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242                      JOURNEYS IN PERSIA          LETTER sxvn

character. The women are spoken of as chaste, and
some of the worst forms of vice are happily unknown
among the Syrians, though they are practised by the
Moslems around them. Their hospitality, their sufferings
for the faith, and their family attachment are justly to
be reckoned among their virtues, but on the whole I
think that the extraordinary interest attaching to them,
and which I feel very strongly myself, is due rather to
their Past than to their Present.

On this plain the dress of the men is much assimilated
to that of the Persians, but the women wear their national
costume. The under-garment is a coloured shirt, over
which is worn a sleeved waistcoat of a different colour,
and above this is an open-fronted coat reaching to the
knees. Loose trousers, so full as to look like a petticoat,
are worn, and frequently an apron and a heavy silver
belt are added. The head-dress is very becoming, and
consists of a raised cap of cloth or silk, embroidered or
jewelled, with a white muslin veil over it and the head,
but the face is exposed, except in the case of married
women, who draw a part of the veil over the mouth.
It is not proper that the hair should be seen.

There is something strikingly Biblical about their
customs and speech. At dinner at Geog-tapa I noticed
that it is a mark of friendship for a man to dip a piece
of bread (a sop) into the soup and give it to another, a
touching reminiscence. A priest is greeted with " Hail,
Master," a teacher is addressed as " Eabban," the saluta-
tation is " Peace be with you," and such words as Talitha
cumi and Ephphatka occasionally startle the ear in the
midst of unintelligible speech, suggesting that the Aramaic
of our Lord's day was very near akin to the old Syriac,
of which the present vernacular is a development. As
among the Moslems, pious phrases are common. A Syrian
receiving a kindness often replies, " May God give you