Imatges de pÓgina

affair in the East than in the West—is openly celebrated in Muslim fashion, the proper licence being duly obtained from the religious authority The Mohammedan marriage ceremonies follow in due course. The happy bridegroom selects his Saghdij (master of ceremonies) from the Lino-bambaki or Muslim community. On the other hand, in prospect of the secret Christian union, he secures a KOvụsápos (best man from amongst his comrades Friends of both Turkish and Christian communities are invited to the Muslim wedding festivities, which take place on Thursday evening (i.e. Friday, à la Turque). The Christian marriage is secretly carried out, generally at night, and on a Sunday, either immediately following, or preceding the Mohammedan ceremony. Relatives and intimate friends only are invited.

The following incident took place at a wedding within the recollection of villagers at M—The marriage service was being performed by a priest, amidst festive surroundings; and in view of the inevitable Muslim ceremony,ahodja had been sent for from another village to arrange matters. All had gone well had not the worthy hodja arrived many hours before his time. A scene of confusion thereupon ensued. The door was hastily closed, and the hodja informed that the

harem ' was preparing the bride for the ceremony. In due course the fair "Muslima' was led forth for all the honours of a Mohammedan wedding.

As a rule a Lino-bambakos will not give his daughter in marriage to a genuine Turk unless the latter consents to join the community ; in which case it is secretly agreed that he shall be admitted by baptism into the Christian fold without delay.

It may well be imagined that complications of various kinds arise out of this very mixed state of affairs. Amusing episodes of love, elopement, and intrigue are numerous; and many a youth or maiden has been tempted across the border line, in the matter of religious scruples, yielding to the imperious dictates of the tender passion.

The Christian and the Muslim calendars bring round their fasts and festivals, and through all of them the Lino-bambakos guides his dubious course. It is of course a frequent subject of banter that he shares the good things of the world with both communities; as indeed he generally does, gaily keeping the Bairam feasts of the Turks, and the Easter and other rejoicings of the Orthodox Church.

It is perhaps as death approaches that the Lino-bambaki are most exercised in their minds. Perplexities which Lady Mary Montagu's Arnaouts so complacently brushed aside, and left for solution in a better world, must disturb the deathbed of many a worthy peasant. Burial takes place in the Turkish cemeteries, and Christian rites or consolations must be administered secretly before the hour of death, after which everything must be according to Muslim procedure. But in this, as in other matters, more laxity and indifference have prevailed in late years, especially in villages where but a very few individuals of the chameleon-like sect remain, and those perhaps hardly nominal members, who have never entered a mosque, or entertained priest or hodja. At death only arises the question which of them should be called in to perform the last pious rites; and as a matter of fact solution of the difficulty has not always been easy. A case, for instance, occurred in which a Cypriot, who had long been absent from the island, returned, and shortly afterwards died in one of the towns. Doubts existed regarding his faith. Evidence was produced that he had attended both church and mosque. It was finally agreed that he had never formally quitted the flock of the Lino-bambaki, and he was buried as a Muslim.

On another occasion the Kadi of the chief town of a district com. plained to the local authority that a Muslim girl had been buried in & Christian cemetery. A Mudir (sub-district administrator) was sent' out to investigate, and report. His inquiry showed that the girl's father, Omar (alias Constantinos), declared that he was a Christian. His wife, on the other hand, stated that she was a Muslima. ‘But,' said the latter,' my daughter, who had been a Muslima, became a Christian, and was baptised a few days before her death, taking the name of Pelagia.' This settled the question, and the Kadi was 80 informed officially. The father, by the way, was a man not only of doubts but of diplomacy ; one who had drifted hither and thither. The wife, still a staunch Mohammedan, after various controversies, only consented to remain with her spouse on certain conditions : e.g. that she should be left in peace in respect of her creed, and that Omar should not eat swine's flesh at home. Elsewhere he was known to indulge in that luxury, but he was careful to perform unusually elaborate ablutions before returning home. The wife had frequently threatened to return to her co-religionists in another village, and on these occasions ‘Omar' energetically protested his adherence to el-Islam. An example of his ingenuity was shown when, being called upon under a recent law to pay school fees in support of the Muslim village establishment, he declared emphatically for Christianity. Being subsequently taxed as a member of the Orthodox Greek community, he pleaded exemption on the ground that he was a devout follower of the Prophet.

