Chopsticks may appear at first hard to manage; but their manipulation is not really difficult when one comes to see the way in which they should be handled. They are held near the upper or thicker end in the right hand. One chopstick is laid between the thumb and the forefinger and on the first joint of the ring finger which is slightly bent, and held in position by the basal phalanx of the thumb; this chopstick is almost stationary. The other is laid near the third joint of the forefinger and between the tips of that and the middle finger which are kept together, and is held down by the tip of the thumb; it is, in short, held somewhat like a pen, only the pressure of the thumb is much lighter, for if it were heavy, the force put into it as the chopstick is moved would relax the pressure on the other stick and cause it to drop. The tip of the thumb serves, therefore, only as a loose fulcrum for moving the stick with tips of the fore and middle fingers, while the upper half resting on the last joint of the forefinger is allowed free play. The most difficult part is the use of the thumb; beginners press the stationary chopstick too hard and make the tip of the thumb so stiff that the other chopstick cannot be freely moved. It is quite easy, when one gets used to the thing, even to move the stationary chopstick a little at the same time as the other. The tips of the chopsticks must always meet. In the hand of a skilled user a needle may be picked up with them; but it is quite enough for ordinary purposes if we can pick a fish or take up a grain of boiled rice.
The sitting-room has little furniture. An indispensable article in it is the brazier, usually oblong, with a set of three small drawers one under another at the side and two others side by side under the copper tray filled with ashes, on which charcoal is burnt inside an iron or clay trivet. On this trivet is set a kettle of iron or copper. The iron kettle is made of thick cast-iron and kept on the trivet so as always to have hot water ready for tea-making: and the copper kettle is used when we wish to boil water quickly. Beside the brazier is a small shelf or cabinet for tea-things. Behind the brazier is a cushion where the wife sits; this is her usual post. There is also a cushion on the other side or the brazier, where the husband or other members of the house may sit.
When a visitor calls, even the cushion is brought from the anteroom for him to sit on, and then a small cup of tea set before him and a brazier if it is cold and if warm, a tabako-bon. The cushion is round or square; that for summer is made of matting, hide, or a thin wadding of cotton in a cover of hempen cloth, while for winter use the wadding is much thicker and the cover is silk or cotton. It is about sixteen inches at the side if square. The brazier is of various shapes and makes. It may be a wooden box with an earthenware case inside or with a false bottom of copper, or it may be a glazed earthenware case alone; the wooden box may be plain with two holes for handles, or it may be elaborately latticed; and sometimes a brazier is made of the trunk of a tree cut with the outside rough-hewn or only barked and highly polished. The tabako-bon, or “tobacco-tray,” is a small open square or oblong box of sandal-wood or other hard wood, which holds a small china or metal pan, three-quarters full of ashes, with a few tiny pieces of live charcoal in the middle to light a pipe with, and beside it a small bamboo tube with a knot at the bottom for receiving tobacco-ashes.
The parlour, the principal room of the house, is always kept tidy. It has an alcove, six feet long by three deep, consisting of a dais, a few inches high, of plain hard wood, which will bear polishing, though a thin matting is sometimes put over it. Not unfrequently, another piece of wood, generally square, forms the outer edge so that the thickness of the floor of the alcove can be concealed. The dais has a special ceiling of its own, or a bit of a wall, of plaster or wood, coming down over it a foot or more from the ceiling. On the dais is set a vase of porcelain or metal, bottle-shaped or flat, in which branches of a tree or shrubs in flower are put in, and on the wall is hung a kakemono, or scroll of picture or writing. These two constitute the main ornament of the room. New flowers are put in every few days and the kakemono is changed from time to time. This is the peculiarity of the kakemono as a piece of house decoration. We do not exhibit all our treasures in kakemono at the same time, but hang them one, two, or three at a time according to the size of the alcove and the kakemono themselves, so that the visitor calling at different seasons may delight his eyes with the sight of fresh pictures or writings each time he calls.
A Japanese room is measured, not by feet and inches, but by the number of mats it contains. A mat consists of a straw mattress, about an inch and a half thick, with a covering of fine matting which is sewn on at the edges of the mattress either by itself or with a border, usually dark-blue and an inch wide, of coarse hempen cloth. It is six feet long by three wide; this measure is not always exact, but may vary by an inch or more in either direction. When a house is newly built, the mat-maker comes to make mats to fit the rooms in it. But in spite of the variation, the size of a room is always given in the number of mats it holds, so that we never know the exact dimensions of a room. The smallest room has two mats, that is, is about six feet square; the next smallest is three-matted, or three yards by two. Four-matted rooms are sometimes to be found; but such rooms are unshapely, being four yards long by two wide. A room with four and a half mats is three yards square and has the half mat, which is a yard square, in the centre. The next size is six-matted, or four yards by three and is followed by the eight-matted, or four yards square.
