How to Preserve New-born Babes.
tours old, but, to prevent such a calamity, strings are tied round its wrists on the first night after its birth, and if it sickens or is feeble the spirit-doctors 1 are called in to prescribe certain offerings to be made to keep away the very spirits who, only a few hours previously, were ceremoniously called upon to come and carry the child off. On the day after its birth the child is regarded as being the property no longer of the spirits, who could have taken it if they had wanted it, but of the parents, who forthwith sell it to some relation for a nominal sumaan eighth or a quarter of a rupee perhaps. This again is a further guarantee against molestation by the spirits, who apparently are regarded as honest folk that would not stoop to take what has teen bought and paid for.
While such precautions are taken for the welfare of the child, the mother is subjected to a very different mode of treatment. As soon as the woman is safely delivered of the child, a couple of old women cut some stems from the banana-tree into lengths of from three to four feet, split them, and lay them round the woman as she lies upon the bed. These are covered with twigs of the same tree, and the whole is then set on fire, so that the poor woman is literally half-baked.
This cruel ceremony, the object of which is to hasten ter recovery, is, I am informed, repeated for several days. The statement will hardly be credited, but I am m a position to vouch for its correctness, for I was an eye-witness on one occasion of the whole scene, when a woman was confined in the house in which I happened to be staying at Krong Krung, and I took a mean advantage of the cracks in the wall to spy out the proceedings ; for I could hardly believe that such inhuman rites could be tolerated. In this case the child was
1 Sj* p. 338.1 Sj* p. 338.