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Title: Burma - Peeps at Many Lands
Author: Kelly, R. Talbot (Robert Talbot), 1861-1934
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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        [Illustration: THE PAGODA STEPS, RANGOON. _Page 18._]


                         PEEPS AT MANY LANDS

                                BURMA



                                  BY

                           R. TALBOT KELLY
                        R.I., R.B.A., F.R.G.S.
                      COMMANDER OF THE MEDJIDIEH



                 WITH TWELVE FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS
                              IN COLOUR
                            BY THE AUTHOR



                                LONDON

                        ADAM AND CHARLES BLACK

                                 1908

       *       *       *       *       *



CONTENTS


CHAPTER                                    PAGE

   I. THE LAND                               1

  II. RANGOON                                5

 III. THE PEOPLE                            13

  IV. THE IRRAWADDY                         21

   V. THE IRRAWADDY (_continued_)           29

  VI. VILLAGE LIFE                          35

 VII. TOWN LIFE                             41

VIII. FIELD WORK                            50

  IX. THE FOREST                            56

   X. THE FOREST (_continued_)              65

  XI. TEMPLES AND RELIGION                  74

       *       *       *       *       *



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

IN COLOUR

BY R. TALBOT KELLY


THE PAGODA STEPS, RANGOON                        _frontispiece_

FACING PAGE

"A DAINTILY-CLAD BURMESE LADY"                          9

A REST-HOUSE                                           16

A NATIVE BOAT SAILING UPSTREAM WITH THE WIND           25

THE IRRAWADDY                                          32

ENTRANCE TO A BURMESE VILLAGE                          41

AT THE WELL                                            44

THE MARKET-PLACE                                       48

IN THE DEPTHS OF THE FOREST                            57

A DAK BUNGALOW                                         64

THE QUEEN'S GOLDEN MONASTERY, MANDALAY                 72

THE SHWE ZIGON PAGODA, PAGAN                           80

SHRINE ON THE PLATFORM OF THE SHWE DAGON PAGODA      _on the
                                                      cover_

_Sketch Map of Burma on p. viii._

       *       *       *       *       *


[Illustration: A SKETCH MAP OF BURMA.]



BURMA

CHAPTER I

THE LAND


How many boys or girls, I wonder, ever turn to their school atlas for
amusement, or try to picture to themselves what manner of countries
those might be whose strange and unfamiliar place-names so often make
their geography lesson a difficulty?

Yet there are few subjects, I think, which might be made more
interesting than geography, and a map may often serve to suggest
delightful fancies to a boy or girl of imagination.

Open your atlas at random and see what it has to tell you. Here,
perhaps in the heart of a great continent, stretches a mountain range,
and from it in many directions wind those serpent-like lines which
denote rivers.

Following these lines in their course, through narrow valleys or wide
plains, we notice that upon their banks presently appear those towns
and cities whose names you so often find it difficult to remember, and
at length, frequently by many mouths that cut up the delta it has
formed, the river eventually finds its way into the sea.

These are the simple facts our map gives us, but there is a great deal
of poetry behind. That mountain range is Nature's means of attracting
and holding the moisture-laden clouds which have been blown in from
the sea, and either in the form of rain or snow it stores up the water
evaporated from it.

By thousands of little rills, or rushing torrents which score furrows
in its sides, the mountain gives up its store of water to feed the
thirsty plains, and with it yields also valuable ores and minerals,
which are often carried many many miles away to enrich a people too
far removed from the mountain to know the origin of their wealth.

These little streamlets are not marked upon your map, but presently
they join to form one combined river, by which, through the many
hundreds of miles of its windings, the mountain eventually returns its
gathered waters to the sea, from whence they came.

How interesting to follow the course of such a river, and try to
picture to oneself all it may have to show! What kind of mountain is
it from among whose rugged snow peaks first sprang those plunging
cascades, which, leaping and tossing over their rocky beds, join each
other at its base to form the river itself? Through what wild forests,
filled with curious vegetation, may it not flow, and how strange,
perhaps, are the people who, together with wild beasts and unknown
birds, inhabit its reedy margins!

As the river grows in size, the grass huts and dug-out canoes of its
upper waters give place to towns which bear names, while large and
strangely-shaped boats carry the produce of the country to some great
seaport at its mouth, where ships of all nations are waiting to
transport it over thousands of miles of ocean to supply us with those
many commodities which we have come to regard as daily necessities! If
boys and girls would think of such things geography, I am sure, would
never be a _dull_ study.

Now, to turn from an imaginary case to a real one, I want to tell you
something about Burma, a country which, though one of the most
interesting and beautiful in the world, is comparatively little known
to the majority of people.

This may seem surprising when it is remembered that Burma now forms
part of our Indian Empire, and has for many years carried on a large
trade with England. We may perhaps better understand this if we turn
to our atlas and see how the country is situated. As you will see,
Burma lies on the eastern side of the Bay of Bengal, just north of the
Malay Peninsula, joining Siam and China on the one side and the Indian
provinces of Assam and Manipur on the other, while from an unknown
source in the heart of Thibet its great river, the Irrawaddy, flows
throughout the entire length of the country, and through Rangoon, the
seaport at its mouth, forming the great highway for commerce and
communication between the world at large and its little-known
interior.

Looking at the map again, you will see that on each side of the
Irrawaddy, running north and south, are mountain ranges called
"yomas" (or back-bones, as the word means), which divide the country,
while other large rivers, such as the Sittang and Salween, flowing in
deep, precipitous valleys, render any communication with Siam
difficult. On the north-west similar ranges of hills form a barrier
between Burma and the frontier provinces of India, and when I tell you
that all these mountains are densely covered with forest and jungle,
and that the rivers are wide, and in many cases unnavigable, you will
understand how it is that Burma is not better known, and that so few
people undertake the arduous work of exploring its interior. Only by
way of one little corner in the north-east, where Burma joins the
Chinese province of Yunnan, is access from the land side easy, and
here caravans of Yunnanese constantly enter the country to trade at
Bhamo and Hsipaw.

Otherwise, separated by its mountain chains and forests from the rest
of the world, Burma has for centuries remained untouched and
unspoiled, and it is only since the deposition of King Thebaw, in
1885, and the assumption of its government by England that the gradual
extension of the railway system is slowly bringing the interior into
easier communication with the outside world, and beginning to effect a
change in the character of the people.



CHAPTER II

RANGOON


Anyone wishing to visit Burma must land at Rangoon, for it is not only
the largest and most important of its seaports, but the only one that
has direct steamer communication with England, or by river traffic and
railways affords access to the interior. The harbour is formed by the
tidal estuary of one of the many mouths of the Irrawaddy. Here it is
very wide, and a large number of steamers and sailing ships ride at
anchor, loading or discharging their cargoes into lighters and
quaintly-shaped native boats.

Huge rafts of teak wood drift slowly downstream to the saw-mills below
the town, where trained elephants stack the logs with almost human
intelligence, and queer uptilted rowing boats, called "sampans," ferry
passengers across the river, or to the various vessels in the stream.
Long stretches of timber-built quays and iron-roofed "godowns" (or
warehouses) form the wharfs, upon which coolies of all nationalities
toil under the tropical sun. European officers in white drill and
sun-helmets superintend the loading of their vessels, longing to be
finished and away from a spot where everything vibrates and dithers in
the white glare.

On shore the smoke from the rice-mills adds to the already
overpowering sense of heat, while from across the water the noise of
hammered iron from the repairing yards completes a picture of bustle,
heat, and toil.

Yet Rangoon is a very pleasant place to live in, and as many of my
readers will, no doubt, have fathers or brothers in the East, they
will like to hear something about the place, and how people live
there.

Behind the quay and warehouses the city lies, well laid out in broad
streets and squares, and having many fine shops and buildings. The
houses are mostly of that curious half-Italian, half-Oriental style
which we find in almost all Southern and Eastern seaports. They are
usually painted white, with green shutters to the windows, and are
often surrounded by broad verandas. The roofs are generally of red
tiles, which look pretty among the dark foliage of the trees which
often line the streets, and in spite of "topee"[1] and umbrella,
pedestrians are thankful to avail themselves of their shade, for the
air is hot and the white glare of the streets is most trying to the
eyes.

[Footnote 1: Sun-helmet.]

People of all nations throng the thoroughfares and bazaars--Indians
and Singalese, Chinese and Burmans--and one's first impression is a
vague confusion of picturesque costumes and unaccustomed types of
mankind; for Rangoon is cosmopolitan to a degree, and can hardly be
called a Burmese town at all.

Anyone visiting Rangoon for the first time will, I think, be struck by
the many strange trades carried on in the streets, and it is
interesting to sit in the veranda of your hotel in the Strand and
watch the crowd as it passes. Here is a water-carrier, whose
terra-cotta water-jars are slung from a bamboo carried on his
shoulder, another man bears on his head a tray upon which a charcoal
fire is cooking a strong-smelling "tit-bit" some hungry labourer will
presently enjoy. Again, a Chinaman, perhaps wearing black skull-cap
and loose jacket and trousers, endeavours to tempt you to purchase the
fans or sunshades he is hawking. Huge baskets of coco-nuts or
vegetables, gaudily printed calicoes and haberdashery, cheap knives
and looking-glasses, and baskets of cool melons, are some of the
articles carried across the shoulders of the pedlars, while porters
pass to and fro bearing huge burdens from one warehouse to another.

Flocks of goats are driven from house to house to be milked at the
doorstep, and occasionally a hill-man may be seen wandering about in
the hope of finding a purchaser for the freshly-caught leopard he is
leading. What will, perhaps, most strike Europeans are the bullock
gharries by which the heavy traffic of the town is carried on. These
are carts curiously shaped and often carved, with large and very
wide-rimmed wheels. They are drawn by a pair of Indian bullocks, sleek
cream-coloured beasts with mild and patient eyes, and often bearing
enormous horns, which, somewhat after the shape of a lyre, stand four
feet above their heads.

Excepting for a single rein which is fastened to a ring through the
nose, no harness is used; but, instead, the cattle press against the
wooden yoke which is fixed to the pole of the cart, and is kept in
position by long pins which lie on each side of their necks.

One thing which distinguishes these bullocks from our own is their
hump, which nearly all Eastern cattle have. This hump not only enables
them the better to work under the yoke, but, as in the case of the
camel, is provided by Nature as a storing-place for surplus fat, upon
which they can unconsciously nourish themselves when pasturage or food
is scarce.

Large-turbaned Indian police keep order in the streets, where office
"chuprassies," or messengers, wearing their broad, coloured sash of
office across their shoulders, come and go upon their errands, and,
with the white-clad butler of a "Sahib" intent upon his marketing,
mingle with a crowd which is composed of all races and all stations of
life, from the wizened labourer in his loin-cloth to the wealthy baboo
or daintily-clad Burmese lady. It is a wonderful medley of strange
faces, costumes, and tongues, and among it all the self-sufficient
crow fights with the "pi" dogs over the garbage, to the amusement of
the children, who, often quite naked, play about the gutters.

No such crowd in England could possibly have the same charm, for here
dirt, hunger, and rags are always apparent, while there the dirt is
lost in the glorious sunshine, and, instead of rags, we find bright
colours, while the people, though often poor, seldom, if ever, go
hungry.

I have tried to give you some little idea of the life of the streets,
and now let us see something of the life of the "Sahib" in Rangoon.

[Illustration: A DAINTILY-CLAD BURMESE LADY. _Page 8._]

You boys and girls whose fathers are in India know that "Sahib" means
the Englishman, the merchant or official who carries on the business
affairs or government of the country, and many of you may remember
something of your very young days out there, before the time arrived
when it became necessary for you to leave the East and come to school
in England.

Well, I may say that the English "Sahib" works very hard indeed, and I
am afraid he is already busy at his office long before we in England
have thought of getting up. Somewhere about six o'clock, after a light
breakfast called "chota-hazri," he is at his office, which he seldom
leaves till the evening. The offices are large and airy, and all the
windows are shaded by jalousies, or grass mats, which in hot weather
are wetted so as to cool the air as it passes through them. Slung from
the ceiling in long rows over tables or desks are the "punkahs," or
fans, which a "punkah-wallah" outside in the veranda pulls to and fro
with a rope in order to keep the hot air moving, and prevent the flies
and mosquitoes from settling. Every one, though clothed in the
lightest suit, works with his coat off, and in many cases, so as not
to interrupt the day's routine, "tiffin," or lunch, is eaten in the
office. Work is hard, steady, and continuous, and no one who has not
been there knows how well our relations in the East earn its many
compensations.

Life there is not _all_ work, however, and its social conditions are
very attractive. From the time when his "tum-tum"[2] arrives at the
close of office-hours and the "Sahib" bowls merrily homewards, a new
life begins. Town becomes deserted, and the suburbs awake to offer
amusement and relaxation to the workers.

[Footnote 2: Dogcart.]

