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Observation of face (1)

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02 Religious and ideological symbols and iconographic motifs

05 Scientific knowledge and scholarly lore

13th century CE
Byzantine Empire
Christian-Syriac philosophers and scholars

Bar Hebraeus, Laughable Stories 20:
712. The man who has round eyes which project from his head and have red streaks in them is a miser, and an avaricious and corrupt man; and if it happens that they are directed upwards continually he has not a single good trait in his character. Similarly a broad face is a sign of good nature, and for a man to have a face which is broad at the top and narrow at the chin is an indication of an evil nature.
713. The man who has a wide space between the eyebrows, and who winks with the left eye, and whose ear is full of hair, and who looks on the ground is crafty, and subtle, and deceitful, especially if his nose inclines to the left.
714. The man whose eyes are deep-set, and who has a high forehead, and slightly elongated face, is an audacious fellow who will live long.
715. The man who has large lips, and a flat nose, and great eyes which stare upwards is a fool, and no trust can be placed in him.
716. The man who has small eyes, and a long eyelashes, and a high forehead, and a loose mouth, and crisp hair, and a bald skull, is a tyrant and one who sheds blood.
717. The man who has large eyes, with a cast (?) in the left one, and a handsome face, is a lover of wisdom, and is of keen intelligence; he is also addicted to fornication and is not entirely free from fraud.
718. The woman whose nose-end is slightly large, and who has large black eyes with a slight tinge of red in the left one is chaste; she shuns marriage with the greatest care, and hides herself in corners.
719. Thick and bushy eyebrows, small eyes, thick lips, and a sharp nose are bad signs in a woman.
720. No woman with a round face, and a small nose, and a pointed head, and whose eye is darker than her complexion, and whose hair is crisp, can escape fornication.
721. The man whose eyes project from his head and who prolongs his gaze on anything, is one who boasts of himself and has a high spirit, and is strenuous in worldly matters.
722. He whose nose-end is high is one who hates occupation.
723. Sharpness of nose, exceeding blackness of the eye, length of hair, and hasty speech, are signs of wrath and anger; the inward qualities of the man who has them do not testify to his externals, and he is the offspring of fornication.
724. Furthermore, little compassion, avariciousness, mercilessness, lasciviousness, insolent speech and weakness in action are the signs of an adulterer and of one who is the offspring of fornication.

Source (list of abbreviations)
Bar Hebraeus, Laughable Stories 20


Budge 1897, 181-182Budge, E. A. Wallis. The Laughable Stories collected by Mar Gregory John Bar-Hebraeus, Maphrian of the East from A.D. 1264 to 1286. The Syriac text edited with an English Translation. London: Luzac and Co 1897.

Amar Annus

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