Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 40.djvu/151

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P OP ULAR MIS CELLAXT.

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��the elaborate svstem of prayers and washing inculcated by the Koran. They are polyg- amous, and have wives, or rather slaves, each having her separate occupation in the family life — one minding camels, another the flocks, another the tent arrangements, etc. They have regular communication with the outer ■world. Greeks from the towns lend money to start them in flocks by what is called an " immortal contract." Merchants for wool and cattle pay regular visits to the different encampments. Tinkers, the public circum- ciser, and other periodical visitors go among them spring, summer, and winter. Their utensils are principally of wood — wooden mortars, wooden gloves for reaping, wooden musical instruments, etc., are used. They are clever at getting food from mountain plants and herbs. An excellent substitute for cofiee is produced by a species of thistle ; and a sweet, somewhat like chocolate cream, is made out of the cone of a juniper tree. Formerly they were very clever in making dyes from mountain herbs, but the introduc- tion of aniline dyes has greatly destroyed their taste.

Animals in the Desert of Gobi. — In re- spect to its fauna, the Desert of Gobi con- stitutes a zoological district by itself, with- out its animal world being rich in species. Animals may be found in considerable groups in certain places, as in the mountains and along the rivers and lakes, but they are com- paratively rare in the desert itself, where one meets hardly anj-thing but innumerable hz- ards gliding under his feet- Birds as well as quadrupeds lead a nomadic life, being forced to seek food at places a considerable distance apart. The animals of the desert are, however, not very particular, especially with respect to drink, and some of the small mammals probably do not drink, but satisfy themselves with succulent plants, or the lit- tle snow that falls in winter. Among the mammals the wild horse and camel and the argali sheep are worthy of mention. Preje- valsky discovered in Zungaria the horse which has been called by his name, the Kirghiz kantaff, the Mongol make. It lives in the most inhospitable regions, in groups of five or six individuals. While the existence of a wild horse in central Asia was unknown till the present time, it has been understood

��from the days of Marco Polo that a wild camel lived there ; but none of the authors who have mentioned it, on the authority of the Chinese, had ever seen it, and its exist- ence was doubted by Cuvicr It also was seen by the Russian explorer in the neigh- borhood of Lake Lob and the Desert of Zun- garia. The camel prefers sandy spots more or less inaccessible to man. It spreads over a considerably larger area than the wild horse ; for, while the latter is cantoned in a single locality of Zungaria, it inhabits the lower Tarrin, the country of Lake Lob, Kha- mi, and the Thibetan Desert of Zaidam. Prejevalsky calls this animal the wild Bac- trian camel. While the domestic camel is usually timid, stupid, and indolent, the Gobi camel is distinguished by its vigilance and the extraordinary development of its senses of sight, hearing, and smell. It can run a hundred kilometres without stopping a mo- ment, and can climb mountains with an agil- ity comparable to that of the chamois. Its voice is rarely heard, but is more like that of the bull than that of the domestic camel. The argali sheep is common in the mount- ainous parts of the Gobi, whence it descends in the spring to feed on the herbage. It ad- heres to the places it has once chosen, and a mountain spur is often the permanent abode of a whole flock. As it is not troubled by the natives, it has not yet become afraid of man, and passes indifferently by the Mongol camps on its way to water. Among the car- nivorous animals of the Gobi are the tiger and the wolf, but the bear has not been seen there, although it is found in the Thian Shan Mountains.

Stolidness of Eskimos. — One of the most remarkable peculiarities of the Eskimos of Cape Prince of Wales, as described by Mr. n. r. Payne, of the Meteorological Office, Toronto, is their sensitiveness to ridicule. It is necessary to put on the gravest expres- sion in dealing with them, else they will refuse to work for or with you, and sulk. While, as a rule, the Eskimo looks upon the white man as born to do him favors, those the author met would sometimes offer pay- ment for their services. If an Eskimo was given an unusually valuable present, he would immediately turn round and ask for the most impossible things, as though he thought

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