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A Chief Lama and his Hindu temple servant
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[JAN KUNA WUR. Kunawur, a Himalayan province of India, lying on both banks of the Sutlej, as high up as the frontiers of Chinese Tartary, is a very singular region. High ranges of mountains, many of them covered with perpetual snow, close it in on almost every side. Other chains, or impenetrable forests, occupy the greater portion of its surface. It is only here and there, in the valleys and sheltered spots, which are to be found like oases in the desert, that inhabitants are collected. But these spots are very beautiful, and after traversing some rocky sterile tract, naked save a few decayed and solitary pines, it is scarcely possible to conceive how refreshing it is to come in sight of one of these pleasant places. Apricot gardens, rising above each other in high terraces, clothe the slopes. Avenues of silver poplars enclose each terrace. Far below in the valley are seen, along the margin of the stream, mills and green gardens of herbs. Watercourses, passing over scaffoldings from twenty to thirty feet high, convey the stream from terrace to terrace. One of these villages is thus described by Dr. Hoffmeister, travelling physician to Prince Waldemar of Prussia, who was subsequently killed while in attendance on the Prince at one of the battles with the Sikhs on the Sutlej
Kanum is one of the largest villages which we visited among the mountains. The inhabitants of the remoter villages, far and wide, flock together here to make their purchases. Articles of gold and silver, boots, woollen shoes, beautiful carpets and coverlets, and tasteful and ingenious wood-carving, are the products of the industry of this place. It contains, also, one of the largest Buddhist monasteries, and two temples of considerable size; so that it may boast the dignity of a capital in Kunawar. The houses are built on terraces, like a flight of steps on the hill-side. We pitched our tents on one of these terraces, a hundred paces from the village, close beside the great temple. A multitude of the curious soon crowded round us, and all manner of wares were brought and offered for sale—Chinese silken stuffs, silver hookahs, cloth boots, knives, and poniards. All the different merchants began their dealings by making us a present, consisting of a sort of bad raisins handed on large brass dishes : the prices, however, which they asked for their .goods were so exorbitant, that in spite of their raisins they were speedily driven out of our tents.
When the cool of the evening drew on, I ascended the hill to the village. The houses in the first row are very high, and constructed in a very singular and clumsy style of thick cedar stems: the streets leading up to the second and third rows are narrow alleys, dark and filthy, and, in many cases, closed above by the overhanging houses. Doors and windows are most sparingly introduced: the former are guarded by a couple of long chains passing through a hole in the second story, while out of the latter is often seen peeping, not the human face divine, but the head of a horse or of an ass. That portion of the building which calls itself the ground-floor is, in fact, scarcely ever more than the stone basement on which the house rests, and the first story contains the stalls for the
3 cattle. It is only by night, or during the winter season, that the human inmates betake themselves to the dark chambers of the interior. In summer the roof is their usual abode, and, indeed, during the warm months they even sleep there.
The population of these valleys consists of Hindus and Tartars mingled together, the former prevailing more to the south, the latter to the north, until in the most northern district, Hungrung, there prevails a pure Tartar population. Here there are to be found commingled Hinduism and Lamaism. The temples of the Hindus are called deotas: they are lofty buildings, towering above other houses in the village, having roofs after the Chinese fashion, and projecting balconies. Kali is the goddess in greatest repute. The Lama temples are numerous.
One of them is thus described by our Missionary at Kotghur, who has lately visited this district. It is at Sungaum, north of Kanum.
The Lama showed me the temple inside and outside, and here, too, as at Kanum, we kept our shoes on. The temple is very large: a hall round it has a row of prayer-wheels, several hundred, each about a foot or a foot and a quarter long and six inches diameter, of wood, the scroll of paper containing nothing except the sentence, “ um mani pad mi hung,” repeated a thousand times, inside, sewn up in a cloth. Every passer-by gives a turn with his finger. Nearly all of them look very dirty where the hand or finger has touched them. All are put up on an iron axis, between two planks. The temple itself is very large. The first room contains several larger and smaller idols of brass, standing on a small altar. Besides, there are three huge figures of clay, all painted over in very gay colours, red and yellow. Besides these, many old dirty clothes, masks, &c. The huge figures were called by the Lama above mentioned, Dakfo and Tufa, and the third, one of their great Lamas. Whether they are representations of Buddha and his chief Lamas I could not setile, as these Lamas altogether are very stupid. All along here we have evidently a mixture of the Hindu nythology and that of Buddh, as some of the pictures near these figures evidently betoken. To the right and left side are smaller rooms, in which the praying-machine was pulled by an old blind Lama, repeating constantly, as he pulled, the holy sentence. By every turn a small bell was touched and rung. A very little light comes in from an opening in the roof, on which a round umbrella-shaped covering rests, and this darkness gives a peculiarly strange effect to the whole scene.
Our engraving represents a chief Lama, sitting and chanting as he beats the cymbal. A small bell stands before him on a piece of wood. He sits on a Yarkand carpet. His Hindu temple servantfor it often happens that the Lamas have Hindu servants-sits behind him, beating with a stick a long round drum.
Kunawur is another of those regions which, in the providence of God, has been brought under British rule, and which, being thus open to us, claims at our hands the gospel.
It will be remembered, that, nearly four years back, Abbeokuta and the Missionary work there were much endangered by a fierce attack made upon that city by Gezo, king of Dahomey, and his army, in which, after a sanguinary conflict, he was defeated, and compelled to retire into his own land. It was generally supposed, that, on a favourable opportunity, that attack would be repeated, and Abbeokuta has never been wholly free from exciting rumours connected with this subject, more especially in the spring season of the year. We begin now to entertain the hope that it will never be repeated. Dahomey has been itself invaded, and we trust successfully. The Wesleyan Missionaries have entered the land, and have obtained Gezo's permission for the commencement of Missionary work at Whydah, the seaport of his kingdom. We know that in battle, when the enemy is about to bring his whole strength to bear on one particular point, nothing can more effectively help, at such a moment, than a flank movement, so as to distract the enemy's attention. That has ever been found to constitute a most powerful diversion. Now this is just that which our Wesleyan brethren are doing. Gezo's favourite object decidedly was to extinguish the rising light of Christianity at Abbeokuta, nor does he seem to have ceased to entertain the idea, and, at an unexpected moment, he might have appeared upon the scene, helping one party against another, and filling the country with confusion. The commencement of Missionary work in his own country, by Protestant Missionaries, is one of the surest modes which could be adopted of diverting his thoughts from such plans. We earnestly pray that the Lord may condescend to crown with His rich blessing this effort for the good of Dahomey; that a new and humanizing element may be introduced into this savage kingdom, until Abomey shall cease to be a Golgotha, or place of skulls, and the females of that nation be no longer trained into bands of ferocious soldiery.
The Missionaries, Messrs. Freeman and Wharton, with two Dahomian girls who had been under their care, reached Whydah on May the 16th. The first object which caught their view showed the sad effects resulting from the diminution of the squadron on the African coast. Two large canoes were seen skirting the breakers, others following in quick succession. They were directed to a point of the shore where was set up a Portuguese flag. To the same point a large and beautiful brig directed her course, and cast anchor as near the breakers as possible. Instantly swarms of men and women, without clothing, issued forth from the oil-sheds on the beach. There they were," the poor, helpless wretches, with thongs fastened to their necks, driven along the beach to the place of shipment.” That brig took away 650 human beings from the coast of Africa. Four of them had leaped from the canoes into the sea, preferring death to slavery. Between this date and June 14, one