book chapter

The wild rue: a study of Muhammadan magic and folklore in Iran

Luzac & Co.London • Published In 1938 • Pages:

By: Donaldson, Bess Allen.

This is an excellent account of the superstitious practices and folklore that pervaded many phases of Iranian life prior to the reform movement of Reza Shah Pahlavi. At the time this work was written, Reza Shahs institution of such innovations as co-education at all levels, development of a buplic press, establishment of communication systems and the emancipation of women was still meeting with strong resistance. Lack of enlightenment for many centuries had tended to create fears of everything û sickness, death, crop failure, meteorological catastrophes, the supernatural, and even ones own husband or relatives. Therefore, the practice of magic and sorcery was widespread. This volume presents a comprehensive coverage of these superstitious acts and folklore of pre-reform Iran. There is great concern with religious customs, because the superstitions were found to be firmly entrenched in the religion. The main site of observation was the province of Khorasan, which the author describes as being representative in population because of the pilgrimages to the city of Meshed; people from all parts of Iran migrated and settled in the 'sacred city.' Although most of the data were drawn from observations of women of the middle and lower classes, no social stratum was entirely neglected, nor wre men completely omitted from the study. Twenty-six separate topics have been discussed, among which are the evil eye; death, burial and resurrection; angels; names and numbers; oath, curses and blessing; the Koran and dreams and sleep. A complete listing may be found in the Contents, p. xi. The five illustrations, consisting mainly of charms and amulet, have been processed for the HRAF Collection. This book was published with the footnotes appearing at the end of each chapter. Where possible they have been printed on the pertinent page; where this was not feasible they will be found at the end of each chapter.
Food consumption
Religious beliefs
Religious practices
Ecclesiastical organization
Ideas about nature and people
HRAF PubDate
Middle East
Sub Region
Middle East
Document Type
book chapter
Robert J. Smith; 1953
Coverage Date
Coverage Place
by Bess Allen Donaldson
Includes bibliographical references
Index not included.
DONALDSON, BESS ALLEN (b. Galesburg, Ill., 7 December 1879, d. Lakeland, Fla., 20 December 1974) and DWIGHT MARTIN (b. Washington, O., 16 December 1884, d. Lakeland, Fla., 11 May 1976), American Presbyterian missionaries and writers about Persia. Bess Allen went to Tehran in 1910 as a teacher at the Iran Bethel Girl's School (renamed Nurbaæ School in 1940), a Presbyterian mission school; she subsequently became principal. Dwight Donaldson was a missionary of the American Presbyterian Church in Maµhad from 1915. They were married in Tehran on 28 June 1916 and undertook evangelical work in Maæhad until 1940, when foreign missionary teachers were expelled from Persia and their schools nationalized. Dwight Donaldson then became principal of the Henry Martyn Institute of Islamic Studies at Aligarh in India, where the couple remained until his retirement in 1951.