|ဂျောက်ဂျက်||ʤaʊʔ ʤeʔ||gambling game played with three dice each bearing pictures of six animals.|
|ဂျင်||ʤì̃||gambling game played with a square spinning top bearing pictures of four animals.|
|လေးကောင်ဂျင်||léi gaʊ̀̃ ʤì̃||top with four sides bearing pictures of four animals (i e cock, eel, frog and hog). |
gambling game played withလေးကောင်ဂျင်.
|အတိတ်စိမ်း||əteiʔ seiĩ̃́ĩ||recent and vivid omen indicating the winning figure in a gambling game featuring thirty-six creatures.|
|ပေါက်ကောင်||paʊʔ kaʊ̀̃||winning figure (usually of an animal) in gambling games such asလေးကောင်ဂျင်၊ သုံးဆယ့်ခြောက်ကောင်, etc.|
|သုံးဆယ့်ခြောက်ကောင်||θóʊ̃ zḛ ʧʰaʊʔ kaʊ̀̃||lottery based on choice of one of 36 creatures.|
|ဇယ်||zè||pips used in playing some indoor games (usually cowries or tamarind seeds)|
|ပါ||pà||throw resulting in two upturned cowries in a game of pachisi; a two.|
|ဗာရာ||bà yà||throw of six upturned cowries in a game of pachisi.|
|ကြွေအန်||ʧwèi à̃||game played with cowries or dice.|
|အန်ခတ်||à̃ kʰaʔ||play a game with cowries or dice.|
game played with dice.
|ထောင်||htaun tʰaʊ̀̃||stand (as in ထီးကိုထောင့်မှာ-).|
set up (business) (as in ကားငှားကားပြင်လုပ်ငန်း-).
set a trap or snare; trap, frame (person).
be arrogant; be proud.
|သုံးဆယ့်ခြောက်ကောင်||θóʊ̃ zḛ ʧʰaʊʔ kaʊ̀̃||lottery based on choice of one of 36 creatures.|
|တော||tɔ́||wild (as in ကျွဲ); rural, rustic (as inဓလေ့၊စရိုက်).|
|တောကြောင်||tɔ́ ʤaʊ̀̃||wild cat|
|နဂါး||nəgá||mythical serpent or dragon.|
|ရှဉ့်ပျံ||ʃḭ̃ byà̃||flying squirrel.|
|ကြောင်ဖား||ʧaʊ̀̃ bá||big tomcat. wild cat. See also တောကြောင်|
The houses wherein gambling was (and is) usually carried on, are evidently constructed to secure privacy, and to facilitate escape in the event of a surprise. In the main street there is a long row of houses on either side of the thoroughfare, all occupied by Chinese. I believe every one of these houses possesses, in some way or other, the requisites for this description of pastime. Generally the front (ground -floor) is a shop. A door opens from the shop into an apartment behind, from which there is a communication to the upper part of the building. So far there is nothing to denote that there is anything illicit going on within the premises. Business in the front shop is transacted in the usual manner, to all appearance; but a Chinaman is hanging about the street doorway, and he gives a peculiar sign to a passenger — a sign which only the initiated understand. The passenger enters the shop, and holds a few moments' conversation with the dealer, who is busy at his counter. He then passes into the inner room, and knocks at a door which is cautiously opened. He passes into a narrow passage, at one end of which is another door, leading into a further apartment, on the floor of which some ten or twelve Chinese, with perhaps a few Burmese, many of them with opium pipes in their hands, are seated at a mat marked off with red and black checks, on which various coins are placed, and in the centre of which is a small four-square oblong metal box, which one of the party is spinning round, after the manner of a tetotum. There is a square piece of metal which fits into this box, the top of which is marked off into four divisions, two of black and two of red. Presently the box ceases to spin, and falls over — perhaps on the red side — red clears the board. The game, which is called Nadoung, seems, in fact, to be in principle precisely the same as rouge et noir. At this juncture the man who had previously made the sign at the outer door, which has elicited the response of the passenger, as before observed, rushes in and gives an alarm. In an instant coins, mats, dice, counters, nadoung box, every indication of the recent occupation of the party vanishes, no one sees whither — and all the players and their confederates rush to a back door, which leads to an alley in the rear, when a terrible noise in the centre apartment announces the arrival of the police. The pursuers reach the passage leading to the gambling room; but here a trap has been laid, and the foremost of them have been precipitated into a filthy hole underneath the house. The rest clear the aperture, and arrive at the back door just in time to catch the last two or three of the retreating delinquents.