Convention also makes itself felt in the laying out of a Japanese garden, though a greater latitude is allowed to the gardener’s ingenuity. Still the principles remain unchanged. In a large garden we usually find a pond, dry if no water is available, and surrounded with rocks of various shapes, and a knoll or two behind the pond with pines, maples, and other trees, and stone lanterns here and there. A few flowering shrubs are in sight, but these are planted for a season; thus, peonies, morning-glories, and chrysanthemums are removed as soon as they fade, while corchoruses and hydrangeas are cut down leaving only the roots behind. The chief features of the garden are the evergreens like the pine, trees whose leaves crimson in autumn like the maple, and above all, the flowering trees like the plum, the cherry, and the peach. A landscape garden presents, when the trees are not in blossom, a somewhat severe or solemn aspect; we do not expect from it the gaiety which beds of flowers impart. Indeed, many European flowering plants have of late been introduced, such as anemones, cosmoses, geraniums, nasturtiums, tulips, crocuses, and begonias; but they still look out of place in a Japanese garden. Roses are sometimes planted, but they are almost scentless. The humidity of the climate appears to militate against the perfume of flowers.
In Japan there was neither an architect nor a builder as a distinct calling. Even now, ordinary dwelling-houses are not built by either of them; it is the carpenter who has charge of their construction. The carpenter’s is a dignified craft; he is called in Japanese the “great artificer,” and stands at the head of all artisans. In the building of a house, a master carpenter is called in; he prepares the plans, and if they are approved, he sets to work with his apprentices and journeymen.
here is, however, still another element of insecurity in wooden houses. House-breaking is by no means difficult in Tokyo. In the daytime the front entrance is generally closed with sliding-doors which can, however, be gently opened and entered without attracting notice unless some one happens to be in an adjoining room. The kitchen door is usually kept open, and it is quite easy to sneak into the kitchen and make away with food or utensils. Tradesmen, rag-merchants, and hawkers come into the kitchen to ask for orders, to buy waste-paper or broken crockery, or to sell their wares, so that there is nothing unusual in finding strange men on the premises. Sometimes these hawkers are really burglars in disguise come to reconnoitre the house with a view to paying it a nocturnal visit. At night, of course, the house is shut and the doors are bolted or fastened with a ring and staple, but very seldom locked or chained.
Gates, too, vary in size and form. The most modest are no more than low wicker-gates which can be jumped over and offer no bar to intrusion. Others are of the same make, but stand higher so that the interior can be seen only through cracks. But the most common consist of two square posts with hinged doors which meet in the middle and are kept shut by a cross-bar passing through clamps on them. These gates may be of the cheapest kind of wood, such as cryptomeria, or may be massive and of hard wood. Another common kind has a roof over it with a single door which is hinged on one post and fastened on to the other and provided with a small sliding-door for daily use. The larger pair gates have also small side-doors for use at night when they are themselves shut.
There are no streets in Tokyo which are known as fashionable afternoon resorts, because the shops are so constructed that one cannot stop before them without being accosted by the squatting salesmen.
Only in a few main streets are there regular rows of shops with show-windows against which one could press one’s nose to look at the wares exhibited or peer beyond at the shop-girls at the counter; but then business is not done in Japan over the counter, nor do shop-girls hide their charms behind a window, for the shops are open to the street and the show-girls, or “signboard-girls” as we call them, squat at the edge visible to all passers-by and are as distinctive a feature of the shop as the signboard itself.
The goods are exhibited on the floor in glass cases or in piles, a custom which is not commendable when pastry or confectionery is on sale, for standing as it does on the south-eastern end of the great plain of Musashino, Tokyo is a very windy city, and the thick clouds of fine dust raised by the wind on fair days cover every article exposed and penetrate through the joints of glass cases, so that in Tokyo a man who is fond of confectionery must expect to eat his pound of dirt not within a lifetime, but often in a few weeks.
If one stops for a moment to look at the wares, he is bidden at once to sit on the floor and examine other articles which would be brought out for his inspection, whereupon he has either to accept the invitation or move on.
One seldom cares therefore to loiter in the street. The only shops that are often crowded by loiterers are the booksellers’ and cheap-picture dealers’.
The Saw Ou, or Chinese fiddle, used in Siam, is suggestive of a modern croquet mallet, with pegs stuck in the handle, and has only two strings, fastened from the pegs to the head. It is played with a bow which the performer cleverly inserts between the strings.
