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This little book is the outcome of talks with Mrs. Bishop over some of the photographs which were taken by her in one or other of her journeys into and across China. Some of the photographs have already appeared in her published works, “The Yangtze Valley and Beyond” and “Korea and Her Neighbourhood” (2 vols., Murray). The notes were, in substance, dictated by Mrs. Bishop. It is hoped they contain some real information on the people, their surroundings, and habits which”, though slight in form, may be helpful to a better understanding of a verv difficult problem.
According to our newspaper press today, the Chinese are simply cruel barbarians. According to Mrs. Bishop, when you know them they are a likeable people — and she has formed this opinion in spite of the fact that, in their deeply-rooted hatred of the foreigners, they twice attacked her with violence. A real understanding of the people is for us, with our different modes of thought, most difficult to arrive at; but we shall not advance towards it by accepting all the evil reports and shutting our ears to the good ones. That the problem of China is, and will for some time continue to be, the most interesting question to the rest of the world is certain. The future of its people is all unknown, but there are in it possibilities which make it a terror to all other nations.
The Private Entrance to the Imperial Palace, Peking
The Entrance to the British Legation . . . .
Entrance to the College of the Student Interpreters
The State Carriage of the British Legation
The Great Imperial Stone Road from Peking to Chengtu, Capital of Sze Chuan
A Mule Cart
A Manchurian Family Travelling
Carriage by Bearers .
A Traveller Arriving at an Inn in Manchuria
Carriage of Merchandise .
The Mode of Carrying Oil and Wine . . . .
Wheelbarrow Traffic on the Chengtu Plain
The Wheelbarrow of North China
A Small Houseboat on the Yangtze Kiang .
A Foot Boat Found in Central China .
Hsin Tan Rapid on the Yangtze River . . . .
A Boat on the Min River, Used for Running the Rapids
Part of a Fringe of Junks or River Boats at Wan Hsien
The Bridge of Ten Thousand Ages, Foochow
A Bridge at Wan Hsien of the Single Arch Type
The Bridge of Mien Chuh Sze Chuan 48
A Simple Country Bridge 50
A Dragon Bridge 52
The Zig-zag Bridge of Shanghai 54
The Garden of the Guild of Benevolence, Chung King . . 56
A Burial Charity 58
A Baby Tower, Foochow . . . . . . . . . 60
Bottle Seller and Hospital Patient 62
The Dying Coolie 64
The Mode of Sepulchre throughout Southern China . . 66
Coffins Kept Above Ground 68
The Temple of the God of Literature at Mukden . . . 70
The Temple of the Fox, Mukden 72
Wayside Shrines 74
The Ficus Religiosa 76
The Altar of Heaven
The Tablet of Confucius 80
A Porcelain-fronted Temple on the Yangtze . . . . 82
Child Eating Rice with Chopsticks 84
Fort on the Peking Wall 86
Another Fort on the Wall of Peking 88
Colossal Astronomical Instruments on the Peking Wall . . 90
Chien Mun Gate 92
The Gate of Victory, Mukden 94
The West Gate of Kialing Fu 96
The West Gate of Hangchow 98
The Gate of a Forbidden City
Silk Reeling 102
A Typical Entrance to a House 104
The Guest Hall in a Chinese House, Wan Hsien, Sze Chuan . 106
A Chinese Village 108
A Farmhouse in the Hakka Country, Southern China . .110
A Market Place or Market Street in Sze Chuan . . .112
The Cobbler 114
Carrying Liquid Manure to the Fields 116
The Marriage Chaik 11S
Mode of Carrying Cash and Babies 120
A Pai-fang, or Widow’s Arch . . . . . . . . 122
Two Soldiers of Sze Chuan 124
Opium Culture Encroaching on the Rice Lands, Sze Chuan . 126
A subject of considerable interest, owing to the mystery surrounding the members of the Imperial Family. The photograph was taken from the wall of the Purple or Forbidden City, in which onty the Imperial Family and their entourage have the right to dwell. The building in the centre, which is roofed with yellow tiles, is supposed to be the residence of the Emperor, but where he does actually reside remains a mystery. The entrance to the Palace is through the arches in the building on the left.