Gambling is universal in the Shan States; and on market days respectable-looking men may be seen seated in a booth, or some other shelter, selling tickets from little books for the lottery of the " thirty-six animals," a diagram of which hangs behind him to assist the investor in making his choice. In a central spot is a tall bamboo, from the top of which dangles a small box containing the name of the winning animal for the day. This is hauled down at a certain hour, and the winners declared. Other forms of gambling — odd and even a rough kind of roulette, &c. — are also in full swing.
Attempts are being made, with some success, in the Shan States, to reduce the excessive public gambling, but as the receipts from the licenses are very great, and in Keug Tung some are set apart to provide pin money for the queen and princesses, the reform must not be effected too violently. It has been pointed out to the chiefs that, in the interests of the people, they are now exempt from the octroi and bazaar dues, monopoly on tea, and other collections exacted by the Burmese kings.
Even small miniature skiffs, with feather sails, are made to speed across tiny ponds carrying the wagers of their owners. Perhaps the most common form of gambling, however, is the Chinese raffle, known as the thirty-six animal game (Ti). The name of one of thirty-six animals is written on a piece of paper, rolled up, and placed in a bag. Money being staked, whoever has correctly divined the winning animal (Paukgaung) receives thirty-five times his stake. The odds are, of course, always in favour of the banker, and the Chinaman can easily increase his advantage surreptitiously. Chinese dice (An Kasá) and cards (Pè Kasá) are also used as means of gambling, which has certainly hitherto formed the greatest national vice.
Let us turn to pleasanter topics. The amusements of the people are many and various. In the village street you will see men sitting over a chess-board playing a game very much like the chess known in Europe. The moves and rules are similar, though the shape of the pieces and their names are different. A bad habit prevails of finishing each move by thumping the piece loudly on the board. Card games are also in high favour, the most esteemed being the game called "ko-mi," literally, "catch the nine." Of course, cards are played for money. The Burman is a born gambler, and indulges his propensity on every available occasion. We have austerely set our faces against gambling in every form, especially gambling with cards, and interfere not a little with this fascinating pastime. Perhaps, contrary to the current opinion derived from tales of travellers and legends from the hills, the real defect of the Englishman in Burma is that he is too serious, too little inclined to make allowances for a joyous, light-hearted people. Public gambling is sternly discountenanced. For many years the Legislature has been occupied in devising measures for its suppression, meeting by fresh enactments the ingenious efforts of the Courts to find means to rescue the gambler from the meshes of the law, of the gambler to sail as near to the wind as possible without capsizing. To the impartial observer these alternate struggles of the Legislature to make its prohibitions effective, of the Courts to provide loopholes for the gambler to escape, afford much healthy amusement. I have taken a hand in the game on both sides in progressive stages of a varied career. Let me not be thought too flippant. If Burmans would be content to have quiet little ko-mi parties of friends in their own houses, I for one should be the last to object. But it is a well-known fact that gambling parties are not conducted on these principles. Practically it may be said that in every gambling party someone makes a profit apart from the chances or skill of the game. This is the essential distinction of a common gaming-house, and the practice is properly discouraged. When it is added that gaming parties constantly lead to brawls, affrays, violent assaults, and indirectly to thefts and embezzlements, perhaps the attitude of the earnest official may be regarded with sympathy. Pitch-and-toss and other forms of gambling in public places are prohibited, as in most civilized countries. Lotteries are exceedingly popular ; they are for the most part promoted by the intelligent Chinaman, to the detriment of the guileless Burman. A pleasing form is that known as the "thirty-six animal" lottery. The punter stakes on any of the animals on the board ; the winning animal, having been previously secretly determined, is disclosed when the stakes have been made. There is room here for deception. King Thebaw is supposed to have ruined half Mandalay by State lotteries established for the purpose of raising revenue. No one will be surprised to hear that lotteries on races, to which the authorities are discreetly blind, are warmly supported by Burmans of all classes ; they are of a mild description, tickets are cheap, and really hurt no one, like the capitation tax. It is almost superfluous to record that cock-fighting is a favourite pastime; this, too, is against the law, but it is hardly on this account less popular. I have heard of, but never seen, fights between buffaloes and even elephants.
