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by Paul Kahle, although he deals mainly with Egypt.” To his account and the fuller experiences related by women missionaries in Egypt and Arabia I am indebted for the particulars given in this chapter. One of the best accounts of the actual ceremony is that given by Miss Anna Y. Thompson of the American Mission in Egypt.” She writes: “There are places where women go to have these Zar spirits appeased, but generally a woman who can afford the expense of the occasion will have the performances in her own house. Formerly, I thought that only hysterical women were “possessed,’ but men also may have demon possession, and even children. Indeed, in some parts of the city of Cairo the little girls have this as a performance in their play in the streets. “There are different kinds of demons, and it is the business of the sheikhas to determine which sort (or sorts) are in their patient. Yawning and lassitude go with possession, also palpitation, a stinging sensation, and sometimes rheumatism and nausea. Instead of going to a doctor for medicine, the patient goes to a sheikh, who takes a handkerchief belonging to the sick person and puts it under her pillow at night. The sheikh or mashayikh (plural), who appear to her during the night, are those who are making the trouble. A day is appointed, a bargain is made about the kind and expense of the ceremony, and all friends who are afflicted by these particular demons are invited to assist in the festivities. “One of our Bible-women was permitted to attend a Zar in one of the houses where she was accustomed to read the Bible, so a number of the missionaries went with her to the place, which was an old building near the Bab-el-Shaa’rieh quarter. Women were sitting round on mats in the court, * Paul Kahle, “Zar-Beschwörungen in Egypten” in Der Islam, Band
III, Helt 1, 2. Strassburg, 1912.
and the first part of the performance was the Nass-el-Kursy, or preparation of the high, round table which had a large copper tray on it. Different kinds of nuts were brought and spread on the outer part, and some of each were given to us. Then followed parched peas, sesame seed, parsley, coffee in a paper package, two heads of sugar, two bowls of sour milk, two pieces of soap, a plate of oranges, one of feast cakes, another of Turkish delight, candy and sugared nuts, cucumbers and apples, all of which were covered with a piece of red tarlatan. Three small candles (an uneven number) were brought, and two large ones were placed on the floor in tin stands. These were all lighted, and the woman (after a bath) began to dress for the performance which casts out sudanese spirits. The woman was dressed in white, and she and others were ornamented with blue and white Sudan charms, silver chains, anklets, bracelets, etc., which had cowries or shells that rattled. One woman said to me, “All these are a redemption for us.” Then the sheikha and her women began to get their musical instruments ready, by heating them over a few burning coals in a little earthenware brazier. They had two darabukka, or wedding drums, two drums the shape of sieves and one barrel drum. “The demon in one person of the family is a Christian demon, and the possessed woman wears a silver cross and crucifix to keep him happy.” If she were to take these off she would suffer. She also wears a silver medallion with bells on it, and silver rings on each finger, one having a cross on it. Her child danced with the drums. A curious thing was that this woman spent a few months in a mission school * Before I heard of Miss Thompson's story I discovered in the bazaar at Cairo silver crosses engraved and sold to Moslem women by Jewish dealers. One shows Christ upon the cross, while the other represents the Virgin, and has “the verse of the Throne,” from the Koran, on years ago, and she promised to send her daughter to be educated by us in the same building. “The performance began when the patient was seated on the floor, by the sheikha drumming vigorously and chanting over her head. One elderly relative, who was standing, began to sway back and forth, and was followed by the patient and others. After a period of rest, during which some smoked, the woman was told to rise, and the sheikha held her head, then each hand, the hem of her dress, and each foot, over the incense which had been burned before the food on the tray. Ten or fifteen others had the incense treatment in the same way. This was after the sheikha had called on all the mashayikh, or demons, and had repeated the Fatiha about five times, during which the drums played and all the company chanted; at a given signal on the drums, each one covered her face with a white veil. The patient rose and began swaying and contorting her body as she went slowly around the table, followed by others. When a performer was too vigorous, an onlooker would take a little flour or salt and sprinkle it over her head, following her around the circle to prevent her falling. In the midst of all the din, some of the women gave the joy cry. Two white hens and a cock, which were to be sacrificed the next day, were brought in and flew about the room. The patient at last sank down panting, and the sheikha took a large mouthful from a bottle of rose water, and spattered it with force over, each performer. “The flour and other things are intended to make peace between the patient and the Asyad (ruling demons). “Do not be angry with us, we will do all we can.” At the beginning of these performances, the sheikha, with the incense in her hand, and all the others standing around the table, repeated the Fatiha; " after which she alone recited: “To 6 I. e., the first or opening chapter of the Koran.
the reverse side. They are used to cast out Christian devils by the dreaded power—i.e., the cross of the Christians.
those who belong to the house of God, may they have mercy on you by their favor, and we ask of you pardon, O Asyad. Have pity on us and on her in whom ye are, and forgive her with all forgiveness, because those who forgive died pious. Forgive, forgive, in the right of the Prophet (hak-en-nebi), upon him be prayers and peace.” “The second round was in the name of others. After the Fatiha, ‘To those who are of the house of God, the people of Jiddah, and Mecca, and the Arabs, by the right of the Prophet Mohammed, upon him be prayers and peace.”
“‘To the mashayikh, Ahmed the Soudanese, all of them Sayyidi Amr, and Sayyedi Ahmed Zeidan.”
“‘To the mashayikh of the convent, all of them, and Amir Tadrus and all those about him, and those who belong to the convent.” (Coptic.)
“‘To the four angels, and the Wullayi, and Mamah, and Rumatu, and all the mashayikh.’
THE FATIHA “‘To those in the sea (or river), Lady Safina swimming in the river, and those of her household, and all those who belong to her.’
“‘To Merri, the father of Abbassi, and sheikh-el-Arab, the Seyyid el Bedawi and Madbouli, and all the honored mashayikh. Come all, by the right of the Prophet, upon him be prayers and peace.”
“After the first round the sheikha put incense on the coals in the brazier, and with varied voices and gestures called on these personages to appear, the standing company joining in a low voice in the Fatiha. Then the incense was waved over the different articles on the table, then before the patient, the sheikha inclining the head of the woman toward the incense, afterwards her hands, feet, etc., and thus for all who wished it. “We left at the end of the third round, but returned when they were in the middle of the tenth round. Some new women had taken the places of those who had become tired and who now sat chatting.” Miss Thompson, however, did not see the concluding ceremony, the climax of the Zar-ritual, namely, the sacrifice and the drinking of blood. She is not the only writer who omits the subject. Klunzinger" says nothing at all of a sacrifice, nor does Plowden. His account is one of the earliest we have: “These Zars,” he writes, “are spirits or devils of a somewhat humorous turn, who, taking possession of their victim, then cause him to perform the most curious antics, and sometimes become visible to him while they are so to no one else — somewhat after the fashion of the ‘Erl-King,' I fancy. The favorite remedies are amulets and vigorous tom-toming, and screeching without cessation, till the possessed, doubtless distracted with the noise, rushes violently out of the house, pelted and beaten and driven to the nearest brook, where the Zar quits him and he becomes well. . . . As for defining the nature of a Zar more accurately, it is difficult . . . as it also is to state wherein the functions of a Zar differ from that of a Gameem (jinn), save that the Zar is a more sportively malicious spirit and the Ganeem rather morose in his manners. The Zar is frequently heard, 7 “Bilder aus Oberágypten,” p. 389.