CENTURY IMPRESSIONS OF BURMA.
mese. a The Red Karen,a says Dr. Mason, a is the antipodes of the Burman in every respect. The manners of the Burman are polished and winning ; of a Karen, cruel and repulsive. Flattery is so foreign to his thoughts that he has no word for it in his language. The typical Karen is certainly very matter of fact, and is absolutely so devoid of humour as to be unable to appreciate a joke of any kind. The Burman, on the contrary, has a keen sense of the ludicrous, and so far does this carry him that, even in the criminal court, it is by no means unusual to find the audience, including the prisoner at the bar, giving vent to suppressed merriment when anything strikes them in a ludicrous light. The Karen rarely exhibits feelings of surprise, joy, gratitude, or admiration, like
the more demonstrative Burman. On the other hand, again,a Dr. Mason remarks, aa well-bred Burman has a mind like a schoolman of the Middle Ages, a repository of obsolete metaphysics and exploded science. A Karen knows nothing, but he acquires knowledge as readily as an Anglo-Saxon, detects a sophism as readily as a Master of Arts, and requires the reason of things like one grounded in Euclid.a The readiness of the Karen to imbibe the Christian faith, as opposed to a different tendency in a Burman, whose mind is trammelled with the dogmas of metempsychosis and the metaphysical conceptions of the faith or philosophy of Buddha, is accounted for by Dr. Mason thus a The faith of a Burman is the faith of a man
welling up from the deeps of his mental faculties; but the faith of a Karen is the faith of a child with no deep roots in the understanding. The Karens are like the Samaritans^ who at the first hearing gave heed unto the things that Philip spoke; but the Burmans are like the Bereans, who searched the scriptures daily whether those things were so.a
There can be little doubt, however, that the result of the labours of the missionaries among them has been to alter their character very greatly for the better, to wean them lrom many debasing habits and generally to give them an upward lift in the scale of civilisation. Their newly awakened sense of responsibilities as citizens and loyal subjects has been proved by the liberality with which
they support their pastors and village schools, as well as the plucky and practical way in which they supported the authorities during the troublous times of 1885-87, in pursuit of dacoit bands. These remarks refer chiefly to the Sgaws and Pwos, the so-called White Karens before mentioned. Their traditions taught them that they were to look to the West for their deliverers, who were to come by the ocean, bringing with them the Book, once theirs, which was to make them acquainted with the true God and free them from the yoke of their oppressors. The advent, therefore, of the English and American missionaries, bringing the Book they had yearned for, was hailed by the Karens with joy. The more warlike Red-Karens, Gaykhos
and Northern Bwes, are physically inferior to the other tribes. The men are of smaller stature, their women frequently equalising and sometimes exceeding them in height. The men are small and wizened, but very wirya so says Sir George Scottawith broad, reddish brown faces and long heads, with the obliquity of the eye perhaps accentuated. It was the invariable custom for the men to have the rising sun tattooed in bright vermilion on the small of the back. They used to be wild and truculent and desperately feared by their neighbours ; but since they have been brought under submission to British rule they are, we are told, sombre and despondent rather than surly and ill-disposed. They are heavy drinkers and greatly addicted to cattle theft. The southern Karens, especially the higher and well-to-do classes, have adopted the dress of the Burmese. The dress of the Karens in the northern group is much varied. The men wear short trousers with coats of the Shan or Chinese pattern. A cotton blanket, striped red or white is worn over the shoulders in winter, whilst some sort of handkerchief is twisted round the hair, and tied in a knot on the top of the head. The Red Karen women wear a short skirt reaching to the knee, usually dark coloured, but sometimes red. A broad piece of black cloth passes over the back across the right shoulder, and is then draped over the bosom and confined at the waist by a white girdle tied in front. Their ornaments are beads and seeds of grass strung together round the waist, neck, and legs ; but the better classes indulge in silver ornaments made out of coins, and c. Besides these leg and arm ornaments many of the women also wear large brass circles round the neck. The Red Karens have recently been converted by whole villages at a time to the Roman Catholic, the American Baptist, and Presbyterian faiths. The same old prophecies and traditions as in the case of the White Karens, have led to this change ; and, in course of time, with continued efforts on the part of the missionaries, we may expect to see the whole of the Karens and their allied tribes become converts to Christianity. Of course, with the embracing of the Christian faith, many of their customs and practices have had to undergo modification. It is very rare to find Karens marrying outside their own race, or even outside their own tribe, both religion and the unwritten Karen law forbidding this. The matrimonial contracts have to be approved by the elders, if they are not actually arranged by them. On reaching the age of puberty, a boy is made to live with other
CHIN CHIEFS. CHIN WOMAN.CHIN CHIEFS. CHIN WOMAN.