OF THE RITE OF CIRCUMCISION IN THE
The Tigre people observe strictly the covenant of
circumcision, in the same way as all the people of Abyssinia. They count
him that has not been circumcised as a slave ; and they revile him
saying "uncircumcised slave." They circumcise all male children while
they are small. And even the girls they circumcise, and by the
circumcision they tell their inviolated virginity; and if she is not
circumcised they count her as a slave. Thus all their offspring are
circumcised while they are young. And when a boy has been circumcised,
they tell him at the door of his mother to give a shout of challenge,
and he gives this shout. Then he pierces with a lance a net suspended]
in the door and his mother gives the shout of joy. And his father gives
him the "circumcision present," [i. e.] a head of cattle or of goats,
and this is counted as the property of the boy. And it is said: "He has
received the circumcision present." Besides he receives on that day
presents from his other relatives; he dresses in
a white cloak. The boy is circumcised by a man; but
the girl by a woman.
The age at which the children are circumcised varies
from one to six years. Circumcisio puellarum fit hunc in modum. Pars
clitoridis absciditur, et duo labia in ea parte quae ante vaginam est
inciduntur; ea pars quae ante urethram est non inciditur. Postea femora
puellae colligantur, et in lecto recumbit donee vulnus sanatur et vagina
clauditur. In nuptiis femina quaedam puellam cultro aperit, neque ante
diem quadragesimum coniux ei appropinquat.
The "shout of challenge" is e.g. "[I am] a bull, a
bull;" or U [I am] a good
mark's man, a good mark's man."
i) Literally : "property. 1 '