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 Some writers place Cathaia1 and the country of Sopeithes, one of the nomarchs, in the tract between the rivers (Hydaspes and Acesines); some, on the other side of the Acesines and of the Hyarotis, on the confines of the territory of the other Porus, the nephew of Porus who was taken prisoner by Alexander, and call the country subject to him Gandaris. A very singular usage is related of the high estimation in which the inhabitants of Cathaia hold the quality of beauty, which they extend to horses and dogs. According to Onesicritus, they elect the handsomest person as king. The child (selected), two months after birth, undergoes a public inspection, and is examined. They determine whether it has the amount of beauty required by law, and whether it is worthy to be permitted to live. The presiding magistrate then pronounces whether it is to be allowed to live, or whether it is to be put to death. They dye their heads with various and the most florid colours, for the purpose of improving their appearance. This custom prevails elsewhere among many of the Indians, who pay great attention to their hair and dress; and the country produces colours of great beauty. In other respects the people are frugal, but are fond of ornament. A peculiar custom is related of the Cathæi. The bride and the husband are respectively the choice of each other, and the wives burn themselves with their deceased husbands. The reason assigned for this practice is, that the women sometimes fell in love with young men, and deserted or poisoned their husbands. This law was therefore established in order to check the practice of administering poison; but neither the existence nor the origin of the law are probable facts. It is said, that in the territory of Sopeithes there is a mountain composed of fossile salt, sufficient for the whole of India. Valuable mines also both of gold and silver are situated, it is said, not far off among other mountains, according to the testimony of Gorgus, the miner (of Alexander). The Indians, unacquainted with mining and smelting, are ignorant of their own wealth, and therefore traffic with greater simplicity.
1 Hence the Cathay of the Chinese and Modern Europe.
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