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VOL V. for the YEAR 1789.
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A concife Account of the Kingdom of PEGU. BY WILLIAM HUNTER, A. M.
HIS country was formerly fubject to an independent prince of its own; but about forty years ago a revolution took place, by which it was reduced to be a province of the kingdom of Ava, and has fince been governed by deputies fent from thence, who may be removed at the pleasure of their fovereign. The whole country is low and flat, and the land can only be feen at a fmall distance from fea. The water is fo fhallow, even a great way off from the coaft, that navigators get into three or four fathoms before they are within fight of the fhore. The country, however, is far from being unhealthy. The natives are feldom attacked by diseases; and Europeans, who have lived there for many years, enjoy uninterrupted good health. Even during the rains, which all over India occafion the most disagreeable and fickly period of the year, the air of Pegu is temperate, and has an elafticity unknown at the correfponding season in any other part of India.
The inhabitants, fays Mr. Hunter, are of a mufcular make; their ftature is about the middle fize, and their limbs, in general, well proportioned. The complexion is fwarthy, being a medium between that of the Chinese and of the inhabitants of Bengal. In feature they resemble the Malays; their face is broad, their eyes large and black, the nose flat, the checkbones prominent, and the mouth extremely wide. They wear on the chin a tuft of hair, of unequal lengths; and fhave the rest of the face. Their teeth are always of jet black, which, however difgufting it may be to an European eye, is, among them, efteemed a great
ornament; and accordingly they are at very great pains to accom plish it.
They wear various ornaments in their ears, many of them in com mon with other eastern nations; but one that appears to be peculiar to this people is a thin plate of gold, rolled up in the form of a quill, about the thicknefs of a fin
ger, which is thrust into a hole made in the ufual part of the ear, large enough to receive it. The foregoing defcription is chiefly appli cable to the Birmahs; that is, the natives of Ava, or their descen dants, who are now very nu merous here, as the government is entirely in their hands. The original inhabitants of Pegu have faces more nearly approaching to the oval form; their features are fofter, more regular, and seem to express greater fenfe and acutenefs than thofe of the Birmahs, with whom, in other respects, they nearly agree. The Birmahs, however, who pique themfelves on being defcended from the conquerors, and wish to be diftinguished from the nation they fubdued, ufe a badge for that purpofe, which we must conclude they value very highly, from the fufferings they undergo to obtain it. The thigh of every Birmah, including the hip and knee, is of a jet black, which has a very fingu lar appearance; and this mark they receive in their childhood. It is made by the repeated application of an inftrument with a great number of fharp points, placed clofe together, fomething like that used in carding wool, till the part is entirely covered with drops of blood. After this they apply a liquid of which galls is a principal ingredient. This excites a confiderable degree of fever; and it is computed, by the