Page images

struction, and are of that kind worn by the poorer classes ; flat slices of the palm leaf, which lap over each other in the centre, form the sole of fig. 2, and a double band of twisted leaves secures and strengthens the edge; a thong of the strong fibres of the same plant is affixed to each side of the instep, and was secured round the foot. The other (fig. 3) is more elaborately platted, and has a softer look; it must in fact have been as a pad to the foot, exceedingly light and agreeable in the arid climate inhabited by the people for whom such sandals were constructed; the knot at each side to which the thong was affixed, still remains.

The sandals with curved toes, alluded to above, and which frequently appear upon Egyptian sculpture, and generally upon the feet of the superior classes, are exhibited in the woodcut here given :

and in the Berlin museum, one is preserved of precisely similar form, which has been engraved by Wilkinson, and is here copied, pl. I., fig. 1. It is particularly curious, as showing how such sandals were held upon the feet, the thong which crosses the instep being connected with another, passing over the top of the foot and secured to the sole, between the great toe and that next to it, so that the sole was held firmly, however the foot moved, and yet it allowed the sandal to be cast off at pleasure.

Wilkinson says that “shoes or low boots, were also common in Egypt, but these I believe to have been of late date, and to have belonged to Greeks; for since no persons are represented in the paintings wearing them, except foreigners, we may conclude they were not adopted by the Egyptians, at least in a Pharaonic age. They were of leather, generally of green color, laced in front by thongs, which passed through small loops on either side; and were principally used, as in Greece and Etruria, by women."

One of the close-laced shoes is given in pl. I., fig. 4, from a specimen in the British mụseum. It embraces the foot closely, and has a thong or two over the instep, for drawing it tightly over the foot, something like the half-boot of the present day. The sole and upper leather are all in one piece,


the back and down the front of the foot ; à mode of construction practised in England, as late as the fourteenth century.

The elegantly-ornamented boot here given, is copied from a Theban painting, and is worn by a


gayly-dressed youth from one of the countries bordering on Egypt: it reaches very high, and is a remarkable specimen of the taste for decoration, which thus early began to be displayed upon this article of apparel.

In Sacred Writ are many early notices of shoes, when Moses exhorts the Jews. to obedience (Deut. ch. xxix.), he exclaims, “Your clothes are not waxen old upon you, and thy shoe is not waxen old upon thy foot." In the book of Ruth (chap. iv.) we have a curious instance of the important part performed by the shoe in the ancient days of Israel, in sealing any important business : “Now this was the manner in former time in Israel, concerning redeeming, and concerning changing, for to confirm all things ; a man plucked off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbor; and this was a testimony in Israel.” Ruth, and all the property of three other persons, are given over to Boaz, by the act of the next kinsman, who gives to him his shoe in the presence of witnesses. The ancient law compelled the eldest brother, or nearest kinsman by her late husband's side, to marry a widow, if her husband died childless. The law of Moses provided an alternative, easy in itself, but attended with some degree of ignominy. The woman was in public court to take off his shoe, spit before his face, saying, “so shall it be done unto that man that will not build


his brother's house :” and probably, the fact of this refusal was stated in the genealogical registers in connexion with his name; which is probably what is meant by his " name shall be called in Israel, the house of him that hath his shoe loosed.” (Deut. xxv.) The editor of Knight's Pictorial Bible, who notices these curious laws, also adds that the use of the shoe in the transactions with Boaz, are perfectly intelligible; the taking off the shoe, denoting the relinquishment of the right, and the dissolution of the obligation in the one instance, and its transfer in the other. The shoe is regarded as constituting possession, nor is this idea unknown to ourselves, in being conveyed in the homely proverbial expression by which one man is said to “stand in the shoes of another," and the vulgar idea of " throwing an old shoe after you for luck," is typical of a wish, that temporal gifts or good fortune may follow you. The author last quoted says, that even at the present time, the use of the shoe as a token of right or occupancy, may be traced very extensively in the East; and however various and dissimilar the instances may seem at first view, the leading idea may be still detected in all. Thus among the Bedouins, when a man permits his cousin to marry another, or when a husband divorces his runaway wife, he usually says, “She was my slipper, I have cast her off.” (Burckhardt's “Bedouins," p. 65.) Sir F. Henniker, in speaking of the difficulty he had in persuading the natives to descend into the crocodile mummy pits, in consequence of some men having lost their lives there, says: “Our guides, as if preparing for certain death, took leave of their chil

the father took the turban from his own head, and put it upon that of his son; or put him in his place, by giving him his shoes, 'a dead man's shoes.'' In western Asia, slippers left at the door of an apartment, denote that the master or mistress is engaged, and no one ventures on intrusion, not even a husband, though the apartment be his wife's. Messrs. Tyerman and Bennet, speaking of the termagants of Benares, say, “If domestic or other business calls off one of the combatants before the affair is duly settled, she coolly thrusts her shoe beneath her basket, and


« PreviousContinue »