To what strange shifts and expedients are many driven by the hard pressures of life to earn the means of barely supporting existence ! Any one, who is acquainted with the lower phases of London life, is well aware that thousands scrape together a living out of the dust-heaps in Pad-dington. Some in rags, some in bones, some in street manure, some in scraps of tin and iron, find support for themselves and their families. Man is not responsible for his natural powers, nor is it any disgrace to be so deficient in intellect as to be obliged to follow a mean employment. No toil debases man save that which injures his moral character. Our picture presents to our notice one of the meanest of Chinese callings ; and in the refuse hair-gatherer, our artist has not failed to give you a specimen of humanity in one of its lowest forms. But even such a case as this is not without its interest. From the maker of wigs, false beards, and moustache, and from the worker in ornamental hair generally, such a calling may justly attract observation. Without the aid of the poor hair-gatherer, how should that fashionable young man, who, Absolom like, prides himself upon his hair, and yet unlike Absolom has but little of his own to boast of, appear in proper guise before his compeers in society ? How, again, shall the coy maiden find, unless by the same help, those magnificent "butter-flies' wings " * of glossy hair, which ornament the back of her head? But I have unwittingly anticipated : by this time the reader surmises the functions of our friend going his wearisome rounds with his light wicker-basket. He is either buying or begging all the refuse combings of the women's long black hair, which others, skilful in their art, make up into tails, either to supply a need which unfortunately may have arisen, or to increase the proportions of that which nature had too sparely bestowed. As you pass down a Chinese street, you will occasionally see a shop where were sold long switchy horse-tails ; such, at least, they long ap-peared to the writer of these sketches ; inquiry at last dissipated the delusion ; appearances answered to their proverbial deceitfulness, and these long-switch tails were formed of the refuse combings collected by our persevering friend, and hung in the shop ready to be braided into the usual queue worn by the men.
The bare-legged, bare-footed figure in our sketch has travelled many a weary league in carrying on his work. His province is to beg—not for himself, but for the monastery to which he belongs.
Every large establishment of this kind has priests of different ranks and different occupations. Su-preme over all is the abbot, or superior, who has his own private apartments, dines, except on great occasions, at his own table, and enjoys a com-fortable income. His duty is to entertain distinguished visitors of the monastery, to administer its revenues, to watch over the due performance of the services of the sanctuary, and to regulate and enforce its discipline in the priests committed to his authority. In the execution of his duties, he has the benefit of an assistant, as sub-prior, who also has his own private apartments, and who attends to minor matters of detail. Subordinate to the abbot and his assistant are the ordinary priests, the greater part of whom employ their time in lounging about ; some, studiously inclined, frequent the library, and pore over its voluminous contents ; some are engaged in cultivating the fields and tending the forests with which the monastery has been endowed ; some, again, are the cooks of the establishment, and display no mean skill in the preparation of their vegetable cuisine ; others, either singly or in pairs, start forth from time to time on a begging expedition, when money is needed for the repair of the buildings, or when an unusual influx of priests or unpropitious seasons have made the inmates feel the pangs of hunger ; and all, in rotation, take part in the frequent and regular chaunted services before the colossal figures in the central hall.
Buddhism in China is not what it once was in power and influence. The monasteries which we now see were the creation of an age which believed in this religion ; some of them are the monuments of imperial zeal. But this faith seems now to be gradually dying out ; its sacred edifices are falling into decay, and no new temples are rising. The priests are generally uneducated men, and held in great contempt by the gentry. Imperial patronage, too, is wanting ; the present sovereign of the country is either unable or unwilling to raise and endow new foundations, or even to restore and maintain those which his forefathers erected. In the many monasteries which I visited, I can call to mind but few which indicated, by the care bestowed on them and the strict observance of the rules, that there was reality in the members, or which contained men of superior intelligence. Priests of earnest mind will often heave a deep sigh over the degeneracy of the present age. In Buddhism there is no distinct order of " beg-ging friars," but, as need arises, a few are chosen to travel through the country and collect subscriptions. In their journeys they are received and lodged by the brethren in other monasteries, who, by a law of the order, are bound to extend to them for a stated time such, hospitality. They visit alike the houses of the rich and of the poor, and usually bring the artillery of their arguments to bear upon the weaker sex. A wallet at their back receives the contributions of the charitable—generally in the form of a little cooked rice, all animal food being prohibited according to the terms of their religious vow. They are the most strict vegetarians in the world.