The Legation is a fine old palace, which formerly belonged to a member of the Imperial Family. The photo-graph shows the entrance to the first courtyard. The Legation compound is very extensive, and contains several courtyards with buildings round each. It is very highly decorated, the designs shown in this picture being elabor-ately wrought in lacquered work of gold and colours. This is the building recently attacked by the Chinese in their attempt to destroy all foreigners, including the members of the various European Legations who took refuge with Sir Claude Macdonald.
Student interpreters are young Eng-lishmen who enter the College to prepare themselves for the Consular Service. At eighteen they have to pass their entrance examination. They receive given posts in connection with one of the various Chinese Consulates. All our Chinese Consuls are drawn from this College. It stands within the grounds of the Legation, which is the building shown on the right of the picture.
There are practically no carriage roads in China, so that there is virtually no carriage traffic. This rough, springless cart is the only carriage drawn by animals at the disposal of the Legation.
Made more than a thousand years ago, it must have been a gigantic work at the time of its construction. It was paved throughout with rough stone flags for about eight feet, or about half its width, and planted with cedars. It is now very much out of repair, as are most things in China, the flags disappearing now and again for long distances; but it is still the object of much official attention, and ever)’ — year certain magistrates inspect it and count the cedars, every one of which is sealed with the Imperial seal. Many of the trees have died, but many still survive and are grand objects by the roadside.
A typical mode of conveyance in Manchuria, the Northern Province. The arrangement for carrying luggage is seen at the back of the cart. It is very similar to the Legation state carriage in construction, being entirely without springs. It is only possible to use such a conveyance in such a roadless coun-try, with any security from broken bones, by adopting the precaution to pad the whole of the interior, bottom, top, and sides with thick mattresses. In the course of a journey of three miles only, Mrs. Bishop had the misfortune to be thrown into the top of the cart in an upset with such violence that her arm was broken and her head severely cut. In her case, unfortunately, the top of the cart was not padded.
Although so risky to life and limb, the mule cart is the more fashionable mode of moving from place to place in Manchuria. The poorer people ride on asses, with their belongings slung about in the manner shown in the picture.
Out in the country there are practically no roads, as we understand roads. It is necessary to cultivate every inch of available ground, and the farmer begrudges anything taken from the fields for the paths, which are but a foot or two wide. It is easy to understand that, under such conditions, the almost universal mode of passenger transit is by chairs and bearers. The narrowness of the paths is a source of trouble. When two parties of bearers approach each other, there is much shouting to induce one or other to return and make way; but when both come on, one has to get off, or be pushed off, into the swamp by the sides. When one is a foreigner his portion is invariably the swamp.
The bearers are patient, much-enduring people, who do their work thoroughly and without complaining, in the face of mud, and rain, and difficult roads. They will carry a traveller from twenty to twenty-five miles a day. When a lady occupies the chair the curtains are rigidly closed. It would be at the risk of her life to travel in an open chair. There is much etiquette connected with the getting in and out of chairs, which wise travellers never neglect. The photograph is of a lady’s chair.
There are various ways of carrying a traveller’s baggage. Sometimes it is slung in the centre of bars and carried as the traveller’s own chair is carried. More often a package is slung at each end of a bar, which is placed across the shoulders of a coolie. Constant change of shoulder is necessary, and the stop-ping to make this change becomes a serious matter in a journey of any length. It is trying work, and the shoulders of the coolies generally show it by the callositis produced by the constant carrying of heavy burdens. The illustration shows Mrs. Bishop’s baggage arriving after a day’s journey.
It will be seen that two coolies, by means of these bars, can carry a great weight — as much as two hundred pounds is carried between them — and they will cover with this weight twenty to twenty-five miles a day. Chair-carriers will, with the attendant luggage — carriers, cover as much as twenty-five miles, but their burdens are less heavy.
In wicker baskets lined with oiled paper of extraordinary toughness, which is much used everywhere. The oil is obtained from various “ oil seeds,” the tough paper by macerating bamboo. Beneath the bashet will be noticed a long cylinder. This is the coolie’s purse, in which he carries his “cash,” the small copper or brass coin of the coun-try, which is of such small value that nine pounds weight of copper cash is only worth one English shilling.
