and the divers now work in deeper water, fifteen, twenty, and even
twenty-five fathoms, if the bottom is very uneven and rocky. Many
shells are found in the depressions between the large boulders, which
may be twenty .or thirty feet deeper than the surrounding areas.
The oysters are opened by means of the long-bladed working-knife of the country, known as dah-she. The
flesh is thrown into a large basket or washtub, where it is searched by
the proprietor of the boat, who takes each piece between the hands and
squeezes and feels through every part of it. After the flesh has been
carefully examined, the sediment at the bottom of the tub is washed and
panned to obtain those pearls which have fallen through the flesh
tissues. The Mergui pearls are commonly of good color and luster, and
compare favorably with those from the Sulu Archipelago or the Dutch
The sea-green shell of the snail (Turbo marmoratus) is
gathered in large quantities by the nude diving Selangs, who barter it
to Chinese traders at the equivalent of Rs.8 or 10 per 100 in number.
The flesh is also dried and disposed of to these traders under the name
of thadecon, at about Rs.3 per viss of 3.33 pounds. This mollusk vields a few greenish yellow pearls.
In 1895, three pearl reefs were discovered off the Bassein coast in the district of Irawadi.1 These proved fairly remunerative for one season and a portion of another, when they were abandoned.