Page images

and of many articles of Indo-European origin. To mention some of the more trivialbut on account of their triviality the more convincing-instances, the common dinner plates of the Tibetans, when they use any, are of tin, stamped in the centre with an effigy of some European celebrity. In those which I examined I recognised the Third Napoleon, the Prince and Princess of Wales, and Mr. Gladstone, all supposed by the natives to represent Buddahs of more or less sanctity. Round the rim of the plate, in all cases, were stamped the letters of the English alphabet, from A to Z. The most desirable buttons, again, are four-anna pieces, and so strong is the demand that three of these are worth a rupee. British army buttons are as common as blackberries. Even corkscrews are offered for sale in Ta-chienlu, although no one can explain their use. The presence of such miscellaneous and cheap articles testifies to the facility of trade, while the great quantity of rupees proves its extent. But although commercial intercourse crosses the whole breadth of Tibetan countries, diplomatic relations have not yet penetrated to the nearest of them, Lhassa-dé. Yet the distance from Calcutta to Lhassa, in a direct line, is less than from Paris to Berlin. Until such relations are established and maintained, there can be no hope whatever of a Tibetan market for Assam teas. Exploring missions, no matter how well organised or amply furnished, can effect nothing in the interest of the trade so long as the adverse influence of the resident Chinese Legates and of the Lamas is unchecked. No matter how short the route or convenient the road, the hostility of these two parties would be roused to the utmost against any project of a tea trade.”

Seventy years ago the Tibetan merchants told Manning that most of the articles from India which came into Tibet were smuggled by the Fakirs or pilgrims, and that if much gold was sent out of the country to India the Emperor of China would be displeased. Yet for many centuries such a trade existed, until the conquest of Nepaul by the Goorkha Rajah put a partial stop to it. The old tradition of the Indian Governor-Generals, prior to the time of Warren Hastings, was that the Chinese ought to be kept off as far as possible; but the efforts to open up a trade with Western China throngh Burmah, the exploration of the Eastern Himalaya, the development of the resources of Assam and the Mishmee tribes' country, all prove that this day of isolation is now over. Indeed, the stipulation in the Treaty of Cheefoo that a consul is to be established at Chung-King, “the Liverpool of Western China,” has already been carried out by Mr. Baber (whose report we have quoted) being stationed there, and is the best proof that India is determined to draw as near as possible to her neighbours. Still, the physical obstacles of the Himalayas, though great, are trifling compared with the hostility of the Chinese mandarins and the jealousy of the Buddhist hierarchy of the Lamas, operating on the natural timidity of the primitive people whom they hold in civil and religious bonds. Commerce is in the hands of the Government, and so closely is it watched that it is next to impossible for any stranger to enter the country without encountering the garrisons that are stationed at all the inlets to it. This jealousy would be still more intensified by the commotion excited among the Se-chuen merchants were a trade to develop between Assam and Tibet, through Nepaul by the Kirong Pass, through Sikkim by the Chumbi Valley, by the route beyond Sudiyeh, or over the Patkoi hills ; it is doubtful whether the Pekin Government, supposing they were willing, could force these edicts on the Chetu, Ba’tang, or Lhassa mandarins, who profit by the present state of matters, or that the Lamas would care to risk any intercourse between their serfs and the more enlightened Indians. In order to make a Tibetan trade remunerative, Mr. Edgar pointed out, years ago, that it would be necessary to open up not only one but all the Himalayan passes. Up to the present date we have seen nothing to render this revolutionary measure less a sine quá non for trade with Middle Asia. Colonel Lewin considers that if the flock-owners of Tibet were made aware of the fact that at the foot of the Himalayas there was a steady market for their wool, they would drive their sheer thither, and return with our products in exchange.

