Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/805

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785
ORIGIN OF THE DONKEY.

there being only twelve of them to 415,060 hoi-ses in the coldest and most mountainous government of that country.

We do not know when they were introduced into China; but it is related that the Emperor Ling-ti (168-189) made them fashionable at his court instead of horses. The Abbe Hue says that they thrive in Thibet and the northern provinces of China. It is, however, certain that they were not domesticated by the Proto-Mongols, the ancestors of the Chinese, in Northern Mongolia; and there appear to be few or none of them now in that country; for travelers speak of large flocks of sheep, goats, cows, camels, and horses, but never mention asses.

There is no probability that the Aryans were better acquainted with this animal in their original home than the Proto-Mongols in theirs. The ass is not among the animals offered in sacrifice by the heroes of the Avesta, and is only mentioned once in that book. At the time the Mazdean law was given, the Iranians were in possession of Northern Persia, where the ass had been introduced, and had been cap- tured by Tiglath-pileser I.

The ass was taken to India very early, and the law of Menu leaves no doubt of the antiquity of its use among the Hindoos. It, for exam- ple, prohibits a Brahman from reading on an ass; declares that the Chandelas and Swapakas shall have no property but dogs and asses; and orders Dija, who had broken his vow of chastity, to sacrifice a dark or black ass to Niwiti, and to wear its skin, begging for a year, and confessing his sin, in seven houses every day.

Asses appear to have been in use among the Hebrews from the time of Abraham; in Assyria and the neighboring countries from the time of Tiglath-pileser I, and in Greece from the time of Hesiod, who men- tions the custom of castrating mules; and Homer compares the rage of Ajax with that of an ass rushing wildly through the fields. The great Harris papyrus, describing one of the conquests of Rameses, speaks of the chiefs of Tonoutu as arriving at Coptos with their tribes, and bringing with them caravans of asses and men. In the same doc- ument, Menephthah I, relating his victory over the Mashonash and the Libyans, describes the "vile chief of the Rebu" as losing all his goods and precious things, and "everything that he had brought with him from his country, his cattle, his goats, and his asses."

The most ancient instances of the application of asses to useful pur- poses were in Egypt. A bas-relief in a hypogeum of Gizeh, of the date of the fourth dynasty, represents two droves of asses; and M. Lenormant remarks: "As to the ass, we see it figured on the Egyp- tian tombs as far back as we go. It is frequently represented in the tombs of the ancient empire, at Gizeh, Sakkara, and Abousir. The beautiful bas-relief on the tomb of Ti (fifth dynasty), representing a group of asses, of which a model was exhibited by M. Mariette at the Universal Exposition of 186T, has certainly not been forgotten. From