Gambling is in the blood of all Chinese and allied people. The Shans are very fond of quiet lotteries on the Tlime-sey Chauk gaung (the 36 animals). The banker chooses an animal, and locks its picture up in a box. Then every one backs his fancy. The banker gives 'tips' which, of course, are misleading, for he wants everyone to lose. So there is much merriment till the box is opened. Then the word "horse ! horse !" goes round the town like wildfire, and all who backed the horse come and claim their prize.
I have seen a Chinaman stake his last garment at dice, regardless of the consequences. Luckily he won, and subsequently redeemed his coat also. The Burmese are such excitable players that gambling amongst them has had to be entirely prohibited. I would not infer for a moment that it does not still continue. Now and then a Burmese club is successfully raided, and rather a queer crowd caught red-handed. Praise falls in the quarter where it is due. The learned Judge imposes a crushing fine, which is paid with surprising ease. There is nothing to show that the whole thing was a put up job but, on the other hand, there is nothing to show that it was not.
|Sections.||Cases convicted||Persons convicted|
|(1)||1934 (2)||1935 (3)||1934 (4)||1935 (5)|
|Section 10 (Gambling in|
|Section 13 (Conducting|
game of " Hti " or " 36
Animal " game).
The whole passage came back to me. I trembled, as I had always trembled, at the word pange and I whispered more than once the last line:
Che paia il giorno pianger che si more.
When I re-entered the tawmaw, they were still engrossed with the jewels.
That night the Sawbwa gave his last dinner. It was a much reduced company. There were still, however, four
young princess of the House of Mong Mit, whom I had not seen before, the Lady Chit Kyu, just out of school.
It was her first big party. As a special treat, also, some of the younger brothers and sisters, mere children, were allowed to dine with us, at the bottom of the table. One of them, a girl they called Kathleen (for many of princesses had alternative English names) I had seen at a play the previous evening, when she came out of
Though only eight she spoke some English, and had a sudden smile, like the sun springing from clouds. I now saw her manipulating her knife and fork with plenty of assurance.
After dinner the Sawbwa suggested a visit to the gaming-booths. On the occasion of the funeral of a Sawbwa gambling is licensed for some nights. The manager and croupiers are Chinese; the games are often fan-tan and the animal game. There were several gaming houses in the bazaar at the end of the camp, and it was to these that the Sawbwa proposed to take us. The children were not brought, but the rest of the diners, including the Lady Chit Kyu, who was determined to enjoy her first party to the full, set out about ten o'clock.
The moon was only two days on the wane and threw ample light as we walked to the bazaar with the bodyguard escorting us. In the first gaming house fan-tan was being played. The croupiers, who were wearing felt hats and mufflers, were not a whit more pleasant-looking than the Chinese villains on the cover of a thriller.
Fan-tan is a game in which you can lose your money more rapidly than in any game I know, and after a few doubles one member of the party had lost so much that we were all dashed and left the booth, going to another where the four animal game was in progress. It was a mat house containing a long table, with benches. Some feet above the table was another floor, fenced by a balustrade, over which a number of spectators were leaning. We sat down on the benches by the table, where the chart of the four animals was spread, a little pig, a little cock, a sort of a worm and some other creature. You chose your animal and staked, The Lady Chit Kyu, who had come with three rupees in her purse, followed his lead, never staking more than eight annas. She too began to accumulate a small pile, and by midnight had ten rupees in front of her. I have never seen a more careful or methodical gambler.
