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breeds being in some cases peculiar. The horses, strong and active, are much prized by the soldiers, but the ox is used for tillage, and the mule is preferred for bearing burdens. Among wild animals, the most dreaded is the hyena. Protected by superstition, it is aś bold as it is fierce : it hovers round encampments, sometimes even enters houses, and, like the dogs at Constantinople, is the scavenger of the towns. The elephant and rhinoceros are found in the low grounds; there are crocodiles and hippopotami in the rivers ; and besides the wild boar and the buffalo, lions, panthers, and leopards are not unfrequent in some of the provinces. A country so extensive, and of such various elevation, must possess every variety of climate; but the high grounds are always healthful and invigorating, and many districts cannot be surpassed in point of climate by any region of the world. The valleys are malarious and afflicted with fevers, especially after the rains, which last from June to September.
Northern Abyssinia may be considered as divided by the Tacazzé into two countries-- Tigré and Amhara ; the people of Tigré, who live to the east of that river, differing in language, and, to some extent, in dress, customs, and national character from the inhabitants of the other parts of Abyssinia. The language of Tigré is a dialect of the Geez, the ancient Ethiopic, which is akin to, if not an old form of the Arabic-and is the language of religion throughout Abyssinia, and of such literature as Abyssinia possesses. In Amhara, and also in Shoa, the Amharic is spoken. It appears to be distinct from the Geez, though many words have crept into it from the latter. The Amharic is the court language, and also the language of commerce. It is now the written speech of the country, the Geez characters being used with some additions. A third language, the Agow, perfectly distinct from the two already mentioned, is spoken in Lasta, a mountainous province in the south of Tigré, and to some extent among the poorer classes in most parts of Abyssinia ; while the Galla speech has been adopted in some of the districts near the Galla country. Though in other matters than language differences exist, not only between Tigré and Amhara, but between the provinces of which either is composed, these are in no case important. A description of any part of Abyssinia is approximately true of the whole; and in spite of all the circumstances tending to separation, in spite of the divisions which have prevailed during the present century, the Christian Abyssinians deem themselves one nation.
Generally speaking, they have features of the Caucasian type, resembling the Arabs. They are rather above than below the middle height. In complexion, they vary greatly-some are jet black, others nearly white, while the majority are brown or of a light copper or nut colour. Particular colours predominate in certain districts, but there is uniformity of colour in no district, and scarcely in any family. Both men and women are usually well formed ; strikingly handsome figures are common among both sexes. In general, the
women of the better classes have very handsome shapes in youth, and remarkably pretty feet. The ordinary male dress consists of tight cotton trousers, coming down to three or four inches above the knee; a large belt of cotton worn around the body ; and a sort of mantle, called a quarry, also of cotton, usually put on so as to cover the left arm, leaving the right arm free. The quarry, the principal garment, is a double cloth of white cotton, about nine feet wide by seven and a half long, with a red border five or six inches deep at the lower end. The belt varies in length, with the fineness of the material used, from fifteen to sixty yards; and is about a yard wide. Fashion has its vagaries in Abyssinia as elsewhere, chiefly appearing in the length of the trousers and in the mode of wearing the quarry. The quarry is worn in as many different ways as the Highland plaid ; and the dandies of the towns are partial to trousers reaching half-way down the calf of the leg. The dress of young girls is somewhat slight, consisting of a piece of cotton cloth extending from the waist to near the knee, with the end of it—or sometimes another cloth-thrown over the left shoulder, the right arm and breast being left bare. Married women wear a loose shirt which reaches to the feet, with sleeves fitting tight at the wrists, and a quarry such as is worn by the men. No head-covering is worn, except by the priests, who are distinguished by the use of a white turban. Men and women tress or plait the hair-a work of time and art-plastering it thickly with butter. In this state they sustain no inconvenience from exposing their heads to the sun. Tattooing is practised, but chiefly by the women, who have the arms, the breast, often nearly the whole body, covered with fantastic devices; the operators are old women-almost the only professors of the fine arts now to be found in Abyssinia. Silver ornaments are worn in great profusion by the ladies-chains round the neck, which often support a silver case containing a talisman ; strings of amulets, massive bracelets and armlets, and bangles at the ankles. The men, except on state occasions, are content with a few strings of amulets, a ring, or two, and the blue cord which every Christian Abyssinian carries round the neck as a mark of his Christianity. The women stain their hands and feet with henna, and darken their eyelids with antimony. Only great ladies and a few of the elderly chiefs wear shoes in Tigré. Their use is somewhat more common in the Amhara country.
