Page:Views in India, chiefly among the Himalaya Mountains.djvu/78

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were deities welcomed with greater noise and clamour, or more horrid dissonance. Time and measure were equally set at nought, each striving to make himself heard above the rest; drums beating, trumpets blowing, cymbals clashing, mixed with the shriller blasts of the clarions, and an indescribable twangling and jangling besides. Some of the instruments were of considerable value, being formed of silver, and purchased by a subscription from the chieftain of the neighbouring district, and the inhabitants, who seemed to delight exceedingly in the noise, that reverberated in an astounding manner through the hills, returning upon the ear in prolonged echoes, which would have been not unpleasing at a greater distance.

As the dancers flagged, or deemed it expedient to allow others to take a share in the rites, their places were supplied by new performers, the ring being composed of about fifty persons at a time, of a very motley character—rich and poor, the ragged and the splendidly attired, joining together in great amity. Every body appeared in their best garments, and all were adorned with flowers; but notwithstanding these beautiful decorations, the costume was any thing but attractive, while many individuals made a very sorry and squalid appearance. Many of the women had extremely long hair, but this natural beauty, though plaited and adorned with considerable care, had not the greater charm of cleanliness to recommend it; the long black braids, descending nearly to the feet, were surmounted by caps of black and scarlet woollen cloth, exceedingly dirty, and raising disagreeable ideas in the mind. The women wore silver and gold ornaments across the forehead, rich and fantastical, but not particularly becoming; and those who were wealthy enough, loaded themselves with a great variety of tasteless incumbrances—chains and bells of precious metals, a profusion of ear-rings, and silver fringes pendent over the eyes, while their bracelets, necklaces, amulets, nose rings, finger rings, and clasps of various kinds of coloured stones, were innumerable.

Petticoats of woollen dyed in stripes, generally red and blue, formed the principal garment of the women, and to this a boddice was added, sometimes of coloured chintz, the favourite material of the richer classes;—the costume which would have been pretty had it been clean, and worn by persons of less offensive habits, being finished by a mantle folded gracefully over the left shoulder, and fastened in front by an enormous clasp made of brass, grotesquely carved and exceedingly heavy, some of them weighing nearly two pounds.

Part of the company were of a very tatterdemalion description, having little covering except of dirt, and such clothing as they had, hanging about them in shreds and patches.—This poverty-stricken appearance did not prevent them from meeting with a good reception, and the poorest and the dirtiest mingled freely in the dance, linking themselves with the rich and the gay, whose expensive clothing and superabundance of ornaments contrasted strangely with their rags. Contrary to the general custom throughout the Himalaya, where every village sends out its troop of professional dancers, there were no public performers at this meeting, the whole promiscuous assembly assisting at the ceremonials. The scene was certainly animated and picturesque, the principal group revolving round the centre, while others were scattered about, some resting under the shade of noble walnut-trees, others lying down upon the grass, after the manner of the ladies and gentlemen depicted in the illustrations of the Decameron.

On one side, a belt-like range of wooded hills, backed by the more lofty Kylass towering in eternal snow, formed a part of the magnificent amphitheatre, the open valley sloping down to the Baspa, which went dashing and foaming along, swollen and turbid with the melting of the icy glaciers above. Worn out perchance by the wasteful exertions of their