A number of assistant croupiers were looking down from the balustrade. They all wore felt hats; their faces were lined with character.
There was something of Brouwer about the scene, the peasants at the end of the table unable to hide their emotions of greed, triumph, or disappointment, the row of sinister faces at the balustrade lit by a hanging lamp, the rays of which cound no penetrate the brown shadows.
At one o'clock Mong Mit gave orders for refreshments and two members of the bodyguard carried in whisky and biscuits. I have remarked before on the discretion of Shan guardsmen. They now drew the corks and filled the glasses with the swing and precision of men on parade. By the time the Lady Chit Kyu's hoard had swelled to fifteen rupees. There was a spice about the evening which I feared she might not easily savour again: young girls' parties would seem very tasteless; for a first party it was perhaps too delicious. Not that she was hilarious or carried away. She continued to build her fortune with method.
At three o'clock the company began to drop off to bed. When I left, the Lady Chit Kyu had taken twenty-two rupees, and the loser at the fan-tan table, thanks to the little pig, was within measurable distance of recovering all his losses. The Chinese had had a poor night of it, but no sign appeared on their stoic faces.
... strongly reminded of portraits of Voltaire when I looked at her wizened, sparkling face. At one point the conversation turned on gambling, hen she showed a detailed knowledge of the various types of state lotteries and laid down with authority and a wealth of example how a prince might hope always to win. There was something here which sounded familiar, even through the medium of the Burmese. The word 'prince' gave me the clue. It was Machiavelli. That was her standpoint. I saw it now and began to grasp her better. She had no resemblance to any of the princesses I had met so far. They were mere bread- and-butter misses beside her. Here was a woman learned in statecraft, the craft of the small state, a mistress of intrigue, who approached every subject from the point of view of the prince's advantage. I perceived the secret of her immense influence. Though she was now only a dowager princess on a small state pension, with no member of her family in any ruling position, she dominated those with whom she
There is the Two-animal game, the Three-animal game, the Four-animal game, but it is "Thon-Za-Chow", the thirty-six animal game, the animal game to end all animal games, that dominates the talk of the Pwe. All day long the people crowd around the long bamboo counter where the clerks scribble on scraps of paper your stake, your animal, your name. All day long questing eyes run over the two extraordinary Nat figures painted on the wall behind, the traditional "Thon-Za-Chow", horrifically a crawl with livestock like some composition by Salvador Dali, jungle cocks emerging from their lips, a swan floating on one elbow, a horse galloping over a head....
High above the long booth a small cash-box tied up with red ribbon, hang from a tall bamboo pole, standing out against the blue sky. Twice a day, the image of an animal, one of the thirty-six, is placed inside the box, and the box is locked and hoisted in the sky, under police supervision; twice a day the box is hauled down and unlocked, under police supervision. The magic of the game is powerful at one sweep it can multiply a man's fortune twenty-seven times. Thus the selection of an animal is not a matter to be taken lightly. First, many portents must me thoroughly discussed, what happened in the dream one had last night; the cross-eyed girl seen on the way to the Pwe; the cat that crossed one's path from left to right. "This is not just gambling we have in Shan States" said Leo Tun U, "it is spiritual gambling".
...their waists, from the neighbouring tea-growing state of Tawn-peng — one of the many odd racial remnants of South-East Asia's mountainous heart. And wandering forlornly through the crowds, was the Sawba of Mong-na, a state which lay on the wrong side of the line of white stones which, here and there at least, mark the ill-defined border with China.
When Chinese Communist irregulars headed for his state, the Sawba had judged it prudent to retire, and now here he was wandering around this Hsipaw pwe, a lost and rather pathetic figure, a sawba without a state.
