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A Strange and Remarkable Entertainment.

An entertainment of a novel character was given for the first time on September 4 in the St. James’s Great Hail, London, in tho presence of a number of Press representatives and other invited guests. The performers were cisht or nine members of the religious sect of the Ai'ssaouas, which is said to have sprung into existence about three centuries ago in Morocco, and to have since spread over the north of Africa. Their origin is attributed to a curse pronounced upon his followers by a certain sheik named Mohammed Ben Aiasa, who, wearied by their complaints during a long and toilsome journey, is said to have bidden them eat whatever they met with on the road, including reptiles, atones, and all poisonous and noxious things. Prom that day it is stated the Ai'ssaouas became a sect, and have ever since been able to eat that which is injurious to other men without harm to themselves. The few representatives of the sect now in London certainly do some remarkable things. Dressed in long white robes, fastened at the waist with red sashes, they seat themselves in a semicircle on the stage, and first go through what appears to be a religious service, prayers being alternated with weird chants and tom tom choruses. Then one of their number suddenly darts forward, and indulges in a wild and fantastic dance, twirling himself about, waving his arms and jerking his head violently from side to side, the rest mean* while singing, shouting, yelling, and loudly beating their tom-toms. Having apparently worked himself into an almost frenzied condition, the dancer places his naked feet on the edge of a sharp sword held by two of his two companions, and stands upright upon it, seemingly without injuring himself, and, to a’l appearance, without discomfort. Then there is more tom-tom playing and chanting, and another man comes to the front, and, having indulged in various antics, devours a live scorpion, places round his naked waist a rope with a running knot, and allows seven or eight persons from among the spectators to pull with all their strength at each end, A third man eats part of a live snake and sticks Iron skewers through his ears, cheeks, and arms; and a fourth licks and places his bare feet upon red-hot iron, and forces a skewer into the skin of his abdomen. After each feat the performers fall flat upon the stage, and remain in a seemingly insensible condition. for a short time, when they appear to recover consciousness, and resume their places in the semicircle. The performance, as a whole, is of an extraordinary and curious character.

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Bibliographic details

A Strange and Remarkable Entertainment., Evening Star, Issue 8040, 17 October 1889

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A Strange and Remarkable Entertainment. Evening Star, Issue 8040, 17 October 1889