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GROUP OF CHRISTIANS–KARENS. (467) The first convert to Christianity among the Karens was Ko Thah Bya, who was baptized at Tavoy in 1828; but before his death in 1841, there were 1,300 native disciples. The missionaries among them have been Mr. Boardman, Miss Macombe, and Messrs. Mason, Wade, and Abbot; and in 1851 the converts were estimated at 20,000. Several of their dialects have been reduced to writing, some in Roman, some in Burman characters, and the Scriptures translated. In reference to the Karens, among whom Mason, the American Baptist missionary, settled, we find many very interesting particulars of them given in one of his reports, published in Allen's
Indian Mailof April 13th, 1861, from which we shall extract a few passages, the report being too long to quote in its entirety. The costume of both sexes would appear to be remarkably picturesque. "The men wear short, red 'pants', with perpendicular narrow black or white stripes; sometimes the ground is black, with red or white stripes. Below the knees are black bands, several inches in diameter, formed of twisted thread. A shawl or sheet of white, with red or black stripes, is wrapped round the body, with or without a spare jacket. A bright red turban is worn on the head, and an ornamental bag is thrown across the shoulders. Every man carries a short knife in his belt; many swords: and those who have not muskets or matchlocks, carry from one to three light spears, which are used in war like javelins, and thrown from the hand. Every man has a pony, so that in time of war they form a species of light cavalry. When all turn out for service, the cultivation is carried on by the women. "The woman's dress is peculiarly picturesque, though every garment is only a rectangular piece of cloth. The head dress is a large red or black turban, wound up to form a small tower on the top of the head. There is no gown, but a cloth like the Roman toga is tied by two corners on the left shoulder; and the left arm is sometimes kept covered, but more often it is thrown out above the garment. A second piece of cloth like the first is kept in the hand, like a loose
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