Explaining his plight to the manager of the Thirty-six Animal Game, he had begged him for a good tip. 'All right,' said the manager, softening at last under the homeless Sawba's pleas. 'when you arrived here by train, what did you see on the platform?' The delighted Sawba went off and put his money on Dog. But the poor man's luck was still out. The 'animal' that came out of the box was the crow.
We went off with the disconsolate Sawba to eat a plate of moh-ing-ha, the staple Burmese dish, composed on a base of rice-flour spaghetti.
The money circulated madly; over the animal game tables, from pocket to pocket, out again at the eats and drinks stalls, over the tables again. I took a look inside a booth with a bamboo screen door and found an opium-smoking 'restaurant', the customers lying in rows on small tables, smoky little oil lamps on which they warmed their pipes, guttering between them. In Burma proper, opium smoking was illegal without an addict's licence. But the Shan states were different: the Shan states were out of this world. Yet in 1952 the question was: for how much longer? Consider, for instance, these remarkable feudal survivals, the Sawbas. Some, especially in the remoter states, are primitive, half-illiterate; but the late Sawba of Hsipaw was "Eton and Cambridge'; his son, the present Sawba, was away in Colorado, taking a degree in mining engineering. Even before the war the Sawbas had watched their absolutism being whittled down, first by their British Advisers, then by the Shan States Government at Taunggyi. And now — believe it or not — there were elections, and at Hsipaw the 'Shan Congress' had even dared to put up a man against the....
...anti-gambling posters. They got short shrift from the locals — but the Government in Rangoon was clearly sympathetic and had in fact produced a plan for the pensioning-off of the Sawbas. And now the Shan States Special Commissioner at Lashio, Saw Hom Hpa, himself ex-Sawba of North Hsenwi, tomd me that the Sawbas were planning to amalgamate the smaller states, though he added that they felt that until their simple people had been 'educated for democracy', the time was not ripe for more radical change.
There was something, perhaps, in what Saw Hom Hpa said, for in the turmoil that is post-war Burma I found the mountain land of the Shans an island of beautiful tranquility. The Shans cultivated the rice in their valleys and the millet on their hills and they dwelled in peace and contentment in their stilted bamboo houses with they wide open platforms at the front, their curving, smoke roofs of deep thatch, and their orange groves all around them. And if a Shan always had his gun, this was a rugged and remarkable home-made affair, a length of water-pipe, a stock carved from a tree, a match-head as cap--and a ramrod.
One night, as Williams and I stood watching the Four Animal Game, a local policeman came to air his English, picked up in the British Army in Mesopotamia in World War I. He was, he told us proudly, not a Burmese; no, sir, he was a Taking — one of the people who originally occupied lower Burma and who still live on in some parts of the extreme south to-day. Professionally, our policeman was happy. Quiet fellows, he said, these Shans. But don't imagine you could have this sort of thing in Burma. No, sir ! Why, those Burmese would be at each other's throats inside five minutes ! One was always hearing that sort of remark in the Shan states.
'They don't play hockey, you know, in Burma,' said one Shan official. 'Why? Because they dare not, of course. The players would get beaten to death with the sticks!' But now the Shans were co- citizens with these impetuous Burmese in the Union of Burma.
How did they like that? Most of them were inclined to blame the Burmese and their Government down in Rangoon for all the country's troubles. They resented, too, the large number of Burmese officials serving in the Shan states, though Saw Hom Hpa told me that he believed that would remedy itself once they'd got the 'backward' Shans trained for the job. Twenty-five of the Sawbas already sat, ex-officio, in the second chamber of the Rangoon Parliament, the Chamber of Nationalities. As in Indonesia....
Since gambling was permitted only during there Shan pwes, large crowds from everywhere came to try their luck. The entire operation was run by Ah Fatt, a Chinese contractor, who had been the highest bidder when Hsipaw State had auctioned off the festival for that year. The contractor received all the income from gambling operations and concessions, while he had to provide free facilities and entertainment for all. The state suprevised all aspects of the festival, assuring that strict guidelines were followed.