Let us accompany one of our friends on his way home. The sun is
declining and the air already much cooler, and the drive through the
shopping streets and the squares is very enjoyable. The town is soon
passed, however, and broad roads well shaded with many tropical
growths lead to cantonments, as the suburbs are called. Here are the
military lines as well as the bungalows of the residents. These
bungalows are generally large and comfortable-looking, and one can see
from their broad verandas and well-shaded windows that they are
designed for coolness. Nearly all are built of timber, and each stands
in its own compound, which is usually gay with flowers and well
provided with shade-trees. Separated from the house but connected with
it by a covered walk are the kitchens, and in a corner of the garden
are the stables, for horses are an essential in Rangoon.

As we drive along the quiet roads they gradually become animated. The
ladies, who have been resting indoors during the great heat of the
day, pass us on their way to their tennis-parties or other
engagements, while, in charge of picturesquely-clad Burmese or Indian
ayahs, the little ones take their evening walk. Groups of Burmans of
the better class with their wives promenade the cool avenues in happy
contentment, or wend their way towards Dalhousie Park. The whole scene
is pretty and domestic, and the roads themselves form beautiful vistas
in the evening light, which gilds the feathery crests of the coco-nuts
and gives added colour to the deep-toned foliage of the padouk and
other trees which fringe them. Song-birds which are strange to us
call each other from the groves, and in the bamboo clumps the
grasshoppers are beginning to sing, while floating in the air, which
is now fresh and cool, is the scent of many flowers from the gardens.

Dalhousie Park is one of the many attractions of Rangoon. It is large
and well laid out, with a very pretty lake, which winds among the
well-arranged groups of forest trees. There is a boat club here, and
gliding over the still water are many rowing boats and small sailing
craft. Swans and ducks are swimming about as the swallow skims the
surface of the water, breaking its deep reflections with a silver
streak. All the paths are thronged with people, some driving, others
on foot, and most of them presently congregate about the bandstand to
enjoy the music or exchange the gossip of the day. It is quite an
interesting sight. All the fashionable life of Rangoon is represented
here, and mingling with it are yellow-robed Buddhist priests and
natives of all classes; for the Burman loves to come here in the
evening, to listen to the band or watch the changing glory of the sky
as the sun slowly sets behind his beloved pagoda.

Now the sun has set, and every one hastily puts on overcoats or wraps
before driving home, for the air becomes suddenly cold, and neglect of
these precautions will probably result in fever.

Many adjourn to the gymkhana club before returning home. This is
principally a man's club, but here also on many days a band plays, and
the sight is a pretty one indeed as the children and their ayahs play
about the lawn, while their parents enjoy their tea at the little
tables scattered about it, before the falling dew drives the little
ones homewards, and their elders to the club-house for a game of
billiards or a chat.

All this side of Rangoon life is very pleasant and very interesting,
but it is not Burmese. Rangoon has for so long been a great trade
centre that the easy-going Burman is rather overshadowed; but as it is
typical of many foreign places where our fathers or brothers are
occupied, and where some of my readers may presently have to go, I
thought it would be interesting to give you this glimpse of European
life in India, and in the next chapter I will tell you something about
the Burmans themselves.



CHAPTER III

THE PEOPLE


Have you ever thought how the character of the various races of the
world is more or less determined by the nature of the country of their
origin? Rugged mountains and a hard climate produce people of a
similar severity of type, and, on the other hand, one naturally looks
for poetry and music in a people so pleasantly and romantically
situated as are the Italians. In the same way the Burmese are pretty
much what their country has made them. The land is so very fertile
that almost anything will grow there, and Nature provides food for the
people with the least possible effort on their own part. The climate
is also damp, warm, and enervating, so that one would not expect to
find among its inhabitants much energy or decision of character. Their
beautiful religion also makes them kind and gentle, and their
isolation, which, as I have pointed out, separates them from the
neighbouring countries, has left them almost entirely undisturbed by
the activities of the greater world. In fact, on account of their
easy-going and contented nature, the Burmese are often called the
"Irish of the East," and I am afraid it must be said that the men are
rather lazy, and, like their prototypes in some parts of Ireland,
leave most of the work to the women.

As a rule, the Burmese women are industrious and clever at business,
most of which is conducted by them, while the men are more fond of
sport of all kinds than employment. All, however, are gentle in
character, light-hearted, and merry, and like to repeat in their
clothing the beautiful tints of their forest flowers and
gaily-coloured birds and butterflies.

It is not surprising, therefore, that among the alien races so busily
engaged in the trade of Rangoon the Burmans should be overshadowed and
rather lost to sight; and though in Rangoon itself there are many
streets occupied entirely by them, it is in the quieter surroundings
of the suburbs that the Burman appears to advantage.

Many little Burmese villages surround Rangoon, where, half buried in
the trees and creepers which envelop them, the quaint dwellings lie
more or less secluded from the road. All are built of timber or
bamboo, and have nothing in their design to make them noticeable.
Among them, however, are occasional "kyoungs," or Buddhist
monasteries, which are much more ornamental and striking. Like their
other buildings, the "kyoung" is constructed of timber, and stands
upon a wooden platform raised from the ground some four or five feet
by thick posts, which are usually carried through the balustrade which
surrounds the platform, and terminate in a carved head, steps leading
to the stage upon which the monastery is built. These "kyoungs" are
very curious in design, the walls, doors, and windows being
ornamented with carving, while their succession of roofs, one above
the other, often rise to a great height. To afford shade to the
platform below, the roofs project considerably beyond the walls, and
the ridges of each are decorated with carved woodwork representing
their "nats" and "beloos," as they call their good and evil spirits,
and the ends of the eaves terminate in a very striking ornament
supposed to represent the peacock, which, as you will see from the
picture, gives the building a very quaint appearance indeed. Sometimes
the monasteries are gilded, and the doors and wall-panels inlaid with
looking-glass, tinsel, and other glittering material, which makes them
appear very gorgeous in the sunlight.

These monasteries are occupied by Buddhist priests, who teach the
children of the neighbourhood, or instruct the pilgrims who visit them
in the beauties of their religion, of which I shall have something to
tell you presently. All the priests have shaven heads, and wear a
simple robe of cotton, dyed to a bright yellow by the juice of the
cutch-tree. Gentle and hospitable themselves, they lead the most
simple lives. All the food they eat is given by the people, and it is
a very picturesque sight to see the daily procession of priests and
novices, each carrying a bowl in which to receive the offerings of
food so willingly given by the inmates of the houses they visit. No
request for alms is ever made, nor any word of thanks spoken, for such
gifts are freely offered by a people who believe in their religion,
and do so as an "act of merit."

Close by the monasteries are the "zeyats," or homes for wandering
pilgrims. Though their roofs are ornamented in the same way as the
"kyoungs," they are more simple in appearance, and often have one side
entirely open to the air. Built primarily for pilgrims, anyone may use
them, and often a belated traveller is very thankful to take advantage
of their shelter against the night dews or tropical rains.

Another striking feature of their architecture is the "pyathat," or
spire of five or seven roofs, each smaller than the other, which
finish in what they call a "ti," or umbrella of wrought iron
ornamented with flowers, and from which little bells and cymbals swing
and tinkle in the breeze. These spires, however, are only erected over
sacred buildings or the palace of a King.

[Illustration: A REST HOUSE.]

Most beautiful of all their buildings is the pagoda, as their temples
are called, and most beautiful, perhaps, of all the temples in Burma
is the great Shwe Dagon pagoda in Rangoon. "Shwe" means golden, and
this beautiful bell-shaped pyramid, which rises 370 feet above the
mound upon which it is built, is entirely overlaid with gold. The
mound itself, which is of considerable height, is artificially made,
the earth having been carried there in order to form a fortress and a
pedestal for the shrine. These pagodas are constructed of solid
brickwork, in which is often enclosed some sacred relic. Originally of
small dimensions, generations of Kings have from time to time added
further layers of brickwork to the gradually increasing structure,
until to-day this stupendous Shwe Dagon pagoda stands before us so
immense and so beautiful as to be rightly considered one of the
wonders of the world. Around the base of the temple is a large
number of shrines, each lofty, beautified by carved woodwork and
towering pinnacles, richly embellished with gilding and coloured
inlay, and each worthy itself to be a separate temple. Fantastic
images and carved balustrades connect the various shrines with each
other and with the great temple itself, and from ornamental pedestals
spring conventional representations of the sacred tree of Buddha,
delicately wrought in iron. Tall flagstaffs, 60 or 80 feet high,
surmounted by emblematical figures or representations of the Brahminy
duck, float their long streamers in the wind, while the sound of
tinkling bells descends from the "tis" with which every pinnacle is
crowned. Surrounding all is a broad platform fringed with shops and
other buildings, for the Burmese love their pagoda, and many spend
their days here, and the necessities of life must be provided.

Nowhere in all Burma may a better idea of the Burmese be obtained than
on this pagoda platform. At all times of the day it is thronged by
people, not only from Rangoon, but from all parts of the country, who
come to pray or wonder at its beauty. At the shrines, in which are
always one or more images of Buddha, groups of devout Burmans pray.
Lighted candles burn before the images, while the worshippers, among
whom it will be noticed women predominate, bear flowers in their
hands, which before their departure they reverently lay upon the niche
in which the "Master" is enshrined.

These flowers and coloured candles are sold upon the platform, leading
up to which are several covered staircases, which form the best
bazaar in Rangoon, as in the shops on either side of the ascent almost
everything from jewellery and toys to food-stuffs may be bought. The
entrance from the street below is very striking. The flight of broad
steps leads to a gilded and painted pavilion, on either side of which
stand enormous leogryphs, the mythical guardians of the temple.
Passing through an archway embellished by figures of "nats" and other
imaginary creatures, a long succession of steps, covered throughout
the whole distance by ornamental roofs, leads to the temple above, and
at all times of the day is thronged by brightly-clothed pedestrians,
ascending and descending through the alternate gleams of sunlight and
cool shade of the bazaar. Nowhere else in Burma can the people be
better studied than here, all classes being represented, and it may be
interesting if I describe them more closely. Like their neighbours of
Siam and China, the Burmese are Mongolian in type, but, without so
pronounced a cheekbone and slanting eye as the Chinese, are more
pleasing in appearance. Indeed, the men are often handsome, and among
the women and young girls I have seen many of extreme beauty. While
the men are often sallow, the women are generally more ruddy in
complexion, and all have hair of an almost purple blackness. Their
clothing is bright and clean-looking. All wear a short jacket, usually
white, though ladies of the better degree sometimes adopt figured
velvets and other rich materials. The men commonly wear a "lungyi," or
short skirt composed of coloured silk or cloth gathered round their
loins, or the more elaborate "petsoe," which is made of coloured silk
and in which many yards of loose material twisted into a bunch about
the waist serves as an additional scarf or head-dress should it be
cold. Short socks and boots of European make are now unfortunately
commonly worn, while a silk scarf of bright colour tied round the head
completes the male costume.

The women are clad in much the same way, wearing a similar "lungyi"
and jacket or the more beautiful "temaine," a skirt of rich figured
silk, which is open on one side, exposing the leg up to the knee, to
which is added a broad fringe of darker material, which trails upon
the ground, giving it a more graceful appearance than the shorter
"lungyi." Wooden sandals are worn on the feet, while on their
shoulders is thrown a long scarf of delicately-coloured silk. Unlike
the men, the women wear no head-dress, but take great pride in their
hair, which is always glossy and well dressed, and almost invariably
is adorned by a comb or some choice flower. Endowed by Nature with
beautiful hands, they love to accentuate the point by a display of
jewellery, which, though sometimes worn to excess, is always _good_,
for the Burmese lady would scorn to wear a spurious gem. Pretty fans
or handkerchiefs are carried in the hand, while, like a halo
surrounding the head, dainty parasols, semi-transparent and
hand-painted, shield them from the sun. It is difficult to give any
true impression of such a Burmese crowd, in which every conceivable
variety of tint and texture is displayed, and permeating which is a
sense of universal gaiety and lightness of heart. It is like nothing
so much as a beautiful flower-garden, while the people themselves
would seem to be as free from care as the butterflies that hover above
the blooms.



CHAPTER IV

THE IRRAWADDY


To all countries rivers serve the same purpose as the veins in one's
body, being their great source of life and activity. Not only do they
drain and fertilize the land, but also afford the readiest and most
economical means of transit for its trade; consequently on their banks
are found the largest cities and most active commercial life of the
country.

This is particularly true of Burma, for, railways still being few in
number, the Irrawaddy forms its great highway for traffic, and a large
fleet of steamers plies regularly with freight and passengers between
Rangoon, Mandalay, and Bhamo, while thousands of native craft of all
shapes and sizes assist in the carrying trade of the country.

For a thousand miles the Irrawaddy is alive with traffic, and on its
banks have settled the greater proportion of the population of the
country, for with the exception of a few isolated towns and
settlements, which are surrounded by cultivated areas of limited
extent, the whole country away from the river-banks is densely covered
by scrub jungle and primeval forest, practically uninhabited and
uncultivable. Throughout the length of the river, however, is one long
series of towns and villages, whose pagodas and monasteries crown
every knoll, and whose population seems largely to live upon the
water.

The Irrawaddy is a stream of great size and volume, and, like all
rivers subject to periodic flood, is enclosed by high banks of
alluvial deposit, between which the river winds its devious way, laden
with that rich and fertile mud which, in the course of ages, has
formed the delta at its mouth.

