The Travels Of Marco Polo - Volume 2 Of 2 By Marco Polo And Rustichello Of Pisa











































 -  It is extraordinary that the caution
thus exercised by the Chinese has not prevented many of them from being
double - Page 190
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It Is Extraordinary That The Caution Thus Exercised By The Chinese Has Not Prevented Many Of Them From Being Double-Tongued.

This result, it is supposed, however, will only happen if the food so raised is eaten in the house in which the future mother happens to be.

It is thought that the pasting up of the red papers containing antithetical and felicitous sentences on them, as at New Year's time, by a man under similar circumstances, and this whether the future mother sees the action performed or not, will cause the child to have red marks on the face or any part of the body. The causes producing naevi materni have probably been the origin of such marks, rather than the idea entertained by the Chinese that the father, having performed an action by some occult mode, influences the child yet unborn. A case is said to have occurred in which ill effects were obviated, or rather obliterated, by the red papers being torn down, after the birth of the infant, and soaked in water, when as the red disappeared from the paper, so the child's face assumed a natural hue. Lord Avebury also speaks of la couvade as existing among the Chinese of West Yun-Nan. (Origin of Civilisation and Primitive Condition of Man, p. 18)."

Dr. J.A.H. Murray, editor of the New English Dictionary, wrote, in The Academy, of 29th October, 1892, a letter with the heading of Couvade, The Genesis of an Anthropological Term, which elicited an answer from Dr. E.B. Tylor (Academy, 5th November): "Wanting a general term for such customs," writes Dr. Tylor, "and finding statements in books that this male lying-in lasted on till modern times, in the south of France, and was there called couvade, that is brooding or hatching (couver), I adopted this word for the set of customs, and it has since become established in English." The discussion was carried on in The Academy, 12th and 19th November, 10th and 17th December; Mr. A.L. Mayhew wrote (12th November): "There is no doubt whatever that Dr. Tylor and Professor Max Mueller (in a review of Dr. Tylor's book) share the glory of having given a new technical sense to an old provincial French word, and of seeing it accepted in France, and safely enshrined in the great Dictionary of Littre."

Now as to the origin of the word; we have seen above that Rochefort was the first to use the expression faire la couvade.

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