Chinese style Frame
Enamelled Chinese Vase with animals
I have often noticed longing eyes watching the pan of boiling sugar at the corner of some thoroughfare, or under the porch of some well-frequented temple in China ; and as the desired consistency was attained, the sugar-stick drawn out to the proper thickness, the elegant spiral twist given by a dexterous movement of the hand, and as the long scissors snipped the transparent and fast-hardening stick into convenient inches,
You notice that the figure in our sketch has two baskets, or rather tubs, the one containing his goods in the form of sweetmeats of various devices, the other the fire-pans and implements necessary for their manufac-ture. When he moves from place to place, that short pole which is resting by his side is laid upon his shoulder, and a tub hangs on a hook at either end. Listen ! He is striking with a flat piece of brass his little sounding gong, which, with its clang, clang, clang, invites customers. Each trade has its own particular cry or call, some vocal, some, as in this case, instrumental. See ! an urchin, whose fingers are evidently so burnt with the money that they can hold it no longer, is running forward to make a purchase. You may tell he is very young, for his tail is not yet grown, his head is entirely shaved, save two little tufts of hair, which are twisted and bound up into a soft horn, and orna-mented with a piece of crimson silk. Though so young, yet he has his own mind about his money, and very likely will prefer giving that funny-look-ing wheel in front of the sweetmeats a turn, to know whether he is to have double the worth of his money in sugar, or none at all. The gambling spirit is even strong in infancy, and though the chances are that the sweetmeat-seller will gain, yet he cannot resist the temptation ; only think, if he should get two pieces of sugar instead of one ! If he loses, he will stand there watching while others take their turn ; if he wins, he will run home delighted with his success. Children are children all the world over, they will have their fun and frolic, the sweet tooth can never be pulled out; if it could, what would become of the poor lollipop-makers !
THE original heading of this picture, as given by my Chinese artist, is " striking the flower drum." For the information of those who do not understand the Chinese idiom we must say that flower or flowery (for the position of the word alone determines its genus) is put for anything gay, and frequently means that which is not only gay and pleasing to the eye or senses, but sometimes also that which is dissolute and vicious. Thus " a flower boat " is a boat for a party of pleasure, used fre-quently by the Southern Chinese for an occasion of revelling and vice. A flower chair is the sedan chair used on occasions of a marriage festivity ; flower guns are guns for purposes of amusement, namely, squibs, rockets, and fireworks generally. The meaning of " a flower child " would never be guessed by the English reader ; it signifies nothing more than a beggar, most probably because beggars are usually a vagabond people, leading a wretched abandoned life. The Chinese beggar, like his European brother, notwithstanding all his hardships, greatly prefers his liberty with an occasional feast, frolic, and dance, to the toil of honest industry. I have myself in China clothed, fed, and housed a starving beggar boy, who ran away from me directly he was asked to take a spade and dig for an hour in the garden. The women in our picture are a kind of beggars, and as they play sprightly, exciting music, and sing gay and almost indecent songs, and I fear live frequently a corrupt life, they are called those who " strike the flower drum." The drum is not the only instrument they employ, but this is put generally for all other kinds of music. One of the figures is seen holding a small drum and a little slip of bamboo as drum-stick, the other has a tiny brass gong, and as she strikes her " flower gong," she deadens the sound with the other hand, to pre-vent the prolonged clang of the metal from drown-ing the words of her song. The little child carried on the back shows the ordinary method employed by beggars of stowing away their children when they are too young or too tired to follow their elders on foot. These street singers are not seen all the year round, they only appear on New-year festivities.
The sapient-looking gentleman, is one of the supposed fortune-tellers in China. Their name is legion, and in these sketches a few of the more prominent characters of this class will be introduced. When the mind of man is not enlightened by science and revelation, experience teaches us that it is a prey to various foolish and degrading super-stitions. No wonder, then, that in a country like China, where science has made comparatively so little progress, and where revelation has scarcely yet diffused her faintest beams, superstitions of every kind should be rife. It is a genial cli-mate and a kindly soil, in which they spring up `rank` and luxuriant. The workings of natural laws are at best but partially understood. For example, the thunder, the fire, the earthquake, the eclipse, are supposed to be not so much subject to certain laws, as under the authority and control of some capricious deity. The ancestor or god of thunder, tray-tsoo, is worshipped with peculiar honours in the summer months, when storms are prevalent. Then crowds of earnest devotees besiege his shrine. The spirit of fire has innumerable votaries, who deprecate his wrath in the dry season of autumn. The earthquake is ascribed to the convulsive struggles of a huge tortoise to shift the earth from off his back. The eclipse is said to be caused by a voracious dog, in his attempts to swallow the orb of day. And though, with regard to the eclipse, there are some who know better, and if they cannot themselves explain the true reason, know that it has to do with fixed laws, and occurs at regular periods, noted in the imperial alma-nacks, yet the same excitement still prevails when-ever the phenomenon occurs : gongs are beaten, and crackers are fired from every house to frighten away the hungry beast.
TOOTHACHE is an universal plague. Every country has a special " nostrum " for its cure. China knows the plague, and China has a nostrum, which may well challenge all others for originality and efficacy. The quacks who in this case advance their specific are all women. I speak of them and their doings as I have seen and known them in the province of Chekeang. Whether they are found elsewhere in China I know not. The remedy they employ has never yet, to my knowledge, been published to the world ; and we must not feel sur-prised if, after this paper has once got abroad, a shipload of these charlatans should be sent for, and make their appearance " one fine morning," in the Thames.
