In the hotel compound—more absurd than all the rest, lost in a waste of open land beyond the seething native town—there was a swarm of coolie servants, their wives and their children, who played all day at climbing about the coaches put up under the trees. And, without ceasing, a maddening hubbub of laughter and crying came up from this litter of brats, more weariful than the silence of vacancy all around.As we reached Bunnoo green cornfields extended as far as the eye could see, under mulberry trees just unfolding their leaves. Numberless channels of water irrigated the land; the bed of the Kurrum[Pg 275] alone, quite white, was flecked here and there with blue pools, and was presently lost in the rosy distance of the hills on the Afghan frontier.
The Jumna Musjid, in the middle of the bazaar, is a reminder of the mosque at Cordova. A thousand[Pg 63] unmatched columns stand in utter confusion of irregular lines, producing a distressing sensation of an unfinished structure ready to fall into ruins. Every style is here, and materials of every description, brought hither—as we are told by the inscription engraved over one of the lofty pointed doorways—from the temples of the unbelievers destroyed by Shah Mahmoud Bogarat, the taker of cities, that he might, out of their remains, raise this mosque to the glory of Allah. In the centre of the arcade a large flagstone covers the Ja?n idol, which was formerly worshipped here; and my servant Abibulla, as a good Moslem, stamped his foot on the stone under which lies the "contemptible image." Some workmen were carving a column; they had climbed up and squatted balanced; they held their tools with their toes, just chipping at the marble in a way that seemed to make no impression, chattering all the time in short words that seemed all of vowels.
In the island of Srirangam we visited a temple to Vishnu, enclosed within eight walls, of which the three first only contain any dwellings. A crowd of pilgrims swarmed about the steps, where everything was on sale: little gods in bronze, in painted marble, in clay, and in wood; paper for[Pg 111] writing prayers on; sacred books; red and white face-paints, such as the worshippers of Vishnu use to mark their foreheads with a V; little baskets to hold the colours, with three or four divisions, and a mirror at the bottom; coco-nuts containing kohl; stuffs of every dye; religious pictures, artless indeed, and painted with laborious dabs of the brush in the presence of the customer; chromo-lithographs from Europe, sickeningly insipid and mawkishly pretty.
Here in southern India the women wear hardly any trinkets, and their garb consists of sarongs and sarees, so thin that their shape is visible through the light stuff. In their hair, which is knotted low on the neck, they stick flowers, and occasionally light trailing sprays fall down on the throat. They all have gold studs screwed into the two upper front teeth; hideous are these two red-gold teeth among the others, sound and white under young lips!The air is redolent of musk, sandal-wood, jasmine, and the acrid smell of the hookahs smoked by placid old men sitting in the shadow of their doors.
To the right of the forecourt is the high priest's room; lustres, glass shades, gilt chairs, coloured photographs, incongruously surrounding an antique silk carpet, soiled and stained.
In a dirty stable, strewn with withered plants, stood some forlorn, sickly-looking beasts, the sacred bulls of Madura.A funeral came pushing past me in the silence of this sleeping district: the body, wrapped in red, hung from a bamboo that rested on the bearers' shoulders. No one followed him, and the group disappeared at once in the deep gloom of the narrow alley.详情
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