ganesha_girl (ganesha_girl) wrote in linguaphiles,

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Thumb rings?

I came across this New York Herald article from 1907 about Baba Bharati, and it this one sentence kind of threw me for a loop:

"Baba Bharati is not to be confounded with the type of picturesque Hindu charlatans who, with appropriate scenary and costumes, have come to America from time to time to wheedle the dollars from silly women and men who wear thumb rings."

Why are these people who get taken in by these "charlatans" for their money wearing thumb rings? At the turn of the last century America, or at least New York, was wearing a thumb ring something that only easily deceived people would wear? That doesn't make sense to me, but that is the impression I get from this sentence.

Anyone know why these people are described like this? It is kind of driving me crazy >_<

Thanks in advance to anyone who can help! :) 

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