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THE RATH, OR BURMESE IMPERIAL STATE CARRIAGE;

Captured in September, 1826, at Tavoy, a tea-pnrt in the Burmese Empire.

i wuli a people who, to the impetuous bravery ot savages, added all the artifices ot civilized warfare. We had to do with an enemy of whose history and resources we knew absolutely nothing. On those heads our information is still but scanty. It is the information which 1 the Hath,' or imperial carriage, affords respecting the state of the mechanical arts among the Burmese, that we consider particularly curious and interesting."

Before more minute description it may be remarked, that the eye is chiefly struck by the fretted golden roof, rising step by step from the square oblong body of the carriage, like an ascending pile of rich shrine-work. "It consists of seven stages, diminishing in the most skilful and beautiful proportions towards the top. The carving is highly beautiful, and the whole structure is set thick with stones and gems of considerable value. These add little to the effect when seen from below, but ascending the gallery of the hall, the spectator observes them, relieved by the yellow ground of the gilding, and sparkling beneath him like dewdrops in a field of cowslips. Their presence in so elevated a situation well serve to explain the accuracy of finish preserved throughout, even in the nicest and most minute portions of the work. Gilt metal bells, with large heart-shaped crystal drops attached to them, surround the lower stages of the pagoda, and, when the carriage is put in motion, emit 'a soft and pleasing sand."' The apex of the roof is a pinnacle, called the tee, elevated on a pedestal. The tee is an emblem of royalty. It is formed of movable belts, or coronals, of gold, wherein are set large amethysts of a greenish or purple colour: its summit is a small banner, or vane, o. crystal.

The length of the carriage itself is thirteen feet seven inches; or, if taken from the extremity of the pole, twenty-eight feet five inches. Its width is six feet nine inches, and its height, to the summit of the tee, is nineteen feet two inches. The carriage body is five feet seven inches in length, by four feet six inches in width, and its height, taken from the interior, is five feet eight inches. The four wheels are of uniform height, are remarkable for their lightness and elegance, and the peculiar mode by which the spokes are secured, and measure only four feet two

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inches: the spokes richly silvered, are of a very hard wood, called in the east, | iron mood: the felloes are cased in brass, i and the caps to the naves elegantly designed of bell metal. The pole, also of iron wood, is heavy and massive; it was destined to be attached to elephants by which the vehicle was intended to be drawn upon all grand or state occasions. The extremity of the pole is surmounted by the head and fore part of a dragon, a figure of idolatrous worship in the east; this ornament is boldly executed, and richly gilt and ornamented; the scales being composed of a curiously coloured tale. The other parts of the carriage are the wood of the oriental taaafrat tree, which combines strength with lightness, and emits a grateful odour; and being hard and elastic, is easily worked, and peculiarly fitted for carving. The body of the carriage is composed of twelve panels, three on each face or front, and these are subdivided into small squares of the clear and nearly transparent horn of the rhinoceros and buffalo, and other animals of eastern idolatry. These squares are set in broad gilt frames, studded at every angle with raised silvered glass mirrors: the higher part of these panels has a range of rich small looking-glasses, intended to reflect the gilding of the upper, or pagoda stages.

The whole body is set in, or supported by four wreathed dragon-like figures, fantastically entwined to answer the purposes of pillars to the pagoda roof, and carved and ornamented in a style of vigour and correctness that would do credit to a European designer: the scaly or body part are of talc, and the eyes of pale ruby stones.

The interior roof is latticed with small looking-glasses studded with mirrors as on the outside panels: the bottom or flooring of the body is of matted cane, covered with crimson cloth, edged with gold lace, and the under or frame part of the carriage is of matted cane in panels.

The upper part of each face of the body is composed of sash glasses, set in broad gilt frames, to draw up and let down after the European fashion, but without case or lining to protect the glass from fracture when down; the catches to secure them when up are simple and curious, and the strings of these glasses are woven crimson j cotton. On the frames of the glasses is much writing in the Burmese character . but the language being utterly unknown in this country, cannot be deciphered; it is supposed to be adulatory sentences to the " golden monarch" seated within.

The body is staid by braces of leather; the springs, which are of iron, richly gilt, differ not from the present fashionable C spring, and allow the carriage an easy and agreeable motion. The steps merely hook on to the outside: it is presumed they were destined to be carried by an attendant; they are light and elegantly formed of gilt metal, with cane threads.

