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tion, which in many of these southern towns is much mixed. Paknam, the port of Bangkok, 3 miles from the river's mouth, is fortified, as is Paklat Lang, 5 miles higher up, which is inhabited chiefly by Peguans. Various canals extend hence across the delta towards the Me-klong. Near its mouth is the town of Me-klong, peopled by Chinese merchants, fishermen, and gardeners. Higher up the river,at the foot of the hills, is Prapri, peopled by descendants of Cambodian captives. Pechaburi, a little to the south, at the foot of a range some 1500 feet high, where the king has a palace, is built after English designs; its inhabitants are Peguans. Petriu, on the east side of the Gulf of Siam, on the Kharayok river, has sugar plantations cultivated by Chinese. At Bangplasoi, at the mouth of the river are extensive fisheries. Raheng, some 300 miles up the Me-nam, possesses docks,and there a good many teak ships are built. In the Lao or Shan country to the north Chieng-mai (Zimmé) is the most important tributary state. Its capital, Chieng-mai, the Jangomai of early European travellers, is the principal town of that region, with broad streets of good teak-built houses, surrounded with gardens, numerous pagodas, markets, and a large population. It lies in the wide fertile valley of the Me-ping, and is a great entrepôt of trade from Bangkok and southwest China (Yun-nan and Ssmao), which finds its natural outlet thence to the Bay of Bengal. The rice, timber, &c., of the districts through which this route passes are considerable. Lapong, in the same valley, and Lagong, on a neighbouring tributary, are Lao towns of less importance and subordinate to Chieng-mai, as were formerly Nan and Pre, fertile teak-producing valleys to the east. Kianghai and Kiang-sen, farther north, on the Me-kong, were old Lao capitals of note (see SHANs), as was Luang Prabang, with its charming capital, which, like Chieng-mai, still retains some administrative independence. The extensive fertile and partly wooded plains to the north and east support great herds of cattle. With Vienchang, a little lower down the river, Luang Prabang held its own for centuries against both Siam and Burmah. On the destruction of Vien-chang in 1828, Nangkoi, 25 miles lower down, increased in size and importance, and now has an extensive trade in English and Chinese goods. This district might perhaps without much difficulty be opened up by an easy route starting from Lakhon, only 130 miles distant from the sea. One of the Imost important provincial centres is the district of Korat, on the eastern plateau. The country is a series of fertile oases separated by tracts of waterless forest, containing good timber, and full of game. The town is fortified, and has about thirty pagodas and some well-built houses, belonging chiefly to the Chinese merchants. Cart roads converge hither with the traffic both of north Laos and of the Cambodian provinces south and east, the latter passing up the fertile Moun valley on its way to Bangkok. The whole region between the Dang-rel: Mountains and the Moun river is full of splendid ruins, attesting the former Cambodian influence as far at least as 16° north, to which limit, therefore, the southward movement of the Laos may be supposed to have reached at the date of these buildings. The principal ruins of the district are found at Korat, Bassac, Phimai, and Kukhan. The character of this wonderful series of buildings, the greatest of which, those of Angkor, are on Siamese territory, have been touched on under CAM BoDIA (q. v.), to which they properly belong; but it may be mentioned here that the earliest inscription yet found, relating to the erection of a Sivaite linga, is interpreted as belonging to 589 saka–667 A.D. though another, undated, refers to three generations earlier. The earliest references indisputably Buddhist that have been found are three centuries later than this. With the exception of a few schools in the capital, education is entirely in the hands of the priests, the boys going to the temples between the age of eight or nine and thirteen. The teaching is elementary, and, by the precepts of Buddhism, must be gratuitous, the pupils repaying it by menial services in house or boat or garden, or by presents of food. At thirteen the boy enters on a novitiate, which lasts till the age of twenty-one; but, if not inclined for study, he may give it up after three or four months, this temporary consecration symbolizing a separation from the world. At twenty-one, if so disposed, he may enter the priesthood; but there are no perpetual vows. Girls are taught, if at all, only at home, by parents or brothers. There are no educational endowments; but a certain number of persons occupy themselves with literary studies, as history, astrology, or alchemy, with which medicine is more or less combined. Medical practice, indeed, comprises a good deal of magic; but there is also considerable knowledge of medicinal herbs, and ancient medical works were written in Pali. Inoculation was long ago introduced by the Chinese, and vaccination lately by European missionaries. Women after childbirth are exposed for some time to the heat of a strong fire, the result being sometimes fatal. Skill is shown in the casting of large metal statues 50 feet high or more, in repoussé work in gold and silver, in enamelling on metals, and in gold and silver tissue work. Their drawing is spirited, but strictly conventional. The system of music is elaborate, but with no written notation. There is no harmony, but all the instruments of the orchestra play in unison, breaking off into
variations and then returning to the air. They are proud of their national music, and both men and women play and sing generally. Their instruments are—a harmonicon with wooden or metal bars struck with a hammer, a two-stringed and a three-stringed violin, flutes, drums, and pipes, also the Lao “organ,” the tones of which, produced by metal tongues in the pipes, are very effective.
