Page:Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London, Volume 1 (2nd edition).djvu/128

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100 Notes respecting the Isthmus of Panama. therefore, that the worst features of the male character here will be speedily corrected, which are, indifference to the l?!easures of home, and a propensity to low debauch abroad. Their best quality is great liberality to the poor, and especially to the aged and infirm; of whom almost every family of consequence has several regular pensioners, who come every Saturday to receive an accustomed and liberal alms. A considerable turn for commerce is observable among the in- habitants of Panama; and from the highest to the lowest, each keeps a shop or tienda. The lower classes also pursue different handicrafts; but are rude in all, excepting in' goldsmith's work, for one branch of which, viz. plating gold chains, they are famous. The field for this branch of art, however, as for every other con- nected with luxury, is now much curtailed. At one time, no family in PanamPi ate off any thing but plate,--almost every do- mestic utensil was of the same material, and the women wore a profusion of chains, pearls, and other ornaments. But these have now, for the most part, disappeared, and even much of the church plate has progressively passed through the melting-pot to the old world, although, on peculim' gala-days, an attempt is still made by some individuals to reappear in the former style. The dress of the women is, on these occasions, peculiarly splendid, being what is called ' Cartagenea,' thus described by Mr. Lloyd. ' A loose shift of beautiful cambric, with innume- ? cable and immense frills richly worked with lace, is, with a pet- ' ticoat of the same, fastened at the waist by several massive, ? chased, gold buttons. Round the neck are several gold chains, ? with pearl rosettes, crosses, and rows of pearls; the earrings ? are of the shape of a telegraph, and reach nearly to the shoulders; ' the fingers are covered with rings; and various combs, studded ? with rows of pearls, cased in gold,'are placed, together with Ca massive gold bodkin, to great advantage in beautiful hair, ? plaited iu two tails down the back. The feet are barely in- ' troduced into a little slipper, turned up very much at the toes, ? and also richly ornamented. The whole effect is elegant and ' becoming.' The pearls thus tastefully disposed round the person of a fair Panamenian are, it is well known, procured among the islands of the coast, by diving. The occupation is very laborious, and suc- cess most uncertain; but the pursuit is a favourite one, and the divers are very expert. They generally proceed in companies of several canoes together, each containing six or seven men, who dive in succession armed with a sharp knife, rather for the purpose of detaching the oysters from the rocks to which they adhere, than for defence against danger. Before descending they repeatedly cross themselves, and generally bring up four oysters? two under Dig,tiz?d by Google I