The following case, out of many, may serve to illustrate some of the difficulties to which the double life may give rise. One Bairam, & Lino-bambakos, was married to Aysheh (afterwards Marengou). They had two sons and one daughter. The daughter, Emeteh, married a Linen-cotton, and soon after both became enlightened,' openly taking the names of Christophi and Maria.

One son,

Abdullah (afterwards Minas), adopted Christianity. The other remained in the Lino-bambaki fold, and indeed married an out-and-out Turk of another village. The father, Bairam, died while all his children were still Lino-bambaki ; and his properties were divided in accordance with Ottoman (Muslim) laws of inheritance. The mother had been previously married to a husband from whom she had acquired properties of her own. When she died, as a Christian, had all her (and Bairam's) children been admitted into the Church, her properties would have been divided according to Ottoman law as affecting Christians. But now the complication began. The two sons quarrelled, Minas objecting that his brother Yusuf, being still a Muslim, could not inherit from his Christian mother. Yusuf, however, now found it convenient to deny this. The upshot was that the matter was taken before the court. The tribunal had to decide whether Yusuf was a Muslim or a Christian. During the proceedings the question as to circumcision arose. Yusuf proved that he had not undergone that rite. The Kadi considered the point, and held that it was immaterial, in view of other convincing proofs that were adduced. His name, his dress, and many other convincing facts of his life, which were vouched for by witnesses, were deemed sufficient proof that he had never embraced Christianity; and consequently the Kadi decided that, as a Muslim, he could not inherit from his mother, who had openly renounced Islam. This case created considerable impression at the time on the Lino-bambaki community, at any rate in the neighbourhood; as did the fact that in some other case that had been referred to court, the decision of the Kadi was said to have turned on the question of circumcision. Many of the Lino-bambaki, in consequence, in order to avoid any doubts in the matter of inheritance, were careful to have the rite performed.

To follow out some of the various complications relative to property and inheritance that arise would involve an acquaintance not only with Ottoman law, but also with laws and ordinances that have been passed since the British occupation.

Divisions in the same family often take place, generally over properties. Sometimes feelings of delicacy operate. In one case a young Lino-bambakos, who was Mukhtar (headman) of his village, openly embraced Christianity. His father, who had held various small appointments under the Turkish Government, was inclined to do the same, but felt ashamed to do so.' He died as a 'Turk,' and his wife, who had also halted between two opinions, only followed the son's example after her husband's death.

Amusing incidents are due to moments of forgetfulness. Much merriment was once caused in a street when a lady, most correctly dressed and veiled in Turkish style, on inquiring the price of oranges from a dealer, and being taken aback at the reply, exclaimed


Panagia mou !' (Oh, my Holy Virgin !), a very common Greek form of exclamation.

The visits of hodjas sent to Lino-bambaki villages have also afforded occasion for many a tale. Thus a hodja, who had been despatched, in the month of Ramadan, to the village of P--, which possessed a small church, arrived unexpectedly. Finding no villagers about he proceeded to the church, where service was just being concluded. A number of the congregation were Lino-bambaki, who, on seeing the hodja, hurried out. One young Linen-cotton was intercepted. “Ney dir bou' (What is this ?) exclaimed the hodja. Then, going round the church, he blew out the tapers that were burning before the ikons. As he approached that of St. Mikhail, who was depicted with his drawn sword, the young man said, “You had better not blow out that one. St. Mikhail might come forth and smite you with his sword. Such things have happened.' The hodja took his advice, and left the taper burning, pocketing all the others. The villagers in this case, as in many others, collected the fees with alacrity, in order to hasten the departure of their visitor.