The Buddhism of Siam is the same as that of Ceylon, with slight Religitor
doctrinal differences, much insisted on, from the Burmese. It is, however, professed in its purity by very few. The religious reform initiated by King Phra Mongkut, himself for many years a priest, has divided the people of the capital into two sects, the reformed, known as Dhammayut, and the older or unreformed, Phra Maha Nikai. The former attach more weight to the observance of the canon than to meditation. The other sect is again divided into two parties, the one holding more to meditation, the other to the study of the scriptures. The only Brahmanical temple remaining in the country is at Bangkok, and its priests are said to be of Indian descent. Brahmans, however, are constantly employed in divination, in fixing the fortunate days for warlike expeditions, business transactions, marriages, and the like, and in arranging festivals. Buddhism is corrupted by a general worship or propitiation of nats or phees (spirits or demons); superstition in the more remote districts constitutes practically the only religion. The belief in these spirits informs and affects every department of life. There are local earth divinities to whom temples or shrines are erected. Others with human or animal form dwell in the water. Others cause children to sicken and die. Others wander and deceive as ignes fatui. By certain spells men can become tigers or were-wolves. Bodies of the dead are sometimes possessed, and they are carried out not by the door but by an extemporized opening, so that they may not be able to find their way back. The numerous offerings and honours paid to these spirits lead to drunkenness and to killing of animals in sacrifice. Phallic worship prevails to a considerable extent, not withstanding the efforts of the king to put it down. A female incarnation of deity, the Nang Tim, is found in one or two villages of east Laos. Pilgrimages are frequently made to sacred places with Indian names (all the chief towns, indeed, have an official Indian name). Many of the figures and designs employed in the ornamentation of houses are really talismans intended to avert evil. The temples, with their surrounding monastic establishments, form a conspicuous feature everywhere. Some are very extensive, covering altogether an area of 100 or 150 acres. New temples are often built, or the priests’ quarters in the existing buildings repaired, by rich men desirous of “acquiring merit.” The temples (wats) hold very little landed or house property; but, where they have been built or repaired by the king, or presented to him by some high official, they enjoy a small income chargeable on the revenues of the district, besides receiving presents from the king when he visits them in state. The priests of such temples are bound in return to give their services at state ceremonies, and their secular affairs, including repairs of temples and disciplinary matters, are administered by a special department of state. There remain now at Bangkok only two communities of nuns, who are employed in the service of the temples, and are allowed to receive voluntary offerings. The numerous public festivals are partly connected with religion, but are accompanied with much rejoicing and amusement. Among them are the lunar and the fixed New-Year's Day, and the festival of agriculture, when the plough is guided by the minister, the ladies of the court following and sowing seeds, which are picked up by the people to add to their usual sowings. At the ceremony at which the king and his ministers pledge themselves, the former to administer impartial justice, the latter to be faithful and loyal in their service, the oath is taken by drinking water, and the meeting of the king and nobles, with all the attendant paraphernalia, forms a gorgeous spectacle, the day terminating with fireworks and processions of boats. On the king's state visits to the wats there are festive processions of boats and troops. Other festivals are at the beginning and end of the rainy season. When the floods begin to subside there is a great water procession, and the priests command the waters to retire. Even the cutting of the king's hair is made an occasion for rejoicing. In every family the cutting at the age of twelve or thirteen, of the tuft left on the top of the head is a great ceremony; it is not practised, except by way of imitation, among the Laos. The head is considered very sacred (this is a characteristic Papuan notion); no one must touch it, nor may it be raised above that of a superior, as in a carriage or boat. The funeral ceremonies of a prince or great man, often delayed for some months after death, are also attended by elaborate feasting, dancing, and other amusements in temporary buildings erected for the purpose. The dead, with the exception of the poor, whose bodies are given to the vultures and wild beasts, and women who die in childbirth, are usually burned within the wats, the ashes being preserved, or mixed with lime to plaster the sacred walls. A rich man will often bequeath a limb to the birds and beasts. The Siamese month is lunar, and, as a lunar month contains 29% days, they give the odd months 29 and the even 30. This gives