These castes, as well as the mandarins, who form a class by themselves, are exempt from tax or forced service.
The mandarins are nominated by the king and their children have a position at court, and are generally chosen to fill the vacant posts in the administration.
Under the native regime the common people attached themselves to one or other of the mandarins, who in return granted them the protection of his influence.
His successor is either nominated by himself, in which case he sometimes abdicates in his favour, or else elected by the five chief mandarins from among the Brah Vansa.
The king is advised by a council of five ministers, the superior members of the class of mandarins; and the kingdom is divided into about fifty provinces administered by members of that body.
After 1828 the Laos became entirely subject to Siam, and were governed partly by khiao, or native hereditary princes, partly by mandarins directly nominated by the Bangkok authorities.
The civilized Laos were long addicted to slave-hunting, not only with the sanction but even with the co-operation of their rulers, the Lao mandarins heading regular expeditions against the wilder tribes.
Still the Portuguese remained largely under the control of the Chinese, who had never surrendered their territorial rights and maintained their authority by means of mandarins - these insisting that even European criminals should be placed in their hands.
There are no orders for natives, and such distinctions as are conferred by the different coloured buttons of the mandarins, the grades indicated by the number of peacocks' feathers, the gift of the yellow jacket and the like, are rather insignia of rank or personal marks of honour than orders, whether of knighthood or merit, in the European sense.
The old power of the mandarins over the people.
The fur is most highly esteemed in Russia and China; in the latter country it is used to trim mandarins' state robes.
The very palest skins are dyed and made by the Chinese into mandarins' coats, in which form they are found in the London trade sales, but being overdressed they are inclined to be loose in the hair and the colour of the dye is not good.
One of the most remarkable results of the European intervention in the Boxer rising in China (I goo) was the absurd price paid for so-called "loot" of furs, particularly in mandarins' coats of dyed and natural fox skins and pieces, and natural ermine, poor in quality and yellowish in colour; from three to ten times their value was paid for them when at the same time huge parcels of similar quality were warehoused in the London docks, because purchasers could not be found for them.
The mandarins alsowear certain insignia embroidered on their official robes, and have girdle clasps of different material.