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is kept in the hand like a loose shawl, or tied round the waist. One of these garments is usually red, and the other black, though occasionally both are red. For a petticoat, another rectangular piece of cloth is wrapped two or three times round the person, and is kept in its place by a wampum belt some half a dozen inches in diameter. Another enormous band of beads is worn below the knee, and on the ankles large silver bangles. Ear-drops are worn both by men and women.”

The Karens all sing—they have an inborn love of music—and beautiful singers they are.

Their music * is nearly all wild and plaintive, like that of the Scottish and Welsh highlanders. Their minstrels are both men and women, and in their bone-feasts each village bard competes with the other—a man being pitted against a woman.

The imagery used in many of their odes is rich and pleasing. The flowers, the birds, the great cliffs and crags, the rivers, the stars are all themes of song. It is a rich treat to hear a whole school of two hundred boys and girls singing one of their own hymns in parts. The voices are all sweet and the melody charming.

* Two specimens of national Karen airs are given in the Appendix.

CHAPTER III.

SOME OF THEIR NATIONAL CUSTOMS.

INFANT betrothals are not uncommon, but they are becoming less frequent than they used to be. As a rule, a young man chooses for himself the girl whom he wishes to marry. He begins by obtaining the permission of the girl's parents to paying his addresses-not, however, to the girl herself, but through the parents.

“ He then selects a gobetween, who first consults a chicken's bones. If they give an unfavourable reply, the matter is allowed to drop ; if, on the other hand, the answer is favourable, the go-between arranges the match, and when this is done a feast is given by the young man's friends to those of the girl. If a girl breaks her engagement, she has to pay the expenses of the feast; but she is at liberty to receive the addresses of another suitor if her betrothed declares publicly that he desires to forfeit all that has been spent, which is the recognized way of breaking off the match.” The marriage ceremony is simple.

“ The bride is conducted to the house of the bridegroom's parents in a procession with music, and as she ascends the ladder she is drenched to the skin with water. Before the company leave, two elders, one on behalf of the bride and one on behalf of the bridegroom, take each a cup of spirits; the first repeats the duties of the husband in case of the wife's death, and the latter replies, acknowledging that such are his dutics—one of which is that, should she be carried into captivity or killed in a foray, he must purchase her freedom or obtain the price of her blood. Each elder then gives to the other to drink, and says, 'Be faithful to your covenant.' This concludes the ceremony."

The Red Karens never betroth their children in infancy, and their marriage ceremony is a singular one. "The two young people having made up their minds to marry, and the parents having given their consent, the bridegroom makes a feast in his house, to which the bride and some female companions come. During the feast, the bridegroom presents a cup of spirits to the bride, asking, ‘Is it agreeable.' This she takes, replying, 'It is agreeable.' She and her companions remain all night, and, returning home next morning, prepare a feast to which the bridegroom and his friends come, and the ceremony of presenting the cup of spirits is again gone through, this time the bride being the questioner. Occasionally the reply, given playfully, is, ‘Not agreeable,' when the spirits must be offered and the question asked till a favourable answer is received. The feast in the bride's house completes the whole ceremony."

Polygamy is not permitted, but is occasionally practised by those of the Karens who are brought much in contact with the Burmese.

They have an odd way of naming their children. The names given are sometimes those of ancestors, sometimes descriptive of the parents' feelings, such as “ Joy,” “Hope;" often those of the seasons in which the children were born, as “ Harvest." In many cases the child owes his name to some circumstance that occurred about the time of its birth, as “Father returned ;” or to some peculiarity in its appearance, as

“ White" or

“ Black.” On other occasions it is named after some bird, beast, mineral, or tree, as Heron,” “Tiger,” “Tin," “ Cotton.” Those who, on growing up, develop some peculiarity, receive a kind of nickname, to

G

which "Father” or “Mother" is attached, such as “Father of Swiftness," "Mother of Contrivance." Frequently the parents change their names when a child is born to them.

Their custom when an infectious disease breaks out in their village is a stern one. In ordinary illnesses they treat the sick with decent kindness, but they will not afford any assistance to a person

even one of their own kith and kin—attacked by an infectious disease. “An outbreak of cholera or small-pox will temporarily depopulate the villages in large tracts of country, the inhabitants flying from the disease with terror, and living in the forests till they think that they can return to their homes without danger of contagion. The individual who has, or is supposed to have, imported the disease is held responsible for all the deaths, and must pay the price of the lives lost. If he dies himself, or is unable to pay, the debt remains for his children and descendants to wipe off. Every illness is looked upon as inflicted by the spirits, and though the Karens have some knowledge of medicine, resort is not had to it till incantations have been tried and the spirits have declined to be propitious."

Warfare has, of course, ceased since the country

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