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come again in the evening, to see that the day's task had been completed. The Englishmen, who observed her, said her husband never accompanied her, and she appeared to have no need of his assis tance. But notwithstanding the Birmese ladies enjoy so much more of freedom and confidence than their neighbors, they share something of the degradation imposed upon all Asiatic women. Their evidence is not deemed equal to that of a man, and they are not allowed to ascend the steps of a court of justice, but are obliged to give their testimony outside of the building. A man who cannot pay his debts is liable to be sold, with his wife and children; hence innocent, industrious women not unfrequently suffer most cruelly for the vices or indolence of their husbands. Sometimes when criminals are condemned to death, the helpless wife and children share his punishment. When driven by poverty, the lower class of Birmans do not hesitate to sell their wives and daughters to foreign residents. Women are not considered as dishonored by these circumstances, and seem easily to resign themselves to their lot. They are generally very faithful to their new owners, and render themselves useful by keeping accounts, and aiding in the transaction of business. But foreigners are never allowed to carry these women or their children out of the country. If a vessel were discovered with a Birmese female on board, it would never again be allowed to enter any of their ports. Orders of monks are established in the Birman empire, and formerly there were establishments of nuns; but, for political reasons, a law was passed forbidding any woman to seclude herself from society by a religious vow. Female mourners are hired to chant dirges at funerals. Dancing and singing girls are introduced at entertainments, and some of them are said to be extremely graceful. In the month of April they celebrate a merry festival, by throwing as much water as they please upon whomsoever they meet; but in this, as in all their amusements, the Birmans are scrupulously decorous toward women. They may throw water upon any girl who is the first aggressor, but they must not lay hands upon her; neither are they allowed to molest any female, who does not choose to join in the merriment of the season. The women of the Arracan mountains tattoo their faces all over in segments of circles, which give them a hideous appearance. These half savage tribes consider a flat forehead the perfection of beauty, and in order to produce it, they lay a heavy plate of lead upon the brow of infants. The inhabitants of Pegu are passionately addicted to tattooing.
The inhabitants of Tonquin and Cochin China, though similar to the Chinese in features, written language, and religious ceremonies, are very unlike them in character, and in some of their customs. . The Cochin Chinese are lively, talkative, and familiar; and they suffer their women to be quite as gay and unrestrained as themselves. The middling and lower classes of women are indeed condemned to laborious occupations. They stand in the water from morning till night, transplanting rice ; they till the ground; assist in repairing the mud cottages; manufacture coarse earthen-ware; manage boats; carry produce to market; gather the cotton, spin, weave, and color it; and then make it into garments for themselves and families. Their endurance of hardship is so remarkable, that the Cochin Chinese proverb says: “A woman has nine lives, and bears a great deal of killing.” The law makes no restriction as to the number of wives; but the first espoused takes precedence of the others. If married parties choose to separate, they break one of their copper coins, or a pair of chopsticks, in the presence of witnesses, and the union is dissolved; but the husband must restore all the property his wife possessed before marriage. Men consider their wives as an inferior race, and sell them when they please. They are shamefully indifferent about their moral character, if they can obtain money by their vices. Women living thus without the encouragement or restraint of public opinion, and without the sweet reward of domestic esteem and confidence, are generally vicious, wherever there is the least temptation to be so. There are, however, severe laws, which are enforced when husbands think proper to appeal to them. Sometimes an unfaithful wife is trampled to death by elephants, and sometimes both of the offending parties are tied together and thrown into the river. The women are dark and coarse featured, with blackened teeth, and small pretensions to beauty; but there is something pleasing in their perpetual cheerfulness and lively good-nature. They take great pride in long hair, considering the reverse as a token of degeneracy, and a mark of vulgarity. The Cochin Chinese have dramatic performances, in which female actors are introduced. Their voices, when singing, are said to be shrill and warbling, and their dancing full of graceful gestures and attitudes. Men and women of the common class dress nearly alike. Both wear a brown or blue frock, with black nankeen trowsers, made very wide. They have neither stockings nor shoes. The women wear their long hair sometimes twisted on the top of the head, and sometimes hanging in loose flowing tresses. To shield them from the sun they have broad hats, like an inverted saucer, woven with the fibres of bamboo, and made impervious to water by means of a fine varnish. These hats are fastened under the chin by a slender wooden bow, like the handle of a pail; the rich have it made of ivory, ebony, silver, or gold. The higher classes dress very much like the wealthy Chinese. Both ladies and gentlemen, when they go abroad, have attendants to carry their fans, and a box made of fragrant wood, often inlaid with gold and silver, to contain their areca, betel, &c. Garments are seldom changed till they begin to fall in pieces, and their habits are in general so uncleanly that a near approach to them is not pleasant.
The Siamese are a tawny people, with short black hair, which both sexes cut quite short. They have faces broad in the middle, and narrowing toward the forehead and the chin. Their ears are naturally large; and, like many other nations in the torrid zone, they weigh them down with heavy ornaments, so that one might thrust several fingers through the distended apertures.
Long nails, particularly on the right hand, are considered a mark of gentility. They often attain a growth of several inches; and when women wish to be particularly elegant, they wear artificial ones four inches long.
The Siamese bathe very frequently, and anoint themselves with perfumes. The interior of their houses is likewise very meat. They seldom wear any ornament about the head, except ear-rings; and none but the young wear bracelets. Their common clothing is very slight; consisting merely of a large piece of calico, tied above the hips, and falling to the feet. Women enjoy a considerable degree of freedom. When a young man sends his female friends to ask a damsel in marriage, her parents consult their daughter's inclination ; and if they approve the match, magicians are immediately called to cast nativities and consult the stars for omens. The lover pays two or three visits to his betrothed, bringing presents of fruit and betel. At the third visit, the relations sign contracts, and pay the dow-, ry. A few days after, the priests sprinkle the young
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