William and Robert Chambers,
Text on page 57
step. By the higher classes, and "by others when not at work, is worn, in addition, an in-gee or jacket, open in the front, with close, long sleeves. It is always made of thin materials, and frequently of gauze or lace. Labouring women and children frequently wear, in the cold season, a shorter gown, resembling a sailor's jacket, of common calico. Nothing is worn on the head. Their sandals are like those of men. The picture represents a genteel woman, with a cigar, as is very common, in her hand.
Boys go naked till they are five ' or six in cities, and seven or eight ______ in country places. Girls begin to
Burmau Lady. wear clothing several years earlier. Both sexes wear ornaments in their ears. They are ttot rings, or pendants, but cylinders of gold, silver, horn, wood, marble, or paper, passed through a hole the soft part of the ear. The perforation is at first small, but the tube is from time to time enlarged, till it reaches the fashionable dimensions of about an inch in diameter. As in all countries, some are extreme in lheir fashions, and such enlarge it still more. I have seen some of these ear ornaments larger round than a dollar. The boring of a boy's ear is generally made, by those who can afford it, an occasion of a profuse feast and other entertainments. After the period of youth, few seem to care for this decoration, and the holes are ^ade to serve for carrying a spare cheroot, or a bunch of flowers.
Men generally wear mustachios, but pluck out their heard with tweezers : old people sometimes suffer it to grow ; but it never attains to respectable size. Both Se*es, as a matter of modesty, pluck out the hair under the arm, which certainly diminishes the repulsive aspect the naked bust.
Both sexes wear their hair very long. Men tie it in a knot on the top of the head, or intertwine it with their turban. Women turn it all back, and, without a comb, form it into a graceful knot behind, frequently adding chaplets or festoons of fragrant natural flowers, strung An a thread. As much hair is deemed ornamental, they Aften add false tresses, which hang down behind, in the banner shown in the last picture. Both sexes take great pains with their hair, frequently washing it with a species of bark, which has the properties of soap, and keeping it anointed with sweet oil.
Women are fond of rendering their complexions more fair, and at the same time fragrant, by rubbing over the face the delicate yellow powder already mentioned, "*yhich is also found a great relief in cutaneous eruptions, and is often used for this purpose by the mis-Slonary, with success. They occasionally stain the nails ?fthe fing ers and toes with a scarlet pigment. Bathing ls a daily habit of all who live in the vicinity of con-venient water. 1 was often reminded, while sitting in their houses in the dusk of the evening, of our Saviour's emark (John xiii. 10), " He that is washed needeth ftot save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit." The mon, having finished their labour, bathe, and clean themselves at the river, or tank ; but walking up with Nvetfeet defiles them again, so that they cannot with Propriety come and take their place on the mat or bed. taking up some water, therefore, in a cocoa-nut dipper, Jut of a large jar which stands at the door of every house, they easily rinse their feet as they stand on the Atep, and " are clean every whit."
All ranks are exceedingly fond of flowers, and display great taste in arranging them on all public occasions. The pagodas receive daily offerings of these in great quantity, and a lady in full dress throws festoons them around her hair. Dressy men, on special occa-8lAns, put a few into the holes in their ears.
In all Burman pictures, it is observable that the arm, when used to prop the body, is curved the wrong
way. This arises from the frequency of such a posture to persons who sit on the floor with their feet at their side, and from the great flexibility of the joints of orientals. It is deemed a beauty in proportion to its degree of flexure. I found the same fashion prevailing in Siam. The stories, in some books, of their dislocating their elbow at pleasure, and even putting up the hair, and c., with the joints reversed, are absurd.
The mode of kissing is curious, though natural. Instead of a slight touch of the lips, as with us, they apply the mouth and nose closely to the person's cheek, and draw in the breath strongly, as if smelling a delightful perfume. Hence, instead of saying, " Give me a kiss," they say, " Give me a smell." There is no word in the language which translates our word kiss.
Children are carried, not in the arms, as with us, but astride the hip, as is the custom in other parts of India. The cradle of an infant is an oblong basket, without rockers, suspended from the rafters. The least impulse sets it swinging ; and the child is thus kept cool and unannoyed by the flies.
The custom of blacking the teeth is almost universal. It is generally done about the age of puberty. The person first chews alum or sour vegetables several hours, after which a mixture of oil, lamp-black, and perhaps other ingredients, is applied with a hot iron. When done by the regular professors of the art, it is indelible. At the metropolis, the practice is getting into disrepute, and still more so in the British provinces; and as intercourse with foreigners increases, the practice may become obsolete. Whenever I asked the reason of this custom, the only answer was, " What ! should we have white teeth, like a dog or a monkey ?"
Almost every one, male or female, chews the singular mixture called coon; and the lackered or gilded box containing the ingredients is borne about on all occasions. The quid consists of a slice of areea-nut, a small piece of cutch, and some tobacco rolled up in a leaf of betel pepper, on which has been smeared a little tempered quicklime. It creates profuse saliva, and so fills up the mouth that they seem to be chewing food. It colours the mouth deep red ; and the teeth, if not previously blackened, assume the same colour. It is rather expensive, and is not taken very often through the day. Smoking tobacco is still more prevalent among both sexes, and is commenced by children almost as soon as they are weaned. I have seen little creatures of two or three years, stark naked, tottering about with a lighted cigar in their mouth. It is not uncommon for them to become smokers even before they are weaned, the mother often taking the cheroot from her mouth and putting it into that of the infant ! Such universal smoking and chewing makes a spittoon necessary to cleanly persons. It is generally made of brass, in the shape of a vase, and quite handsome. Hookas are not used, and pipes are uncommon. The cheroot is seldom wholly made of tobacco. The wrapper is the leaf of the then-nat tree ; fragrant wood rasped fine, the dried root of the tobacco and some of the proper leaf, make the contents.
Men are universally tattooed on the thighs and lower part of the body. The operation is commenced in patches at the age of eight or ten years, and continued till the whole is finished. The intended figures, such as animals, birds, demons, and c., are traced with lamp-black and oil, and pricked in with a pointed instrument. Frequently the figures are only lines, curves, and c., with an occasional cabalistic word. The process is not only painful but expensive. The tattooing of as much surface as may be covered by " six fingers," costs a quarter of a tical when performed by an ordinary artist ; but when by one of superior qualifications, the charge is higher. Not to be thus tattooed, is considered as a mark of effeminacy. The practice originates not only from its being considered ornamental, but a charm against casualties. Those who aspire to more eminent decoration have another tattooing with a red pigment, done in small squares upon the breast and arms.
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