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Ebook A History of Mourning by Richard Davey read! Book Title: A History of Mourning
The author of the book: Richard Davey
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Language: English
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 415 KB
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Edition: Jay's, London
Date of issue: 1890
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ALTHOUGH tradition has not informed us whether our first parents made any marked change in their scanty garments on the death of their near relatives, it is certain that the fashion of wearing mourning and the institution of funereal ceremonies and rites are of the most remote antiquity. Herodotus tells us that the Egyptians over 3,000 years ago selected yellow as the colour which denoted that a kinsman was lately deceased. They, moreover, shaved their eyebrows when a relative died; but the death of a dog or a cat, regarded as divinities by this curious people, was a matter of much greater importance to them, for then they not only shaved their eyebrows, but every hair on their bodies was plucked out; and doubtless this explains the reason why so many elaborate wigs are to be seen in the various museums devoted to Egyptian antiquities. It would require a volume to give an idea of the singular funereal ceremonials of this people, with whom death was regarded, so to speak, as a "speciality;" for their religion was mainly devoted to the cultus of the departed, and consequently innumerable monumental tombs still exist all over Egypt, the majority of which are full of mummies, whose painted cases are most artistic.
Fig. 1.—An Egyptian Lady preparing to go into Mourning for the death of her pet Cat.—From a picture by J. R. Weguelin.
The cat was worshipped as a divinity by the Egyptians. Magnificent tombs were erected in its honour, sacrifices and devotions were offered to it; and, as has already 4 been said, it was customary for the people of the house to shave their heads and eyebrows whenever Pussy departed the family circle. Possibly it was their exalted position in Egypt which eventually led to cats being considered the "familiars" of witches in the Middle Ages, and even in our own time, for belief in witchcraft is not extinct. The kindly Egyptians made mummies of their cats and dogs, and it is presumable that, since Egypt is a corn growing, and hence a rat and mouse producing country, both dogs and cats, as killers of these vermin, were regarded with extreme veneration on account of their exterminating 5 qualities. Their mummies are often both curious and comical, for the poor beast's quaint figure and face are frequently preserved with an indescribably grim realism, after the lapse of many ages.
Fig. 2.—Egyptian Maiden presenting Incense to the new-made Mummy of a Cat.
The funeral processions of the Egyptians were magnificent; for with the principal members of the family of the deceased, if he chanced to be of royal or patrician rank, walked in stately file numerous priests, priestesses, and officials wearing mourning robes, and, together with professional mourners, filling the air with horrible howls and cries. Their descendants still produce these strident and dismal lamentations on similar occasions.

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