Eothen By A. W. Kingslake

































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These funerals were very simply conducted.  The bier was a shallow
wooden tray, carried upon a light and weak wooden - Page 210
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These Funerals Were Very Simply Conducted.

The bier was a shallow wooden tray, carried upon a light and weak wooden frame.

The tray had, in general, no lid, but the body was more or less hidden from view by a shawl or scarf. The whole was borne upon the shoulders of men, who contrived to cut along with their burthen at a great pace. Two or three singers generally preceded the bier; the howlers (who are paid for their vocal labours) followed after, and last of all came such of the dead man's friends and relations as could keep up with such a rapid procession; these, especially the women, would get terribly blown, and would straggle back into the rear; many were fairly "beaten off." I never observed any appearance of mourning in the mourners: the pace was too severe for any solemn affectation of grief.

When first I arrived at Cairo the funerals that daily passed under my windows were many, but still there were frequent and long intervals without a single howl. Every day, however (except one, when I fancied that I observed a diminution of funerals), these intervals became less frequent and shorter, and at last, the passing of the howlers from morn till noon was almost incessant. I believe that about one-half of the whole people was carried off by this visitation. The Orientals, however, have more quiet fortitude than Europeans under afflictions of this sort, and they never allow the plague to interfere with their religious usages.

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