In the case of the Irrawaddy this delta is of large extent, and is
everywhere intersected by the deep creeks which form the many mouths
of the river, thus breaking up the alluvial plain into numerous
islands, between which communication is impossible except by means of
boats.

These islands are for the most part covered with a dense jungle, which
forms a lair for tigers and many other wild beasts, and so close do
these tigers approach to Rangoon that one was recently shot inside the
great pagoda, in which it had taken refuge. While there I heard of an
amusing adventure which befell the keeper of the lighthouse at the
mouth of the Rangoon River. He was enjoying a morning stroll along the
beach, reading a book as he walked, and, as the sun was bright, he
held his white umbrella before him to shield himself from the glare of
sand and water. Suddenly he stumbled over a tiger lying fast asleep
upon the shore, and with a yell of terror the lighthouse man, dropping
book and sunshade on the ground, fled away as hard as he could run in
one direction, to discover presently that the tiger, just as much
alarmed as himself, had made an equally precipitous flight in the
other.

All these lower water-ways of the Irrawaddy are tidal, for they are
quite close to the sea, and at high water the land is scarcely raised
at all above the water level. Mango-trees, dwarf palms, and reeds
fringe the muddy banks, on which, raised upon poles and built partly
over the water, are the huts of the fishermen, who, half naked, ply
their calling in quaintly-shaped, dug-out canoes. To the north of the
principal creek which connects Rangoon with Bassein stretches a vast
plain of fertile "paddy" land, where each year is grown that enormous
crop of rice which forms Burma's chief export.

From every landing-place cargo boats of many kinds, manned by crews of
different nationalities, drop downstream to Rangoon, heavily laden
with "paddy," as the unhusked rice is called, which, after treatment
at the mills, will be shipped abroad.

Though hardly beautiful, perhaps, these tidal waters are of great
interest to the new-comer, who probably for the first time sees the
feathery coco-nut and graceful areca-palm growing in their natural
state among the many other strange trees that flourish upon the banks.
At each stopping-place, also, is the picturesque native village, often
surrounded by banana-groves and gardens of sesamum. High on the banks
boats are being built or repaired, in readiness for next season's
flood, while on the water the continuous stream of traffic is of
never-failing interest.

Above Prome, however, where the river flows between the mountain
ranges which form the great backbone of Burma, every mile of the
journey is of great and varied beauty.

The banks are high, and cut into terraces by the varying levels of the
river, and are crowned by a belt of almost continuous forest-trees,
among which, half hidden in the foliage, are the towns and villages
which so frequently occur on both banks. Behind, the rising ground,
naturally rocky and broken, is entirely enveloped by a dense forest,
which stretches in leafy undulations to the lofty mountains which loom
in the far distance.

The Irrawaddy is rapid in its flow, and, like all flood rivers, is
constantly changing its course, as the scour of the water washes away
a portion of the bank from one spot, to form a sand-bank in the stream
lower down. Consequently, navigation for large steamers is difficult,
and the whole course has to be marked out by buoys of bamboo, which,
in some of the more difficult reaches, must be constantly changed.
Some of these steamers plying on the Irrawaddy are very large, being
over 300 feet long, and nearly 80 feet in width. Many of them carry
upwards of 2,000 passengers, mostly deck passengers, who, in the aft
part of the ship, conduct a travelling bazaar for the benefit of such
towns and villages on the banks as have no regular shops of their own.
At each landing-place crowds of people, again mostly women, are
awaiting the arrival of the steamer, carrying various goods for sale
or barter, while others eagerly board the steamer to make such
purchases as they require.

[Illustration: A NATIVE BOAT SAILING UPSTREAM WITH THE WIND. _Page
26_]

Almost every requisite of life may be bought in these floating
bazaars--clothing, cutlery, or hardware, lamps and looking-glasses
(which latter are always in great demand), preserved eggs from China,
English flour, Indian curries and sweetmeats, cooking utensils,
"ngapi" (or rotted fish) from Yandoon, are some of the articles
offered for sale, in return for which the villagers have to offer
supplies of oil, cutch, rice, native silks, and beautifully-made
baskets and lacquer-work.

At important stations the landing-places consist of barges moored
alongside the banks, and these are moved from time to time as the
varying levels of the river demand. More frequently, however, the bows
of the steamer are simply run into the bank, while its crew of
Chittagonians jump overboard to carry the mooring rope ashore. It is
amusing to watch the mass of struggling humanity who throng the
landing-places on the arrival of the steamer. Every one, whether
landing or embarking, strives to be first upon the narrow gangway
which connects the steamer's sponson[3] with the shore, with the
result that many are thrown into the water. Each is intent upon
conducting his business to the best possible advantage in the limited
time at his disposal, for the steamer's visit does not occur every
day, and its stay is short.

[Footnote 3: The small platform which connects the paddle-box with the
steamer's deck.]

Along the margin of the river are many who, indifferent to the arrival
of the mail, are engaged in washing their clothes or utensils, while
boys and girls gambol on the banks, or, swimming with delightful ease,
frolic round the steamer in the water.

Interesting though life in the steamer is, that of the river as seen
from its decks is even more so. The native boats are most quaint in
their designs, the most striking being the "laungzat." This is a
vessel often of very large size, and capable of carrying a large
amount of cargo. Its bows are sharply uptilted, the cut-water
frequently rising clear of the water. The hull is beautifully
modelled, and the stern, rising high above the water in a sort of
tower, is often elaborately carved. Half its length is covered by a
deck-house for the crew, on the roof of which a canopy of reeds or
grasses gives shelter to the steersman, who, raised in this way, is
better able to steer clear of the shoals and shallows which beset the
stream, and which from the lower deck would probably not be seen. The
rudder is a long paddle, also carved, which is slung in a loop over
the stern, while a further decorative effect is often obtained by
inverted soda-water bottles stuck upon poles along the sides.

Coming downstream the vessel is propelled by oars, usually twelve to
sixteen, which the crew ply with a slow rhythmic swing. During the
monsoons, when strong winds blow upstream, sails are used instead of
oars. The mast is composed of two bamboos lashed together at the top,
their lower ends being made fast to the gunwale. On this frame, from
bamboo yards curved slightly upwards, is spread a curious combination
of six or seven square sails, which, though only of use when running
before the wind, enable the boat to travel at a great speed. There are
many other kinds of boats in use, all equally distinctive in
character; and even the dug-out canoe is pretty, its fore-foot rising
clear of the water in a slight curve, which lends an element of beauty
to what would otherwise have been simply a straight log.

Fishing is frequent along the river-bank, the favourite appliances
being nets of various kinds. Often on a sand-bank may be seen a little
hut raised high above the ground, and composed of bamboo and reeds.
This is the shelter for the fisherman, who with a drag-net buoyed by
sun-dried gourds fishes the neighbouring shallows. Hand-nets are
occasionally used, but most interesting, perhaps, is the curious kind
of cradle by which a net stretched upon a bamboo frame is let down
into the water from the bank, particularly on the passing of a
steamer, when the startled fish dart in shore and are caught in the
net, which is raised at the proper moment by the watchers on the bank.

Very interesting also are the rafts, composed of logs of teak and
pyingado, which, cut in the forests far inland, are constructed in the
creeks, as the forest streams are called, and are then launched into
the Irrawaddy upon their voyage of often many weeks before Rangoon is
reached.

These rafts are frequently of enormous size, and are manned by crews
of Shans, whose numbers vary according to their size. Without means of
propulsion, the rafts simply drift with the stream, but are guided to
some extent by a number of paddles fixed at either end, by which the
crews endeavour, not always successfully, to keep them clear of shoals
and their heads downstream.

In many cases the population of a raft is so considerable that quite a
little village of huts is built upon it, and I have seen cows, goats,
and fowls, as well as the wives and children of the crew, housed upon
it. In one case at least I remember seeing a raft upon which was
erected a bamboo pagoda, and frequently upon the sand-banks in the
river small pagodas of the same material are erected for devout
watermen.

Not least among the many beauties of the Irrawaddy are the glorious
sunsets behind the "Yomas," when the colours are repeated in the
limpid water, which perfectly reflects the pinnacles of "kyoungs" or
pagodas, or the pretty village that lies half hidden amidst the varied
foliage which in rich masses crowns the banks.



CHAPTER V

THE IRRAWADDY (_continued_)


Almost every morning dense mists hang upon the river, screening
everything from view until the sun, slowly gaining power, presently
dispels the fog and reveals the beauty of the scene.

Very beautiful indeed are some of these panoramas disclosed in the
early sunlight.

Close beside the high and clear-cut bank, crowned with flowering
kine-grass, our steamer lies, the silently-flowing river gurgling and
bubbling under our keel. The water is quite still, and repeats every
detail of the opposite shore, behind which, rising terrace upon
terrace, are the wooded "Yomas," in whose ravines and valleys still
hangs some remnant of the fog. The foliage is of many kinds, the
feathery tamarind and acacia contrasting well with the more heavily
leaved banyan; betel-nut and toddy-palm rise above the mulberry or
mimosa, and conspicuous among the varied tints of the forest is the
delicate green of the bamboo, to the Burman the most useful perhaps of
all the forest growths, and everywhere abounding.

Life awakens with the sun. Herds of cattle roam along the shore, while
in the fields from raised platforms half-nude men and boys scare
wild-fowl from the ripening crops. The smoke of many fires on shore
and from the craft upon the water rises perpendicularly in the still
air, as the frugal morning meal is being prepared ere another day's
work begins.

Between its banks the Irrawaddy sweeps in splendid curves, producing
an ever-growing sense of bigness and dignity. Some of its reaches are
very wide, and have more the appearance of an inland lake than a
river. On such sand-banks as are not already occupied by fishermen,
flocks of wild-goose, storks, and other waders are roosting or fishing
in the shallow pools. Kingfishers dart hither and thither after their
prey, and wild-duck in great numbers settle upon its smooth surface,
to feast upon the teeming fish with which the river abounds.

In general the scene is one of placid beauty: even the rugged mountain
sides are smoothed and softened by their covering of greenery, and the
warm air and limpid water combine to produce an effect of quietude and
repose, which the contented character of the Burman does little to
disturb.

At certain places, however, as in the defile above Mandalay, the
scenery is of a more vigorous character.

Here the river narrows considerably, and in its deep and silent flow
winds for many miles between high hills which closely confine it, and
in one place rise in a perpendicular cliff 800 feet sheer above the
water.

I was fortunate in approaching the defile in the early dawn, when the
morning mists still hung heavy upon the hills of lurid blackness which
marked its entrance. Between them was an impenetrable gloom, which
seemed to promise no means of egress, and as we steamed rapidly
towards it, one unconsciously felt that here was the end of all
things, and that nothing could possibly lie beyond. It was a most
weird sensation, which the river, so darkly flowing between banks we
could hardly see, served to emphasize.

Presently the rising sun lit up the clouds of vapour piled high above
the hills, and then for half an hour continued the most beautiful and
ever-changing play of colour imaginable, as the slowly-moving fog
wreaths wound about the mountain tops, now rosy in the sunlight, or
again in pearly shade, while alternate gloom and gleam tipped the
hills with gold or enveloped them in a purple mystery.

By the time our steamer entered the defile full daylight better
enabled us to observe our surroundings.

Here, as elsewhere, the vegetation was luxuriant; every crevice in the
rocks afforded foothold for some tree or creeper, while the hilltops
and more sloping sides were densely covered with forest trees.

The passage of the defile occupies about two hours, and the course of
the river is very tortuous.

At the bends little beaches of bright shingle lie against the
tree-roots. Fishing cradles, such as I have described, are frequent,
and cormorants in great numbers share with the fishermen the spoils of
the river, for nowhere on the Irrawaddy are the fish of better quality
than here.

Altogether, in the impressiveness of its scenery, the quiet,
irresistible flow of the river, and the bright tints and varied
growths of the forest, the lower defile of the Irrawaddy forms one of
the most striking scenes I have ever enjoyed; and if the river had no
other beauty than this to show, it alone would amply repay the
traveller for his journey.

Though in general so fertile, there is one part of the river where the
hills which lie on its western side are entirely barren, and the
reddish-yellow rocks appear very hot and uninviting by comparison. Yet
this forbidding district is one of the busiest and richest of all
Burma, for this is the great oil-field of the country, and the
chimneys of pumping stations which stretch for miles along the hills
and river-bank show how actively the trade is being worked. Formerly
Burma was obliged to import all her lamp-oil from America, but now,
although a certain amount of American oil is still imported, Burma not
only produces sufficient for their own use, but is able to export a
considerable quantity to other countries, and many of the steamers on
the river use the crude or unrefined oil as fuel.

Here and there in the river are moored curious-looking dredgers
engaged in pumping up the river sand, from which is separated the gold
dust with which it is so freely mixed. The gold comes from unknown
veins hundreds of miles away, and is to be found in greater or less
quantities all down the river, and though the natives have always been
in the habit of "washing for gold," it is only within the last few
years that any real attempt has been made to work it on a large scale.

