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whom he has received the gift, and to defend her against all her enemies, whenever she shall demand his assistance." Thus, the Great Mogul, Hoomâyoon, father of the yet more celebrated Akbar, was in his early life bound, and afterwards loyally recognized his binding, as "the sworn knight of one of the princesses of Rajasthan, who, according to the custom of her country, secured the sword of the prince in her service by the gift of a bracelet." When he had a throne of his own to care for, this princess, Kurnivati, being besieged at Cheetore, sent to Hoomâyoon, then prosecuting a vigorous campaign in Bengal; and he, as in duty bound, "instantly obeyed the summons"; and although he was not in season to rescue her, he evinced his fidelity by avenging the fall of the city.” It is noteworthy, just here, that the Oriental biographer of the Mogul Akbar calls attention to the fact, that while the Persians describe close friendship as chiefly subsisting between men, "in Hindostan it is celebrated between man and woman ";2 as, indeed, it is among the Arab tribes east of the Jordan.

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In the Norseland, an oath of fidelity was taken on a ring, or a bracelet, kept in the temple of the gods; and the gift and acceptance of a bracelet, or a ring,

1 See Elliott and Roberts's Views in India, II., 64.

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8 See citation from Wetzstein, at page 9 f., supra.

was a common symbol of a covenant of fidelity. Thus, in "Hávamál," the high song of Odin, we find:

"Odin, I believe,

A ring-oath gave.

Who in his faith will trust?' ""

And in "Viga Glum's Saga," it is related: "In the midst of a wedding party, Glum calls upon Thorarin, his accuser, to hear his oath, and taking in his hand a silver ring which had been dipped in sacrificial blood, he cites two witnesses to testify to his oath on the ring, and to his having appealed to the gods in his denial of the charge made against him." In the "Saga of Fridthjof the Bold," when Fridthjof is bidding farewell to his beloved Ingeborg, he covenants fidelity to her by the gift of

"An arm-ring, all over famous;

Forged by the halting Volund, 'twas, the old North-story's Vul


Heaven was grav'd thereupon, with the twelve immortals' strong castlesSigns of the changing months, but the skald had Sun-houses named them."

As Fridthjof gave this pledge to Ingeborg, he said:


'Forget me never; and,

In sweet remembrance of our youthful love,

This arm-ring take; a fair Volunder-work,

With all heaven's wonders carved i' th' shining gold.

Ah! the best wonder is a faithful heart
How prettily becomes it thy white arm—
A glow-worm twining round a lily stem."

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And the subsequent story of that covenanting armring, fills thrilling pages in Norseland lore.1

Yet again, in the German cycle of the "Nibelungen Lied," Gotelind, the wife of Sir Rudeger, gives bracelets to the warrior-bard Folker, to bind him as her knightly champion in the court of King Etzel, to which he goes. Her jewel casket is brought to her. "From this she took twelve bracelets, and drew them o'er his hand; 'These you must take, and with you bear hence to Etzel's land, And for the sake of Gotelind the same at court must wear, That I may learn, when hither again you all repair, What service you have done me in yon assembly bright.' The lady's wish thereafter full well perform'd the knight."

And when the fight waxed sore at the court of Etzel, the daring and dying Folker called on Sir Rudeger to bear witness to his bracelet-bound fidelity:

"For me, most noble margrave! you must a message bear; These bracelets red were given me late by your lady fair, To wear at this high festal before the royal Hun.

View them thyself, and tell her that I've her bidding done."

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It would, indeed, seem, that from this root-idea of the binding force of an endless covenant, symbolized in the form, and in the primitive name, of the bracelet, the armlet, the ring, there has come down to us the use of the wedding-ring, or the wedding-bracelet, and

1 See Anderson's Norse Mythol., p. 149; his Viking Tales, pp. 184, 237, 272 f.; Wood's Wedding Day in all Ages and Countries, p. 139. "Lettsom's Nibelungen Lied, pp. 299, 388.

of the signet-ring as the seal of the most sacred covenants. The signet-ring appears in earliest history. When Pharaoh would exalt Joseph over all the land of Egypt, "Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph's hand." Similarly with Ahasuerus and Haman: "The king took his ring from his hand, and gave it unto Haman;" and the irrevocable decrees when written were “sealed with the king's ring." When again Haman was deposed and Mordecai was exalted, "the king took off his ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it unto Mordecai." The re-instatement of the prodigal son, in the parable, was by putting "a ring on his hand." And these illustrations out of ancient Egypt, Persia, and Syria, indicate a world-wide custom, so far. One's signetring stood for his very self, and represented, thus, his blood, as his life.

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The use of rings, or bracelets, or armlets, in the covenant of betrothal, or of marriage, is from of old, and it is of wide-spread acceptance. References to it are cited from Pliny, Tertullian, Juvenal, Isidore; and traces of it are found, earlier or later, among the peoples of Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Islands of the Sea. In Iceland, the covenanting-ring was large enough for the palm of the hand to be passed through;

1 Gen. 41: 41, 42. 2 Esther 3: 10-12; 8: 2. 3 Luke 15: 22. 'See Wood's Wedding Day; also Jones's Finger Ring Lore.



so, in betrothal "the bridegroom passed four fingers and his palm through one of these rings, and in this manner he received the hand of the bride." In Ireland, long ago, "a usual gift from a woman to her betrothed husband was a pair of bracelets made of her own hair”; as if a portion of her very self-as in the case of one's blood-entered into the covenant rite. Again in Ireland, as also among the old Romans, the wedding-ring was in the form of two hands clasped (called a “fede") in token of union and fidelity.

Sometimes, in England, the wedding-ring was worn upon the thumb, as extant portraits illustrate; and as suggested in Butler's Hudibras:

"Others were for abolishing

That tool of matrimony, a ring,

With which the unsanctify'd bridegroom

Is marry'd only to a thumb."

In Southern's "Maid's Last Prayer," the heroine says: "Marry him I must, and wear my wedding-ring upon my thumb too, that I'm resolved." These thumb-weddings were said to be introduced from the East; and Chardin reports a form of marriage in Ceylon, by the binding together of the thumbs of the contracting parties;3 as, according to the classics, the thumbs were bound together in the rite of blood-covenanting. Indeed, the selection of the ring-finger for 1 Cited in Jones's Finger Ring Lore, p. 289. 2 See Ibid., pp. 87-90. 3 Persian- und Ost-Indische Reise, II., 196. See pp. 59 f., 62, supra.

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