Printed for the Hakluyt Society,
Text on page 115
BIRDS AND VERMIN.
with the other islands in this way. They have boats covered with a little deck, whereby they go from isle to isle, working and dealing in their goods, and it is sometimes more than a year ere they return to the island of their home. They take with them all their male children from the age of four or five upwards, to teach them the business. At their halting-places they always sleep, eat, and drink in their boats, and generally work there too. I remember seeing the tinkersa boat thus going from village to village. I might here specify the atollons and islands which produce peculiar fruits and commodities, but that would be superfluous.
Among their animals are poultry in great plenty, which cost only the catching, for they are wild; and in the market they are sold at a sol apiece, and about thirty-six eggs for the same price. It is the flesh they use the most, next to fish. There are also quantities of pigeons, ducks, rails, and certain birds1 most resembling sparrow-hawks, spotted with black and grey, which do not, however, live on prey, but on fruits; there are other different species, all wild and undo-mesticated. The crows annoy the natives much, for they are so bold that they will enter houses to take anything, though people are there, and are not a whit afraid; this seemed very strange to me, and at first I thought they were tame. They are so numerous as to be beyond counting, and the people do not kill them. The bats there are as large
in the same atoll, by tinkers. Mat-weaving is confined to the islands of Huvadti, and the manufacture of cotton-cloth is carried on chiefly in Melosmadulu, Addd, and Huvadti atolls. In the remoter parts of Ceylon, villages are exclusively peopled by distinct castes ; all are now cultivators of the soil, though they to some extent also pursue their hereditary calling. There, a potter or a blacksmith village would be but a few miles off. At the Maldives, where the island of a particular craft was probably leagues away beyond the channels of ocean, the segregation of trades is remarkable evidence of the endurance of caste after four, and now nearly seven, centuries of Muhammadanism.
1 The spotted koil of India; M. dindi-koveli.
I 2I 2