A very curious instrument is known as the Ta'khay, or Alligator: a glance at its form will readily account for its name. There seems a sort of satire in making one of the most silent of savage monsters a medium for the conveyance of sweet sounds. The Ta'khay is a stringed instrument of considerable power, and in tone is not unlike a violoncello. The three strings pass over eleven frets or wide movable bridges, and the shape of the body is rather like that of a guitar. It is placed on the ground, raised on low feet, and the player squats beside it. The strings are sounded by a plectrum, or plucker, shaped like an ivory tooth, fastened to the fingers, and drawn backwards and forwards so rapidly that it produces an almost continuous sweet dreamy sound.
The Saw Tai is the real Siamese violin, and is frequently of most elaborate construction. The upper neck of the one shown in the illustration is of gold, beautifully enamelled, while the lower neck is of ivory, richly carved. The back of the instrument is made of cocoa-nut shell, ornamented with jewels. The membrane stretched on the sounding-board, which gives the effect of a pair of bellows, is made of parchment, and has often, as in this special instrument, a jewelled ornament inserted in one corner. The Saw Tai has three strings of silk cord, which, passing over a bridge on the sounding-board, run up to the neck, being bound tightly to it below the pegs. The player sitting cross-legged on the ground holds the fiddle in a sloping posture, and touches the strings with a curiously curved bow.
The harp (the Soung) shown in the illustration is a favourite Burmese instrument, and is chiefly used to accompany the voice: it is always played by young men. It also has thirteen strings, made of silk, and is tuned by the strings being pushed up or down on the handle. It would sound strange to our ears, as the Burmese scale is differently constructed from ours. Every learner of music knows, or ought to know, that our scale has the semi-tones between the third and fourth, and the seventh and eighth notes, which gives a smooth progression satisfactory to our ears; but the Burmese scale places the semi-tones between the second and third and the fifth and sixth, which is quite different and to us has not nearly such a pleasant effect. The Soung is held with the handle resting on the left arm of the performer, who touches the strings with his right hand.
Chinese Woman - 11th Century BC
In each Lamasery there is a Faculty of Prayers, and the Grand Lama and the students of this department are often appealed to by the government to preserve their locality from calamity. On these occasions, the Lamas ascend to the summits of high mountains, and spend two whole days in praying, exorcising, and in erecting the Pyramid of Peace—a small pyramid of earth whitened with lime, a flag, inscribed with Thibetian characters, floating above.
MM. Gabet and Huc were impressed with the striking similarity between the Lamanesque worship and Catholicism. The cross, the mitre, the dalmatica, the cape, which the Grand Lamas wear on their journeys, or when they are performing some ceremony out of the temple; the service with double choirs, the psalmody, the exorcisms, the censer, suspended from five chains; the benedictions given by the Lamas by extending the right hand over the head of the faithful; the chaplet, ecclesiastical celibacy, spiritual retirement, the worship of the saints, the fasts, the processions, the litanies, the holy water, all these are analogous in the two modes of worship. Monasteries were founded by Tsong-Kaba, and they now contain a very large number of Lamas. The principal one is situated about three leagues from Lha-Ssa. It contains eight thousand Lamas, who devote the greater portion of their lives to study. The monastery of Hounboum is situated at the Lamanesque Mecca—the foot of the mountain where Tsong-Kaba was born.
East of British India and south of Cochin-China in the Bay of Bengal are the Andaman Islands, on which the Mincopies live. They are small in stature, black or dark brown, with broad round heads, and crinkly or woolly hair. They are often called negritos, or little negroes.
The Two storks
Korean Lion represents a game that children in Japan are very fond of playing. They are probably trying to act as well as the maskers did whom they saw on New Year's Day, just as our children try and imitate things they see in a pantomime. The masker goes from house to house accompanied by one or two men who play on cymbals, flute, and drum.
Street Tumblers playing Kangura in Tokio
The man who sells the gold-fish, with fan-like tails as long as their bodies, has also turtles. These boys at last settle that of all the pretty things they have seen they would best like to spend their money on a young turtle. For their pet rabbits and mice died, but turtles, they say, are painted on fans and screens and boxes because turtles live for ten thousand years.
The boys in the picture must be playing with the puppies of a large dog, to judge from their big paws. There are a great many large dogs in the streets of Tokio; some are very tame, and will let children comb their hair and ornament them and pull them about. These dogs do not wear collars, as do our pet dogs, but a wooden label bearing the owner's name is hung round their necks.
The masker goes from house to house accompanied by one or two men who play on cymbals, flute, and drum. He steps into a shop where the people of the house and their friends sit drinking tea, and passers-by pause in front of the open shop to see the fun. He takes a mask, like the one in the picture, off his back and puts it over his head. This boar's-head mask is painted scarlet and black, and gilt. It has a green cloth hanging down behind, in order that you may not perceive where the mask ends and the mans body begins. Then the masker imitates an animal. He goes up to a young lady and lays down his ugly head beside her to be patted, as "Beast" may have coaxed "Beauty" in the fairy tale. He grunts, and rolls, and scratches himself. The children almost forget he is a man, and roar with laughter at the funny animal.
