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By Claude Levi-Strauss

"A magical masterpiece."—Robert Ardrey. A chronicle of the author's look for a civilization "reduced to its most elementary expression."

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They have been regularly weavers and were diminished to hunger and dying via being forbidden by way of the colonial experts to preparation their conventional alternate, on the way to depart the marketplace open for cotton items from Manchester. Now, each inch of cultivatable land, although it will be flooded for 6 months of the 12 months, is given over to the creation of jute which, after processing, is distributed off to the factories at Narrayanganj and Calcutta, or maybe immediately to Europe and the USA; in order that those illiterate and half-naked peasants nonetheless rely for his or her day-by-day sustenance, in a unique yet no much less arbitrary means, at the fluctuations of the realm marketplace. even though they could, and do, trap fish, the rice which types their staple vitamin is nearly fullyyt imported; and to eke out the meagre source of revenue from vegetation – for the reason that just a minority are landowners – they spend their days in pathetic occupations. Demra is sort of a village of lake dwellings, so precarious is the community of mounds rising from the water and on which the huts are clustered jointly between clumps of bushes. the following I observed the complete neighborhood, even really tiny childrens, busy from sunrise onwards weaving by way of hand the muslin veils for which Dacca was so well-known. a bit additional on, at Langalbund, a whole area is engaged within the making of pearl buttons of the type utilized in the Western international for men’s shirts and nightwear. A caste of boatmen, the Bidyaya or Badia, who dwell completely within the straw cabins in their sampans, assemble and promote the river mussels which offer the mother-of-pearl; the tons of muddy shells make the hamlets appear like placers. After being undergone an acid bathtub, the shells are hammered to items and the fragments then made into rounds on a hand-operated grinding-wheel. subsequent, each one disc is put on a stand, to be formed into form with the aid of a bit of damaged dossier that revolves on the tip of a wood spindle operated via a bow. an identical software with a pointy aspect is used to pierce the 4 holes. little ones stitch the completed buttons, a dozen at a time, directly to foil-covered playing cards, equivalent to should be obvious in Europe in provincial drapers’ outlets. ahead of the most important political adjustments led to by means of the granting of independence to the Asiatic nations, this modest which provided the Indian industry and the Pacific islands supplied the staff with a livelihood, despite the fact that they have been, and stay, exploited by means of the mahajans, a category of money-lenders and middlemen who offer the uncooked fabrics and the goods wanted for processing. the cost of the latter elevated 5 - 6 instances, whereas construction within the region dropped from sixty thousand gross a week to lower than fifty thousand monthly due to the final of the industry; even as, the fee paid to the manufacturer fell by means of seventy five consistent with cent. nearly in a single day, fifty thousand humans stumbled on that an already pathetically low source of revenue have been lowered to a trifling fraction of what it were earlier than. but despite primitive modes of lifestyles, if truth be told that the scale of the inhabitants, the amount of products produced and the looks of the completed articles make it most unlikely to think about those humans as real craftsmen.

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