[Illustration: THE IRRAWADDY. _Chapters IV and V._]

The Irrawaddy has many tributaries, but though the larger streams,
such as the Chindwin and Mu Rivers, are always flowing, most of the
smaller forest streams are dry, excepting during the monsoon, which
continues from May until September. At this season, swelled into
torrents by the rains, they pour into the Irrawaddy, quickly raising
its level 40 to 50 feet, and the peaceful river which I have described
becomes a mighty flood, in places 2 miles in width, full to the top of
its banks and overflowing the fields and flooding the village streets,
and sweeping away from its sand-banks those huts and pagodas and other
temporary buildings we have noticed, while the mud which its turbid
waters carry each year adds a little to the delta at its mouth.

Very often crossing the mouth of these tributaries you may see a
framework of bamboo, over which fishing-nets are spread as the river
rises, and in the pools of slack water which lie at the mouths of the
forest creeks a great collection of logs lie floating. These logs have
been cut in the forest long before, and have gradually been collected
at some such convenient spot, where a large number of natives are
busily engaged in building them into one of those huge rafts so
constantly met with on the river. These rafts have a long journey
before them, and constantly grounding as they do, no ropes would hold
them together through all the wear and tear of their weeks upon the
water, so instead of ropes rattan is used. This is a peculiarly long,
tough, and flexible cane, which grows all over the forests, and is
often a hundred yards or more in length. The logs are mostly of teak
(about which I will tell you more presently) and pyingado or
iron-wood, which is so heavy that it sinks in the water, and
consequently rafts of bamboo are first built, and beneath them the
pyingado logs are slung.

An interesting place is Bhamo, the last station for the river steamers
and close to the frontier of China. The town is more Chinese than
Burman in character, though on the banks of the River Taiping are the
remains of pagodas and other buildings of purely Burmese origin.

Then, again, there are other defiles on the river beside the one I
have already described, and many other points of interest which I
might mention. Thabeitkyan, the landing-place for the ruby-mines,
three days' journey inland; the rocky island with its monastery and
pagoda, whose priests are said to be able to tame the fish in the
river, which they feed by hand; the great bell at Mingoon, or the
water-side fair at Shwegu, and a host of others. It would be
impossible for me to tell you about everything of interest that the
Irrawaddy has to show, but perhaps I have said enough to give you some
little idea of how beautiful and interesting a river it is.



CHAPTER VI

VILLAGE LIFE


Leaving the river, let us go ashore at one of the many villages on its
banks, and see how the Burmese live.

Our steamer lies alongside of the bank while the cargo is being
landed, and its fuel of eng-wood is put on board. This is hard work,
and is generally done by girls, who are paid by piece-work, and
generally lose no time in the operation. Bales and cases lie upon the
bank, and are being loaded into bullock-carts or carried to the top of
the "bund," as the bank is called, where pack-ponies are waiting to
carry them to more distant destinations.

The villagers "shikoh"[4] as we land, and swarms of youngsters follow
us on our tour of the village; but though greatly interested in
ourselves and our hardly-concealed curiosity, they are always polite
and never annoy us in any way.

[Footnote 4: The Burmese form of salute.]

The village lies close beside the river, and is, as usual, bowered in
trees, which overhang the bank. Its other three sides are enclosed by
a stockade of thorns or wooden palings as a protection against wild
beasts or attack by dacoits, bands of robbers who until recently
lurked in the jungles, and often raided outlying and unprotected
villages.

The stockade is nearly always overgrown with creeping plants, yellow
convolvulus, tropæolum, and a charming little climber like
canariensis. On each side is a gate built of balks of timber, and so
heavy that it must run on wheels. This gate is always shut at
nightfall, so that no one can enter the village unknown to the
watchman, who is called "kinthamah" and keeps his "kin" in a little
booth called "kinteaine" erected close beside the gate.

By the gates and at intervals along the roadside are little cupboards
raised above the ground and thatched with grasses called "yaiohzin";
these contain jars of drinking water for the use of wayfarers, and are
always kept replenished by the villagers. The drinking cup is usually
made of a polished coco-nut shell with a long handle of some hard
wood, and it is noticeable that the water is never spilled or wasted,
for Burma is a thirsty land and some of these watering-places are far
from the river, and every one drinks with due regard to the
necessities of the next comer.

Entering the large compound which the stockade encloses we are in the
village itself. Here the houses of the Burmans are pleasantly situated
among rows of toddy-palm, mango, padouk, and other trees, among which
the peepul, or sacred ficus, is almost always found.

The houses are more or less arranged so as to leave a lane or street
between them, and are generally built of bamboo, though many have
their principal timbers of teak or eng-wood. The floors are usually
of split bamboo, and the roof of elephant-grass, or "thekka," as the
thatch of dried leaves is called, forms a good protection against the
summer sun or monsoon rains, while the walls are formed of bamboo
mats, often coloured and woven into some pretty though simple design.

As the front of the house is generally more or less open, we are able
to see much of the interior arrangements. Sleeping mats of grasses
supply the place of beds, and no chairs are to be seen. On a low stand
of carved wood is the tray upon which their simple meals are served,
and cooking-pots of bronze or earthenware lie about the "chatties"
which contain the fire. Painted and carved boxes contain the family
wardrobe, and in one corner is the stand for the large jars in which
their supply of drinking-water is kept. Mat partitions perhaps screen
inner rooms which we cannot see, but all the domestic appliances
visible are of the simplest character, but ample for the needs of the
people.

All the buildings are raised several feet above the ground as a
protection against snakes, floods, and malaria, and the space below
often forms a stable for the cattle and a useful storing-place for
agricultural or other implements. These simple homes of the Burmans
are often very pretty as they lie among the trees which cast their
broad shadows across the straggling lane, grass grown and deeply
rutted by the cart-wheels. Bougainvillæa and other creepers spread
luxuriantly over the roofs, or drop their festoons of flowers from
the eaves. Bananas wave their broad leaves gracefully above the
houses, in cool contrast to the richer foliage of the larger trees,
and among all this greenery, alternately in sunlight or shadow, move
the brightly-costumed villagers themselves, most interesting of all.

Here comes a pretty young mother clad in "lungyi" of apple-green and
dainty white jacket. Cross-legged over her shoulder is her infant, to
whom she talks softly and endearingly as she walks. Presently her home
is reached, and all the joy of motherhood shines in her happy face as
she gently swings her child to sleep in its cradle of rattan which is
slung from the roof above.

Again, an old man passes, guided by a little boy, who is proud to
assist his grandfather; for respect for the aged, no less than love
for their children, is a dominant trait in the character of the
Burman.

While many are working in the paddy-fields, other of the villagers
find their occupation nearer home, and employ themselves in such work
as mat and basket making (in which the children assist), the weaving
of silk, and the manufacture of pottery. In sheds made for the purpose
oil or sugar mills are being turned by bullocks, while in some few
villages is made that pretty red and gold lacquer-work we know so well
in England. Notice also the village blacksmith, who, with primitive
tools, hammers out those curiously shaped "dahs" and knives used by
the wood-cutters, while beside him, with equally simple implements,
the carpenter puts the finishing touches to the carved yoke of a
gharry.

In the streets the naked youngsters are playing at their games. Many
are like our own, and marbles, peg-tops, leap-frog or kite-flying
each have their turn, while in the ditches and puddles the boys hold
miniature regattas with their toy sailing-boats.

In the monastery or some private dwelling in the village the children
go to school, and as they become older some occupation employs their
time. While the boys are engaged with the cattle or about the boats,
the girls are occupied in cutting firewood in the jungle, or from the
pools in the forest collect the crude oil which they burn in their
lamps.

Roaming at will through the village are pigs and poultry, geese and
cattle, and the inevitable "pi dog" of the country. These dogs are
peculiar, being wild, yet attaching themselves to some particular
house, whose interests they seem to make their own, and which, by
vigorous barking, they make a pretence of guarding. In some villages,
also, the pigs, which are long-legged and fleet of foot, seem to act
in the same capacity, strongly objecting to the intrusion of
strangers, and even when riding my pony I have been attacked by them
and forced to retire.

During the day many of the villagers have been busy in the
rice-fields, for rice is their staple food and the only crop generally
cultivated; even infants of a day old are fed upon it, the rice being
first chewed by the mother, and each tiny mouthful washed down by a
few drops of water. Towards evening, when the tired cattle draw their
creaking carts homewards, the streets are thronged with the labourers
returning from their work, ready for the simple meal of rice and
"ngapi" their wives have prepared for them.

It is a simple, happy life which these villagers lead, graced by many
pretty customs of domesticity.

Rising with the sun, with it also they retire to rest, and as the last
sweet tones of many gongs from the village monastery proclaim the
close of their evening prayer the stockade-gates are closed, and, save
for the howling of jackals outside, or the yapping of a dog, silence
reigns throughout the village.

[Illustration: ENTRANCE TO A BURMESE VILLAGE. _Page 10._]



CHAPTER VII

TOWN LIFE


Owing to their primitive methods of building and choice of materials,
a Burmese town differs very little from a village except in point of
size, though occasionally the houses are of two stories and
timber-built throughout.

The stockade is absent, and in its place deep ditches, partly filled
with water, surround the houses, and run alongside of the streets,
which are, perhaps, somewhat wider and more regularly planned.

The approach to the town is often very pretty, the water reflecting
the waving palm-trees and picturesque buildings, while the roads,
which in Burma are usually nothing but a track, have, as they near the
town, some semblance of solidity.

Little bridges cross the ditches, and give access to the houses, round
about which are often raised paths or causeways of burnt brick set
"herring-bone" fashion. These prove a comfort in the rains, when the
streets of the town are rivers and the whole country a sea of mud.

Trees in plenty shade the road and houses, and shops and small bazaars
give an air of business to the town, whose principal street, however,
is largely covered with grass, and affords a convenient place in
which to try a pony's paces.

Some of the streets have side-walks, a shade less dusty (or muddy, as
the case may be) than the road itself, and in the least frequented of
them dwarf palmettos enjoy a lusty existence.

Enclosed by low palisades in front of many houses, cannas, hibiscus,
poinsettia, or lilies are growing, and rare orchids hang from the
eaves, to provide in their strange but lovely blossoms a flower for
some woman's hair. Indoors, in coloured pots or stands of often
elaborate design, are other flowers, always most carefully tended, for
the Burmans love what is beautiful in Nature.

In the streets the life of the people is only a slight amplification
of that of the villages, the shops with their attendant customers
marking the principal difference, while in bullock-carts of more
ornamental design than those of the villages, the families of the
well-to-do enjoy their outing.

Though always two-wheeled and drawn by a pair of oxen, there is a
certain amount of variety in the native carts. The wheels are
generally large, and are placed very wide apart, in order to lessen
the risk of capsizing in the terribly rough roads they often have to
travel.

In the common country carts the wheels have very wide rims, across
which is fastened a single flat piece of wood instead of spokes, and
in many cases the wheels are quite solid. The body is plain, but the
yoke and yoke-pins are often carved, and the pole usually finishes in
some grotesque ornament.

When travelling the carts are covered by a hood of matting, and a
mattress inside eases the jolting by day, and serves as a bed at
night.

The pleasure gharry, however, is quite a pretty vehicle. The wheels
have a very large number of thin spokes, and the hub is always
ornamental. The sides consist of an open balustrade, and the rails
sweeping backward in a fine curve, to terminate in a piece of carving
high above the rail.

In Mandalay another pretty cart is used by the ladies when out calling
or shopping. This is a closed carriage built entirely of wood, each
panel of which is carved, and is just high enough in the roof to
permit the ladies to sit upright upon their cushions. We can see them
through the little unglazed windows, looking pretty or dignified, as
the case may be; but dignity disappears so soon as they attempt to
dismount, for this can only be done through a small door at the back,
through which the rider must crawl backwards and then drop to the
ground.

Games, as usual, figure largely in the young life of the place. A
curious kind of football called "chinlon" is very general, and the
instinct for sport comes out early in the boys, who, while flying
their kites, attempt by skilful manoeuvring to saw through each
other's lines and so prove a "conqueror." The little girls have their
amusements also, and it is pretty to see a little one being drawn
about in a diminutive go-cart, or, squatting on her haunches by the
doorstep, endeavouring to fathom the intricacies of doll-dressing.

Let us wander round the streets and see what we can find to interest
us. First it will be noticed that beside every house are two long
poles; one has a hook at its end, and the other is formed into a sort
of broad paddle. These are provided in case of fire, when with the
hook the thatch is pulled down, or the fire beaten out with the other.
Fires are constantly occurring, for though every house is supposed to
have a separate cooking shed, carelessness, or the habit of cooking
indoors, is largely responsible for them, and there is very little
hope for dwellings built of such inflammable material once a fire
starts. Consequently in all parts of the country roofs of galvanized
iron are slowly taking the place of the picturesque "thekka," even the
"kyoungs" and "zeyats" being roofed by it; and unfortunately, as
creepers do not take kindly to this new form of roofing, it will, I am
afraid, always remain an eyesore among what is otherwise so
picturesque.

In many of the streets are wells, surrounded by a wall and crossed by
a heavy beam of wood to which pulleys are attached, through which run
ropes with hooks at their ends, by means of which the water-pots are
lowered. This is a great place of congregation for the young people,
and is always surrounded by animated groups of young men and maidens,
who, with pretty courtesies or coyness, carry on their youthful
flirtations.

