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LECTURES ON INDIA.
It is the opinion of some eminent geographers, that India, I nder the name of Tarshish, was known in the days of Solomon, and celebrated as the land of spices, gold, and precious stones; but, whether it be the Tarshish of the ancients or not, it has for a long time been justly regarded with great interest. Here, vast and powerful empires have successively sprung up and flourished, while Europe was in a state of barbarism. Long before Christianity shed its light upon the world, India was the land of science and the arts. At the present time, however, its prominent characteristics are ignorance, poverty, and superstition.
It is not my purpose to direct your attention to the whole of India, but only to that portion of it usually denominated Hindustan, or India within the Ganges. This is a large peninsula, projecting into the Indian Ocean, south-west of the Chinese 'Empire, from which it is separated by the Himalaya Mountains. With a territory about as large as Mexico, it is supposed to contain a population of one hundred and thirty millions, or more inhabitants than England, Scotland, Ireland, Russia, and the continent of America.
The Hindus are of various dissimilar races, differing materially in stature, complexion, manners, language, and general character The Rajpoots and mountaineers of the north are large and of great muscular strength, while the inhabitants farther south are generally of small stature and of slender form. In complexion, they vary from a dark olive approaching to black, to a light, transparent, heautiful brown, resembling that of the natives of Northern Italy.
They are very fond of ornaments, such as rings in the ears and nose, with bracelets on the arms and ankles; yet their dress is exceedingly simple. See Engravings, Nos. 20 and 22. The dress of the male consists of two pieces of cotton cloth, each containing about two yards. The one, called the dhotee, is girt about the loins and extends to the ankles. The other, called the chadder, is worn over the shoulders. The dress of the female is called a saree, and consists of a single plece of cloth of from four to seven yards. One end of this piece is wrapped around the loins, the width reaching to the feet; the other is gracefully thrown around the shoulders. In some parts of the country, it also covers the head. The children wear no clothing until they are from five to eight years of age ; but they are frequently deco. rated with ornaments and jewels of considerable value.
The food of this people, with but few exceptions, is vegetable The use of animal food is denied them by their religion, unless the animals be first sacrificed to some idol. At their meals, they use neither tables, chairs, knives, forks, nor spoons. They sit upon the floor, and put the food into the mouth with the fingers of the right hand. They take their drink from a brass cup, which they never touch with the lips, but pour the liquid into the mouth. Fermented and distilled liquors are used only by the lowest castes; but the use of tobacco is almost universal, and here, as elsewhere nas a most pernicious influence. Many of both sexes chew betel, a drug more filthy, if possible, than tobacco itself.
Most of the Hindu dwellings are rude huts, See Engraving, Number 20. The usual size is about eighteen feet long and twelve wide. The walls are built of mud, and the roof is thatched with straw or with the leaves of the palm. In cities, however, and in large villages, to prevent damage by fire, tiles are used instead of thatch. The cost of such dwellings varies from five to twenty dollars, according to the size and manner of finish. About one house in a thousand is built of durable materials, such as brick or
In cities they may be found from two to four stories high. These have flat roofs, and are built around a court or open space in the centre. In some houses, the court is very large, and is decorated with fountains, trees, and flowering shrubs. Most of the windows open into the court. As Hindu dwellings have few or no windows towards the street, they appear very much like prisons; and, in some respects, they are prisons ; for within their walls the females are incarcerated for life. Such is the jealousy of their husbands, that they are never to be seen in the streets or in any
These engravings are of the size of the objects which they represent. No. 1 is an ornament for the ear ; the lobe of the ear is pierced, and the aperture gradually stretched until it becomes sufficiently large to admit the ornament. No. 2 is a nose jewel. No. 3 is a bracelet; it is made of brass, and weighs one pound and nine ounces. Some of the women deck the arms with from ten to twenty brass rings, weighing more than half a pound each.