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CHAPTER XX.

THE PEOPLE OF SHIPKI.

A TARTAR BEAUTY--FLIRTATION IN SHIPKI-DRESS AND APPEARANCE

-POSITION AND PRODUCTS OF SHIPKI-DEPARTURE-INSTANCE
OF TARTAR FEROCITY—“STILL MEAT A PAP FOR INFANTS

CHINESE AVERSION TO MILK-MARCHES TO SHIPKI,

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The young persons of Shipki had none of the shamefacedness of the women of India. They would come and sit down before our tents and laugh at us, or talk with us. It was quite evident that we were a source of great amusement to them. They were certainly rather robust than beautiful ; but one girl, who had come from the other side of Lassa, would have been very goodlooking had she been well washed. This Tartar beauty had a well-formed head, regular features, and a reddishbrown complexion. She was expensively adorned, and was probably the relative of some official who thought it best to keep in the background. In fact, she was very handsome indeed, lively and good-humoured ; but there was the slight draw back that her face had never been washed since the day of her birth. Another young girl belonging to Shipki tempted some of our Namgea men into a mild flirtation ; but whenever they offered to touch her it was a matter of tooth and nails

at once.

Mr Pagell's conversation with the people on the subject of religion was well enough received, though his statements were not allowed to go uncontroverted, and his medical advice was much preferred. In talking with us, the men were rather rude in their manner, and, after staying for a little, they would suddenly go away, laughing, and slapping their persons in a way that was far from respectful.

Both men and women wore long tunics and loose trousers, a reddish colour being predominant, and also large cloth Tartar boots; but during the heat of the day many of both sexes dispensed with the boots, and some of the men appeared with the upper part of their bodies entirely naked. All the men had pigtails, and they wore caps like the ordinary Chinese skull-caps, though, from dirt and perspiration, the original colour and ornamentation were scarcely distinguishable. The women had some pigtails, some plaits, and were richly ornamented with turquoises, opals, pieces of amber, shells (often made into immense bracelets), corals, and gold and silver amulets; while the men had metal pipes, knives, and ornamented daggers stuck in their girdles. The oblique eye and prominent cheek-bones were noticeable, though not in very marked development; and though the noses were thick and muscular, they were sometimes straight or aquiline. The bodies were well developed, large and strong; but the men struck me as disproportionally taller than the women. They have not exactly the typical Tartar countenance, though with clearly-marked Tartar characteristics, and there were two or three strangers among them whose features were purely Turanian. The people of Shipki have a striking resemblance to the country Chinese of the province of Shantung, and they were large, ablebodied, and rather brutal in their manners,-not a trace of Chinese formality or politeness being apparent. The weather being warm, hardly any one appeared in sheepskins, and most of their garments were of thick woollen stuff, though the girl from beyond Lassa wore a tunic of the ordinary thick, glazed, black, Chinesemade flaxen cloth. We did not obtain permission to enter any of their houses, which were strongly built and roofed of stone, but saw sufficient to indicate that these were dark uncleanly habitations, almost devoid of furniture.

Shipki is a large village in the sub-district of Rongchúng, with a number of terraced fields, apricot-trees, apple-trees, and gooseberry-bushes. It is watered by streams artificially led to it from the glaciers and snowbeds to the south-west of the Kúng-ma Pass, where there are great walls of snow and snowy peaks about 20,000 feet high. Twenty-four of its zemindars, or proprietors of land, pay a tax amounting to £5 yearly to the Government, and the remainder pay smaller

The population numbers about 2000, and the village is separated into several divisions ; the houses are not close together, and the steep paths between them are execrable, being little more than stairs of rock with huge steps. The gooseberry-bushes, however, gave a pleasant appearance to the place, and the unripe berries promised to reach a considerable size. Of course the whole district is almost perfectly rainless, and the air is so dry as to crack the skin of Europeans. It must get very little sun in winter, and be excessively cold at that season ; but in summer the climate is mild, and hottish during the day. The thermometer outside

sums.

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my tent was 56° at sunrise; but it was 84° Fahr, at 2 P.m. inside the tent, with a breeze blowing through. The bed of the Sutlej near Shipki is about 9500 feet high, which is a remarkable elevation for so large a river.

Finding it hopeless to pass Shipki, at all events without going back to Kunáwar and purchasing yaks of my own, I determined to proceed to Kashmir, high up along the whole line of the Western Himálaya ; and indeed I did not manage to reach that country a day too soon, for I narrowly escaped being snowed up for the winter in the almost unknown province of Zanskar. Mr Pagell also acknowledged the hopelessness of attempting to proceed farther into the dominions of the Grand Lama, so we left Shipki on the afternoon of the 10th August; and though the thermometer had been at 82° in our tents shortly before starting, we camped that night with it at 57° before sunset in a pure bracing atmosphere at the Shipki Rizhing, or Shipki Fields, about 2500 feet higher up on the Kúng-ma Pass, but on the eastern side of it, and still within the Chinese border. Here we had a remarkable example of the courage and ferocity of the Tartars. On leaving the outskirts of Shipki, our coolies had plucked and taken away with them some unripe apples; and at the Shipki Rizhing, where there are no houses, only an empty unroofed hut or two for herdsmen, a solitary Tartar made his appearance, and observing the apples, declared that they were his, and, abusing the coolies for taking them, straightway fell upon the man in possession of them, tore that individual's hair, and knocked him about in the most savage manner. Though there were over twenty of the Kunáwar men looking on, and several of them were implicated in the theft, if such it might be called, yet none of them ventured to interfere; and their companion might have received serious injury, had not Chota Khan, who was always ready for a fray of the kind, gone in and separated the two. Now this was between two and three thousand feet above the village, and I doubt if there were any other Tartars about the spot, except one other man who had come to see us off the premises. Neither I nor Mr Pagell saw this affair, but I can quite rely on the account Silas gave me of it.

Ferocity is much admired in Chinese Tibet; and in order to create it, the people are fond of eating what they ironically call “still meat,” or meat with maggots in it. We heard also that, to the same end, they give a very curious pap to their infants. Meat, cut into thin slices, is dried in the sun and ground into powder; it is then mixed with fresh blood and put into a cotton cloth, and so given to the enfant terrible to suck. Mixtures such as this, combined with half-raw flesh, sun-dried flesh, and, where there is cultivation, with girdle-cakes of wheat, buckwheat, and barley, must make a pretty strong diet even for the seniors, and one well fitted to produce endurance and courage. It is to be hoped the milk (of mares and other animals) which the nomad Tartars so largely imbibe, may have some effect in mollifying the ferocity of their spirits. It is very extraordinary that the Chinese, who are a Tartar people, and must have descended at one time from the “ Land of Grass,” should so entirely eschew the use of milk in every shape. For long there was a difficulty in getting even a sufficiency of that liquid for the use of the foreigners at the open ports in China; and I have heard of a ship captain at Whampoa, on blowing

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