The Burman is always delightfully natural, and seems to live in the
open daylight. At the doorstep of one house are mother and daughter,
busy sewing up cloth, their red lacquer box of sewing materials
between them. At another a dainty housewife entertains her guests at
tea, for tea is now largely drunk in Burma.

[Illustration: AT THE WELL.]

All the shops are open to the street, and we may see the various
trades in operation.

It is interesting to see the umbrellas being made. They are almost
flat when open, the frame consisting of a multitude of thin bamboo
ribs formed by splitting _one_ bamboo into many sections, so that the
knots of the cane occur at the same regular distances on the ribs, so
forming a kind of pattern. The common kinds are very large, some of
those in use in the market-places being as big as a small tent. These
are covered with calico, oiled or varnished, and form an excellent
protection against sun or rain. More delicate sunshades are made of
the same materials, or of silk; these are smaller, and are often
painted in rings of flowers or foliage, which has a very pretty
effect, and the sun shining through them throws a rich orange shade
over the head and shoulders of the bearer.

Then, there are the silk-weavers and silversmiths, whose work is
probably the best of its kind produced in any country, and in Thayetmu
and Rangoon I have seen silver-work produced which, in my opinion, is
unequalled for beauty of design or excellence of workmanship.

Turning enters largely into their decorative woodwork, and the
turners, who use a very simple form of foot-lathe, are busily engaged
in providing the various articles required--pilasters for a balcony,
hubs for a cart-wheel, or the turned finials of a baby's cot. In a
kindred trade the wood-carver is busy producing embellishments for
the "kyoung" or "zeyat" which some wealthy resident is erecting.

Though the Burmans occasionally become drunk on "toddy" (a beverage
made from the flower of the toddy-palm), they are by habit abstemious
and simple livers; rice and vegetable curries, bananas, jack-fruit,
papaya, and other fruits, form their staple food, and, forbidden by
their religion to take life, fish is practically the only variant to
their vegetable diet, the fisherman excusing himself by saying that
"_he_ does not kill the fish: they die of themselves."

All smoke, however, and men, women and children equally enjoy their
huge cheroots, composed of the inner bark of certain trees mixed with
chopped tobacco, which are rolled into the form of a cigar in the
spathe of Indian corn or some similar husk, and no meal would be
considered to be properly set out without the red lacquer box
containing betel, which is universally chewed. Betel is the nut of the
areca-palm, and before being used is rolled between leaves on which a
little lime is spread. The flavour is astringent and produces
excessive expectoration, and, by its irritation, gives to the tongue
and lips a curious bright pink colour. Still, it is considered an
excellent stomach tonic, and so far as one can judge has no worse
effect than to blacken the teeth of the user.

Every village or town has its pagodas, which in some cases are very
numerous. The Burman spends little upon his home, which is always
regarded as of a temporary nature, and in the erection of a pagoda or
other religious building the wealthy native finds an outlet for his
energies, and earns "merit" for himself. Few of the modern village
pagodas are of any particular beauty, and I cannot but think that the
money spent upon them would be far better employed in restoring and
preserving the many beautiful and ancient temples scattered all over
the country.

In many towns is a sacred tank or reservoir, so entirely covered with
lotus and other plants that the water cannot be seen. Large fish and
turtles of great age inhabit them, but are seldom seen, on account of
the heavy screen of leaves and flowers which lies upon the surface of
the water, which, however, is often strongly disturbed as some
ungainly monster rolls or turns below them. On the outskirts of the
towns are the gardens, enclosed by hedges of castor-oil or cactus,
where many kinds of fruits and spices are grown: bananas, pineapple,
guava, bael, citrons, etc., are some of the ordinary kinds, while the
coco-nut, tamarind, jack, and papaya grow everywhere about the streets
and houses. Many vegetables, such as cucumber and vegetable-marrow,
are also grown, and among the shops or stalls in the market-place none
are so attractive as those which display their many-coloured and
sweet-smelling fruits and vegetables.

Every few days a market is held in one or other of the large towns of
a district, and attracts to it country people from a considerable
distance around. Here one has a chance of seeing many other tribes and
types beside the Burman: Shans, Karens, or Kachins, different in
feature and costume from the natives of the town, together with
Chinese and natives of India, give a variety to the population, and
help to swell the crowd which from early morning till sundown throngs
the market-places.

The market is generally held in the open space outside the town, and
is generally enclosed. In it are wooden buildings, or booths of
sacking or "tayan" (grass-mats), in which each different trade is
gathered, so dividing the bazaar into sections. Between the buildings
rows of people squat upon the ground, protecting themselves and the
odd assortment of wares they have for sale by screens of coloured
cloth or the enormous umbrellas I have already mentioned. Up and down
the lane so formed move the would-be purchasers, a motley crowd in
which every type and race in Burma is represented. No less varied are
the articles offered for sale--cotton goods and silks, cutlery and
tools, lamps and combs, and various other articles of personal
adornment, including the ornamental sandals which all the women of the
town affect. Fruit, vegetables, and food-stuffs have a ready sale; nor
are sweetmeats for the children forgotten.

Cooking-pots and all kinds of domestic utensils may be purchased and
carried away in baskets beautifully made, and often of immense size,
which form a striking feature of the bazaar.

All the more important stalls are kept by women, who, as I have
already said, are the business backbone of the country. Many of them
are women of good position, but they like their work, and are very
clever at driving a bargain; but though dainty enough in appearance,
they can be very abusive on occasion.

[Illustration: THE MARKET PLACE.]

I have already said that the Burman is not permitted to take life, and
in consequence meat enters but little into his diet; but in all
bazaars frequented by natives of India, who are under no such
prohibition, the slaughter and sale of cattle is of regular
occurrence, and among the most eager buyers of the meat thus offered
for sale are the Burmans themselves.

Among other articles which I have noticed are "dahs," and knives of
many sorts and degrees of excellence. No Burman travels without his
"dah," which serves as a weapon of defence or enables him to clear his
path where the jungle is thick, while the heavier knives are used for
chopping the domestic fuel. Some of these "dahs" are very finely
finished, the handle and sheath of wild plum being bound by delicately
plaited bands of bamboo fibre, in which the ends are most skilfully
concealed, and the blade, often 2 feet long, is excellently wrought
and balanced.

At various times of the day groups of priests and novices move up and
down the market collecting offerings from the people, while some
"original" or buffoon gives the scene its touch of humour.

At sunset, when the bazaar is closed, long lines of people, some on
foot, some in hooded carts, wend their ways towards their distant
homes; and long after darkness has fallen on the land may still be
heard the faint creaking of some laden cart as it slowly disappears
along its lonely forest path.



CHAPTER VIII

FIELD WORK


If you are up very early in the morning you may see large herds of
buffaloes and bullocks being driven to the paddy-fields. These
surround the village, sometimes extending for miles in different
directions; but often they are simply small clearings scattered
through the jungle. The cattle are always driven by the children of
the village, and it is curious to see how docile these huge buffaloes
are under the control of some diminutive native, while with Europeans
they are obstinate, ungovernable, and often dangerous.

The children always ride the cattle to the fields, sitting well back
on the haunches, for they frequently have to travel a long, and often
broken, path to their destination, and during the rains they are thus
enabled to cross the streams and flooded areas, which it would have
been impossible for them to do on foot.

It will interest you to know something about the manner in which the
Burmans produce their rice-crop. Rice, as you know, requires a great
deal of moisture, especially in the early days of its growth;
consequently the ground upon which the rice-crop is to be sown must be
_level_, so that the water with which the fields are covered may flow
equally over the whole surface. The water is kept in by little dikes,
or "bunds," as they are called, which surround each field, or the part
of it to be irrigated; and as during a considerable portion of each
year these cultivated areas are under water, and are always more or
less in a boggy condition, these "bunds" form the most convenient, if
not the only, means of traversing the district. Tortuous and winding
as they are, it is not easy to decide upon your route, and you need
not be surprised if the little causeway upon which you have set out
eventually brings you back to your first starting-point, and you must
make another attempt in a different direction. I remember once being
hopelessly lost among the "bunds" in my endeavour to cross a patch of
paddy-land, and although it was not more than a mile in width, two
hours of valuable time were spent before I solved the problem of this
labyrinth, and struck the road on its farther side.

Rice cultivation begins towards the end of the monsoon, when the rains
have thoroughly saturated the soil and filled the fields with water,
often to the top of the dikes. Then ploughing begins, and the grass
with which the fields were recently covered is turned over in clods,
as we do at home, by means of a curious wooden plough shod with bronze
or iron.

These ploughs are drawn by the bullocks and buffaloes, or by elephants
when they are available, the operation being often carried out under
water. After this all the cattle in the district are driven on to the
fields in order to break up and trample down the clods, and sometimes
harrows, much like our own, are used for the same purpose.

Then the sowing begins, the rice being scattered very freely over one
or two selected portions of the whole area, for which they serve as
nursery gardens; for the rice is not sown generally over the fields,
but the young plants transferred from these small nurseries to the
larger fields. This work is done by the men and women, who, wading in
the water, plant out the young growth 5 or 6 inches apart, and one may
notice that during this operation all wear leggings or stockings of
straw as a protection against the leeches which in enormous numbers
infest the muddy water.

The rice now may be left to itself, excepting for the necessity of
keeping it constantly supplied with water, which is raised from the
neighbouring river or creek by many ingenious appliances, and carried
to the fields by pipes of bamboo or channels in the mud.

While the crop is growing the cattle have an idle time, for with the
exception of the bullocks which draw the market-carts, and a few which
may perhaps be working in the oil or sugar mills, there is nothing for
them to do. For the rest, the time between the sowing and reaping is
passed enclosed in large pens or roaming by hundreds in the jungle.

The harvest begins in October, and lasts until December or later,
according to the district. When ripe, the rice is 3 to 4 feet in
height, each plant growing several ears, the grain being slightly
bearded, like barley; and in good soil, where the water-supply has
been continuous, its growth is so dense that it is impossible for
weeds to grow.

I know few prettier sights than a harvest-field in an early autumn
morning. Through the steamy exhalations from the ground, and dancing on
the dewdrops which hang heavy upon every blade or ear, the early sun is
shining. Everything is mysterious in the haze, through which the belt of
forest which surrounds the cultivated land is grey and ghost-like; huge
cobwebs hang between the bushes laden with glittering beads of moisture,
and the whole scene is bathed in a curious opalescent light in which all
sense of distance is destroyed. Scattered through the fields are the
harvesters, whose brightly-coloured "lungyi" and gay head-scarf are the
only spots of definite colour.

The rice is cut with sickles a little above the ground, so as to leave
sufficient straw to serve as fodder for the cattle or to fertilize the
land. The grain is bound into sheaves much as we do at home, and after
remaining in the fields for a day or two in order to dry, it is
carried to the threshing-floor. This is simply a piece of selected
ground where the surface is dry and hard, on which the sheaves are
placed in the form of a large circle and the grain trodden out by
cattle. When the threshing is complete and the straw removed, there
remains a huge pile of grain and husks freely mixed with dust. This
has to be cleaned and winnowed, which is done by a very simple
process, the grain being thrown into the air by means of large shallow
trays made of bamboo, when the wind, blowing away the dust and loose
husks, leaves the grain tolerably clean in a pile at the worker's
feet.

The rice is not yet fit for use, however, the grain still being
enclosed in its hard husk, which has to be removed by another
process. In travelling through Burma one may often notice standing
outside a native dwelling a large and deep bowl composed of some hard
wood in which lies a rounded log about 4 feet in length, much like a
large mortar and pestle. These are the "pounders," in which by a
vigorous use of the pestle the husk is separated from the rice, which
is again winnowed and washed, and is then ready for use. Though
generally eaten in its simple state, bread and cakes are often made
from rice-flour, which is ground in a hand-mill consisting of two flat
circular stones, and is identical with the hand-mill of Scripture.

From the large areas the bulk of the rice-crop is shipped to Rangoon,
sufficient for the needs of the people being stored in the villages in
receptacles formed of wicker-work covered on the outside with mud.

I have described the process of rice cultivation which is followed in
districts where a perpetual water-supply is available, but in other
and drier zones a different kind of rice and other crops, such as
sugar, maize, and sesamum, are grown; but while these, as well as many
fruits and vegetables, are cultivated in the neighbourhood of every
town or village, rice may be considered to be practically the only
agricultural crop in Burma, and forms perhaps its most important
article of export.

Though not cultivated by man, the country produces another crop which
to the Burman is second only to rice in value. I mean the _bamboo_,
which grows in enormous quantities in every forest or jungle in the
country. There are many varieties of bamboo, some comparatively small,
others growing to a height of 60 or 70 feet, the canes being often
upwards of 2 feet in circumference at the base. Each species has its
separate use, and, as we have already seen, there are few things for
which the Burman does not employ it. His houses are very often
entirely built of it: canes, either whole or split, form its framework
and flooring; the mats which form the walls are woven from strips cut
from the outside skin; the thatch is often composed of its leaves;
while no hotter fire can be used than one made from its debris. Split
into finer strands, the bamboo furnishes the material of which baskets
are made, while its fine and flexible fibres, plaited and woven into
shape, form the foundation for their beautiful bowls and dishes of red
lacquer. Bows and yokes for the porters, sheaths of weapons and
umbrella frames, and a host of small articles of domestic furniture,
are of the same material, and a section cut from the giant bamboo
forms an excellent bucket, which is used all over the forests.