As regards the policy of the Turks, and the attitude of Islam, towards the sect, these have of course changed with the times. So long as the Lino-bambaki have professed Mohammedanism with apparent sincerity, they have been treated accordingly by the authorities, and admitted to all the privileges of true believers. Any open defection was dangerous, and exposed the seceder to punishment. When a village fell under suspicion of trimming : when, for example, a hodja or other emissary reported that a community were in heart giaours, the locality was regarded with displeasure. There are undoubtedly places where, owing to such suspicions of apostasy, the properties of the people were more highly assessed for taxes than those of other villages in the neighbourhood, and the methods of conscription were, &s before stated, more severely exercised. More recently, of course, those with leanings to Christianity have had less and less to fear. Religious supervision has been relaxed, till finally, in this age of freedom, they have been left severely alone, and regarded as 'murtad' (renegades), worthy of the supreme contempt of devout Muslims.

The attitude of the Greek Church appears to have been most correct, and marked by judicious aloofness and tact. Amongst villagers, as may be imagined, local differences of opinion have occasionally arisen as to treatment of the sect. Thus, it was proposed by certain villagers in a small community that members of the sect should not be admitted to church. Others said, “Why should we exclude them? They are quiet people, and do no harm. They are like persons on the brink of a precipice. They may yet save themselves. It is not for us to push them over the edge, so that they should perish without doubt.' And this opinion prevailed.

That the Lino-bambaki creed should be regarded by Christian and Muslim alike as a religion of hypocrisy, with no little contempt and distrust, is but natural. If you ask an average Cypriot what he thinks of the sect, he will say in effect, “What can you think of a man who declares at one moment that he is a Turk and at another that he is a Christian? Can you trust such a man?' The com. munity is indeed often credited with all the worst failings : it being insinuated that Lino-bambaki must, as such, be persons of bad type, thieves, liars, &c. 'How can you believe a man who, when you ask him whether he is a Christian, says “No," at another time, if it suits him, “ Yes"? I once knew one of those "half-and-halfs” who was called as a witness to court. If I were a judge, I would have both a Kuran and a Testament handed to such a hypocrite, and make him swear on both!' Such are usual comments on the sect.

But in general the Greeks are more impressed by the humorous aspect of the matter than any other. Allusions to the subject of the Linen-cotton always provoke a smile to start with ; then, if pursued, it leads invariably to anecdotes of a jocose nature, at the expense generally of the sect, their very title of course suggesting the ludicrous.

While the term 'Lino-bambakos' is that by which these compromisers are known in general, a few other epithets have also been bestowed upon them. The next most common title is that of ' Apostolic' (årootolikós), which is of rather quaint origin. The term apostolikos is applied to a variety of the carob, or locust-bean tree, which bears the pod so largely used in cattle foods, and which has sometimes been imagined to be the locust on which St. John the Baptist fed. Carob trees, in general, in order to produce good pods, must be grafted, the fruit of the wild tree being of no value except for pigs. But here and there are to be found trees which in their natural state bear fruit, not equal in quality to those of the grafted tree, but marketable when mixed with them. To these trees the term apostolic is applied, and Mr. Gennadius, the late Director of Agriculture in Cyprus, is probably right in surmising that the variety is so called as being * sent by God,' its superiority not being due to any operation of man. The name given to a tree which appears to partake of both wild and cultivated qualities commends itself as appropriate to this two-sided religion. The Lino-bambakos is also called 'péços' (mezzo), and terms such as 'trátoalos' (piebald) &c., are applied. Sometimes, too, when a village has been characteristically a home of the sect, it furnishes & nickname. Thus the village Monagri being of this category, to call a man a Monagriti is to insinuate that he belongs to the community. The Turks sometimes use the term “mezzo-kert.'

It is probable that this sect will pass out of existence before many years have elapsed. The numerical preponderance of the Greek element, the great increase of schools, and the establishment of VOL LXIII-No. 376

3 E

« AnteriorContinua »