Our Slavic Fellow Citizens - 1910

Slovak Emigration
Chapter VI

Facial Characteristics and Physique

The Slovaks seemed to me comely and sweet-faced, rather than beautiful, though there are of coarse exceptions. Among the elders one sees the best sort of beauty in the strongly marked lines of character and experience; here "the old, plain men have rosy faces and the young fair maidens quiet eyes." One seems to distinguish two markedly contrasting facial types. There is the round, full face with short nose, high cheek bones and widely separated grey-blue eyes. In other places this is replaced by a strongly marked facial contour, with straight, long, sharpset nose and long lantern jaw.

Physically they are often splendid creatures, powerful without being heavy, and full of the grace that goes with health and varied activity and the bearing of burdens. Nothing seems too heavy for the women to carry. A child of two or three will be slung comfortably on the back in a linen cloth, and apparently regarded as scarcely an addition to other burdens. The women marry young, bear a child a year -- "always either bearing or nursing." is the saying, -- and perhaps in consequence grow old fast.

Both men and women seem insensible to heat and cold. In summer they will dance gaily under an almost unbearable sun in their sheepskin or wool coats, which represent full dress; in winter the men, I am told, labor in the woods in their shirts without any sort of vest or jacket. They are very hard workers. In tbe season when field operations are pressing there are often weeks when a man sleeps only four or five hours, and snatches his food as he can. I am told of a peasant who was hired to thresh for a man whose crop was not so large but that he might have done his own work. Tbe comment of the thresher was, "Er muss doch ein Schwein sein der nur acht Stunden arbeiten will."

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