The first table she came to was covered with a large cloth depicting four animals : a chicken, a pig, a snake, and a frog. The attendant spun a die with a long pin through it, with the four animals engraved on its four sides. White it was spinning, he covered it with a bowl. People started throwing money on the table, betting on the animal of their choice. When the bets stopped, the attendant uncovered the die, and winners were paid three kyats to one. Men and women of all backgrounds tried their luck on one table after another. The four-animal game seemed to be the most popular. Taller than all women and most men, Thusandi was able to see over those crowding around the gambling tables. She counted more than a dozen gamblers around each table, representing young and old, but no children. Men were in the majority, although a few women placed heavy bets on the four-animal game. Most gamblers were Shans and hill people, who looked as if they carried every penny they owned with them to the tables, intent on risking all. They were too poor for this, Thusandi thought, worried about the hardships their losses would bring to their families.
She moved on to learn about the biggest event of the day, the thirty-six animal lottery with a drawing at eleven o'clock that night. Thusandi saw the twenty-foot pole on which the contractor would later hoist a box containing one of thirty-six carved animals. Previously, it had been the ruler who selected the winning animal, but Sao had now assigned that task to the contractor, who had been sworn to secrecy. After the little box with the winning selection was raised, guards kept a watchful eye on the pole. People had from five o'clock to eleven o'clock to place their bets. Everybody hunted for clues, analyzed dreams, and hoped to guess whether the rat, the elephant, the tiger, the peacock, or one of the other thirty-two animals would be the day's winner, returning twenty-seven kyats for each one ventured. For this event, bookies had taken bets in distant towns that could be reached by telephone, like Lashio, Maymyo, Mandalay, and others.
The banker at the four animals gambling table, the eel and frog are clearly seen.
...the two hundred villages of Inke, large and small, are situated either along the shores, some by the main channel leading towars the capital, or in the middle of the lake. Wherever they lived, and whatever they trade, the Phaung Daw U festival for the villagers was an annual affair which no one wanted to miss. During the three days they would first go to the Royal monastery to perform their devotions and pay reverence to the Buddha images. Then their duty done, they were free for the rest of each day to wander around at leisure, seeking out family and friends, determined to enjoy themselves.
For some, it was to the gambling tables that they would wind they way. Rich and poor alike could not resist temptation to win or lose they fortunes. The stakes could run into thousands of kyats but compared to the famous casino tables of Europe, it was child's play. There were a number of different gambling games to choose from, but not roulette which was unknown in those days. Serious gamblers who wanted to break the bank played only the Four Animal game.
The four animals in question consisted of an eel, a cockerel, a frog and a pig, which were painted on a rectangular oil cloth. The cloth is diagonally divided with the pig sitting at the top, the cockerel on his right and the eel on his left. Below him lies the frog,
The pig and the frog are black, the eel and the cockerel red.
I do not remember what the odds were, but in the 1950s in Rangoon, we used to play this game at parties. Not unlike sitting at the gambling tables, there would be loud shouts of eel or frog, red or black, as the four-sided top, with the animals painted on its faces, was spun around.
It was at the far end of the festival grounds that the two or three long bamboo gaming huts stood, each with four to six betting tables lining the walls.
As it got late into the night, the tables filled up and the stakes got higher and higher. It was then that the Johnny Walker Red Label would appear and tins of Players 555
The higher the stake, the more lavish the entertainment provided by the gambling house. One could be sure that for both gamblers and croupiers alike, they were settling in for a long night.
For the more imaginaitive, there was another gambling game based on thirty-six animals. In a separate hut, a large picture of an old Chinese mandarin, with thirty-six animals distributed over his body, hung over the table on which bets were
I do not recall how they were all distributed, although I can remember the positions of some: a white horse on top of his head, a naga (the snake) by his right ear, while a butterfly was by his left ear. In his right palm he held an elephant and a tiger sat on his chest. The chart was considered to be sacred and it was treated with great respect.
