Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/136

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114

BLACK TENTS AND WOODEN HUTS.

metal, although very expensive; the price of the cheapest being three or four lans (15s. to 21s.), and the best costing as much as 15 lans (about 4l.).

The dress of the women is precisely the same as that of the men, with the sole difference that on holidays they wear wide handkerchiefs thrown over their shoulders, studded with shells, and those who can afford it are particularly fond of red beads.

The characteristic habitation of the Tangutan is his black tent, made of coarse woollen cloth,[1] supported at the corners on four poles, and fastened to the ground at the sides with loops. In the middle of the roof, which is nearly flat, there is an oblong slit about a foot wide to allow of the escape of smoke, closed during rain and for the night. In the centre of the tent is placed an earthen hearth; opposite the entrance are ranged the Lares and Penates, and on either side the implements and various domestic utensils of its inmates.

In the richly- wooded districts of Kan-su, where the Tangutans live with the Chinese and cultivate the soil, the tents are replaced by wooden huts, which are very similar, although even inferior, to those of White Russia,[2] having no wooden floors, and having the interior walls of the rough round timbers, the interstices being filled with clay; the roofs are flat, made of branches covered with earth,

  1. The cloth is woven from yak-wool.
  2. For those readers to whom the term 'White Russia' may not be familiar I may explain that at the present day it applies chiefly to the two Governments of Vitebsk and Mohilev, lying to the south-west of the Russian empire. — M.