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it. Besides, they know it is one of their greatest blessings, for upon it depends the success of the rice crop.
The people of Burma are not of the same race as the natives of India. They belong, rather, to the same family as the inhabitants of Tibet and China. The Burmese occupy the rich river valleys, and are, in some respects, superior to the other native tribes.
The hill districts have a scattered population of Karens, who live either in small huts, or in long, low buildings, where, under one roof, from fifty to eighty families are to be found.
The Karens differ in their religious beliefs from all the peoples around them. They believe in one true God, the Creator of heaven and earth, who at one time left them on account of their wickedness. Because of this belief, Christianity has been welcomed quite readily by the Karens, and many Christian churches have been established among this rude people. Wherever Christianity has been accepted, great changes for the better have been made in the life of the Karens.
At Rangoon, the principal city, are many large lumber yards, where teak wood is made ready for use. Here elephants are employed in moving the heavy logs. The elephant has almost the entire handling of the logs from the time they are taken from the water, where they have been stored, until they have been cut into thin planks used in shipbuilding. A dozen or more elephants may be employed in the same yard. These intelligent creatures will balance a log on their tusks and, holding it firmly with their trunks, will walk off with it to the sawmill. They will then hold
the log up to the saw, and see that it is sawed crosswise or lengthwise as may be desired. The skill displayed by these elephants in taking logs from the water and piling them up in the yards is remarkable. They will pile logs in the neatest manner, and will not leave a pile until satisfied that it is perfectly arranged.
The heat of this climate does not affect the elephant as it would
other beast of burden. On this account the yard owners look upon a trained elephant as almost priceless.
Rangoon is the chief rice port of the world. The Burmese farmers, sailing down the river in rice boats heavily laden with rice, sell their cargoes to the Rangoon rice firms who, in turn, ship it to all parts of the world.
The most prominent feature, on approaching Rangoon from the sea, is a tall, graceful pagoda glittering in the sunlight and rising toward the sky like a tower of gold. It is the Shway Dagone Pagoda, the most sacred of all the pagodas in the country. It is the most venerable place of worship in Indo-China, and was erected as a shrine to Buddha. As the Burmese priests journey to the temple of the Sacred Tooth in Ceylon, so do many devout Buddhists from Cambodia and Siam come to this pagoda at the annual festival in March. The Burmese have erected a large number of pagodas and shrines for the worship of Buddha.
Burma is famous for the manufacture of sweet-toned bells. Every pagoda has a large number of bells hung on sacred posts only a few feet above the ground. None of these bells are fitted with iron tongues, and
when the worshiper has finished his prayers he strikes one of the bells with a wooden mallet to attract the
attention of the god. A number of small bells are hung at the top of each pagoda — some of them made entirely of silver or gold, — and these are fitted with
metal tongues so that they ring out as the bells swing to and fro in the breeze.
Between Burma and Anam is Siam, the most important country of Indo-China.
Besides these countries there are the smaller kingdoms of Cochin China, Cambodia, and Tonquin.
At the end of the Malay Peninsula — the name given to the southern portion of this country- is situated the important English city of Singapore. It is really on a small island, but so near the mainland as to be practically a part of it. Singapore was built up and made a city of great commercial importance by the East India Company. It continues to be of vast importance, as it commands the Strait of Malacca, the great highway for steamers between Europe and the Far East. It has been a free trading port for many years.
Its inhabitants are from every nation on the globe. Really to know what Singapore is one must visit the native quarter of the city. “For days you may wander about without ever turning on your track, through miles upon miles of seini-native houses and shops, through crowded streets, in variegated bazaars, with all the merchandise of all the East spread out endlessly before you."
The French people have long wished to cut a canal across the narrowest part of the Malay Peninsula. Should this ever be accomplished, the distance between India and China will be much shortened, but the commerce of Singapore will be destroyed.
It, therefore, is not surprising that the English government opposes this plan, and wishes to keep in