manufactured. Many οι the choicest shells are incised with scriptural or allegorical designs for sale to tourists as well as for export. The best of the engraved shells sell for $10 to $50, and the cheaper ones for less than $1 each. This industry is of great importance in Bethlehem, giving employment to a considerable percentage of the eight thousand inhabitants of the village.
in no pearl fishery in the world are greater hardships endured than in
the Red Sea and along the coast of the Arabian Gulf. In practically
every other region, the industry is carried on under government
supervision, and there is little opportunity for ill-treatment of the
humbler fishermen. But the fanatics who control the fishery on the
Arabian coast—untrammeled by authorities and responsible to none—show
little consideration for the poor divers, and particularly for the
unfortunate black slaves brought from the coast of Africa.
pearl fishermen lead a very eventful life, the divers especially. They
see some wonderful sights down below the surface—plant life and
creeping things and enemies innumerable. Dropping from the sun-scorched
surface down into the deep cool waters, everything shows "a sea
change, into something rich and strange," just as the eyes of the
drowned man in Ariel's song are turned into pearls and his bones into
there are enemies innumerable. The terrible sharks, prowling about near
the bottom, prove a source of perpetual uneasiness, and in the
aggregate many fishermen are eaten by these blood-thirsty tigers of the
sea. There are horrible conflicts with devil-fish equaling that in
Hugo's "Toilers of the Sea." The saw-fish is also a source of danger,
particularly in the Arabian Gulf, and instances are reported in which
divers have been cut in two by these animals, which sometimes attain a
length of twelve or fifteen feet, and possess a saw five feet long and
three inches broad, armed on each edge with teeth two inches in length.
Another menacing peril is the giant clam ( Tridacna gigas), a
monster bivalve, whose shell measures two or three feet in diameter,
and is firmly anchored to the bottom. This mollusk occurs on many of
the Asiatic pearling grounds. Lying with the scalloped edges a foot or
more apart, a foot or a hand of the diver may be accidentally inserted.
When such a fate befalls a fisherman, the only escape is for him to
amputate the member immediately. Once in a while on the pearling shores
a native may be found who has been maimed in this manner, but usually
the unfortunate man does not escape with his life.