This Chengtu Plain, with its 2,500 square miles of country and 4,000,000 population, is perhaps the best culti-vated and most fertile spot in the world. It owes its fertility to the work of two engineers, who, more than two thousand years ago (250 years B.C.), designed and carried out the most perfect system of irrigation. They were Li Ping, the father, and his son, and are familiarly known today as the first and second gentlemen of China. The land bears four crops in the year. With all this produce and population the traffic is enormous, and it is mainly carried on by means of wheelbarrows, which are so contrived, by placing the wheel in the centre and platforms at the side and behind it, as to enable one man to wheel five hundredweight with ease. The narrow roads of the plain are covered by an almost endless procession of these wheelbarrows, which are often preceded by one man pulling in addition to the man behind.
This is another form of the same baggage-carrier which is in use all over the Empire. It is much larger than that in use on the Plain of Chengtu, but is constructed on the same prin-ciple; by means of it one man can wheel as much as half a ton. It is a vehicle well adapted to the narrow roads of the country.
If China cannot boast of its roads, it may claim to be a country of waterways, rivers and canals forming the chief means of communication. The country being so large, travellers have to spend much time in going from place to place, and living accommodation has to be provided on the boats. It is very rough. The illustration gives a good specimen of a small boat which may be hired for a journey. The mat roof is placed over the open part at night. In the daytime this space is occupied by the rowers. In the night they roll themselves up in their wadded quilts and sleep there. In China there is no privacy, but much curiosity. No part of your boat, although you have hired it, is sacred to you; the boatmen pass in and out of what you may regard as your cabin without consideration for you. Mrs. Bishop put up curtains around her cabin to shut out prying eyes, and as far as they could the people respected her evident desire to be alone.
The oars are worked by the feet instead of the arms. The sides of this one are beautifully carved and lac-quered, and protection from the sun and rain is provided by a roof of mats, the universal form of shelter and protection on the water.
The rapids on the river give rise to a considerable amount of occupation for men called Trackers, whose occupation is the dragging of boats up-stream through the wild and dangerous waters of the rapids. These men live in huts on the river banks as close to the water’s edge as possible. A group of their huts is to be seen on the left of the picture, and on the extreme left, almost too small to be visible, are four hundred trackers dragging up a boat. At the top and foot of every rapid on the Yangtze are to be found one or more Red Lifeboats, which are most efficientlv and admir-ably maimed and maintained at the cost of Benevolent Guilds — one of the many charitable guilds in the country —— for the purpose of assisting the crews of boats which get into difficulties. Boats are frequently wrecked in their passage, and the Red Lifeboat has saved the lives of many foreigners in the accidents attendant upon their passage of the Rapids.
The Min River, called also the Fu, is a western tributary of the Upper Yangtze, but a great river in itself. Of the boat’s four sails the lowest is of bamboo, and is let down at night to protect the boatman and his family. The feature of the boat is its high prow, for protection against the rocks and rushing water.
Illustrating the enormous traffic on the Yangtze. This fringe of boats, closely packed, extends for two miles along the river bank, and is an evidence of the great trade and prosperity of Wan Hsien.
A country of waterways must be a country of bridges, but the beauty of the bridges in China is quite a surprise to the traveller. The straight bridge of the illustration given here is built upon enormously solid piers, which are often monoliths. The roadway is constructed of single blocks thirty feet long. The balustrade, as well as the roadway, is solid stone. This is the oldest form of bridge in the country, and the bridge in the picture is one of the oldest bridges.
One enters almost every town or village, when travelling by water, under a bridge of one arch, which may be anything from fifteen to thirty feet high and of a most graceful form. These bridges are constructed of blocks of granite cut to the curve of the bridge, and a flight of steps leads to the crown of the arch. In the illustration the steps are clearly shown leading to the house at the top. A most graceful and beautiful bridge.