A few years previous to the rupture which placed this carriage in the possession of the British, the governor-general of India, having heard that his Burmese majesty was rather curious in his carriages, one was sent to him some few years since, by our governor-general, but it failed in exciting his admiration—he said it was not so handsome as his own. Its having lamps rather pleased him, but he ridiculed other parts of it, particularly, that a portion so exposed to being soiled as the steps, should be folded and put up within side.

The Burmese are yet ignorant of that useful formation of the fore part of the carriage, which enables those of European manufacture to be turned and directed with such facility: the fore part of that now under description, does not admit of a lateral movement of more than four inches, it therefore requires a very extended space in order to bring it completely round.

On a gilt bar before the front of the body, with their heads towards the carriage, stand two Japanese peacocks, a bird which is held sacred by this superstitious people; their figure and plumage are so perfectly represented, as to convey the natural appearance of life; two others to correspond are perched on a bar behind. On the fore part of the frame of the carriage, mounted on a silvered pedestal, in a kneeling position, is the teebearer, a small carved image with a lofty golden wand inhishands,surmountedwilh a small tee, the emblem of sovereignty : he is richly dressed in green velvet, the front laced with jargoon diamonds, with a triple belt round the body, of blue saponins, emeralds, and jargoon diamonds; his leggings are also embroidered with sapphires. In the front of his cap is a rich cluster of white sapphires encircled with a double star of rubies and emeralds: the cap is likewise thickly studded with

the carbuncle, a stone little Rnown to us, but in high estimation with the ancients. Behind the carriage are two figures; their lower limbs are tattooed, as is the custom w ith the Burmese: from their position, being on one knee, their hands raised and open, and their eyes directed as in the act of firing, they are supposed to have borne a representation of the carbine, or some such fire-arm weapon of defence, indicative of protection.

The pagoda roof constitutes the most beautiful, and is, in short, the only imposing ornament of the carriage. The gilding is resplendent, and the design and carving of the rich borders which adorn each stage are no less admirable. These borders are studded with amethysts emeralds, jargoon diamonds, garnets hyacinths, rubies, tourmalines, and other precious gems, drops of amber and crystal being also interspersed. From every angle ascends a light spiral gilt ornament, enriched with crystals and emeralds.

This pagoda roofing, as well as that of the great imperial palace, and of the state war-boat or barge, bears an exact similitude to the chief sacred temple at Shoemadro. The Burman sovereign, the king of Ava, with every eastern Bhuddish monarch, considers himself sacred, and claims to be worshipped in common with deity itself; so that when enthroned in his palace, or journeying on warlike or pleasurable excursions in his carriage, he becomes an object of idolatry.

The seat or throne for the inside is movable, for the purpose of being taken out and used in council or audience on a 'journey. It is a low seat of cane work, richly gilt, folding in the centre, and covered by a velvet cushion. The front is studded with almost every variety of precious stone, disposed and contrasted with the greatest taste and skill. The centre bell is particularly rich in gems, and the rose-like clusters or circles are uniformly composed of what is termed the stones of the orient: viz. pearl, coral, sapphire, cornelian, cat's-eye, emerald, and ruby. A range of buffalo-horn panels ornament the front and sides of the throne, at each end of which is a recess, for the body of a lion like jos-god figure, called Sing, a mythological lion, very richly carved and gilt; the feet and teeth are of pearl; the bodies are covered with sapphires, hyacinths, emeralds, tourmalines, carbuncles, 'argoon diamonds, and rubies; the eyes are of a tri-coloured sapphire. Six small carved and gilt figures in a praying or supplicatory attitude, are fixed on each side of the seat of the throne, they may be supposed to be interceding for the mercy or safety of the monarch: their eyes are rubies, their drop ear-rings cornelian, and their hair the light feather of the peacock.

The chattah, or umbrella, which oversnadows the throne, is an emblem or representation of regal authority and power.

It is not to be doubted, that the caparisons of the elephants would equal in splendour the richness of the carriage, but one only of the elephants belonging to the carriage was captured; the caparisons for both are presumed to have escaped with the other animal. It is imagined that the necks of these ponderous beings bore their drivers, with small hooked spears to guide them, and that the cortege combined all the great officers of state, priests, and attendants, male and female, besides the imperial body - guard mounted on eighty white elephants.

Among his innumerable titles, the emperor of the Burmans styles himself " king of the white elephant." Xncca, the founder of Indian idolatry, is affirmed by the Brahmins to have gone through a metampsychosis eighty thousand times, his soul having passed into that number of brutes; that the last was in a white elephant, and that after these changes he was received into the company of the gods, and is now a pagod.

