The attendants threw water on the pauper's pyre, and then with their long bamboos pushed the mass of burnt wood and flesh into the Ganges, where it looked like some enormous black frog with a white patch for the head.[Pg 211]
In the chapel of the building through which I passed to go down to the tomb of La Martinière, two students, seated American fashion, with their feet on the back of the bench in front of them, were reading the Times of India and smoking cigarettes.And then, under the verandah, the accused were brought up: an old man and a youth, father and son, both superbly handsome, very tall, erect, haughty, in spite of the hustling of the armed men and the heavy chains that weighed on them; and after bowing low to the judge they stood towering above the crowd of witnesses, soldiers, and native functionaries, in magnificent dignity and calm indifference.
In the twilight of the great galleries the gods are assembled in groups, standing or sitting, rigid or contorted into epileptic attitudes, and thin bodies of human aspect end in legs or arms resembling serpents or huge fins, rather than natural limbs: Kali, the eight-armed goddess, leaping in the midst of daggers, performing a straddling dance while she holds up a tiny corpse on the point of the short sword she brandishes; impassible Sivas wearing a tall mitre; Krishna playing the flute to the thousand virgins who are in love with him, and who fade into perspective on the panel. And every divinity has eyes of jade, or of white plaster, hideously visible against the pale grey stone softly polished by time.
Outside Bombay, at the end of an avenue of tamarind trees, between hedges starred with lilac and pink, we came to Pinjerapoor, the hospital for animals. Here, in a sanded garden dotted with shrubs and flowers, stand sheds in which sick cows, horses and buffaloes are treated and cared for.[Pg 26] In another part, in a little building divided into compartments by wire bars, poor crippled dogs whined to me as I passed to take them away. Hens wandered about on wooden legs; and an ancient parrot, in the greatest excitement, yelled with all his might; he was undergoing treatment to make his lost feathers grow again, his hideous little black body being quite naked, with its large head and beak. In an open box, overhung with flowering jasmine, an Arab horse was suspended to the beams of the roof; two keepers by his side waved long white horsehair fans to keep away the flies. A perfect crowd of servants is employed in the care of the animals, and the litter is sweet and clean.The walls are covered with bas-reliefs carved in the rock, the roof adorned with architraves of stone in infinite repetition of the same designs. The stone is grey, varied here and there with broad, black stains, and in other spots yellowish, with pale gold lights. Some of the sculpture remains still intact. The marriage of Siva and Parvati; the bride very timid, very fragile, leaning on the arm of the gigantic god, whose great height is crowned with a monumental tiara. Trimurti, a divinity with three faces, calm, smiling, and fierce—the symbol of Siva, the creator, the god of mercy, and of wrath. In a shadowed corner an elephant's head stands out—Ganesa, the god of wisdom, in the midst of a circle of graceful, slender, life-like figures of women. Quite at the end of the hall, two caryatides, tall and elegant, suggest lilies turned to women. In the inner sanctuary, a small edifice, with thick stone walls pierced with tiny windows that admit but a dim light, stands the lingam, a cylinder of stone crowned with scarlet flowers that look like flames in the doubtful light; and in deeper darkness,[Pg 22] under a stone canopy, another such idol, hardly visible. The Brahman priests are constantly engaged in daubing all the statues of these divinities with fresh crimson paint, and the votaries of Siva have a spot of the same colour in the middle of the forehead. Two lions, rigid in a hieratic attitude, keep guard over the entrance to a second temple, a good deal smaller and open to the air, beyond a courtyard, and screened with an awning of creepers.
In the mystery of a polychrome temple, whose walls are closely covered with sculptured bas-reliefs of gods in the shape of men or animals, is a relic, the sacred tooth of Buddha; and all about the precious object, which is enclosed in a series of shrines within impenetrable walls, there is no sign of respect, but all the noise and bustle of a fair, a perfect turmoil of hurrying, chattering folk, whose only anxiety is to keep unbelievers away from the sacred spot.In a coach-house, through which we passed on our way to see the prince's favourite horses with the state carriages—quite commonplace and comfortable, and made at Palitana—was a chigram,[Pg 68] off which its silk cover was lifted; it was painted bright red and spangled with twinkling copper nails. This carriage, which is hermetically closed when the Ranee goes out in it, was lined with cloth-of-gold patterned with Gohel Sheri's initials within a horseshoe: a little hand-glass on one of the cushions, two boxes of chased silver, the curtains and hangings redolent of otto of roses.
Under the central dome sleeps Mumtaj-Mahal, the well-beloved sultana, for whom Shah Jehan erected the most beautiful mausoleum in the world.
As soon as he had bid us welcome, bunches of chrysanthemums were presented to us tied round a little stick. The Rajah hung garlands of jasmine round our neck, and a servant sprinkled us with otto of roses. The conversation turned on Europe, which Rawl Shri regards as a land of marvels, where fairy-like manufactures are produced and extraordinary forces have subjugated nature. He, like his cousin of Palitana, has a passion for horses, and he took me to visit his stud.Then from afar came the sound of tom-toms and bagpipes, nearer and nearer, and the musicians became visible at the top of one of the stair-like alleys. First came the men, then the women. One of these, robed in pale green with a violet and silver saree, carried a child in her arms wrapped in a red dress embroidered with gold. He was this day six[Pg 160] months old; he had eaten rice, and was brought to see the sacred Ganges for the first time. The family, friends, and neighbours had assembled in honour of the great ceremony, which consisted in holding the infant face downwards over the water, which he scarcely saw with half-shut eyes; and then the procession went back again to the sound of the music, and was gone.
The air is heavy with indefinable perfume. We are already coasting the Indian shore, but it remains invisible, and gives no sign but by these gusts of warmer air laden with that inscrutable aroma of musk and pepper. A lighthouse to port, which we have for some time taken for a star, vanishes in the light mist that hangs over the coast, and then again there is nothing but the immensity of waters under the clear night, blue with moonlight.
Halting at noon at Kohala, we found a barber in the open street shaving and snipping his customers. In a cage hanging to the bough of a tree above his head a partridge was hopping about—black speckled with white, and gold-coloured wings. It had a strident cry like the setting of a saw.详情
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