Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/142

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

120

STINGINESS; UNCLEANLINESS; TRADE;

chief food, but little meat being eaten. Even the rich Tangutan, owner of several thousand head of cattle, will not kill a sheep or yak for his own use, and is so mean and stingy that he deny himself a piece of meat if by so doing he can save a lan of silver, Tangutans, like Mongols, will eat carrion, and with a relish too. Next to tea and dzamba, their favourite food is tarik, i.e. boiled sour skimmed milk, which is to be found in every tent; the wealthier classes also make a kind of cheese of curds and butter, which is considered a great delicacy.

The Tangutans are disgustingly dirty, and never wash the bowls out of which they eat; the cups out of which they drink are merely rinsed out after use, and replaced in the bosom where vermin swarm; they never wash the cow-teats before milking, and they pour the milk into the filthiest of utensils; their churn is a piece of raw sheepskin fastened to the end of a stick, with wool and dirt adhering.

With few exceptions they are no agriculturists, obtaining their supplies of dzamba from Tonkir, a trade centre of some importance. Hither they drive their cattle and carry their skins and wool to barter in exchange for dzamba, tobacco, daba (cotton cloth), Chinese boots, &c., the price of every article being fixed according to the number of sheep it would fetch.

They are as distinct from the Mongols in character as they are in appearance. They are superior to the latter in courage, energy, and intelligence, especially to the Mongols of Koko-nor and Tsaidam.