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1981. Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians by E. W. Lane

1981, East-West Publications, pbk

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About the author and this book: Edward William Lane was born in Hereford on September 17th, 1801. He was the 3rd son of the Reverend Theophilus Lane, LL.D., a prebendary of Hereford Cathedral and was educated privately, mostly by his parents. Despite early success in Mathematics and Classics and hopes for a career in the Church, Lane abandoned the idea and headed for London where he helped an elder brother with his work in lithography and engraving. He also devoted much time to learning Arabic in which he acquired a great proficiency. Work and study undermined his health to such an extent that he nearly died of fever and this prompted him to head for the East and Egypt in particular where he could recover and take up his favourite studies; and so he went to live there at the tender age of twenty-four. He decided to not just study the language, but the people as well. As such he adopted their costume and carried the effect off so well that people assumed he was a Turk. He hired professors to instruct him in Arabic and to teach him Moslem religion and law and lived among the people taking on an Arabic name and adopting their manners, customs and their opinions too. He abstained from eating food forbidden by their religion and from drinking wine; and also from habits thought to be disagreeable such as using knives and forks at meals. The result of the efforts he went to was that he gained the entire confidence of the Arabs, who forgot he was not one of them. He was thus, even as an Englishman, able to penetrate into their thoughts, into their inner life and to think their thoughts in their language.
Lane's example of integration with the communities under study has been followed by other subsequent travellers such as Francis Parkman, an American who lived among the North American Indians for some time; and by Arminius Vambéry, a Hungarian, who travelled as a dervish for two years with the Tartars of Central Asia.

Lane's life among the Egyptians was preparation for the great work he had set out to accomplish - showing the Egyptians to the world as they had never been seen before. Staying in the country for three years at Alexandria, Cairo, the Pyramids and up the Nile; he returned to England at the end of 1828 with his work "Description of Egypt" in complete form and illustrated with his own drawings. He could not find a publisher willing to take the book on despite its inherent value; however Lord Brougham's advice led him to take it to the Society for the Diffusion of of Useful Knowledge.

This was not the end of the story - Lane felt that the book could be improved and decided to return to Egypt in 1833 to do just that. A further two years in Egypt allowed him to gain additional information and insight, which was woven into a new work called "The Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians", which was published in 1836 in two volumes of the Library of Entertaining Knowledge; again illustrated with woodcuts drawn by Lane himself. This book was very successful and was acknowledged as accurate, fair and complete and a remarkable descriptive account of a people

Biographical Sketch
Introduction: The Country and Climate - Metropolis - Houses - Population
1. Personal Characteristics and Dress of the Muslim Egyptians
2. Infancy and Early Education
3. Religion and Laws - includes sections on Islamic marriage (and marriage outside the Islamic faith), polygamy, concubinage and divorce
4. Government
5. Domestic Life
6. Domestic Life - (continued)
7. Domestic Life - (continued)
8. Common Usages of Society
9. Language, Literature, and Science
10. Superstitions
11. Superstitions-(Continued)
12. Magic, Astrology, and Alchemy
13. Character
14. Industry
15. Use of Tobacco, Coffee, Hemp, Opium, etc
16. The Bath
17. Games
18. Music
19. Public Dancers
20. Serpent-charmers, and Performers of Legerdemain Tricks, etc
21. Public Recitations of Romances
22. Public Recitations of Romances -(Continued)
23. Public Recitations of Romances -(Continued)
24. Periodical Public Festivals, etc.,
25. Periodical Public Festivals, etc.-(Continued)
26. Periodical Public Festivals, etc.-(Continued)
27. Private Festivities, etc.
28. Death, and Funeral Rites
29. The Copts
30. The Jews of Egypt
31. Egyptian Female Ornaments
Notes, Egyptian Weights and Measures, Index

List of Illustrations
A Street in Cairo
The Call to Prayer
Mosque of the Sultan Hassan, Cairo
Interior of a Mosque
Egyptian Asses
Washing Before or After a Meal
Party at Supper
Egyptian Woman at Window
Interior of a Hareem, Cairo
Children Driving Birds from Grain
An Arab Scribe
The Mosque of Arou, Cairo
Shop of a Turkish Merchant in the Sook Khan El-Khaleelee
Nile Boats
An' Al'meh, or Professional Singer
A Sha'er, with his Accompanying Violinist, and Part of his Audience
Funeral Procession
Tombs of the Caliphs, Citadel of Cairo


Life in Egypt

Muslim Society


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