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most striking one is a black one, with a whitish belly, measuring, including the tail, nearly three feet.*
The variety of birds is, of course, considerable, but the lower ranges seem to be by far the most productive; on these jungle fowl and two species of black pheasant are found. The raven is found throughout, but the very familiar crow or jackdaw never leaves the plains, and never leaves populous places. Throughout the higher portions of Bootan it has as noisy, but scarcely possibly as mischievous a substitute in a red-legged crow. This is common in the three elevated valleys, and not rare elsewhere at elevations of 8000 to 9500 feet: and below these it is scarcely to be seen. Cuckoos, larks, magpies, jays, and sparrows were the chief European forms met with, but except the latter, perhaps, all were of different species from the birds known by those names in Europe.
The cuckoo is rather widely dispersed. I first heard it about Punukka, and subsequently along the Teemboo, at an elevation of 7000 feet; below this height, at least in this direction, its peculiarly pleasing voice was not heard, although I think I saw the bird considerably lower. With the magpie, which has much of the plumage of the European bird, but a shorter tail, we became familiar at Bhoomlungtung, but lost it at Jaisa. The jay, a figure of which may be seen in Mr. Royle's Illustrations, was found pretty constantly throughout the wooded tracts between 5500 to 7000 feet; it is a noisy, but not a very wary bird. Larks were very common in the elevated valleys, and afforded us some good shooting; in habits, plumage, and voice they are to an uninitiated eye the prototypes of the bird so well known in Europe. In the same valleys Syrases were common. Wild fowl are, as might be expected, rare; the only place where they occurred in tolerable plenty was in the jheel below Santagong. The most destructive and numerous bird is the wild pigeon, which is to be found in plenty in almost every village, and in literal swarms in the castles and palaces: they do a great deal of damage to the poor ryots, who are not allowed to destroy them, on account of their being sacred. This exclusion holds good very strictly about the residences of the chiefs; and, although the villagers were in all cases delighted to see them shot, yet they keep no check on their increase, as they have no means of destroying them, and appear never to have thought of doing so by means of their eggs. At Byagur, the place of this bird was supplied by another very curiously marked species, which, it is said, likewise cecurs about Simla.
* Sciurus beng-moricus, McCl.
None of the wild birds are made subservient to use; indeed the natives appear to be very deficient in means for procuring them. The sacredness of life may be one reason, but even the most superstitious will eat any bird one shoots, provided it be large enough to promise a substantial repast.
The same remark is applicable to fish, which are common in most streams below 4000 feet. The two most common are the Bookhar, which is scarcely found higher than 2000 feet, and the Adoee, which is found as high as 4000 feet, and perhaps higher, but its habits render it difficult to see. The Bookhar abounds in the Deo Nuddee below Dewangiri; it is from the sport it affords, and the great readiness with which it takes a fly, to be considered as the trout of India. The Adoee is said to refuse all bait, and I have found this to be the case not only in this instance, but in all those which have a similarly situated mouth, such as the Sentoosee, Gurriah, and Nepoorah of Assam. At Punukka, where the Adoee is plentiful, it is caught by nooses; such as were so caught were all small, and the young anglers were obviously afraid of detection. At this place I saw a solitary instance of the use of a casting net, but I suspect that it was under authority; elsewhere I observed none even of the ordinary rude expedients for catching fish. Both of the above fish are nutritious food, and are so plentiful that they really might form a valuable acquisition to the miserable diet of the lower classes; but this would not suit the benevolent ideas of the priests, who however appear to eat stinking dried fish from the Plains with great sang froid. To the poor in Bootan every thing is denied. Bees appear to be plentiful, but their buildings are passed with indifference by the lazy Bootea.
Of the vegetable productions that occur naturally in Bootan, the application for purposes of life is confined to timber, fuel, and dyes.* Of the various kinds of timber trees I am quite ignorant; they are used chiefly for rafters, planks, and troughs, either for aqueducts or for mangers. A great part of the planking is derived from fir trees, which are always preferred for fuel. Of the turpentine procurable from their various species of Pinus they seem to make no use, so that they are ignorant of one great value of these valuable trees; that of the Pinus excelsa is very abundant, and highly fragrant. In the lower ranges the bamboo becomes of almost universal application, and constitutes the greater portion of the huts of the inhabitants of these districts; baskets of various sizes, and implements for clearing the rice from the husk by agitation &c. are likewise manufactured from it.
* Although the Bogh Puttur, or path, is found in abundance on the higher ranges, yet it is not resorted to for furnishing an article of trade. The tree is a species of birch, and the thin flakes of its bark are used in the composition of hookah snakes,
In similar places rattans are in demand, and several valuable sorts may be procured. They form the fastening of all the bamboo work, are used in some places to secure the roofs from the effects of the violence of the winds, and form a great portion of the baskets in which loads are in this country universally carried. These are very convenient receptacles, forming a rather narrow parallelogram; they are frequently covered with hides, they open at the top, and are the most convenient hill baskets I have hitherto seen.
The Booteas depend on the plains for supplies of betel-nuts, otherwise they might advantageously cultivate the tree on many of the lower ranges. So far as I had an opportunity of judging, they possess few wild palms of any description, excepting rattans; I observed one, which grows on inaccessible places as high as 2000 feet, and which will probably prove new, but I did not succeed in obtaining the specimen requisite for actually determining whether it is so or not. Ficus elastica, the caoutchouc tree, occurs about Dewangiri, but not in abundance, and may be expected to occur throughout greater part of the ranges between the Plains and an elevation of 3000 feet. They are aware of the properties of the juice, and use it to make vessels formed from split bamboos, water-proof. The Simool tree likewise occurs within similar elevations, but they make no use of it, although in Assam the cotton is used for the manufacture of a very light and excessively warm cloth, excellently adapted for quilting.
