By Isabella Bird

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In this chapter I put together such information as I was able to gather about the people to whom I have introduced my readers. I only give such statements as at least four persons were agreed upon, and confine my remarks to the four tribes of the Somo territory, estimated at 20,000 souls, which are unified under the rule of the Tu-tze of Some. The designation Man-tze or I-ren, which is simply Chinese for “barbarian,” is perforce accepted by these people from their conquerors. When questioned, however, they divided themselves into Somo, Cho-ko-ki, He-shui, and other tribes, and on being pressed further, they declared themselves Shan-shang-ren, or mountain people. They said that they had heard that in ancient times their fathers came from the setting sun, but they knew of no days when they and the Chinese did not live among each other. The tribal spirit is completely extinct among those tribes, who have accepted one ruler; but the Somo people hate the Sifans to the north-east and the Cho-ko-ki men to the south.

The head of one or more tribes is called a Tu-tze. He is appointed directly by the Emperor of China, and for life; but a long-established custom has made the office practically hereditary, and in the absence of a son a daughter may be invested with it, as in the case of Somo, where in recent years, and for a considerable time, a woman sustained the dignity of the position.