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Geographical Notes



    A RECENT Blue-book (Siam, No. 1, 1885) contains a report by Mr. Archer, of the Consular service in Siam, on silk-culture in the province of Kabin, which lies on the eastern side of the Siamese delta, at the foot of the mountains separating the Meinam valley from that of the Meiking. In the course of his journey Mr. Archer came across certain Laos settlements, of which he gives an interesting account which is deserving of note, on occount of the very little known of the Laos. He says the settlements in the provinces of Pachim and Nakon Nayok are, as it were, the south-western outposts of the Laos race, which forms the bulk of the population of Eastern and Northern Siam, but they are “phung khao,” or “white-bellied,” and therefore distinct from the “black-bellied,” or inhabitants of the Chiengmai provinces. They are not, however, the original inhabitants of these provinces, but captives from Muang Kalassin, a province to the north east of Korat, formerly dependent on Wien Chan, who, after the war waged successfully by the Siamese against that ancient kingdom about sixty years ago, were transported to and allowed to settle in the country extending from the province of Nakon Nayok to that of Battambong. This country consists, for the most part, of a series of slight and gradual elevations and depressions, the dwellings, garden, and any other plantations being generally situated on the former, whilst rice is cultivated in the latter. The population is sparse, and consequently the greater part of the country is covered with jungle. The inhabitants are exceedingly indolent, and appear unable to exert themselves to procure more than enough rice for their bare sustenance. Their mode of living is of the simplest description, and their country being far from any commercial centre and outside any trade route, hardly any foreign goods, with the exception of cotton, are to be found amongst them. All Laos tribes, however, are not characterised by such indolence. Those living in the provinces closer to Korat are much more active, and devote more attention to agriculture, especially to the rearing of silkworms. This is stated to be due to the latter having a poorer soil at a higher altitude, which compels the inhabitants to devote more attention to silk-producing as a means of livelihood.

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