The tops the lads are playing with in this picture are not quite the same shape as our tops, but they spin very well. Some men are so clever at making spinning-tops run along strings, throwing them up into the air and catching them with a tobacco-pipe, that they earn a living by exhibiting their skill.
Some of the tops are formed of short pieces of bamboo with a wooden peg put through them, and the hole cut in the side makes them have a fine hum as the air rushes in whilst they spin.
Yoshi-san and his Grandmother go to visit the great temple at Shiba. They walk up its steep stairs, and arrive at the lacquered threshold. Here they place aside their wooden clogs, throw a few coins into a huge box standing on the floor. It is covered with a wooden grating so constructed as to prevent pilfering hands afterward removing the coin. Then they pull a thick rope attached to a big brass bell like an exaggerated sheep-bell, hanging from the ceiling, but which gives forth but a feeble, tinkling sound. To insure the god's attention, this is supplemented with three distinct claps of the hands, which are afterward clasped in prayer for a short interval; two more claps mark the conclusion. Then, resuming their clogs, they clatter down the steep, copper-bound temple steps into the grounds. Here are stalls innumerable of toys, fruit, fish-cakes, birds, tobacco-pipes, ironmongery, and rice, and scattered amidst the stalls are tea-houses, peep-shows, and other places of amusement. Of these the greatest attraction is a newly-opened chrysanthemum show.
In the picture are two boys who are fond of music. One has a flute, which is made of bamboo wood. These flutes are easy to make, as bamboo wood grows hollow, with cross divisions at intervals. If you cut a piece with a division forming one end you need only make the outside holes in order to finish your flute.
The child sitting down has a drum. His drum and the paper lanterns hanging up have painted on them an ornament which is also the crest of the house of "Arima." If these boys belong to this family they wear the same crest embroidered on the centre of the backs of their coats.
The two little boys are playing at snowball. These lads enjoy a fall of snow, and still better than snowballing they like making a snowman with a charcoal ball for each eye and a streak of charcoal for his mouth. The shoes which they usually wear out of doors are better for a snowy day than your boots, for their feet do not sink into the snow, unless it is deep. These shoes are of wood, and make a boy seem to be about three inches taller than he really is. The shoe, you see, has not laces or buttons, but is kept on the foot by that thong which passes between the first and second toe. The thong is made of grass, and covered with strong paper, or with white or colored calico. The boy in the check dress wears his shoes without socks, but you see the other boy has socks on.
After the heavy autumn rains have filled the roads with big puddles, it is great fun, this boy thinks, to walk about on stilts. His stilts are of bamboo wood, and he calls them "Heron-legs," after the long-legged snowy herons that strut about in the wet rice-fields. When he struts about on them, he wedges the upright between his big and second toe as if the stilt was like his shoes. He has a good view of his two friends who are wrestling, and probably making hideous noises like wild animals as they try to throw one another.
Time-chart A.D. 800-A.D. 1500
Europe at the Fall of Constantinople
Europe and Asia, 1200
Empire of Timurlane
Empire of Jengis Khan, 1227
Comparative Maps of Asia
(a) as part of hemisphere
(b) on Mercators projection to show relative sizes of Asiatic Russia and India in the two cases.
Chief Foreign Settlements in India, 17th Century
Arabia and Adjacent Countries
Travels of Marco Polo
The World According to Eratosthenes, 200 B.C.
The Rise of Buddhism
Scythians ... as portrayed by a Greek artist....
One of the Few Existing Representations of the Ancient Scythians. From a Greek Electrum Vase.
Map of Europe, Asia, Africa 15,000 Years Ago
The irruption of the Ephthalites is memorable not so much because of its permanent effects as because of the atrocities perpetrated by the invaders. These Ephthalites very closely resembled the Huns of Attila in their barbarism; they merely raided, they produced no such dynasty as the Kushan monarchy; and their chiefs retained their headquarters in Western Turkestan. Mihiragula, their most capable leader, has been called the Attila of India. One of his favourite amusements, we are told, was the expensive one of rolling elephants down precipitous places in order to watch their sufferings. His abominations roused his Indian tributary princes to revolt, and he was overthrown. But the final ending of the Ephthalite raids into India was effected not by Indians, but by the destruction of the central establishment of the Ephthalites on the Oxus (565) by the growing power of the Turks, working in alliance with the Persians.
Asia Minor, Syria, and Mesopotamia
Gaur (Gaurus Forest)
The spread area of the Gaur is very extensive. From the southern rush hour of India to the Himalaja, eastbound by Assam and Tittagong to Burma and the Malaysian Peninsula, den Gaur can be found everywhere, where verboschrich mountain or hill country, however steep.