for little silver bells, which could be used, upon occasion, as signals of warning or invitation to a lover.

VII. This bijouterie for the arms, naturally reminded the Hebrew lady of the ANKLE-BELLS, and other similar ornaments for the feet and legs. These ornaments consisted partly in golden belts, or rings, which, descending from above the ankle, compressed the foot in various parts, and partly in shells and little jingling chains, which depended so as to strike against clappers fixed into the metallic belts. The pleasant tinkle of the golden belts in collision, the chains rattling, and the melodious chime of little silver ankle-bells, keeping time with the motions of the foot, made an accompaniment so agreeable to female vanity, that the stately daughters of Jerusalem, with their sweeping trains flowing after them, appear to have adopted a sort of measured tread, by way of impressing a regular cadence upon the music of their feet. The chains of gold were exchanged, as luxury advanced, for strings of pearls and jewels, which swept in snaky folds about the feet and ankles.

This, like many other peculiarities in the Hebrew dress, had its origin in a circumstance of their early nomadic life. It is usual with the Bedouins to lead the camel, when disposed to be restive, by a rope or a belt fastened to one of the fore feet, sometimes to both; and it is also a familiar practice to soothe and to cheer the long-suffering animal with the sound of little bells, attached either to the neck or to one of the fore legs. Girls are commonly employed to lead the camels to water; and it naturally happened, that, with their lively fancies, some Hebrew or Arabian girl should be prompted to repeat, on her own person, what had so often been connected with an agreeable impression in her mule companions to the well.