In one or two of the towns, where the influence of the Portuguese was strongest, the houses of the better classes are square and flat roofed ; but the ordinary Abyssinian house is circular, and has a conical roof. The use of mortar, which the Portuguese introduced, is now entirely unknown; the houses are built of rough stones, plastered with mud, the roof consisting of sticks or boughs of trees thatched with straw; even the best are seldom completely air or water tight. Ordinary huts consist of a single room, in which all
the members of a family, and their guests, live and sleep, together with the fowls, goats, cattle, or other live-stock which may belong to them; chiefs and wealthy people often divide the hut rudely into a suite of rooms. In the chief apartment of a good house, the floor is thickly strewed with grass, which in time emits odours intolerable to unaccustomed nostrils; a low table, near which the family and their guests seat themselves on the grass at mealtimes, is almost the only furniture. In the better houses there are separate places for sleeping ; but the bed is simply a wooden bench, covered with a skin or mat; sometimes there is a wooden pillow, such as may be seen in Egyptian hieroglyphics, with a cavity rudely shaped to hold the neck, so as to save the well-greased tresses from derangement; and the cloth which has been belted round the body during the day serves for bed-clothing during the night. An Abyssinian town is simply a collection of several hundred or thousand mud hovels; it is usually situated near a highway frequented by merchants-if the name of highway can be given to a mere track made by travellers, often overgrown with thorns. Its only public buildings, the churches, are as simple in construction as the private dwellings; it has no shops, and scarcely any tradesmen-none who are not either foreigners or outcasts. In the larger towns there is usually a Greek silversmith or two. There is a despised and dreaded caste of hereditary blacksmiths; and mason-work and thatching are often undertaken by the Jews. With these slight exceptions, the division of labour is unknown in the country, and every household must grind its own corn, make its own beer, and practise every trade of which it needs the benefit
. Nothing can be had for money except at one of the markets held at stated intervals. Strictly speaking, there is no money-every transaction is pure barter ; but the German crown of Maria Theresa supplies the place of a native coinage. Cotton cloths in Tigre, and bars of salt in the other parts of Abyssinia, are used as small change. Adowa and Axum are the chief towns of Tigré ; Gondar and Kurata in Amhara were, before the rise of Theodore, the principal places in Abyssinia ; Ankobar is the capital of Shoa.
Though Christianity is the religion of the country, ihere are not a few Mohammedans of Abyssinian race; and among them are found the merchants who carry on the trade between the sea-coast and Abyssinia and the countries adjacent to it: in every town there is a Mohammedan quarter. In general, all the older towns are sanctuaries-cities of refuge-a provision which, while it draws to them a multitude of lawless vagabonds, casts a needful protection over the trader. There are Jews-called Falashas-as well as Mohammedans in Abyssinia, but they, unlike their co-religionists in other countries, have nothing to do with trade; they are small farmers or humble handicraftsmen, and live apart in villages of their own.
The domestic relations in Abyssinia in some respects differ from those prevalent in Europe ; they are differently constituted, too,
and much more liable to be dissolved. By the rules of the church, marriage by the sacrament is indissoluble; but this sort of marriage scarcely now occurs except—and that rarely-between persons who have already lived happily together in the married state. A civil marriage is constituted by agreement between the bridegroom and the father or guardian of the bride; and if either party so wishes, it may be dissolved at any time. The custom of the country does not require a man to have only one wife at a time; in general, men of wealth have as many wives as they can get and can manage to keep; and it does not appear that the position of a second wife is in any respect worse or less respectable than that of a first. This perhaps arises from the sacramental marriage being regarded as the only real marriage, and from the facilities for slipping out of the ordinary marriage-knot. It often happens that a man continues to support a wife after he has-so to speak--divorced her and taken another, she living in a hut contiguous to his own. Marriages take place at a very early age; girls are commonly given in marriage at twelve; not unfrequently betrothed at eight or nine. A negotiation with the father of the bride always precedes a marriage; the father declares the amount of the dowry, the other party the value of his possessions; and if the explanations on these points prove satisfactory, the negotiation seldom fails to be successful. The ceremony takes place after an interval of three or four months-during which the betrothed are not allowed to see each other. On the appointed day the bridegroom comes with his friends, all riding on mules, armed with guns, swords, and lances, dressed in fine clothes -clothes, arms, and mules being often lent' by some great man for the occasion. They enact a sham-fight near the house of the bride; on their entering it, they and the bride's friends range themselves on opposite sides of the house, and the war-dance is performed ; after which the man expresses his willingness to marry the girl; the arrangement with the father is formally announced; a priest, if there be one present, gives some seasonable advice; and by-and-by the girl is handed over to one of the bridegroom's party, and carried away upon a mule. On the dissolution of a marriage, the woman gets back her property, and the children are divided; the boys are usually given to the father, the girls to the mother; but there seems to be no invariable rule; and the division of the property and children cannot always be effected, even in Abyssinia, without appealing to the law. Until lately, women were never secluded after marriage; in general, they still go about with perfect freedom; but polygamy is bearing its natural fruit, and some of the great chiefs in Amhara now adopt the harem. The hatred and ill-will subsisting between brothers and sisters of the half-blood has been remarked upon by several travellers.
Children are circumcised on the eighth day: a male child is baptised on the fortieth day after birth, a female child on the eightieth;
and if the father neglects to have the baptism performed on the
In the Abyssinian calendar, the greater part of the year (Mr
health. Out of the period of fasting, all classes place their chief delight, and spend the greater part of their time, in eating and drinking: they are an exceedingly social and hospitable people, and love to make merry with their friends, or with the wayfarer who has claimed the shelter of their roof.
Water, during the dry season, is scarce and bad; it often has to be brought from a distance ; many places have none except the impure quasi-fuid which is got by digging in the sandy torrent-bed. The Abyssinians are not partial to it. They have a strong though sour beer, which they make from the dagousha grain. Their favourite drink is tej (in Tigré called meese), a harsh but stimulating liquor produced by fermentation out of honey. Honey in this country is exceedingly plentiful and exceedingly good, and it is chiefly valued as the raw material of tej. The profusion of food and drink at the tables of the chiefs, and the large number of followers and daily guests whom they entertain, reminded Mr Plowden of the customs of our Saxon ancestors; and the resemblance between the two, he tells us, does not stop at this. “The gates are open in the evening to all who demand food and shelter in the name of friendship and religion ; rich and poor are seated at one table ; in the house of a great chief, public singers chant the legends of their heroes, or receive guerdon for reciting impromptu stanzas in praise of their host and his guests; nor does the frequent intoxication weaken the likeness. Besides the numerous feast-days appointed by the church, almost every event of life affords an excuse for excessive eating and