An Historical Relation of the Island Ceylon in the East Indies eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 438 pages of information about An Historical Relation of the Island Ceylon in the East Indies.

The better sort of Women, as Gentlewomen or Ladies, have no other Pastime but to sit and chew Betel, swallowing the spittle, and spitting out the rest.  And when Friends come to see and visit one the other, they have as good Society thus to sit and chew Betel, as we have to drink Wine together.

[The Manner of their eating Betel-leaves.] But to describe the particular manner of their eating these Leaves.  They carry about with them a small Box filled with wet Lime; and as often as they are minded to eat Betel, they take some of this Lime, as much as they judge convenient, and spread it thin upon their leaf; then they take some slices of the Betel-nut, and wrap them up in the leaf, and so eat it, rubbing their Teeth therewith ever and anon to make them black.  Thus they eat it generally:  but sometimes they eat it otherwise, according as they please; neither spreading the Lime on the leaf, nor rolling up slices of the Nut into it:  But they will take a little of the Lime out of their Box between their Fingers, and put it in their mouths, and eat of the Nut and the Leaf by themselves.  But whensoever they eat of the Betel-leaf, the Lime and the Nut always accompany it.

[How they make Lime.] They have a pretty shift of making their Lime, when they chance to need it as they are travailing.  They take certain Shells, almost resembling Snails Shells, which they pick up in fresh water Rivers, washed a shore with the water beating upon the Rocks.  These Shells, mixed with Charcoal and, fire they wrap up in a wisp of Rice-straw, and bind them together in a round bundle of a convenient bigness, tying all up with green Withs, that they may not fall in pieces.  By a With some four foot long they hold it in their hands, swinging it round over their heads.  Which motion blows the Coals and makes them burn.  And as they are weary with swinging it in one hand, they shift and take it in the other:  and so keep swinging it for half an hour or thereabouts.  By which time it will be burnt to very good Lime, and most part of the straw consumed:  but it is still kept together by the green Withs.  Then they take it and wet it in water, and put it into their Pots or Boxes for their use.  The Lime made of white stone burnt in a Kiln they do indifferently use to eat with their Leaves, as well as this made of Shells now described.


Of their Laws and Language.

There are three things, that ingenious men may possibly be inquisitive after, which have not yet been professedly handled, their Laws, their Language, and their Learning.

[Their Laws.] Concerning the first, here are no Laws, but the Will of the King, and whatsoever proceeds out of his mouth is an immutable Law.  Nevertheless they have certain antient usages and Customes that do prevail and are observed as Laws; and Pleading them in their Courts and before their Governors will go a great way.

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An Historical Relation of the Island Ceylon in the East Indies from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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