A solitary mango tree occurs here and there in villages even as high as 4000 feet. The finest occurs at Punukka, in the royal gardens, which are emblematic of the poverty and want of horticultural skill in Bootan. It bears its flowers there at a time when the fruit is fully ripe in the Plains.
Jack trees occur every where about the villages on the lower ranges, and is one of the few fruit trees from which they derive any gratification. These trees thrive remarkably well at elevations of 2000 feet, particularly if within the influence of the Plains.
In villages at similar elevations two or three species of fig may be found, but the fruit is not edible; no oranges are cultivated with a view to the market; a few occur in some of the villages; the tree does not occur above 5500 feet, and in such altitudes it requires a sheltered, sunny place. The oranges which we received as presents, all came from the Plains. With the orange, the shaddock also occurs in tolerable frequence.
One of the most common fruit trees is the pomegranate, it does not thrive however above an elevation of 4000 feet: I saw no fruit on
the trees, which were however loaded with flowers; very fine ones occur about Punukka.
They likewise possess peaches, (perhaps the almond) and pear trees: but I am unable to say of what nature the fruit may be; we saw the trees during their flowering season.
The Bheir also occurs at low elevations; and in the gardens of Punukka I observed another species, forming a handsome good sized tree, but like most of the others, it was not bearing fruit. In the same garden there is cultivated a species of Diospyros with edible fruit, which also I did not see, and in fact we did not appear to have been in Bootan during the fruit season. The only fruit which we enjoyed were walnuts; we procured these only at Punukka, most of them in presents from the Deb, and a few by purchase, but these were of inferior quality; these walnuts are very good, and would be much better were care taken at the time of gathering. The trees are said to be cultivated in orchards at considerable elevations, but we saw no attempt at any thing of the sort, although we met with a few isolated trees here and there.
On the lower ranges, but scarcely above 3000 feet, the papaw occurs, but so far as I could see did not promise much return. Pine-apples, which occur so profusely on the Khasy hills, and are of so much use to the natives, are very rare in Bootan, as well as in those parts of the Dooars which we crossed.
On our return, we met with a fruit which promised under improved cultivation to be agreeable enough; it was about the size of a pigeon's egg, with a large smooth shining black seed; in flavour it approached somewhat to the Sappadillo, to the natural family of which it would seem to belong. The only ornamental tree to which the Booteas are particularly attached is the weeping cypress: these occur about all the castles and palaces, and especially about religious buildings. It is as ornamental a tree as can be well conceived, and as it thrives between elevations of 5000 to 7000 feet, I was very anxious to obtain seed for introduction into England; but all that I did obtain were bad, and I imagine that the female tree was alone met with. Of the gramineous plants found wild in Bootan no use seems to be made; wherever such plants are in requisition for thatching, the Plains are resorted to, as these, at least under the admirable management of the Bootea government, abound with Oollookher, Kagara, Megala, Nol, and Ikora. The plants of the hills themselves are chiefly coarse species of Andropogon, not serviceable for thatching; among these the lemon grass occurs abundantly. I am not aware whether the natives of these mountains use any plants occurring naturally as vegetables, cooked or uncooked; I
never saw any of that scrambling into the jungle on the part of the coolies which so generally occurs in Assam and Burmah, where every second or third plant is a favourite dish.
Of their medicinal plants I am quite ignorant. Our guide, Chillong Soobah, who had a great leaning to the practice of physic, assured me that the Booteas were quite ignorant of any medicine whatever; but this is so contrary to the prevailing practice among barbarous and semibarbarous nations, that I place no confidence in the assertion.
Of the mineral productions of the country I had no opportunity of learning any thing. The only article of this nature that I saw turned to account was clay for pottery; and this was only met with at Punukka. In short, whatever the resources of the country are, one thing is at least certain, that they have not yet been developed; and I give the greater part of the nation credit for being amongst the most idle and most useless on the face of the globe.
Of the agriculture of Bootan little is to be said, as so very large a proportion of the supplies is derived from the Plains. The state in which the little agriculture is, that is carried on, argues as little in favour of the amount of agricultural skill they possess, as the uncultivated state of the Dooars does in favour of their numerical extent, or of that of their Plain subjects.
Of Cerealia, or culmiferous plants, they have the following sorts: rice, wheat, barley, raggy, millet, maize; and of farinaceous grains, not the produce of culmiferous plants, they have buckwheat; and of Atriplex, one or two species of the leguminous grains. They cultivate one or two species of Phaseolus, one of which is the Phaseolus, Max; the Oror, Cytisus Casan; the Pea, Pisum satirun.
The only oily seeded plant I saw, and of this only fragments, was the Tel, Sesamum orientale; I saw no reason however for supposing that they manufactured this oil themselves.
Of the culmiferous plants, rice forms the staple article of food, and is perhaps exclusively used by the chiefs and their adherents, and the very numerous establishments of priests. It is only the staple article viewing the Dooars as forming part of Bootan, for in the interior the proportion borne by this grain to that of either wheat or barley is very small.
Most of the spots available from situation and elevation are cultivated in rice, but in all I saw, judging from the remains of the stubble, the crops must have been small. The cultivation is conducted in the ordinary manner, as is likewise the mode of preparing the slopes for irrigation, or in other words, terracing as might be expected it is generally a summer crop, and in all places of sufficient elevation, is