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BHUTAN

observations; and there are the route surveys of native explorers. In 1887-1888 two native Indian explorers “R. N.” and “P. A.” traversed a part of Western Bhutan, but were forced to retire owing to the disturbed state of the districts. They re-entered the country on the east from Dewangiri. Here they explored the Kuru, or Lhobrak Chu, which proves to be the largest river in Bhutan. It drains the tract between the Yamdok Tso and Tigu Lakes, and is fed by the glaciers of the Kulha Kangri and other great ranges. The Lhobrak was finally identified with the Manas river, a geographical discovery of some importance. A previously unknown tribe, the Chingmis, were discovered in Eastern Bhutan, who are socially on a higher level than the Bhutias, and differ from them chiefly in the matter of wearing pigtails. Some excellent survey work was done in Bhutan by a native surveyor during the progress of the Tibetan Expedition in 1904. The Monla Kachung pass (17,500 ft.), by which “R. N.” crossed into Tibet, is nearly on the meridian of Gualpara, and is one of the most important passes between Bhutan and Tibet. East of Bhutan, amongst the semi-independent hill states which sometimes own allegiance to Tibet and sometimes assert complete freedom from all authority, the geographical puzzle of the course of the Tsanpo, the great river of Tibet, has been solved by the researches of Captain Harman, and the explorations of the native surveyor “K. P.” The Tsanpo has been definitely ascertained to be the same river as the Brahmaputra. The tracts inhabited by the aboriginal tribes entitled Lo Nakpo, Lo Karpo and Lo Tawa (“Lo” signifies “barbarous” in Tibetan), are described as a pleasant country; the lands on either side of the Tsanpo being well cultivated and planted with mangoes, plantains and oranges.

Nothing is known certainly about the area and population of Bhutan, the former being estimated at 16,800 sq. m. At the head of the Bhutan government there are nominally two supreme authorities, the Dharm raja, the spiritual head, and the Deb raja, the temporal ruler. Recently official correspondence has been written in the name of the Dharm raja, but it is not known whether this change really signifies anything. To aid these rajas in administering the country, there is a council of permanent ministers, called the Lenehen. Practically, however, there is no government at all. Subordinate officers and rapacious governors of forts wield all the power of the state, and tyranny, oppression and anarchy reign over the whole country. The Dharm raja succeeds as an incarnation of the deity. On the death of a Dharm raja a year or two elapses, and the new incarnation then reappears in the shape of a child who generally happens to be born in the family of a principal officer. The child establishes his identity by recognizing the cooking utensils, &c., of the late Dharm raja; he is then trained in a monastery, and on attaining his majority is recognized as raja, though he exercises no more real authority in his majority than he did in his infancy. The Deb raja is in theory elected by the council. In practice he is merely the nominee of whichever of the two governors of East and West Bhutan happens for the time to be the more powerful. The people are industrious, and devote themselves to agriculture, but from the geological structure of the country, and from the insecurity of property, regular husbandry is limited to comparatively few spots. The people are oppressed and poor. “Nothing that a Bhutia possesses is his own,” wrote the British envoy in 1864; “he is at all times liable to lose it if it attracts the cupidity of any one more powerful than himself. The lower classes, whether villagers or public servants, are little better than the slaves of higher officials. In regard to them no rights of property are observed, and they have at once to surrender anything that is demanded of them. There never was, I fancy, a country in which the doctrine of ‘might is right’ formed more completely the whole and sole law and custom of the land than it does in Bhutan. No official receives a salary; he has certain districts made over to him, and he may get what he can out of them; a certain portion of his gains he is compelled to send to the durbar, and the more he extorts and the more he sends to his superior, the longer his tenure of office is likely to be.”

Physically the Bhutias are a fine race, although dirty in their habits and persons. Their food consists of meat, chiefly pork, turnips, rice, barley-meal and tea made from the brick-tea of China. Their favourite drink is chong, distilled from rice or barley and millet, and Marwá, beer made from fermented millet. A loose woollen coat reaching to the knees, and bound round the waist by a thick fold of cotton cloth, forms the dress of the men; the women’s dress is a long cloak with loose sleeves. The houses of the Bhutias are of three and four storeys; all the floors are neatly boarded with deal; and on two sides of the house is a verandah ornamented with carved work generally painted. The Bhutias are neat joiners, and their doors, windows and panelling are perfect in their way. No iron-work is used; the doors open on ingenious wooden hinges. The appearance of the houses is precisely that of Swiss chalets, picturesque and comfortable—the only drawback being a want of chimneys, which the Bhutias do not know how to construct. The people nominally profess the Buddhist religion, but in reality their religious exercises are confined to the propitiation of evil spirits, and the mechanical recital of a few sacred sentences. Around the cottages in the mountains the land is cleared for cultivation, and produces thriving crops of barley, wheat, buckwheat, millet, mustard, chillies, &c. Turnips of excellent quality are extensively grown; they are free from fibre and remarkably sweet. The wheat and barley have a full round grain, and the climate is well adapted to the production of both European and Asiatic vegetables. Potatoes have been introduced. The Bhutias lay out their fields in a series of terraces cut out of the sides of the hills; each terrace is riveted and supported by stone embankments, sometimes 20 ft. high. Every field is carefully fenced with pine branches, or protected by a stone wall. A complete system of irrigation permeates the whole cultivated part of a village, the water being often brought from a long distance by stone aqueducts. Bhutias do not care to extend their cultivation, as an increased revenue is exacted in proportion to the land cultivated, but devote their whole energies to make the land yield twice what it is estimated to produce. The forests of Bhutan abound in many varieties of stately trees. Among them are the beech, ash, birch, maple, cypress and yew. Firs and pines cover the mountain heights; and below these, but still at an elevation of eight or nine thousand feet, is a zone of vegetation, consisting principally of oaks and rhododendrons. The cinnamon tree is also found. Some of the roots and branches were examined by Captain Samuel Turner during his journey to Tibet; but the plant being neither in blossom nor bearing fruit, it was impossible to decide whether it was the true cinnamon or an inferior kind of cassia. The leaf, however, corresponded with the description given of the true cinnamon by Linnaeus. The lower ranges of the hills abound in animal life. Elephants are so numerous as to be dangerous to travellers; but tigers are not common, except near the river Tista, and in the dense reed jungle and forests of the Dwars. Leopards abound in the Hah valley; deer everywhere, some of them of a very large species. The musk deer is found in the snows, and the barking deer on every hill side. Wild hogs are met with even at great elevations. Large squirrels are common. Bears and rhinoceros are also found. Pheasants, jungle fowls, pigeons and other small game abound. The Bhutias are no sportsmen. They have a superstitious objection to firing a gun, thinking that it offends the deities of the woods and valleys, and brings down rain. A species of horse, which seems indigenous to Bhutan, and is used as a domestic animal, is called tángan, from Tangastan, the general appellation of that assemblage of mountains which constitutes the territory of Bhutan. It is peculiar to this tract, not being found in any of the neighbouring countries of Assam, Nepal, Tibet or Bengal, and unites in an eminent degree the two qualities of strength and beauty. The tángan horse usually stands about thirteen hands high, is short-bodied, clean-limbed, deep in the chest and extremely active, his colour usually inclining to piebald. In so barren and rude a country the manufacturing industry of its people is, as might be expected,