Beauty (represented by numerous Hebrew terms, which in our version are frequently rendered by "comeliness," etc.). The Song of Solomon, particularly the sixth and seventh chapters, gives us some idea of what were then the notions of beauty in an Eastern bride, and by comparing these statements with modern Oriental opinions, we may perceive many points of agreement. Roberts says, "A handsome Hindoo female is compared to the sacred city of Seedambaram. Her skin is of the color of gold; her hands, nails, and soles of the feet are of a reddish hue; her limbs must be smooth, and her gait like the stately swan. Her feet are small, like the beautiful lotus; her waist as slender as the lightning; her arms are short, and her fingers resemble the five petals of the kantha flower; her breasts are like the young cocoa-nut, and her neck is as the trunk of the areca-tree. Her mouth is like the ambal flower, and her lips as coral; her teeth are like beautiful pearls; her nose is high and lifted up, like that of the chameleon (when raised to snuff the wind); her eyes are like the sting of a wasp and the Karungu-valley flower; her brows are like the bow, and nicely separated; and her hair is as the black cloud." Corpulency and stateliness of manner are qualities which the Orientals admire in their women; particularly corpulency, which is well known to be one of the most distinguishing marks of beauty in the East. Niebuhr says that plumpness is thought so desirable in the East, that women, in order to become so, swallow every morning and every evening three insects of a species of tenebriones, fried in butter. Upon this principle is founded the compliment of Solomon (Song 1:9), and Theocritus, in his epithalamium for the celebrated Queen Helen, describes her as plump and large, and compares her to the horse in the chariots of Thessaly. The Arab women whom Mr. Wood saw among the ruins of Palmyra were well shaped, and, although very swarthy, yet had good features. Zenobia, the celebrated queen of that renowned city, was reckoned eminently beautiful, and the description we have of her person answers to that character; her complexion was of a dark brown, her eyes black and sparkling, and of an uncommon fire; her countenance animated and sprightly in a very high degree; her person graceful and stately; her teeth white as pearl; her voice clear and strong. Females of distinction in Palestine, and even farther east, are not only beautiful and well shaped, but in consequence of being kept from the rays of the sun, are very fair, and the Scripture bears the same testimony of Sarah, of Rebekah, and of Rachel; that they were "beautiful and well-favored." The women of the poorer classes, however, are extremely brown and swarthy in their complexions, from being much exposed to the heat of the sun. It is on this account that the prophet Jeremiah, when he would describe a beautiful woman, represents her as one that keeps at home, because those who are desirous to preserve their beauty go very little abroad. Stateliness of the body has always been held in great estimation in Eastern courts, nor do they think any one capable of great services or actions to whom nature has not vouchsafed to give a beautiful form and aspect. It still is and has always been the custom of the Eastern nations to choose such for their principal officers, or to wait on princes and great personages (Da 1:4). Sir Paul Rycaut observes that "the youths that are designed for the great offices of the Turkish empire must be of admirable features and looks, well shaped in their bodies, and without any defects of nature; for it is conceived that a corrupt and sordid soul can scarce inhabit a serene and ingenuous aspect; and I have observed not only in the seraglio, but also in the courts of great men, their personal attendants have been of comely lusty youths, well habited, deporting themselves with singular modesty and respect in the presence of their masters; so that when a pacha aga-spahi travels, he is always attended with a comely equipage, followed by flourishing youths, well mounted."

Bible concordance for BEAUTY.

Definition of beauty

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

Topical Outlines Nave's Bible Topics International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Online King James Bible King James Dictionary

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