To play this game, one had to be highly inventive or superstitious, or good at riddles and puns. A riddle is set, and the answer is put into a little box, which is pulled to the top of a tall bamboo pole standing just outside the hut. When the times of the answer comes, there is a great deal of noise from firecrakers and beating of gongs, as with great excitement crowds gather to hear the result.
Those with a good imagination can turn any little incident into an omen sent by a phii. Dreams or events became omens related to one of these animals, Thus, if one dreamt of an enemy, it signified a snake. Conversely if one met someone noble in a dream, or dreamt of doing a good deed, it could be interpreted as a horse or a white elephant. Though none of these related to the riddles, people betted on a hunch. In fact, although some old people may have remembered the riddles and the answers, no-one could be sure that the answers would be the same.
I think it was during a Phaung Daw U festival when I was about twelve, that I thought I would try my luck. It so happened that on a certain day, I had been in the garden and a beautiful, pale, yellow butterfly alighted on my arm.
This must be a sign, I thought. I
Still, I thought I should ask around as a cousin or an uncle might know. In the end, although uncertain, I decided to bet on the butterfly as an omen which could not be ignored. I sent a kyat of my pocket money down to the betting table and waited anxiously to hear the gongs and the firecrackers announcing the answer. To my utter amazement I had won! But my joy was short-lived for when my father, who was never fond of gambling, heard about it, he forbade me to ever gamble again.
Though he was strict in this way, he did not mind us going to the poy and playing the six animal game. This was really a children's game and we played with one pya or two, probably equivalent to one pence.
Later, I began to see why he had chided me,
the consequences of becoming addicted to gambling. After all I had been lucky enough to win thirty-six kyats, which was a fortune for a girl of twelve. Indeed I might have been tempted to try my luck again and the lost everything.
The money the contractor gained from the gaming tables were taxed by the state amd created revenue for the state treasuries. I assume the more poys there were each year, the more the coffers were filled.
The contractor had to be an enterprising and efficient businessman to cover his costs. In spite of the many festivals we had and talk of large sums of money I understand there were never sufficient funds in the treasury to carry out the many development plans my father desired.
Beneath the canopies of a hundred bamboo stands, wild-eyed gamblers stepped forward crying out 'Dragon!' or 'Tiger!'. They threw crumpled notes on titled tables marked with the symbols of animals, watched the dice roll, then slipped back into the crowd as long feathered-dusters swept their money into a pot. The rare yelp of triumph brought an eager rush of new punters, a flurry of bets at the lucky table, then disappointment, always disappointment. The Shans' enthusiasm for drink was surpassed only by their love of gambling.
It might have been his ardent pursuit of scientific knowledge that led him to the Chinese gambling den where he was discovered; or possibly he thought that the "thirty-six animal game" would be an agreeable relaxation after the studious research; his presence there, I say was a detail that might have been satisfactorily explained.
To-night the laws are relaxed, and petty gambling is " winked at " by the authorities. A row of hang-dog-looking men line the streets. Some have tables on which the thirty-six animal game is being played — a species of roulette in which different animals take the place of numbers. The less ambitious ones preside over the six animal game. The operator has a cloth with a rough representation of six animals painted on it, and this is spread out upon the ground in front of him. The favourite animals appear to be the elephant, prawn, turtle, tiger, crab, and rat. You stake your money and the play begins. Three gigantic wooden dice, upon the sides of which the six animals are painted, are shaken in a tin box (with a flat the dimensions of a footstool ; is then placed inverted on the ground, while those who have not yet staked are again exhorted to do so before it is too late. The canister is then cautiously raised. "Two prawns and a tiger ! " And the happy backer of the crustacean gets back his stake and its value twice over, while the man who has put his money on " tiger " recovers his stake doubled. The money which has been placed upon the other animals, however, is swept by the operator into his till, which is generally a lacquer betelnut box. It is not until daybreak that the rattle and clatter of the dice-boxes will terminate.