Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/350

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280
A WAYFARER IN CHINA

munity, permanently attached to some one of the hundreds of lamasseries. They represent probably the abler or more ambitious in the priesthood, and are better versed and more regular in the observances of their order, living a life perhaps not unlike that in Western monasteries in their period of decline. It is this class that rules Mongolia—under Russia. Still another group might be compared to the begging friars when their brief, glorious day was past; they wander about the country, east, west, south, to Lhasa, to Omei Shan, to Peking, with little purpose or plan. As Huc says, "vagabondizing about like birds of passage," finding everywhere food and a tent corner, if not a welcome. They neither teach nor heal, and represent the most worthless though perhaps not the most vicious among the lamas.

A third class, and the largest, has no parallel, I think, in any Western church at any period. These are the lamas who, sent like the others to the lamasseries at an early age, after having received the prescribed training,—taking their "degrees," as Hue calls it,—return to their homes to live the life of the ordinary Mongol, in no wise to be distinguished from the "black man" save by their shorn heads and the red and yellow dress, which they do not always wear. They marry after a fashion, at least they take wives, though without even the ordinary scanty formalities,