CHAPTER IX

THE FOREST


And now I want to tell you something about the forest, which, as we
have seen from the river, practically covers the country.

We all enjoy our English woods, but these, lovely though they are,
convey no idea whatever of the luxuriant and bewildering beauty of a
forest in the tropics.

How shall I give you an idea of it? It is so big, so magnificent, and
at times so solemn. Everywhere you are surrounded by trees of many
kinds and immense size, whose huge trunks, springing from a dense mass
of undergrowth, rise 200 feet or more into the air. All are bound
together by a tangled mass of creepers, which mingle their foliage
with that of the trees to form one huge canopy of leaves, in which
birds of bright plumage and beautiful song live out their happy lives.
Monkeys also make their home there, and strange insects and
butterflies of rare beauty flit among the flowers, or hover in the few
stray sunbeams which penetrate the gloom.

[Illustration: IN THE DEPTHS OF THE FOREST.]

It is all very impressive, very beautiful, and still, except for the
drone of insects or soft note of the songbird. Perhaps the silence may
be broken by a herd of wild elephants crashing heavily through the
canes, or the shrill cry of the squirrel startles the forest and warns
its fellows of the nearness of a snake.

Bewilderment and wonder grow upon anyone riding through the forest for
the first time, but after a few days one gradually becomes accustomed
to these luxuriant surroundings, and is able to appreciate the forest
in detail.

How beautiful the undergrowth is! Palms and bamboos wave gracefully
above a mass of flowering plants, among and over which climb
convolvuli of many kinds, tropæolum, honeysuckle, and a variety of
other creepers, forming natural arbours, with whose blossoms mingle
those of the festoons hanging from the trees.

Teak, india-rubber, and cutch trees rise high above the undergrowth,
and in turn are dwarfed by such giants as the pyingado and the
cotton-tree. These grow to an enormous size. The pyingado, straight
and smooth, often rises 150 feet before it puts forth a branch, and I
have seen ponies stabled between the natural buttresses which support
the huge trunk of the silk-cotton tree, sometimes 250 feet in height.

Orchids of great size grow upon the boughs, and add to the wealth of
foliage, in which the large-leafed teak or rubber trees contrast with
the feathery pepper or acacia; and it is interesting to notice that
most of the feathery kinds bear thorns.

Though generally straight and tall, the trees are often twisted into
curious joints and elbows, which give them a very fantastic
appearance; but most strange of all are the creepers which bind these
forest growths. Some are very large, and stretch for immense
distances, linking tree to tree in twining loops, from which their
hanging tendrils reach the ground, or perhaps crossing some forest
glade or stream to form an aerial bridge for the lemurs or the
monkeys.

One creeper in particular I must tell you about. This is called
"Nyoung-bin" by the natives, and is a very strange plant. It very
often springs from a seed dropped by some bird into the fork of a
tree, where, taking root, it sends its suckers downwards until they
become firmly bedded in the ground, then, growing upwards again, it
slowly envelops the parent tree until it is entirely enclosed by the
new growth, which kills it, but which in its stead becomes a _new_
tree, larger and more lofty than the one which first supported it.
This is one of the many species of ficus, of which its equally strange
cousin, the many-trunked banyan, is another common feature of a
Burmese forest.

Naturally these forests are alive with birds. Parrots and parakeets
live among the tree-tops, and doves and pigeons, jays and mynahs, and
a great variety of small birds, find their home here. Woodpeckers are
busy among the tree-trunks, sharing their spoil of insects with the
lizards and the tree-frogs, and among the lesser growths tits,
finches, and wagtails rear their young broods.

The birds are not the only occupants of these wilds, however, for in
no country is there a larger variety of game than in Burma. Herds of
wild elephants roam the forests, in which are also tigers, panthers,
and bears. Many kinds of deer are there, to be preyed upon by man or
beast, from the pretty little gyi or barking deer to the lordly
sambur. Wild pig also are very numerous, and lurking in the dank
undergrowth or fissures of the rocks are many venomous snakes and
large pythons.

But though so abundant, all these wild creatures are shy, and one may
travel many days without adventure, and any sense of danger is soon
lost in admiration of the beauties of these wilds.

Riding through such a forest is very fascinating in the early winter
months. Then the ground is fairly hard, and riding would be easy were
it not for the thorny vines and fallen tree-trunks which lie among the
thickets. At this time, also, foliage and flowers are still luxuriant,
and all kinds of wild life abundant.

But from May to October the south-west monsoon, bringing in the
heavily-laden rain-clouds from the sea, pours upon the country its
torrential rains, which change this beautiful forest into a swamp. The
quiet creeks become turbid rivers, while the hill-sides are torn by
innumerable torrents, which, washing away the earth from the roots of
the trees, cause them to fall crashing among the dripping undergrowth.
Bridges are swept away, and the paths become morasses. Travelling in
the forest is then wellnigh impossible, though it is this time that
the native woodman and the large number of young Englishmen engaged in
forest-work find the busiest of the year.

Gradually the rains cease, and with the return of sunshine birds and
flowers spring into renewed life, more beautiful than ever, and at no
time of the year is the forest more lovely than immediately after the
monsoon rains.

Presently the hot weather of March and April comes to strip the trees
of their leaves, while the dak and other flowering trees are a blaze
of crimson among the autumn tints. Then, when everything is dry and
withered, forest fires break out in many parts of the country,
consuming all but the larger trees, and leaving a blackened waste
where once was a paradise of flowers. It is sad to ride in the track
of such a fire, but this is no doubt Nature's way of _cleaning_ the
country, and destroying a vast amount of decaying vegetable matter and
keeping in check many venomous insects and reptiles. The forest
appears to be dead until the advent of the next monsoon restores to
the sun-bleached skeleton its usual luxuriant vegetation.

But I hear some one asking, How do you live and travel in such a
country? All through India and Burma at intervals along the main
routes of travel dâk bungalows have been erected for the use of
travellers. These are small houses, containing two or three rooms,
raised on poles above the ground. They are built of timber, with
matting walls and thatched roof, much like the Burmese dwellings I
have described. Native custodians are in charge of them, and although
specially intended for the use of Government servants, any traveller
may use them. In the forest similar houses, called "tais," smaller and
often built of bamboo, are erected, though sometimes very small huts
indeed, formed of bamboo and reeds, are the only shelter available.
These are draughty dwellings, and even the best-built "tai" is partly
open to the air, and affords little protection from the night cold,
which is often so intense that sleep is almost impossible.

After a scanty breakfast by candlelight, a start is made in the early
dawn, when the air is cold and damp, and the heavy dew dripping from
the reeds and kine-grass quickly soaks you to the skin. The sunrise is
curiously sudden, and very soon the sun is hot enough to compel the
traveller to leave the open glades and seek the shelter of the denser
portions of the forest. Hardy little ponies, sure-footed and willing,
are our mounts, while elephants carry the stores and provisions,
cooking utensils, and bedding, which every traveller must take with
him.

In distinction to the working elephants, those employed on a journey
are called "travellers," and are used for no other purpose. Their
drivers are called "ouzies," and sit astride the animals' necks, with
their legs hanging down behind their ears. There are several ways of
mounting, each pretty: sometimes the elephant will hold up its
fore-foot to form a step for its driver, or will drop upon its knees
and bend its trunk to form a step, by which the "ouzie" is able to
reach his seat.

When travelling they have a shambling sort of gait, half walk, half
amble, but manage to get over the ground very quickly, and for such
cumbersome animals are very nimble-footed. It is almost ludicrous to
see the huge beasts picking their way along a narrow "bund" or
crossing some ditch by a bridge of fallen logs, but they always do so
successfully.

Soft and boggy land, however, is a great trouble to them, their great
weight causing them to sink deep into the mud; and elephants will
often show their dread of such places by loud trumpeting and great
unwillingness to attempt the passage. Occasionally they will tear up
tufts of reeds or boughs of trees to make a foothold for themselves,
and I heard quite recently of a case where a friend of mine, while out
shooting from elephants, came to such a marshy place, which at first
they refused to cross. Then, before anything could be done to prevent
it, his elephant seized the driver with his trunk and, placing him in
the mud, used the poor native's body as a "stepping-stone." The driver
was, of course, crushed to death, and my friend only escaped a similar
fate by scrambling off his elephant by the tail. Generally elephants
are docile enough, but are not always fond of Europeans and very much
dislike a rider to approach too closely; but they rarely give trouble
to their drivers, for whom they often have a genuine affection.

Roads in the forest are few, and at best are only bridle-tracks,
difficult to ride over, and through which a way has often to be cut
with knives, so rapid is the growth.

Travelling is slow and often difficult, and towards the great heat of
midday men and animals are glad to rest, while another march in the
afternoon brings us, towards sunset, to our next halting-place. Then
fuel for the fires must be collected to prepare the evening meal, beds
made ready, and the animals attended to. The ponies are tethered
underneath the "tai," while the elephants, wearing a wooden bell
called "kalouk," are turned loose into the forest, where their drivers
quickly track them down again in the morning by the sound of their
bell.

About sundown a strange hush comes over the forest, and the leaves
hang limply after the great heat of the day. Insects and birds give up
their activities, and are preparing to roost or lying in the various
hiding-places they frequent. All Nature seems to be _tired_, and
little wonder when the thermometer has shown 105° of moist heat!

Suddenly with the cooling of the air a shiver and a rustle passes over
the tree-tops as the sundown breeze brings relief to the tired world.
Immediately the forest is alive again, but with new inhabitants. The
dancing fireflies weave rings of bluish light around the tree-trunks,
already half lost in the gathering darkness; crickets and tree-frogs
contribute to the growing sounds of the woody solitude; while the
stealthy tread of some prowling animal is faintly heard among the
withered debris of the undergrowth. It is no longer safe to wander
from the camp-fire, whose flames, shooting upwards in straight
tongues, light up the nearer trees in contrast to the blackness
beyond, in which many a dangerous wild beast lurks. Within the circle
which our camp-fire lights is safety, and in the now cold night air
its warmth is grateful. No one who has not experienced it can at all
appreciate the romantic pleasure of a forest camp, never more
enjoyable than in the hour before "turning in," when, in the light of
our blazing logs and surrounded by the dark mystery beyond, the last
pipe is smoked while listening to many exciting tales of adventure,
before we stretch our tired limbs in bed.

[Illustration: A OAK BUNGALOW. _Page 60._]



CHAPTER X

THE FOREST (_continued_)


Though human habitations are not often met with in the forest, little
native settlements occur from time to time, where, surrounded by small
clearings, over which a primitive scarecrow mounts guard, sufficient
rice is grown for their needs. These little hamlets are occupied by
woodmen, or little communities of Chins, a kindred race to the
Burmans, though differing from them in many customs, most curious of
which is their habit of tattooing the faces of their young women
_black_.

Here and there one meets a fowler, who, with primitive snare or
decoy-bird, seeks to take his toll of the forest; and in the most
remote districts may be met some picturesque Burmese travelling-cart,
toiling laboriously over tracks which would almost seem to be
impossible for wheels. I have already mentioned the creaking of the
cart-wheels which no Burman would oil, for they believe that the
horrible groanings they produce, together with their own loud voices,
serve to ward off the evil spirits of the woods; for the Burman is
superstitious, and at frequent intervals may be seen tiny wicker-work
representations of pagodas and "zeyats" erected to propitiate the
forest "nats," and passers-by will deposit in these diminutive
shrines some offering of food or ornament, and in the Shan States I
remember seeing one whose enclosing fence was hung with spears and
"dahs," and other weapons of considerable interest and some value.

By the wayside the lonely grave of some traveller or woodman, marked
by its simple fence of twigs, gives a touch of pathos to the forest;
and among its natural wonders are the giant ant-hills, often 9 feet or
more in height.

Ants are probably the most destructive of all insects in Burma.
Voracious wood-eaters, they will attack fallen logs or growing trees,
which they will entirely consume till only the hollow bark remains.
This is one great reason why the wood of the teak-tree is so highly
valued, as it is the only timber these ants will not touch, and
consequently is the one of which all the more important buildings and
dwellings are constructed.

In many districts, within reach of some beautiful forest creek,
teak-cutting may be seen in full operation; and it is interesting to
watch the elephants at work, hauling logs or loading them on to the
little trollies, by which they are carried down to the water, where,
floundering along the muddy bank, they launch them in the stream.

Some of these creeks are very lovely, fringed as they are by flowering
grasses, behind which the forest rises tier on tier above the
shimmering water and gleaming sand-banks.

On the banks are the footprints of many wild animals who have come
down to water during the night. In the water are fish and
water-snakes, which alert herons constantly harass, and, strange as it
may seem, in the river-bed itself are the marks of cart-wheels, for
the Burmans often make a highway of these forest streams, which in the
dry season are generally easier to travel than the roads.

