Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/137

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

CATTLE REARING.

115

with a hole left in the middle to answer the double purpose of chimney and window.

But this wretched abode is luxurious compared with the black tent. The former, at all events, is weather-proof, while to the latter summer rains and winter frosts have easy access. There is no exaggeration in saying that the marmot in his burrow is far more comfortable than his neighbour — man. The animal has at least a soft couch to lie upon, but the bed of the Tangutan is a heap of dirt, or sodden pieces of felt, thrown on the damp ground.

The chief occupation of the Tangutans is rearing cattle, which supply all the wants of their simple lives. Their domestic animals are yaks and sheep (not the fat-tailed kind), with horses and cows in smaller numbers ; their wealth in flocks and herds is very considerable, owing to the abundance of rich pasturage in Kan-su and Koko-nor, where we often saw several hundred yaks and thousands of sheep belonging to one owner, whose abode was in no degree better than that of the poorest of his brethren. It is a rare sight to see a rich Tangutan wearing a cotton robe instead of the common cloth dress, or indulging in an extra piece of meat at his meals; his mode of life is, in all respects, the same as that of his servants. He is as dirty as they are; he never washes, and his garments swarm with insects, which he kills without the slightest regard to propriety.

The characteristic animal of the country, and the inseparable companion of the Tangutan, is the long-haired yak, also bred in the mountains of Ala-