Images de page

fowlers and fishermen were subdivisions of one of the classes into which the Egyptians were divided. They either caught the birds in large clap-nets, or in traps; and they sometimes shot them with arrows, or felled them with a throw-stick, as they flew in the thickets. (See vol. i. p. 234 to 236.)

The trap was generally made of network, strained over a frame. It consisted of two semicircular sides or flaps, of equal sizes, one or both moving on the common bar, or axis, upon which they rested. When the trap was set, the two flaps were kept open by means of strings, probably of catgut, which, the moment the bait that stood in the centre of the bar was touched, slipped aside, and allowed the two flaps to collapse, and thus secured the bird.

Another kind, which was square, appears to have closed in the same manner; but its construction was different, the framework



Bird traps.

Beni Hassan.

Fig. 1. Trap closed, and the bird caught in it; the net-work of it has been effaced, as also in fig. 3. The other traps are open.

[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Part 1. a. The boat with the fish hanging up to dry in the sun and wind; on the top of the mast sits a kite. The manner in which it shrieks, while waiting for the entrails of the fish, as they are thrown out, is very characteristically shown in the original painting. The boat is supposed to be close to the shelving bank to which they are dragging the net. The water is represented by zigzag lines at b, which, to prevent confusion, I have not continued over the net. Part 2. Figs. 8, 9, 10, pull the rope that the net may collapse; 11 makes a sign with his hand to keep silence and pull; at p the rope is fixed; at f, g, e, are geese and baskets of their young and eggs; h, are pelicans; i and n, papyrus plants.

d 8 9 10 с e



running across the centre, and not, as in the others, round the edges of the trap.

And so skilful were they in making traps, that they were strong enough to hold the hyæna; and in the one which caught the robber in the treasury of Rhampsinitus, the power of the spring, or the mechanism of the catch, was so perfect that his brother was unable to open it, or release him.

Similar in ingenuity, though not in strength, were the nets made by the convicts banished to Rhinocolura by Actisanes, which, though made of split straws, were yet capable of catching many of the numerous quails that frequented that desert region at a particular period of the year.

The clap-net was of different forms, though on the same general principle as the traps. It consisted of two sides or frames, over which the network was strained; at one end was a short rope, which they fastened to a bush, or a cluster of reeds, and at the other was one of considerable length, which, as soon as the birds were seen feeding in the area within the net, was pulled by the fowlers, causing the two sides to collapse.*

As soon as they had selected a convenient spot for laying down the net, in a field or on the surface of a pond, the known resort of numerous wild fowl, they spread open the two sides or flaps, and secured them in such a manner that they remained flat upon the ground, until pulled by the rope. A man, crouched behind some reeds, growing at a convenient distance from the spot, from which he could observe the birds as they came down, watched the net, and enjoining silence by placing his hand over his mouth, beckoned to those holding the rope to keep themselves in readiness, till he saw them assembled in sufficient numbers; when a wave of his hand gave the signal for closing the net.

The Egyptian mode of indicating silence is evidently shown, from these scenes, to have been by placing "the hand on their mouth," (as in Job xxix. 9), not as generally supposed, by approaching the forefinger to the lips; and the Greeks erroneously concluded that the youthful Harpocrates was the deity of silence, * Woodcut 420, part 2.

from his appearing in this attitude; which, however humiliating to the character of a deity, was only illustrative of his extreme



Clap-nets from the sculptures.


youth, and of a habit common to children in every country, whether of ancient or modern times.

The poulterers may be divided into two grades,—the rearers, and those who sold poultry in the market; the former living in the country and villages, the latter in the towns. They fed them for the table; and besides the number required for private consumption, a great many were exclusively fattened for the service of the temple, as well as for the sacred animals, and for the daily rations of the priests and soldiers, or others who lived at the government expense. The birds were principally geese, ducks, teal, quails, and some small birds, which they were in the habit of salting, especially in Lower Egypt, where they ate “all sorts of birds and fish, not reckoned sacred, either roasted or boiled." For besides geese and pigeons, which abounded in Egypt, many of the wading tribe-the ardea and several others— were esteemed for the table, and even introduced among the

choice offerings to the gods. But the favourite was the Vulpanser of the Nile, known to us as "the Egyptian goose," which, with some others of the same genus, were tamed and kept like ordinary poultry. Those in a wild state, having been caught in the large clap-nets, were brought to the poulterers, who salted and potted them in earthenware jars; and others were put up in the shops for immediate sale. Like other rearers of animals, the poulterers paid great attention to the habits of wild geese, which were tamed to feed in flocks, like our turkies; and they had doubtless perceived that, besides warmth, chickens require to have their food constantly within reach; perhaps even buried, that they may exercise their natural habit of scratching it up; and not to have a great quantity after long intervals.

The form and character of the various shops depended on the will, or the particular trade, of the person they belonged to; and many no doubt sat and sold in the streets, as at the present day. The poulterers suspended geese and other birds from a pole, or on nails, in front of the shop, over which an awning was stretched to keep off the sun; and many of the shops resembled our stalls, being open in front, with the goods exposed on shelves, or hanging from the inner wall, as is still the custom in the bazárs of eastern towns.


A poulterer's shop.


« PrécédentContinuer »