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Toilette Of The Hebrew Lady
by [?]

It is probable, however, that afterwards, having once been introduced, this fashion was supported and extended by Oriental jealousy. For it rendered all clandestine movements very difficult in women; and by giving notice of their approach, it had the effect of preparing men for their presence, and keeping the road free from all spectacles that could be offensive to female delicacy.

From the Hebrew Bedouins, this custom passed to all the nations of Asia; Medes, Persians, Lydians, Arabs, etc., and is dwelt on with peculiar delight by the elder Arabic poets. That it had spread to the westernmost parts of Africa, early in the Christian times, we learn from Tertullian, who cannot suppress his astonishment, that the foolish women of his time should bear to inflict such compression upon their tender feet. Even as early as the times of Herodotus, we find, from his account of a Lybian nation, that the women and girls universally wore copper rings about their ankles. And at an after period, these ornaments were so much cherished by the Egyptian ladies, that, sooner than, appear in public without their tinkling ankle-chimes, they preferred to bury themselves in the loneliest apartments of the harem.

Finally, the fashion spread partially into Europe; to Greece even, and to polished Rome, in so far as regarded the ankle-belts, and the other ornamental appendages, with the single exception of the silver bells; these were too entirely in the barbaresque taste, to support themselves under the frown of European culture.

VIII. The first rude sketch of the Hebrew SANDAL may be traced in that little tablet of undrest hide which the Arabs are in the habit of tying beneath the feet of their camels. This primitive form, after all the modifications and improvements it has received, still betrays itself to an attentive observer, in the very-latest fashions of the sandal which Palestine has adopted.

To raw hides succeeded tanned leather, made of goat-skin, deer-skin, etc. this, after being accurately cut out to the shape of the sole, was fastened on the bare upper surface of the foot by two thongs, of which one was usually carried within the great toe, and the other in many circumvolutions round about the ankles, so that both finally met and tied just above the instep.

The laced sole, or sandal, of this form, continued in Palestine to be the universal out-of-doors protection for the feet, up to the Christian-era; and it served for both sexes alike. It was not, however, worn within doors. At the threshold of the inner apartments the sandals were laid aside; and visitors from a distance were presented with a vessel of water to cleanse the feet from the soiling of dust and perspiration. [Footnote 5]

With this extreme simplicity in the form of the foot apparel, there was no great field for improvement. The article contained two parts–the sole and the fastening. The first, as a subject for decoration, was absolutely desperate; coarse leather being exchanged for fine, all was done that could be done; and the wit of man was able to devise no further improvement. Hence it happened, that the whole power of the inventive faculty was accumulated upon the fastenings, as the only subject that remained. These were infinitely varied. Belts of bright yellow, of purple, and of crimson, were adopted by ladies of distinction–especially those of Palestine, and it was a trial of art to throw these into the greatest possible varieties of convolution, and to carry them on to a nexus of the happiest form, by which means a reticulation, or trellis-work, was accomplished, of the most brilliant coloring, which brought into powerful relief the dazzling color of the skin.

It is possible that, in the general rage for ornaments of gold which possessed the people of Palestine, during the ages of excessive luxury, the beauties of Jerusalem may have adopted gilt sandals with gilt fastenings, as the ladies of Egypt did. It is possible, also, that the Hebrew ladies adopted at one time, in exchange for the sandal, slippers that covered the entire foot, such as were once worn at Babylon, and are still to be seen on many of the principal figures on the monuments of Persepolis; and, if this were really so, ample scope would, in that case, have been obtained for inventive art: variations without end might then have been devised on the fashion or the materials of the subject; and by means of color, embroidery, and infinite combinations of jewellery and pearls, an unceasing stimulation of novelty applied to the taste of the gorgeous Asiatic.