Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/148

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138
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

boat, propelled by paddle-wheels, and earning twelve persons, sailed upon the river for several hours against the current, and in spite of a violent wind; but the operators were greatly inconvenienced by the nitrous gas, which escaped in great quantities, and the spectators on the banks were obliged, by the suffocating fumes, to leave the place. Electric navigation may be considered to have originated with this experiment.

 

The Kafirs of Kafiristan.—The Kafirs, who inhabit the country called Kafiristan, which lies south and southeast of the Hindoo-Koosh Mountains, are so called by their Mohammedan neighbors after a term signifying unbeliever, because they are not of the Mohammedan faith. They are an Aryan people of unknown origin and history, divided into a number of tribes speaking as many tongues; they are ethnically distinct from any of their neighbors; their religion is pagan, but neither Hindoo nor Buddhist, and they are in constant hostility with the Mohammedans. Possibly they represent the Aryan race in the nearest to the primitive state in which it can now be found. They have never been visited by a European. Colonel H. C. Tanner, who has furnished an account of them to the Royal Geographical Society, has been nearer to them than any other Englishman, having been invited by influential Kafirs to visit the country as their guest, but he was prevented by sickness from getting any farther than the country of the Chugáni, a Kafir tribe who have embraced Mohammedanism, living on the borders of Kafiristan. The Chugáni live in the highest habitable parts of the Kund range. They are of the Suni faith, and are the only Mohammedans in the region who allow their women European freedom. One of the principal towns is Aret, a village of six hundred houses, which are built on the face of a very steep slope, and arranged in terraces one above the other. The view from below presents a vast amphitheatre of carvings, with which the wood-work of the houses is covered. Inside, the furniture consists of cots (kát), stools (stá), and earthen vessels with Grecian looking ears, cheese-making utensils, and agricultural implements—wooden shovels, rakes, etc.—stuck between the blackened rafters; and the impression on the whole is one of superiority to most Indian habitations. The burial-places are scattered among the rocks in any spots not too steep for them, and the graves are built with stones and covered with slabs, so that the bodies shall not come in contact with the earth. Highly ornamented and fantastically carved posts stand at the head and foot of the graves. The posts of a new grave were painted red and adorned with pegs, representing the number of enemies the deceased had killed during his lifetime. The Sanu Kafirs are a merry people, fond of dancing, music, and wine, who shake hands in the English fashion. Their religion is simple. Men call on the gods for aid in battle, and pay offerings to them if successful in the fight, storing the offerings in the temples, some of which contain the accumulations of hundreds of years. They do not bury their dead, but place them in wooden coffins and stow them away in caves in the mountains. The country probably contains interesting antiquities, for stones are told of with ancient writing engraved upon them; ruins exist at Islámabad and at Bimbakot, the reputed capital of the Hindoo Bim Raja; and the petrified remains of Noah's Ark are said to rest on the shores of a lake on the summit of Kund, while the legendary tomb of Lamech, Noah's father, is in the plain below, and the name of Noah seems to be very common. Colonel Tanner found an exact representation of a Kafir knife in one of the topes, and dug up a number of small, well executed pictures from the life of Buddha, in limestone, at the same place.

 

The Coal Production of the World.—Professor von Neumann, of Vienna, estimates, in his "Review of the Production, Traffic, and Commerce of the World's Economy," that the annual product of coal in the whole world increased from 136,000,000 tons in 1860 to 294,000,000 tons in 1877. Great Britain was the leading producer, during the whole period, and returned an output of 137,000,000 tons in 1878. The United States, which stands next, returned 55,200,000 tons in 1877. Germany, France, Belgium, and Austro-Hungary follow in