The forest itself is never monotonous, its growths varying according
to the levels of the hills. Sometimes the enormous trees and heavy
foliage I have already described produce a depth of gloom which might
well excuse the superstitious fear of the Burmans, and often recalls
to me the pictures in our fairy-books, where some bold knight is
depicted entering the depths of an enchanted wood, in search of the
dragon that well might dwell there. Descending the hill-side with a
suddenness which is almost startling, you may find yourself in a
bamboo forest, which is a veritable fairyland for beauty. From a
carpet of sand, on which lilies grow, these giant bamboos spring,
fern-like, in enormous clumps, spreading their arms and feathery
crests in all directions, and, meeting overhead, form avenues and
lanes, which remind one of some beautiful cathedral aisle.

Different in many ways from the forests I have described are those of
the cooler plateaus and mountain ranges of Northern Burma. On the
higher levels oak and pines are found among the other trees, and
bracken grows around the wild plums on the more open slopes. Sparkling
rivulets spring from the mountain-side, and, overhung by ferns and
mosses, flow gurgling over their pebbly beds to the deep valley below,
there to join the swiftly-flowing river, which, by many waterfalls
and rapids, eventually reaches the level of the plains.

From the river's edge, where reeds and wild bananas grow, the purple
wistaria spreads itself over the mass of vegetation which covers the
precipitous hills from base to summit.

Bamboos of many kinds wave among the trees or grow in masses by
themselves, and climbing geranium and ferns mount from one foothold to
another over tree-trunks or rocks, rooting as they go.

Nests of wasps and weaver birds hang from the canes. Jungle-fowl and
pheasant, snipe and partridge, are there to provide the traveller with
food, and often, flying heavily from tree to tree, a peacock offers a
welcome addition to your larder.

The forest is dense, and in places almost impenetrable, and as you
ride or cut your way through the thick undergrowth, monkeys of large
size follow you through the tree-tops, scolding and chattering at your
intrusion; and lemurs, fear overcome by curiosity, approach you
closely, as though to see what kind of creature is this that
penetrates these wilds.

Wildness best describes these leafy solitudes in which roads are
almost unknown, and which the larger beasts as well as men appear to
shun.

Along the river-bank, however, are many little hamlets, where in
dug-out canoes the natives fish the rivers, using many ingenious nets
and traps, or weirs which stretch from bank to bank.

Carts are never used here, and such traffic as is carried on must be
done by means of pack-ponies, whose loads are so contrived that,
should they stumble on their rugged path, they can easily free
themselves of their burden.

We are now near to the Chinese frontier, and many straggling groups of
Chinese, Shans, and Shan-tilok (which is a mixture of the two) may be
met bearing bales or baskets of produce on their backs to some distant
settlement; or occasionally a family party, bent upon some pilgrimage
or journey, carry their household goods and young children in baskets
slung from bamboo poles, which cross their shoulders.

On the lower levels, where paths are more frequent, little bridges of
picturesque design cross the streams, from which rise warm miasmic
mists. In the early morning dense fogs fill the valleys, often
accompanied by frost; but as the sun gains power and the mists are
sucked up, the heat is intense; and these extremes of heat and cold,
combined with the smell of rotting vegetation and exhalations from the
ground, render this region a perfect fever-den, in which no white man
can safely live.

Though the general character of the country consists of lofty
mountains and deep valleys, through which wide rivers flow, there are
at intervals considerable stretches of flat land, which are under
partial cultivation. Here villages of some size are found, and among
the people which inhabit them are strange types we have not previously
seen in Burma, and customs which are curious. The Shans, for instance,
have the habit of tattooing their faces and legs and centre of their
chests, while, their scanty clothing not permitting the use of
pockets, they carry upon their backs little baskets of wicker-work, in
which are placed their knives, tobacco, and such other articles as a
pocket might have accommodated. The Yunnanese, wearing huge plaited
hats of straw and curious slippers of the same material, but whose
other garments are so thin and baggy as to mark them indifferent to
the cold, are in marked contrast to the Kachins, who wear an elaborate
costume of heavy woollen material of many colours. The men, whose hair
is long and tied in a knot on the top of the head, after the manner of
the Burmese, wear a simple scarf tied round the head in place of a
hat, while the women, who wear a costume much like the men, have as
their head-covering a handkerchief or scarf folded flat upon the head.
All have their ears bored, the lobes being so large as not only to
enable them to wear ear ornaments of unusual size, but often to serve
as a handy receptacle for a cigar! When travelling the Kachins usually
carry in their hands double-ended spears, whose shafts are covered
with a kind of red plush from which large fringes hang; but these are
only ceremonial weapons, and show that their intentions are pacific.
Like the Shans, they dispense with pockets in their clothing, but
instead wear suspended under their arm a cloth bag, which is often
prettily embroidered.

Though, as I have mentioned, the forests of Mid-Burma--and, indeed,
generally throughout the country--abound in game, which ranges from
elephant and rhinoceros down to the smallest deer, and while every
tree and thicket is a home for birds, all forms of animal life appear
to avoid the fever-infested highlands of North-East Burma. In some
places, however, strange freaks of Nature occur. On the high plateau
through which the Myit-nge River flows, though the forest and jungle
is more or less deserted, scattered over the plain are conical
limestone crags, which are alive with monkeys; and while the
innumerable species of insects which infest the warmer forests are
absent, nowhere in all Burma have I seen butterflies more numerous or
more beautiful than here. It is singular, also, to notice how human
habitations will attract certain forms of animal life, and in some
mysterious manner, though the surrounding forest may be otherwise
deserted, pigeons and doves and the various kinds of crow quickly
install themselves in the neighbourhood of a newly-established
settlement or camp.

It is impossible in two short chapters to describe the infinite
variety and charm of these Burmese forests--the rushing mountain
torrents, the sweeping rivers, and noble waterfalls; the sluggish
streams, which reflect the glories of the surrounding forest; its
teeming life, its solitude, and the wonderful effects of light and
colour; but perhaps I have said enough to convey to you some idea of
that wealth of exuberant beauty which has forced upon me the
conclusion that nothing in all the world is quite so beautiful as a
tropical forest.

So far I have not given you any example of the many adventures which
may befall a traveller in such wilds, but they are naturally of
frequent occurrence.

Often while painting, and quite unarmed, I have found myself in
unpleasantly close proximity to wild beasts of many kinds, and on
more than one occasion I have narrowly escaped the fatal bite of some
deadly snake which I have killed. Every one has a natural horror of
poisonous snakes, but sometimes an adventure with them has its element
of amusement. I remember an instance where one of my companions,
having come into camp from his work in the forest, lay down outside
his tent to rest, and, the better to enjoy it, took off his
riding-boots and loosened his breeches at the knee. While his "tiffin"
was being prepared he went to sleep, but presently awoke with a
horrible sensation of something lying cold against his thigh. To his
alarm, he discovered this to be a large cobra, which had sought
shelter from the sun. Remaining quite still, he called his native
servant, and explained the position, and the snake was soon secured
and dispatched, while my friend suffered nothing worse than a fright.

Though so docile as a rule when tamed, elephants in their wild state
are most dangerous, and I have heard of many narrow escapes from them
in Burma. Panthers, also, though shy of human beings, are fierce when
at bay, and I have been told that a scratch from their claws nearly
always results in fatal blood-poisoning.

[Illustration: THE QUEEN'S GOLDEN MONASTERY, MANDALAY. _Page 79._]

It is the tiger, however, which is most to be feared. General
throughout the country, a traveller through jungle or forest must be
ever alert, so stealthy are its movements, and so audacious is it in
its depredations. Its great strength, however, which is not so
generally recognized, the following will serve to show. Close beside
our lonely camp on the Nan-Tu River a tiger killed a sambur, upon
which the natives saw him feeding. Being unarmed themselves, they
ran for the "Sahib" to come and shoot him; but, on regaining the spot,
they found that the tiger had gone, carrying the huge carcass with
him. Following the trail, they came up with their quarry at the
river's bank; but the tiger, still retaining its hold upon its prey,
took to the water, and, although impeded by its heavy burden,
succeeded in reaching the opposite shore. The sad part of the story is
that a native, armed with a "dah," who had followed the tiger into the
river, though an extremely powerful swimmer, was swept away by the
current, and drowned in the rapids below.



CHAPTER XI

TEMPLES AND RELIGION


Burma has been called the "Land of Pagodas," and nothing could be more
true, for from Syriam, below Rangoon, to Myitkyina, in the far north,
is one long succession of these beautiful temples. Not only on the
river-banks do these pagodas crown the hills, but in every town and
village throughout the country; and in many remote districts, far from
present habitations, some shrine, however simple, has been raised.

We have seen something of the great Shwe Dagon pagoda in Rangoon, but
there are many others almost equally beautiful, if not so large: the
exquisite Shwe Tsan Daw at Prome, the Arracan near Mandalay, while in
old Pagan, Pegu, Moulmein, and a host of other places, are temples
which one might well think could not be surpassed for beauty. I have
told you that these pagodas are usually bell-shaped--a delicate and
most elegant form of design, which gains very much in effect from the
habit the Burmese have of building their temples on a hill, so that
the gradually ascending ground, on the different levels of which the
pinnacles of the "kyoungs" are visible above the trees, leads
gradually upward from one point to another until the temple itself is
reached, towering gracefully above the other forms of beauty with
which the hill is sometimes covered. Another pretty effect is gained
by building them close to the water, either on the river-bank or
beside some artificial pool or "tank," in which they are reflected.
Nothing could be more beautiful than the effect of these golden piles
glittering in the sunshine among the deep green of the trees,
especially when repeated in some placid sheet of water, dotted over
perhaps with pink and purple lotus.

And, then, the little bells which hang from every "ti"--how they
tinkle as they swing in the breeze, in their numbers forming one
general harmonious note, most musical, and with a strange sensation of
joy and contentment in its sound.

These little bells are not the only ones in the temples, however, for
in all of them are others of very large size, which, raised a foot or
more from the ground, hang between two posts set in the platform which
surrounds the "zedi," as the bell-shaped temple is called.

These are used by the worshippers, who, with a stag's horn, strike the
bell after praying, to call the attention of the "nats" of the upper
and lower worlds to the fact that they have done so. You will see
these bells in one of the pictures, but there are some others of
immense size, that at Mingun weighing eighty tons; but, as a rule, the
tone of the very large bells is poor, and not to be compared with that
of those of more moderate size.

There are one or two places in Burma particularly rich in
pagodas--Pagan, Sagaing, and Mandalay. I want to tell you just a
little about each.

Let us go to Mandalay first, for I have no doubt that you have been
wondering why I have not already told you something about the capital
of Burma.

As a matter of fact, Mandalay is little better than an enlarged
village, and is built much in the same way as the towns I have already
described, and has really only two points of great interest--its
religious buildings and the "fort."

I am referring, of course, to the _Burmese_ town, for surrounding the
fort are a large number of well-built bungalows, and streets of shops
built of stone or brick; but these are for the use of Europeans and
Indian or Chinese traders, the Burmans here, as elsewhere, contenting
themselves with their thatched houses of timber. It may appear
surprising that a people who could erect their marvellous temples
should be satisfied with such poor dwellings. The reason is to be
found in their custom of removing their capital on each change of
dynasty, and since A.D. 1740 the capital of Burma has been moved no
less than eight times! Mandalay itself is only fifty years old, so
that it hardly appeared to them worth their while to build more
substantial dwellings, which might so soon have to be deserted; and in
this way they came to regard their homes as temporary, expending their
energies and wealth in the building of temples and monasteries
instead.

The streets of Mandalay are wide, and laid out in rectangles, as in
Rangoon, and, like all towns in Burma, the roads are heavily shaded by
trees. Foreign types are common in Mandalay, but the Burmese life here
is very pretty. Nowhere else are the people better dressed, and the
ladies rival the silk bazaar in the variety and beautiful colour of
their clothing. Until recently this was a royal city, and the ladies
pay great attention to the demands of fashion, whether it is in their
delicately-tinted garments, their embroidered sunshades or fan, or the
lace handkerchief with which they love to toy; and nothing in the way
of crowd could be nicer than these daintily-dressed and usually
prepossessing men and women. Fashion, however, has always _some_
drawback. The ladies in many cases smear their faces with a paste
called "thannakah," which has the effect of whitening the skin. The
result is very unfortunate, for it is not always put on evenly, and
only serves to make the ugly more forbidding, while it destroys the
soft warmth of colour and skin texture which so often makes these
women beautiful. Another unfortunate custom is their habit of smoking
such huge cheroots, which no mouth of ordinary size could possibly
hold without distortion.

All roads in Mandalay lead to the fort, lately the residence of the
Court. This consists of a huge square, 1-1/4 miles each way, entirely
surrounded by battlemented walls, and further protected by a wide and
deep moat. Quaint bridges cross the moat, and lead to gateways, each
surmounted by a "pyathat." Within the walls are the palace of the
King, and many other buildings of highly ornate and purely Burmese
character. Many of them have lately been destroyed by fire; but what
will interest us most is the rambling but most picturesque palace, the
lofty "pyathat" which is erected over Thebaw's throne being the finest
in the country, and so much admired by the Burmans as to be called
"the centre of the universe."