When a rich man or a company of rich men wish to benefit their province, it is quite a common thing for them to let their generosity take the form of the building of a bridge. This bridge was so built. It is a most beautiful structure, both in form and colour. The roof is of green tiles, the inside being lined with crimson lacquer, deeply incised in Sfold with the names of the donors.
The kind of bridge found on a second-ary road in Sze Chuan, constructed of wood roofed in with tiles, after the manner of Switzerland, to protect it from the weather.
Quite a common form of stone bridge, in which ever}’ pier is surmounted by a dragon, the national emblem.
Its name indicates its peculiar charac-ter. It makes nine zig-zags across the water to the most celebrated tea house in Shanghai, and, perhaps, the most fashionable tea house in China. It is the resort of mandarins and people of the upper classes. Women are never seen at the tea houses. They are patronised by men only. Women, indeed, are very little seen in public at all. The absence of the female element is a marked feature in Chinese life.
China is the country of guilds. All workmen and traders have their guilds. To this rule there are but two exceptions — the water-carriers and the trackers (men who drag the boats up the rapids); these alone have no trade organi-sation. These guilds, or trade unions, are as complete and as effective for good or harm as anything we know in this country. They watch most jealously the interests of their craft. But the guild enters into the life of the people at every turn. The charities of the Empire, which are numerous, are conducted by guilds. There is, perhaps, little personal charity and benevolence; it is safer to leave these to the guilds. But there is scarcely a town of any size that has not its Guild of Benevolence. Soup kitchens, clothing for the living, coffins and burial for the dead, hospitals, free dispensaries, orphan and foundling homes, life-boats, and many other charities are the outcome of these Guilds of Benevolence.
A cemetery, with temple attached, for the burial, with all sacred rites, of strangers who may have died friendless. To a Chinaman the most important event in his history is his burial. We can have no idea of what decent burial means to him. He is thinking of it and arranging for it all his life, and it is not to be wondered at that so large a part of the operation of Chinese charity should connect itself with funerals. To be suitably buried is the great hope and aim of every Chinaman.
This Cemetery, with its funeral rites, is one of the operations of a Guild of Benevolence.
When a baby dies, and the parents are too poor to give it a decent burial, thev drop its poor little body into one of the openings in this tower. A Guild of Benevolence charges itself with the task of clearing out the tower every two or three days, burying the bodies with all religious rites and ceremony.
The hospitals of England and China have evidently many things in common. Inside the compound of the English Presbyterian Medical Mission of Swa-tow, the patients buy their bottles of the vendor as they if were patients of Guy’s or St. Bartholomew’s. A similar incident is to be witnessed in Smithfield any day of the week. It may be men-tioned that the hospital of this particular Medical Mission is nearly the largest in the East. In times of stress it accommo-dates four hundred patients, and in the proportion of its cures is one of the most successful in the world.
Perhaps because benevolence and charity are the objects of guilds, there is very little of the personal element in either. Personal kindliness and care for the sick and dying do not characterise the people of China. If a man is sick to death he is of no more use, and why should time and care be wasted on him? This coolie in the picture was one of Mrs. Bishop’s carriers, who fell sick bv the way, and though he had been a companion of the other men for many days, they had no care for him when he fell sick, and Mrs. Bishop was laughed at for taking the trouble to wet a hand-kerchief to lay on the feverish forehead of a man who was of “ no more use.”
A horseshoe-shaped excavation is made in a hillside facing south, the whole construction being faced with stone. There is in this mode of ar-ranging graves a similarity to that adopted by the Etruscans.
So careful is the Chinaman about his burial, that the date and place of a funeral is not fixed until the geomancers have decided as to both. Sometimes the coffins with their inmates remain above ground for months, and even years, waiting for the professional decision as to a favourable day. In such cases, where the friends are able, every care is taken of them, incense being daily burned before them. It was no uncommon thing for Mrs. Bishop, on her journey in Sze Chuan, to have to sleep in a room where a coffin was stored, waiting the day of its interment, incense burning and other religious rites being daily performed in front of it. To prevent mischief owing to the retention of bodies above ground for so long a time, the coffins are built of very thick wood, the bodies are placed in lime, the joints of the coffin are cemented, and the whole covered with varnish.
