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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/713

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stand it. The first sutra is the "Custom of Youth," and is repeated every day till it is read without hesitation and without mistakes, and till the pupil knows it by heart and can recite it from memory. Then a second sutra is given him-the advice of a grandfather to his grandson, or the "Groups of Customs"—counsels to be followed every day; or the "Customs of Women"-and this book is read till it is as thoroughly learned as the other.

Nothing can be more curious than to attend one of these readings. The pupils are all seated on mats near the door or the windows, each with a different sutra in his hand. They read all at once, as loudly as they can, so that they can hear themselves better, without any concern for their neighbors, and without stopping to breathe. It is deafening, and we can hardly understand how the poor little fellows manage to isolate themselves from the uproar of noisy readers that can be heard a thousand feet from the monastery.

Between times the pupil copies extracts from the things he reads; practices in writing a letter, or drawing up a brief, or in setting forth some claim in a good, clear style. When so far advanced that he can give up his wooden slate and the tracing of large characters, he is given some folding books. He polishes the pages of pasteboard or felt with sand; then holding an iron-pointed stylus, with his hand resting on a cushion, steadying the stylus with the thumb of his left hand, he draws it carefully over the page, so as to cut the fiber without tearing it. When he has written on both sides of his long sheet-eight or ten perpendicular lines-in this manner, he takes some ink made of soot scraped from the bottom of the pot and moistened, rubs it with a cloth across the leaf, and then wipes it with a clean dry cloth. The ink remains in the hollows, and the characters come plainly out, as black as our printed characters. The number of those, however, who succeed in learning the more delicate art of writing on palm leaves is comparatively small. After the pupil has learned to write, he is taught such arithmetic as he is supposed to need, including the multiplication table and the four rules.-Translated for the Popular Science Monthly from the Revue Scientifique.


Mr. Walter B. Harris, in his travels in the region of the Atlas Mountains, observed a peculiar native taste or talent for sculpture among the Berbers. "At Dads," he says, "I saw children modeling in clay little figures of men on horseback. . . . which no Arab or Moor either could or would do. Excellently modeled they were too. I asked a native, and he laughingly replied, 'We all did that when we were small.'"