In the same way,

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small]

and with improved roads and open passes, large quantities of cows, sheep, goats, cheese, and butter would be brought into India from the same

At present the export of live stock is limited to the carrying capacity of the animals. The traders drive before them sufficient sheep, goats, or yaks to supply themselves with food on the road, and to carry the merchandise and goods which they bring with them. Of late years even the few ponies, which at one time were bought for sale, have decreased in number and increased in price, so that at present coarse woollen blankets and carpets, a little sheep's wool (to the Northern and Central Himalayan districts), yaks' tails, musk, borax, and rhubarb, are the

the main exports from Tibet to India. A Tibetan in winter, owing to the severe cold, is like a moving bed,” so heavily is he clothed. Hence English woollens would always be in great demand. However, the Tibetans are somewhat peculiar


in regard to the colours of their garments. “They will not wear blue or black, and only persons of rank wear velvet; their favourite colours scarlet, purple, liver brown, and a snuff-coloured yellow. Turkey red cloths, prints, and flowered calicoes are in good demand. Imitations of Indian handkerchiefs and Kashmir shawls are very popular among the lower classes; chintzes do not seem to be worn. Cottons are not used save for linings, and as coverings for sacred pictures. Cheap silk handkerchiefs would meet with a large sale here, especially if the sacred sentence, ‘Om mani padmi houm,' were woven into the fabric.” There is a good demand for indigo and opium, and quicksilver, vermilion, and red and white lead are also imported for gilding the roofs of religious houses. Mirrors, glass, and lanterns find a ready sale, and cutlery would be in great demand were the articles more manufactured after native models. Colonel Lewin considers that the best trade route would be from Darjeling to China riá Tibet—this line, not only opening up Tibet, but tapping the rich province of Se-chuen, with its 30,000,000 inhabitants, and its silk, tea, rhubarb, musk, jade, amber, and cinnabar. When railway communication has been extended up the valley of the Brahmapootra, an even better route might be found through Assam, but for the present this line is not available. The Tibetans are a peaceful, well-educated, and commercially well-disposed race, and as their faith—that of Buddha-is based on the equality and brotherhood of mankind, religious intolerance does not exist as a barrier against intercommunication with other nations. The Lamas, or governing class, have an interest in keeping up the present state of affairs. They derive a profit from the duties on imported goods and on the sale of permits to traders; while the traders do not desire to see us competing with them, as this rivalry would soon reduce their present enormous gains. The Chinese, in addition to these fears, dread that we shall oust them from their political pre-eminence in the country. However, as the Chefoo Convention sanctions us having intercourse with the country, and sending a mission thither, it is not likely that consuls will long be absent from Shigatze and Lhassa, or that trading posts such as the Russians have at Kiachta, in Siberia (p. 13), will not be established on the frontier-say at Chumbi and Phaki.*

The Chinese gained a footing in Tibet so early that in the year 821 the country paid tribute to it, but it was not until the year 1720 that the whole of it came under the yoke of Pekin. Even vet the Government is to some extent under the control of the Buddhist priests, or Lamas, and except in seeing thit their tribute is paid, the Chinese leare the pxeple very much to themselves. But the large military foree maintained in the country is under the onlers of Chinese generals, who also keep in their hands the direction of the chief affairs of state. Captain Gill, however, noticed that in passing from China, the moment the Tibetan fruntier was enossed the Mandarin's onders no longer became law; there, also, the Chinese oticials do not issue their mandates in the peremptory manner usual ele'when

When they wish anything they make requests, and do not eren expect the Tibetans to prutruale their tengries, and sar: “ La So” at the end of every remark, as is the eustom when an interior wishes to be partieularly respectful to his superior. It

• Punkt was part de wepousoy, dureri in die Beweredigt zu, Sava Veeting, 15:9: Proceedings of He Xumete los pasos de verden Sie uns is y, nie si ara “Frantiers in Witvin Tibet" - Report of the Servey Beelza for 187 cated in varsteinys pot de Resgarh Bowersonal santé Svete**, 15:8 p. tit.

may be added that, though there are no diseases peculiar to the country, goitre—as is also the case in other parts of Central Asia-prevails to a frightful extent in the more mountainous districts. In some of these parts more than two-thirds of the population have swellings on their throats, some of enormous size.