Mukden is the capital of Manchuria, the Northern Province. In every province of the Empire the God of Literature stands highest in the Chinese Pantheon, and it is interesting to note that the God of War stands low, though in China, as in other countries, we know women are devoted to his worship. In no country of the world does literature stand in such high estimation; by means of it the poorest man may climb to the highest post in the Empire. Nothing so helps a man to a career as a know-ledge of the literature of his country. Reverence for it has become a super-stition, and societies exist for collecting waste paper and saving any writing from indignity by burning it in furnaces erected for the purpose in every town.
Another temple at Mukden, greatly frequented by mandarins. A group of them is seated in the centre. The temple is situated close to the city wall, which is shown in process of decay, the descending roots of the trees stripping off its facing, which lies and will continue to lie on the ground. It is an admirable illustration of the way things are allowed to go to ruin in China. The Chinese will undertake new works; they seldom repair old ones, and an aspect of decay is consequently Frequently visible.
Found all over the country, and commonly known as “ Joss Houses.” There is an idol in each of them. They are of interest as presenting a similar feature to the shrine and wayside crucifixes found all over Catholic countries in Europe.
A kind of banyan tree found in every village of the South and South Central Provinces of China. Its foliage covers an enormous extent of ground. The tree itself is an object of worship, and an altar for the burning of incense is always found beneath it.
A fine picture of an open-air altar outside Foochow Citv.
Wherever there is a magistrate there is a temple to Confucius, in which the magistrates do homage in memory of the Great Teacher. The tablet is inscribed with a number of his most important sayings having a bearing on the administration of justice. This great man has by his teaching dominated the laws, the teaching, the literature, and the whole social life of nearly half the human race for the last two thousand years. These shrines are absolutely taboo to the foreigner, a fact which was learned by the traveller only after she had entered it and, finding it absolutely empty, had made her photograph.
The manufacture or porcelain has for centuries made China celebrated. It may be of interest to refer to the Yact that we owe the existence of our Wor-cester porcelain works to the attempt made by a chemist to produce porcelain in England similar to the Chinese. A great many temples in the Empire province of Sze Oman have their fronts and roofs of this porcelain. They are most gorgeous in colour, and have the appearance of being jewelled.
The Chinese eat an enormous number of things which the Western turns from, or which he doesn’t know of. As a rule the Chinese are good cooks, and the food is wholesome, steaming being the favourite method. Rice is the staff ot life to the masses, who eat it mixed with fried cabbage or some other flavouring ingredient. It is seldom eaten alone. So common and universal is rice eating that, while in French the equivalent of “ How do you do? ” is “ How do you carry yourself? ” and in Italian “ How do you stay? ” in Chinese the equivalent is “ Have you eaten rice? ”
City walls are a great feature of the country. The illustration is of a fort on one of the angles of the wall of Peking, the interest of it lying in the fact that the guns showing in the embrasures are dummies, being simply painted wood. Probably the cost of real guns went into the pockets of some official entrusted with providing the armament of the fort.
This fort is rilled with carronades, old guns still kept there, though absolutely useless, being honeycombed with disuse and rust.
Many hundred years old, but as bronze castings they are reckoned to be amongst the finest in the world. And as astro-nomical instruments their results differ very little from those obtained by as-tronomers from appliances of the most modern construction.
Perhaps the most interesting and pic-turesque feature of the country is its city gates. There is a great family likeness between them, the usual fort-like building surmounting the wall where it is pierced by the gate. It is not a fort, however. In it are kept the gongs and other musical instruments by means of which are announced the rising and the setting of the sun. This is the gate which was blown up by the Japanese in their recent attack on and entry into the city. It is the largest and most important gate in Peking.
Mukden, the capital of Manchuria, is officially the second city of the Empire. In it are duplicated all the official boards, save one, that exist in Peking, the capital of the Empire. Thus Mukden possesses its Board of Rites and Ceremonies, of Punishments, etc. etc., just like Peking. Close to Mukden are the ancestral graves of the Man-chu dynasty.
A most picturesque entrance to the city. These gates are closed at sunset and opened at sunrise, the gongs and other instruments notifying the hours of opening and closing.
