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exceedingly shocked, and exclaim, “Oh ah! do you see this? They take their wives by the hand and lead them about, showing them to other English. These people have no shame.”
The inhabitants of Thibet are marked by a Chinese cast of countenance; small black eyes, with long pointed corners, with eyelashes and eyebrows extremely thin. Ladies of rank extend the corner of the eyelids towards the temples as far as possible, by artificial means. They are fond of ornaments, and wear a profusion of coral and amber necklaces, to which are suspended images of their gods, forms of prayer, or sentences from their sacred writings. The most wealthy wear chaplets of large gems, such as rubies, lapis-lazuli, &c.; and their black hair is, on state occasions, almost entirely concealed by heaps of pearl, emeralds, and coral.
Matrimony is rather dishonorable in Thibet. A marriage contract forms an almost insuperable obstacle to the attainment of political rank or influence. Hence ambitious parents are desirous of placing their sons in the monasteries, where no woman is allowed to enter, and where a vow of perpetual celibacy is taken. Every family consisting of more than four boys is obliged to devote one of them to this recluse life.
There are likewise in Thibet female devotees, who, like nuns, devote themselves entirely to celibacy and the duties of religion. They do not use a rosary to facilitate their prayers; but, instead of this, they have a painted barrel, with gilt letters on it, placed upright in a case, which has an opening to admit the hand. It revolves upon an axis, and as they twirl it round, they repeat certain appointed words. The Thibetian customs with regard to marriage are very extraordinary. One woman is the wife of a whole family of brothers, be they ever so numerous. This custom is not confined to the lower ranks, but prevails in the most opulent families. The oldest brother has the right of choice. The courtship is very brief, and the marriage quite unceremonious. If the parents of the damsel approve his request, they carry their daughter to his house, where the relations meet and carouse for three days, with music and dancing. The priests, who are bound to shun the sight of women, have no share in the scene. Mutual consent is the only bond of union. The engagement thus formed cannot be dissolved, unless both the parties consent to a separation; and even where this is the case, they are never after at liberty to form a new connection. These women, who are said to be very jealous of their husbands, enjoy a degree of freedom and consideration unknown to the Hindoos. They are the acknowledged mistresses of their family, have liberty to go where they please, and are generally well supported by the joint earnings of their numerous partners. When captain Turner was at Teshoo Loomboo, he was acquainted with five brothers, who all lived together in the utmost harmony and affection, with one wife among them all. The first-born child belongs to the oldest brother, the second to the next of age, and so on
Instances of infidelity are said to be rare. In such cases, a man is condemned to pay a pecuniary fine; a woman receives corporeal punishment. Public opinion is said not to be very fastidious concerning the character of unmarried females.
In Thibet, the exchange of scarfs accompanies almost all the courtesies of life. When a visit is paid, scarfs are exchanged; and every letter is accompanied with a scarf, however distant may be its place of destination. White and red are in use; but the former is considered more genteel, and is respectable in proportion to its fineness. These scarfs are soft, thin, glossy, and of dazzling whiteness. They are woven with damask figures, and usually have some sacred motto near the fringe at the ends.
Women of the laboring classes are inured to a greal deal of toil. They plant, weed, reap, and thresh grain, and are exposed to the roughest weather, while their indolent husbands are perhaps living at their ease.
The Birmans in their features resemble the Chinese. The women, especially those belonging to the northern districts, are fairer than the Hindoos, but less delicately formed, being generally inclined to corpulence. Their hair is black, coarse, and long. Both sexes color the teeth, the eyelashes, and the edges of their eyelids, with black. When women are in full dress, they stain their nails and the palms of their hands red, and strew their faces and bosoms with powder of sandal-wood, or of a bark called sumneka.
The hair is usually tied at the top of the head, and the fillet worn by people of rank is embroidered, and adorned with jewels. A long piece of silk or cloth is fastened round the waist, and falls to the feet, sometimes trailing on the ground. The upper part of the person is covered by a loose jacket, with long tight sleeves ; but the lower garment being open, it is impossible to walk without exposing the limbs, in a manner that would be regarded as very indelicate by Europeans. Wealthy women wear shoes, that turn up with a pointed toe; the peasantry go barefoot. Girls are taught at an early age to invert their arms, so that the protruding joint of the elbow comes inside, and gives the arm the appearance of being broken.
The Birmans have less personal cleanliness than the Hindoos, who, though they seldom wash their garments, consider frequent bathing a religious duty. Though separated from the Hindoos only by a narrow range of mountains, they are strikingly unlike them in character. The Birmans are lively, active, and impatient. Their wives and daughters are allowed the same degree of freedom in social intercourse with men, as prevails in European society. Marriage is a purely civil contract, over which the priesthood have no jurisdiction. The law allows but one wife; but the wealthy usually keep a number of mistresses, who reside under the same roof with the wife, and are subject to her control. When she goes abroad, they attend her, bearing her betel-box, fan, &c.; and when the husband dies, they become the widow's property, unless he has specifically emancipated them. The formalities of courtship and marriage are similar to those of India. If the first private proposal be well received by the damsel and her parents, the relatives meet to agree concerning her dowry; the bridegroom sends a present of dresses and jewels, according to his wealth; the parents of the bride give a feast, and written contracts are signed; the new-married couple eat out of the same dish; the bridegroom presents the bride with some pickled tea, she returns the compliment, and thus ends the ceremony. Divorces may be obtained under peculiar circumstances, but they are attended with a good deal of expense. The women are generally virtuous; for their constant occupation leaves little leisure for the mind to become corrupted. Ladies of the highest rank are busy at the labors of the loom. When the British envoy made a formal visit to the queen's mother, he found her maidens in the gallery of the palace, weaving with the utmost activity. Nearly all the cotton and silk used in the Birman empire is woven at home by the women. Indeed, they take an active share in the general superintendence both of out-door and in-door transactions. When the governor of Maindu had a large ship on the stocks, his wife was seen to cross the river every morning in her husband's barge, attended by female servants; she took her seat on the timbers, and superintended the workmen for hours; and she seldom failed to