In Tibet proper there are several towns, but the only one of marked interest is the capital, Lhassa, where reside the Dalai-lama, or chief Buddhist priest, and the principal Chinese political agents. The town is built on a level plain, 11,700 feet above the level of the sea, surrounded by mountains, and dotted over with populous monasteries. Though this region is so elevated, it yields harvests of barley and millet, has abundant pastures, and there are clumps of trees, and even gardens, round the towns and monasteries. The city itself has a circumference of two-and-a-half miles, the central object in which is a Buddhist temple, containing images richly inlaid with gold and precious stones. The bazaars are kept by Tibetans, Kashmiri, Ladaki, and Nepaulese merchants, many of whom are Mohammedans, though Chinese merchants are common. Western Tibet was much exposed to incursions of the Turki tribes, and in the early part of the seventeenth century was annexed to the Sikh Empire of Runjeet Singh. It now forms part of the territory of the Mabarajah of Kashmir.*

[blocks in formation]

In the course of our description of Tibet we have more than once touched on the banks of a river, mysterious as to its source, but familiar as to its termination. Where it rises is not yet known, but as it flows through Independent and British Burmah, and is for hundreds of miles navigated by ships and lines of steamers, there are not many rivers of Asia better known than the Irrawaddy—the “Father of Waters," and the great drainer of Further India (pp. 113, 117). At one time it was believed that the San poo was the upper water of this great river, but this hypothesis recent researches have completely disproved (p. 102). In all likelihood, its main branches take their rise in the snow-covered Langtam range of the Himalayas ; but the exact source is still a mystery, in spite of the many efforts made to solve it.† Its course runs pretty nearly due south, and though, for the reasons mentioned, it is difficult to say exactly how long it is, roughly speaking, it may be said to flow for 1,200 miles, receiving on its way to the sea large tributaries like the Ning-thee, Mogonny,

* For a description of the religious relations of Tibet, see “Races of Mankind," Vol. IV., pp. 121—138, where also will be found a fuller account of the Lamas, their mode of election, their monasteries, and the capital of the country.

† Yule : “ Mission to Ava," p. 273 and Appendix G; Fytche: “Burmah, Past and Present" (1878), Vol. I., p. 268; Anderson : “ The Irrawaddy and its Sources” (Journal of the Royal Geographical Society, Vol. XL., 1870, p. 268), &c.

Bbamo, and Lungtchuen. Between Rangoon on the east and Bassein on the west it forms a delta, sometimes partially overflowed, comprising about 10,000 square miles of forest, agriculture, and pasture land, and traversed by an inextricable network of the river's branches. The current is navigable even at low water for large vessels as far as Ava, and steamers drawing four feet of water have no difficulty in reaching Bhamo, 580 miles from the mouth. In the course of its traverse the Irrawaddy passes through British Burmah, Burmah proper, and China, so that its mouths are under British control, and therefore the

[graphic][ocr errors][subsumed][merged small]

river, which forms the main entrance into the ancient empire of Ava, is really a British river. Burmah is intersected by other rivers, such as the Kyen-dwen, Sittang, and Salween, all of which run towards the Indian Ocean. The latter, like the Irrawaddy, forms a huge delta at its mouth, which it overflows during the rainy season, but in its upper portion it rushes through magnificent defiles. It is, however, owing to the frequent obstacles in its channel, practically useless as a highway into the interior.

Independent Burmah, Birma, or the Empire of Ava, was at one time much more extensive than it is at present. In early times the kingdoms of Ava and Pegu contended for the mastery, but by 1752 the latter had obtained the upper hand. However, soon after, the founder of the present dynasty rose, and subduing the Peguans, incorporated

« PreviousContinue »