One of the friendliest cities to the foreigner. The cry of “ Foreign devil! ” is never heard within its walls. The people have had time to learn how much they profit by the trade the foreigner brings, and by the efforts of the missionaries to ameliorate the condition of the very poor by their hospitals. Hangchow is a great centre of the silk trade. The whole city, which has a population of 700,000, and the principal street of which is five miles long, is surrounded by a wall faced with hewn stone, such as is shown in the photograph. It is pierced by many gates. It is a treaty port, two days’ journey from the great foreign settlement of Shanghai.
In contrast to Hangchow, though only two miles from a treaty port, it is believed that no foreigner has ever had the foolhardiness to enter this gate. It is a city of the fifth order only; but such is the hatred and detestation in which the foreigner is held, it would be almost certain death to him to enter it. This hatred of the foreigner is a very curious characteristic of the country. Xo one can tell how it has arisen, for though one can understand that the attempts of Western nations to force open the ports of the country, and the seizure of territory by certain of them, and perhaps the advent of the missionaries, are causes enough to provoke opposition and hatred, they do not account for its ferocity. The idea of the Chinaman and the Chinawoman is that the foreigner is a child-eater, that no children are safe within his reach, that he kills children that he may take their eyes and hearts to make into his medicines. This belief is so deeply rooted, that when the cry of “ Foreigner! “ is raised, in almost any city, the women will run into the streets, snatch up their children, and carry them for safety into their homes; and the cry raised is always “ Foreign devil!” “Child-eater!” It may be noted that a similar suspicion exists over a great part of Central and Southern Europe towards the Jews, who are charged with murdering children to mingle their blood with sacrifices.
HANGCHOW is the city of silk, a wealthy and generally well-to-do city. Everything speaks to the visitor of silk. The country is covered by the mulberry tree, which grows in every available spot. There are thousands of hand-looms. In the picture given, the silk is being wound into a thread from the cocoons, which are thrown into a pan of hot water, kept hot by a small furnace; the ends of the threads are disentangled from the cocoon, four or five of them taken together are given a twist by the right hand, whilst the left winds the thread on to the wheel. This is the first step in, and the foundation of, all silk manufacture.
This particular house was at Mukden, in Manchuria. The main building is surrounded by a courtyard. The outer building contains the servants’ rooms. They live around the courtyard, the family occupying the central building. The windows of the servants’ rooms may be seen in the outer wall. The pillars of woodwork are highly decor-ated, and in the courtyard itself there is always a flower-garden. Comparing this simple house with a palace such as the English Legation, it will be seen that the latter is but an amplification of the ordinary house, the number of court3 T ards surrounding the chief dwelling being greater, but the principle of construction bein? the same.
Every good house lias its guest hall, and every invited guest knows his place in it. A Chinaman is wretched in a foreign house because he does not know his place in it. Etiquette prescribes everything in China, and no matter who or what the visitor may be. he knows which chair to take. No matter who may be present, he is never disturbed or distressed; and when tea or pipes are introduced he enjoys them as though he were in his own house, and both host and visitor are perfectly at their ease.
On the Min or Fu River, above the point where it runs into the Upper Yangtze. The black-and-white archi-tecture of the villages reminds one constantly of Switzerland and the Tyrol. As to the village, it is by no means lacking in organisation. Every village consists of a group or groups of families with their head men, and over the head men are the district magistrates. The family is the centre of everything. The members are bound together by the strongest ties, and the family is responsible for the individual. The people have quite a genius for self-government, and every village is self-governing, having its privileges, which no one dai e interfere with.
An illustration of the Patriarchal system. When a son marries and brings home his wife, he literally brings her home — that is, to his father’s house; but a new gable is added to those in existence, and the house increased for the accommodation of the new family, a custom which has its counterpart in Italy and other parts of Europe today.
All through the Empire province of Sze Chuan, the western province of the Yangtze Basin, markets are held in the market street, specially reserved for the purpose. On market days the street is crowded by thousands of people, the tea and other shops are overflowing, and the noise and shouts of the bar-gainers are deafening. The shops are generallv owned by farmers in the neighbourhood, who let them for the use of merchants on market day. On other than market days they are like deserted villages. No one is to be seen but the caretaker and his family, who are shown in the photograph with the inevitable dog and pig and buffalo. The building on the right is a temple.
