THE MAGIC OF PEARLS
T would be strange indeed if,
intimately connected as they are with the tears and joys of men, pearls
had not given rise to a whole host of superstitions and strange
beliefs. One of these days, let us hope, some learned and industrious
person will catalogue them as part of the definite cyclopaedia of
pearl-lore. But in the meantime no book about pearls, however modest,
could end without some mention of pearl-superstitions. I will tell you
of one or two, such as have come to my notice in the course of trading
or during my travels.
most widespread superstition of all undoubtedly is' that pearls are
unlucky. In both Europe and America I have met many people, men as well
as women, of all sorts and classes, who really do believe that
misfortune will overtake them if they wear pearls. "Pearls," as they
say, "bring tears."
among Orientals, where one would have thought the superstition must
have had birth, since the gem is a child of the East, there seems to be
positively no trace of such an idea. On the contrary, since the peoples
of Ceylon, India, Malaya, and China introduce pearls into a great deal
of their set jewelry, we can conclude that they are regarded as lucky
rather than unlucky; for an Oriental will not brave bad luck as the
Westerner does, out of a kind of stubborn pride and disbelief. In the
East the mysterious powers of the occult are too real to the native
mind to be disregarded. The Chinese in particular, whose lucky stone is
jade, frequently combine it with pearls.
Among some races of Malays there exists a singular superstition. They believe that pearls can hear, see, and feel.
When I was in Singapore on one occasion, a native came to see me with some pearls he wanted to sell. Through his