All these buildings are of timber, only the finest teak being used,
and the many columns which support the roofs of the halls of audience
consist of single tree-trunks of unusual size and great value.

The moat serves to supply Mandalay with its drinking-water, and is fed
by a conduit from the hills. I am afraid the water is not very clean,
but it is a very pretty sight to see the people coming to fill their
jars from the little stages which jut from the banks, while the whole
surface is at some seasons of the year a mass of purple lotus and
white water-lily, and, although in the middle of the city, paddy-birds
and other ibis wade about its margins.

Mandalay is a station for our troops, who are quartered inside the
fort, which was only captured after severe fighting. The stockade,
which offered so great an obstacle to our men, has been swept away,
and "Tommy Atkins," as well as Indian troops, now inhabit the palaces
of King Thebaw's time! But it is an unhealthy station, and nowhere in
Burma have I seen such crowds of mosquitoes, the common cause of fever
in Europeans.

The most beautiful of Mandalay's pagodas, "the Incomparable," has been
destroyed by fire; but a large number remain, one of which is very
interesting. This is the "Kuthodaw," a temple built by Mindon Min,
King Thebaw's father. The central dome is not remarkable, but on each
side of the large flagged space which surrounds it are rows and rows
of miniature temples, each with an ornamental cupola, supported upon
pillars. Each of these 729 cupolas contains a slab of alabaster, on
which is inscribed a chapter of the Pali Bible. The entrance-gates,
also, are large, and unusually ornate in design.

Each quarter of the town has one or more large pagodas, and others
surround its outskirts from the river-bank to the top of Mandalay
Hill; but these differ from the others we have noticed in one respect,
being covered by carved plaster-work, each stage of which is
beautified by some elaborate or striking pattern, so that the dome of
pure white, broken by sharp contrast of light and shade, is quite as
rich in effect as the gilded temples of Rangoon or Prome.

Most remarkable of all the buildings in Mandalay, however, are the
monasteries, of which there are a large number, many of great
interest, the principal one being the "Queen's Golden Monastery," for
beauty of design and elaborate embellishment unquestionably the finest
structure of its kind in Burma.

Across the river from Mandalay is a very pretty scene. Low conical
hills rise from the banks of the river, each crowned by a pagoda,
around which are many "kyoungs" and "zeyats." Scattered over the
hill-sides are many others, gleaming white against the warm earth
tints and the foliage which surround them. This is old Sagaing, once a
capital of Burma; but the city has gone, and only its temples now
remain. Crossing the river in sampans painted red, blue, and yellow,
or landing on the pearly shingle of the beach, are crowds of
well-dressed Burmans from Mandalay and Ava, bent on a pilgrimage to
one or other of the many shrines, which are reached by long flights of
steps, whose entrance is guarded by enormous leogryphs.

A pretty legend gives the origin of these monsters, which, often of
enormous size, invariably guard the entrance to a temple. Long ago in
the dim past a Princess was stolen by "nats," and hidden away in the
dark recesses of the forest. The King made every effort to find the
hiding-place of his daughter, but without success, until one day a
lioness rescued the Princess, and restored her to her home. Ever since
then the lion, which in the course of centuries has gradually become
changed into the leogryph (or half-lion, half-griffin), has been
accepted by the people as the emblem of protecting watchfulness.

Close to Mandalay on the south is Amarapura, another of Burma's many
capitals, and though we cannot hope to see all the many interesting
monuments that remain, it has one pagoda in particular which well
repays us for our long and dusty journey.

This is the Arracan pagoda, one of the most famous shrines in Burma,
and the one most frequented by the Shans and other hill tribes, whose
time of pilgrimage occurs "between the reaping and the sowing."

There is no ascent to this temple, which, through a series of
ornamented doorways, is approached by a long flat corridor, which, as
usual, serves the purpose of a bazaar. Here perhaps the best Burmese
gongs may be purchased, and the stalls for cut flowers display a rich
profusion of blooms, whose scent fills the whole temple precincts. The
temple itself is different in design from any others we have seen,
being built in the form of a square tower, above which rises a series
of diminishing terraces, each beautified by carved battlements and
corner pinnacles, the whole being richly gilt.

[Illustration: THE SHWE ZIGON PAGODA, PAGAN. _Page 82._]

Beneath the central tower is the shrine, before which a constant
stream of devotees succeed each other in prayer. This contains an
enormous brass image of Buddha, 12 feet in height, thickly plastered
with the pilgrims' offerings of gold-leaf. Behind the temple are the
sacred tanks, whose green and slimy water is alive with turtles, too
lazy or too well fed to eat the dainty morsels thrown to them by the
onlookers, but which are pounced upon by hundreds of hawks, who often
seize the tit-bits before they reach the water.

The courtyards are, as usual, thronged, and pastry-cooks and
story-tellers, soothsayers and musicians, provide refreshment and
amusement to the ever-moving crowd of happy people, at whom we never
tire of looking.

And now, having seen something of the principal pagodas, with their
crowds of worshippers or loiterers, let us take one glimpse of the
ancient city of Pagan.

Splendidly placed upon a commanding site on the river-bank, Pagan was
at one time a populous and wealthy centre. To-day it is the city of
the dead, and the domes and pinnacles of its temples, which cover an
area of 16 square miles, remain silent monuments to its former
greatness. Save for a few priests and scattered families of the
poorest of the people, its population has disappeared centuries ago,
and the land, once fertile, is now covered with aloe, cactus, and
thorn, while an air of weary heat and desolation envelops it. Some
idea of its size may be formed when I tell you that a thousand of its
pagodas are known by name, while as many more are little but a heap of
ruinous brickwork.

Many of its temples are of the greatest historical interest. The
Ananda, built 800 years ago, is larger than St. Paul's, and its
elongated dome and innumerable pinnacles render it as graceful as it
is imposing. There are other temples even larger, while the picture
facing page 80 will give you some little idea of the beauty and
interest of the Shwe Zigon.

Throughout the country temples abound, and in lonely places where no
temple has been built, the lofty "tagundaing" marks some holy spot.
You will find no statues to her Kings in Burma, but in every temple,
in little wayside shrines, and even in the most unfrequented wilds,
the Burmans have erected images of Buddha, founder of their faith.

Nearly one-third of the world's population are Buddhists, and this
fact alone would seem to show how beautiful is the religion they
profess. Buddhism was founded by an Indian Prince called Gautama,
about 600 years before the birth of Christ. This Prince, though heir
to a kingdom, and surrounded by every luxury, left his palace and his
beautiful wife and their little son, to become a wanderer in the
search for truth, and for six years he lived as a hermit in the
wilderness, attended only by a few disciples. One day, while seated
beneath a "bo" tree, lost in contemplation, revelation came to him,
and from that time he became a preacher, striving to raise men and
women to his own lofty and pure standard of what life should be.

Few Europeans really understand Buddhism, but many of its principles
we can all appreciate. Thus, men are taught truthfulness, purity,
obedience, and kindness, which forbids the giving of pain to any
living creature. Charity, patience, humility, and the habit of
meditation are early instilled into the minds of the boys, who,
without exception, spend at least a portion of their lives as inmates
of a monastery, and with the priests and novices are not ashamed to
collect the daily offering of food.

In their consideration for animals, their love for their children, and
great respect for age, as well as in their consideration for each
other, the Burmans act well up to the beauty of their faith; for a
beautiful religion it is, beautifully expounded in Arnold's "Light of
Asia," which I hope many of you will presently read.

It is not difficult to understand how their religion, combined with
their own happy, contented natures, and the enervating effect of
climate, renders the Burmans little able to withstand the pressure
from without which has lately been brought to bear upon them.

Largely content with what Nature provides for them, and without social
grades to spur them to ambition, their sports and races and amusements
of many kinds occupy the chief attention of the men, who quickly
succumb to their more energetic and businesslike rivals from India or
China. The women, more capable and rather despising the idleness of
the men, are more and more prone to marry among other races, while
Western civilization also is doing much to destroy the primitive charm
of the people.

Sad it is to think that the Burman as a pure race is slowly
disappearing, and there are few, I think, who know them but will view
this prospect with sincere regret. But if it is inevitable that this
picturesque and lovable people must be in time replaced by others, at
least their beautiful country always will remain.

And now, as I close this chapter, there recurs to my mind a pretty
picture which embodies so much of the spirit of the country that it
may well form our last peep at Burma.

Far away in the jungle on the crest of a lonely hill stands a ruined
pagoda. The white ornamental plaster-work which once beautified it has
long since disappeared, and in the rents and fissures which seam its
rich red brickwork venomous serpents hide.

The niche which formerly contained a Buddha is unoccupied, but, as
though to soften its decay, kindly creepers have covered its rugged
exterior with a bower of foliage and flowers, while the leogryphs
which once marked the entrance to its enclosure are buried in
vegetation. All around are trees of many kinds, which tower above the
jungle, among which large and beautiful butterflies flit among the
flowers, while birds of gay plumage gambol among the tree-tops to the
distant song of the bulbul. It was a pretty scene, but sad in its
loneliness, to which a touch of pathos was added by the figure of a
solitary priest praying before the empty shrine. Wondering what had
brought him so far from any known habitation, I watched him long as
he prayed. Just as the sun set and the day closed he plucked a lovely
flower from the scrub and placed it reverently on the shrine where
Buddha once had stood, and as I turned my pony's head in the direction
of my distant camp, the slowly-retreating figure of the "hpungi"
became lost in the glory of the sunset.


THE END

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INDIA        MACMILLAN & COMPANY, LTD.
               MACMILLAN BUILDING, BOMBAY
               309 BOW BAZAAR STREET, CALCUTTA

AUSTRALASIA. OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS, MELBOURNE

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_BY THE SAME ARTIST AND AUTHOR_

BURMA

By R. TALBOT KELLY, R.B.A.

_Containing 75 full-page Illustrations in Colour. Square Demy 8vo.,
cloth, gilt top_

Price 20/- net

(_Post free, Price 20s. 6d._)

"His landscapes--in which Nature is seen unforced by the hands of
colour-loving men and women, and seen, more often than not, by early
morning or evening light--have an exquisite delicacy."--_Athenæum._

"The result is a narrative delightful in its quiet zest, and a series
of pictures that have the hues of landscapes hung in a heaven of
dreamland."--_Speaker._

"If ever there was a poet in colours Mr. Kelly is one. His volume is
bright to read and beautiful to look at."--_Liverpool Post._

"Those of our readers who have seen Mr. Kelly's 'Egypt' know that he
uses pen and brush with equal facility, and in this volume we find
again beautiful and faithful pictures, accompanied by admirably
graphic descriptions."--_Aberdeen Journal._


EGYPT

BY R. TALBOT KELLY, R.B.A.

_Containing 75 full-page Illustrations in Colour. Square Demy 8vo.,
cloth, gilt top_

Price 20/- net

(_Post free, Price 20s. 6d._)

    "How marvellously faithful his work is, every one who knows
    Egypt will see in the seventy-five exquisite paintings which
    make his book a perfect treasure of beauty.... No series of
    drawings has ever conveyed to us so perfect an impression of
    Egyptian scenery as these."--_Saturday Review._

    "Rarely can this old, old country have received more
    beautiful homage than here ... the happily inspired work of a
    true artist revealing her countless charms."--_Bookman._

    "This is beyond all question the most beautiful book on
    modern Egypt that we have ever seen."--_Spectator._

    "This is a magnificent production of his, abounding with fine
    pictures, beautifully reproduced, and teeming with fine
    descriptive touches and bright anecdotal matter."--_Black and
    White._

    "Few more attractive gift-books have fallen into our hands of
    late than this splendidly-illustrated volume, the text of
    which is in perfect harmony with the pictures."--_Standard._


PUBLISHED BY A. & C. BLACK, SOHO SQUARE, LONDON, W.

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A BACHELOR GIRL

IN BURMA

By G. E. MITTON

AUTHOR OF
"A BACHELOR GIRL IN LONDON," "JANE AUSTEN AND HER TIMES," ETC.

_Containing 95 Illustrations from Photographs._

_Sq. Demy 8vo_., cloth._   Price 6/- net   (_Post free, _Price 6s. 5d._)


Some Press Opinions

     "She has written a delightful book on a delightful country,
     and the ninety-five illustrations, from photographs taken by
     herself and others, add greatly to its readable and
     instructive character, as well as to its
     beauty."--_Scotsman._

     "She has altogether succeeded in writing a delightful
     account of her trip."--_Westminster Gazette._

     "A most entertaining and agreeable narrative."--_Burlington
     Magazine._

     "Her book will please and amuse all lovers of
     travel."--_World._

     "She has cleverly tinged her descriptions with much of that
     rich colour which ornaments the East, and any who might be
     tempted to visit a land as yet little travelled by the
     sightseer will in these pages find much information that may
     prove of value in their preparation for such a
     trip."--_Daily Telegraph._

     "A delightful account, illustrated with many attractive
     photographs."--_World's Work._

     "Miss Mitton has excelled herself in her last
     work."--_Tatler._


PUBLISHED BY A. & C. BLACK, SOHO SQUARE, LONDON, W.

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