A very important personage in China. He deals, however, with men’s shoes only. The women wear tiny satin or brocaded things which they mostly make and mend them-selves. They are from two to three inches long, and with hard-working women in the fields the feet never extend four inches. The Chinese practice of binding the feet of girls is very old. It is, of course, only a fashion, but it has the sanction of great antiquity. A girl with her feet the normal shape would stand no chance of getting married. The binding process begins very early — between four and five generally, though sometimes it is postponed to a later date, when the process is much more painful. The four toes are doubled under the foot, and the large toe folded on the top. When bound together a sort of club-foot or hoof results, but the women manage to walk in spite of their deformity. To a western eye, the movement resembles a waddle rather than a walk.
In the great fertile plain of Sze Chuan, where four crops a year are taken off the ground, this is an enormous industry. The Chinese cannot afford any waste; everything must go back to the ground. We seek to get over the deterioration of the land by changing the crops. In China the same crops have been grown on the land for a thousand years, and it shows no signs of deterioration.
Photo: G. S. Haya.
In which a bride of the upper classes is carried to her husband’s home. It is often a very beautiful thing, gorgeous with its embroidery in silk and colours. People who are not rich enough to have one of their own can hire them for the occasion. In China large families are the rule. If a mother dies, the women of the village suckle and bring up the child between them, and children are not weaned until they are from three to five years of age. Chinese women are very modest and kind-hearted, are faith-ful wives, and, according to their own notions, good mothers. In Sze Chuan there is no trace of infanticide, but it is practised in many parts of the Empire.
In travelling, the carriage of money is a great annoyance, owing to the smallness of its value and the large number of coins or “cash” necessary to make up an amount of any size. Exchanging eighteen shillings English for brass cash, the weight of them amounted to seventy-two pounds, which had to be carried by the coolies. These cash have a square hole in the middle, and are strung together upon a piece of straw twist. Should the straw break, the loss of time in getting up the pieces is much more than the loss of the money. The Chinese are honest, very keen at a bargain, but when the bargain is made the Chinaman may be depended on to keep it.
These are often very fine structures in stone, wonderfully carved, or in wood highly decorated. It is not uncommon to enter a town under quite a succession of them. Very fine ones are often found at the entrance of very squalid villages. They are erections put up to honour widows who, faithful to the memon r of their husbands, have remained widows, devoting themselves to good works and to the service of their parents-inlaw, which is the great duty of every good wife. Permission of the Emperor has to be obtained for their erection. The various towns and villages take pride in their “widows’ arches.” It is not uncommon to find a shrine for the burning of incense beside the arch.
The military are usually dressed in picturesque but unserviceable, not to say grotesque costumes, the carnation red, beloved of the Chinese, and blue being the prevailing colours. They carry fans, and often paper umbrellas. They are ill-trained and indolent, lounging about the gates of the cities or the streets gambling and smoking. Their curse is that they have nothing to do.
The great system of irrigation at Sze Chuan was intended for the cultivation of rice only; but the great and terrible growth in the demand for opium has caused the cultivation of the poppy so to increase that it is encroaching on the rice lands.
This may be regarded as the saddest and most terrible fact as regards the future of China.
The use of opium is of comparatively recent date, but the growth and spreading of the habit has been most rapid.
At the first, both local and government officials did their best to stop it and to stamp out the culture of the poppy; but although laws were passed making death the penalty for its cultivation they became a dead letter, until today it is estimated that eighty per cent, of the men and fifty per cent, of the women, in one or two populous provinces, are opium smokers. They do not all smoke to excess. There are moderate smokers as we have our moderate drinkers; but all through the province of Sze Chuan the opium shops are as thick as the gin shops in the lower parts of London.
It is not necessary to dilate on the effects of opium when freely indulged in. They are too well known. China’s only hope is to emancipate herself from the vice that is eating away her manhood. But will she be able to do it?
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