Near Eastern and Arab, Mediterranean, and Jewish Eyelids

Lafcadio Hearn, a scholar of Irish and Greek nationality, presents a very distinctive example of the type of upper eyelids characteristic of the Near Eastern “Armenoid” race, one of the basic racial stocks (the other stock being the Araboid) of the Jews which makes itself best known in the appearance. (It is uncertain to the writer how much of the Jewish character can be traced back to these two racial types.) The source of the Near Eastern strain can presumably be traced back to Hearn’s maternal Greek descent.

Lafcadio Hearn, side view

Frequently I have had trouble separating the two racial types on the basis of their eyelid shape, which in the Jews, at least, seems to be highly retentive in transmission and not easily lost by infusions of non-Jewish blood. Distinguishing the types is further complicated by the fact that the two races in question have been residing together in large numbers and intermixing has occurred for millennia, so that the distinctive combination of traits characteristic of the original races is often lost and false associations are easy to make. Nevertheless, there are a few points I believe are useful to serve in distinguishing the types. 

In the Near Eastern race, the upper eyelids are especially thick. The fold in the upper eyelid in the Near Eastern is impressed deeply within the eye; the eyelid gives the impression of being pressed onto the eye itself, so that the shape of the eye under the lids is readily discerned. The outer crest of the inner part of the lower eyelid appears to be everted and is often visible (curiously, a similar phenomena can often be seen concerning the lower lip of many individuals of the same race, which often protrudes, the inner part of the lower lip sometimes being visible), giving a “rawness” in the appearance of the eyes.

Robert Desnos, poet from France (Jewish descent?). Near Eastern with Mediterranean (and Nordic?) strain. Upper eyelids of Near Eastern type.
Anna Pavlova, Jewish dancer. Upper eyelids of Near Eastern race.
Carol Vorderman, Jewish author, journalist, and TV host. Upper eyelids of Near Eastern race.
From Portugal (Jewish descent?). Upper eyelids of Near Eastern type.
From Galicia (Spain). Manuel Curros Enríquez, writer. Upper eyelids of Near Eastern race. (Of Jewish ancestry?)

In many cases, the Near Eastern eyelid shape is obscured, or not as easily definable in a way, by the presence of non-Near Eastern racial characters – as in the example below, where a strong Nordic strain is evident. This would seem to be especially true in regions where Jews and non-Jews (of non-Near Eastern stock) have intermarried to a rather high degree historically, as has occurred in England, Germany, Russia, and many other countries.

From Austria. Upper eyelids of Near Eastern type? Nordic-Near Eastern phenotype; vaguely “Jewish” countenance.

It is clear that fleshy upper eyelids are found not only in the Near Eastern race, but also in many individuals of other races. In such cases, the non-Near Eastern racial influence is apparent, but cannot be defined in a precise and scientific manner by the writer of this post, to distinguish them from the “Near Eastern” type of eyelid. It is for more scrutinizing persons to describe these differences in detail.

In the Araboid race, the upper eyelids are contrasted from the Near Eastern in being somewhat less fleshy, the upper eyelids being rather narrow; and by the extra fleshiness of the lower eyelids, which not only are prominent, but often give the appearance of dark and swollen “spots” underneath the eyes. The crease of the lower eyelids is more marked than in other races. An “almond shape” of the eye in the Araboid race has also been alluded to. 

Bedouin Arab from Jordan. Araboid or predominantly Araboid. (Distinguishing shape of the eyelids.)
Heinrich Hertz, Jewish physicist (father Jewish, mother native of North Germany). Physically predominantly Nordic. (Araboid strain is evinced by the fleshy lower eyelids.)
August Belmont, Jewish financier. Physically Alpine-Nordic-Araboid? Characteristic Araboid shape of eyelids.
Ernst von Fleischl-Marxow, Jewish physician (from Germany). Eyelids of Araboid race.

In the Near Eastern race, the lower eyelids occasionally – certainly not always – have a fleshy, adipose appearance, yet they lack the distinctly dark coloring common in the lower eyelids of men of the Araboid (and European Mediterranean) race. The lower eyelids are often wrinkled in the Near Eastern race. Indeed, coarseness of features and wrinkles in the body seem to be generally commoner in men and women of the Near Eastern race, a characteristic that naturally becomes more salient with age.

Amaelle Landais-Israël, Jewish research director
Lower eyelids of Near Eastern race. South Italian (Naples).
Armenian. Eyelids of Near Eastern race?

Probably a greater resemblance in eyelid shape can be found between the Asiatic Araboid race and members of the European Mediterranean race. The likeness in physical appearance between the Arabs and the predominantly Mediterranean populations of Southern Europe has often been noted by anthropologists and a common racial origin has been postulated by some, though the two races have long since diverged in physical and mental type so that either of the types possesses traits, both physical and mental which are not found in representatives of the other.

In many persons of Mediterranean race, there are dark “spots” under the eyes, as in many members of the Arab race, presumably the result of increased melanin concentration.

In the case of the Mediterraneans, the aperture (or opening) of the eye tends to be somewhat narrow. This is also true of many individuals of the Near Eastern race.

Jane Toppan (born: Honora Kelley), Irish American criminal. Predominantly Mediterranean. Eyelids of Mediterranean type.

The upper eyelids of the Near Eastern are wider and more “expansive” than in the Araboid, to the extent that there is frequently a “bulging” appearance. This quality has been mistakenly ascribed solely to the Jews, but its presence among the Near Eastern race and ethnicities with a strong Near Eastern strain is also to be observed.

The characteristic shape of the upper eyelids in the Near Eastern are best noticed when the subject directs his eyes downwards or when the eyes are closed, upon which the Near Eastern racial influence is instantly detectable to the trained eye.

Lafcadio Hearn, looking downwards
Joseph Saladino (Joey Salads), American entertainer of South Italian (Jewish?) descent. Eyes distinctly “Armenoid”.
The same as above.
The same, looking down.
The same, eyes facing downward.
The same, lateral view.
Lateral view, eyes half closed.
From the front.

The aperture of the eyes being rather narrow enhances the characteristic appearance of the Near Eastern eyes, though the look is by no means Mongolian. This is the result of the heavy upper lid enclosing the upper portion of the iris. Together with the often furrowed under eyelid, the eye gains a “sleepy” or “weary” aspect at all times which is not truly the result of fatigue, and may properly be called a racial characteristic.

There also seem to be eyes that can be quite confidently asserted to belong to one or more definite “Jewish types” which cannot be ascribed to either an Near Eastern or Araboid effect. The appearance is difficult to describe and will require further investigation. It would not appear to be present in all Jews. A distinctly Jewish cast of eye appears in the example below. 

Georges Seurat, painter from France – Jewish ancestry?

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