by coolies who carry them in baskets, on their backs, to the "Kottu,"
or government stockade. There they are counted and each boat-load is
divided into three equal parts; Two of these are chosen by officials
for the government and the remaining heap is the boats' share. Formerly
the catch was divided into four parts of which the government took
three. Of the boats' share the divers get in some cases two thirds. As
soon as the division is made, those belonging to the boat are quickly
traded or sold to the numerous small speculators which abound in the
camp. Six evenings in the week the government auctions off the catch in
lots of one thousand.
each day's catch is being counted the average run is carefully watched
by experts who judge by the size, weight and general appearance of the
oysters as to the probable yield of pearls. Opinions so formed are
usually quite correct and bidding at the auctions are based on them to
a great extent. The principal buyers are from Madras, Bombay, and other
cities on the Coromandel and Malabar coasts of India, though local
speculators buy many.