This carnage was taken with the workmen who built it, and all their accounts. From these it appeared, that it had been three years in building, that the gems were supplied from the king's treasury, or by contribution from the various states, and that the workmen were remunerated by the government. Independent of these items, the expenses were stated in the accounts to have been twenty-five thousand rupees, (three thousand one hundred and twenty-five pounds.) The stones are not less in number than twenty thousand, which its reputed value at Tavoy was a lac of rupees, twelve thousand five hundred pounds.

It was in August, 1824, that the expedition was placed under the command of lieutenant-colonel Miles, C. B., a distinguished officer in his majesty's service. It comprised his majesty's 89th regiment, 7th Madras infantry, some artillery, and

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o'ner native troops, amounting in the whole to about one thousand men. The naval force, under the command of capItin Hardy, consisted of the Teignmouln, Mercury, Thetis, Panang cruiser Jesse, with three gun boats, three Malay prows, and two row boats. The expedition sailed from Rangoon on the 2tHn of August, and proceeded up the Tavoy river, which is full of shoals and natural difficulties. On the 9th of September, Tavoy, a place of considerable strength, with ten thousand fighting men, and many mounted guns, surrendered to the expedition. The viceroy of the province, his son, and other persons of consequence, were among the prisoners, and colonel Miles states in his despatch, that, with the spoil, he took "a new state carriage for the king of Ava, with one elephant only." This is the carriage now described. After subsequent successes the expedition returned to Rangoon, whither the carriage was also conveyed; from thence, it was forwarded to Calcutta, and there sold for the benefit of the captors. The purchaser, judging that it would prove an attractive object ot curiosity in Europe, forwarded it to London, by the Cornwall, captain Brooks, and it was immediately conveyed to the Egyptian-hall for exhibition It is not too much to say that it u a curiosity. A people emerging from the bosom of a remote region, wherein they had been concealed until captain Symes's embassy, and struggling in full confidence against British tactics, must, in every point of view, be interesting subjects of inquiry. The Burmese state carriage, setting aside its attiactions as a novelty, is a remark- able object for a contemplative eye.

Unlike Asiatics in general, the Burmese are a powerful, athletic, and intelligent men. They inhabit a fine country, rich in rivers and harbours. It unites the British possessions in India with the immense Chinese empire. By incessant encroachments on surrounding petty states, they have swallowed them up in one vast empire. Their jealousy, at the preponderance of our eastern power, has been

j manifested on many occasions. They aided the Mahratta confederacy; and if the promptness of the marquis of Hastings

I nad not deprived them of their allies oefore they were prepared for action, a diversion would doubtless hare then been

! made by them on our eastern frontier.

Burmah is the designation of an active and vigorous race, originally inhabiting the line of mountains, separating the great peninsula, stretching from the confines of Tartary to the Indian Ocean, and considered, by many, the Golden Chernnetus of the ancients. From their heights and native fastnesses, this people have successively fixed their yoke upon the entire peninsula of Aracan, and after seizing »uccessively the separate states and kingdoms of Ava, Pegue, &c, have condensed their conquests into one powerful state, called the Burmah empire, from their own original name. This great Hindoo-Chinese country, has gone on extending itself on every possible occasion. They subdued Assam, a fertile province of such extent, as to include an area of sixty thousand square miles, inhabited by a warlike people who had stood many powerful contests with neighbouring states. On one occasion, Mohammed Shar, emperor of Hindostan, attempted to conquer Assam with one hundred thousand cavalry; the Assamese annihilated them The subjugation of such a nation, and constant aggressions, have perfected the Burmese in every species of attack and defence: their stockade system, in a mountainous country, closely intersected with nullahs, or thick reedy jungles, sometimes thirty feet in height, has attained the highest perfection. Besides Aracan, they have conquered part of Siam, so that on all sides the Burmese territory appears to rest upon natural barriers, which might seem to prescribe limits to its progress, and ensure repose and security to its grandeur. Towards the east, immense deserts divide its boundaries from China; on the south, it has extended itself to the ocean; on the north, it rests upon the high mountains of Tartary, dividing it from Tibet; on the west, a great and almost impassable tract of jungle wood, marshes, and alluvial swamps of the great river Houghly, or the Ganges, has, till now, interposed boundaries between itself and the British possessions. Beyond this latter boundary and skirting of Assam is the district of Chittagong, the point whence originated the contest between the Burmese and the British.

The Burmese population is estimated at from seventeen to nineteen millions of people, lively, industrious, energetic, further advanced in civilization than most of the eastern nations, frank and candid, and destitute of that pusillanimity which

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