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full length. Even the hair, which is cut, and the parings of the nails are buried in the usual cemeteries; from an idea that being parts of the na. tural body, they ought to be treated accordingly. • The men wear a swathe of cloth between their legs, over which they have a piece of cotton depending to the knees, and above that a longer kind, of filk or cotton, reaching to their ankles. The waift is adorned with an embroidered handkerchief, tied before. Over all, they have a large filk fringed girdle, in the left side of which is a spocket for carrying their money and betel, and
in the right a knife is stuck. " Every male prides himself on wearing a knife, it being the only weapon the inferior ranks are allowed. The soldiers and grandees, however, carry a dagger at their fides, and when they walk abroad, a fword in one hand, with a buckler or javelin in the other.
The Maldivians place their chief personal decoration in the silver chains that hang from their girdle; and of these every person has a greater or fmaller quantity, in proportion to his opulence.
The common people seldom wear any other clothes, but what decency requires, except on festivals; but men of quality have handsome jerkins and waistcoats, while the more foppish anoint the skin, from the girdle upwards, with an odorous paint, in which figures are sometimes delineated.
Turbans, of various qualities, are in common use; but the soldiers and grandees frequently use embroidered handkerchiefs as a covering for the head. The feet are always naked, except within doors, when wooden sandals are used.
The women wear a filk or cotton petticoat, over which they throw a long robe without any opening, except at the neck, and this reaches to their feet. Their arms are decorated with a profufion of bracelets, according to their rank. Their ears are early pierced in the tip, from which hangs a large pendant, and the griftle is perforated in many places, and studded with gilt nails, fet with precious stones or pearls. The privilege, however, of wearing ornaments of ! gold or jewels must be purchased of the queen ; and, in like manner, the men must buy the king's permiflion for tlie same indulgence.
When the women go abroad, they are deeply veiled, and their faces are difficult to be seen; but in prefence of women of superior rank, the etiquette requires that they should be unveiled.
The different quality of the women is diftin. guished by their ornaments; and, if a wife, through vanity, assumes more costly decorations than belong to her rank, her hutband's taxes are raised, unless he is in the royal service, or an in-. habitant of Male; for in that island there are no fumptuary laws in regard to dress.
The king is generally clothed in a fine white robe, which reaches a little below the girdle: this is faftened with buttons of solid gold. Over the robe he wears a piece of red embroidered tapestry, depending to the heels, richly ornamented. His girdle is adorned with brilliants, and on his head he wears a scarlet cap, laced with gold, and surmounted with a large gold knob, fet with a jewel.
But the chief ensign of royal dignity is a white umbrella, which no native is permitted to use. He is usually attended by three pages: one car
ries his fan; another his sword and buckler; and the third, his betel and areca box. '
M. de Laval was doomed to remain in this
knowledge of the characters and customs of the Maldivians at that period. He says that the king was generally shut up with his women, or employed in giving audience to his courtiers. He had a taste for the mechanic arts, and constantly employed and superintended a number of artificers in the various branches of elegant manufacture. His guards consisted of six companies, under the command of as many counsellors, named mofcoulis. Besides which he had ten battalions, who served his majesty in various civil, rather than military capacities.
On Fridays the king went to the mosque in great pomp, attended by one hundred of his guards, his officers in waiting, and a complete band of music, consisting of trumpets, flutes, and drums. After service, he returned in the fame ftate; and, as these islands afford no beasts of burthen, he walked on foot, unless when he was carried in a chair on the shoulders of his Naves, which was not frequent.
His queens wore the same kind of habits as the other Maldivian women, but of a much richer and more expensive quality. Whenever they appeare ed in public, the women ran to meet them, and presented them with fruit and flowers. A number of female flaves preceded them, to warn the men from approaching. The chambers where these royal prisoners lived were always lighted with lamps ; so that their lives muft, according to our ideas, be the most uncomfortable in the world. C 2
The royal revenues arise from the crown lands, from a fifth of the grain and fruits of the whole country, from a tax on dried fish and on shells, named cowries, the current medium of exchange. In addition to these impofts, his subjects annually present him with cloth enough to dress his soldiers. He likewise derives no inconsiderable revenues from goods imported by thipping, as he is principal merchant, and sells out the commodities he has purchased on what terms he pleases. · All shipwrecks belong to his majesty, and also whatever ambergrise is found on the coast. This is more abundant here than in any other part of the Indies, and is so strictly watched, that whoever secretes or appropriates it to his own use, on detection loses a hand. The king has also the sole property in a kind of fea-nuts, called tannacarre, which are frequently thrown on the shore. These are as large as a man's head, and are esteemed valuable in medicine. The Portuguese call them the cocoas of the Maldives. '. · The government is an absolute monarchy. Each attolon, or province, is under the superintendence of a naybe, or governor, who is a priest. and doctor of the law; and exercises very exten. five powers.' The naybes, however, are account. able to the pandiare, or cady, who resides in the Isle of Male, and is the supreme judge both in civil and ecclesiastical causes. The judgment of this officer can only be reversed by the king him: self, to whom an appeal lies, ing ..
The pandiare makes an annual circuit of the Ile of Male, as every naybe does in his respective province, and condemns all to be whipped that cannot say their creed and prayers in the Arabic tongue. When witnesses are cited in any cause,
by a fingular regulation, the evidence of three women is only equivalent to that of one man, and saves are never admitted to give their testimony.
An insolvent debtor is obliged to become a
children must work the debt out, before he obtains his liberty. The ordinary punishment for criminals is whipping, and the most heinous offences, short of murder, may be got off for a pecuniary mulet. Stealing, however, is punithed with the loss of a hand; but capital punishments are never inflicted, except by the king's express command.
the royal family ; persons invested with offices and dignities; the nobility and gentry; and the common people. Between the third and fourth ranks the distinctions are very strictly observed. If a noblewoman marries a plebeian, the retains her rank, and her children are ennobled also; but a woman of the lowest class derives no privileges from matching with a grandee. The king, however, pofsefses the power of elevating whom he pleases to the third rank, by a kind of letters patent; and, of course, they are then eligible to offices of trust or honour.
The externals of religion are very ftri&tly observed among the Maldivians; but its vital influence is little felt. The groffett vices are daily committed without shame, and almost without puniihment. Both sexes are extremely libidipous; and chastity before marriage is neither reckoned a virtue nor a fault.
To be able to read the Koran in the original is the extent of their literary acquirements. The