These female quacks maintain that the usual cause of toothache is a little worm or maggot, which has its nest in the gum under the root, and if this little offender can be driven or coaxed out, the gnawing pain will immediately cease. But how he is to be driven or coaxed out is the secret of their trade, the knowledge of which they confine most rigidly to those of their own profession. We had not been resident many years in the country before we heard talk of these women and their wonderful performances, and as my friend and I took our customary walks together, our con-versation not unfrequently turned their way. My friend stoutly maintained that it was all impos-ture ; it was impossible, he said, that maggots in the gums or teeth should have escaped the obser-vation of our dentists, who had examined hundreds of thousands, not merely of teeth, but of mouths for so many years.
Chinese Woman - 11th Century BC
A Chinese sedan chair and bearers
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.
A Chinese Dragon
The men’s stockings are made of stuff, stitched and lined with cotton, with a line of gold thread sewed along the top. These stockings are somewhat mishapen, but are very warm.—There is an engaging modesty in the Chinese habit which adorns every class in life. The dress of the women is fastened close round the throat, their sleeves conceal their hands, and they wear long drawers reaching to their ankles. Those who can afford it, purchase ear-rings of gold, and large armlets of the same metal.—The hair of the Chinese is univerfally black. The women comb it up very nicely, and braid or coil it on the head with much neatness : sometimes it is fastened with a gold bodkin or two, and generally ornamented with natural or
artificial flowers, disposed according to the fancy of the wearer. The young and unmarried are required by custom to wear their hair combed over their foreheads, whilst the eyebrows of both are trimmed into a mere pencil line.
None but the lowest orders of Chinese women are indulged with the natural use of their feet. The parents or nurses of a female infant of superior condition do not neglect to roll the toes under the feet,
the great one excepted; and by being confined thus, they are rendered incapable of ever recovering their natural shape and position. The motive for this singular distortion is not acknowledged by any of the natives, neither is it easy to be surmised. If the custom proceeded from a notion of rendering the women more usefully domestic, the purpose is in a great measure defeated, since they are by this practice deprived of that active power which is necessary for the performance os domestic duties. If it be from a distrust of their fidelity, it is remarkable that no such custom prevails amongst the Turks, or other Asiatics, who are equally jealous of their women. It seems probable that, either from habit or prejudice, they attach ideas of vulgarity and disgust to this part os the human frame. The Chinese ladies are ridiculed by the European nations on account of this deformity, which is the result os fashion only, whilst they do not consider that, unsightly as it may be, it is perfectly consistent with those peculiar principles of modesty and decorum which the Chinese profess.
At the approach of night the gates of the cities in China, and the barricades at the end of each street, are carefully shut. During the night no persons of credit are seen in the streets, which abound with watchmen, who strike upon a piece of bamboo in their left hand, to denote the time and to mark their own vigilance. Those whom they meet in their walk are questioned, and if the reply be satisfactory, they are permitted to pass through a wicket in the barricade. The watchmen carry lanterns, upon which are written their names and the district: to which they belong. In the very hot months, all the lower classes of Chinese have their feet and legs bare.
The dress of a Chinese is suited to the gravity of his demeanour.
It consists, in general, of a long veil: extending to the ankle: the sleeves are wide at the shoulder, are gradually narrower at the wrist, and are rounded off in the form of a horse-shoe, covering the whole hand when it is not lifted up. No man of `rank` is allowed to appear in public without boots which have no heels, and are made of satin, silk, or calico. In full dress, he wears a long silk gown, generally of a blue colour and heavily embroidered; over this is placed a surcoat of silk, which reaches to the hand, and descends below the knee. From his neck is suspended a string of costly coral beads. His cap is edged with satin, velvet, or fur, and on the crown is a red ball with a peacock’s feather hanging from it. These are badges of distinction conferred by the emperor. The embroidered bird upon the breast is worn only by mandarins high in civil `rank`, while the military mandarins are distinguished by an embroidered dragon. All colours are not suffered to be worn indiscriminately. The emperor, and the princes of the blood only, are allowed to wear yellow; although violet colour is sometimes chosen by mandarins of `rank` on days of ceremony.
There are many curious customs regarding Chinese children. One takes place when a little boy is one year old. A great bamboo sieve, such as farmers use, is placed upon the table. Upon it are spread many articles—money-scales, shears, a measure, a mirror, a pencil, ink, paper, inkstone, books, the counting-board, objects of gold or silver, fruits, etc. The baby, all dressed in his best clothes, is then set in the midst of the objects, on the sieve. His parents and friends watch anxiously to see which of the articles he will grasp. They believe it will show what he will do when he is a man. If he takes the money-scales or the gold or silver, he will become a rich merchant; if he takes the book or pencil, he will be a great scholar, and so on.
The cormorants are great fish-eaters, so much so that it is common to call any large eater a cormorant. There are many species, some small, some large, living on the shores of islands and in some cases along rivers.
The way in which this bird is of service to man is in its being tamed and trained to catch fish for him. This used to be done in England and is still done in China. How it is done may be told in a few words.
The bird is easily tamed by the Chinese fishermen and is trained by them for its new duty. While being trained a string is tied to its leg so as to control its movements. Then small fish are thrown out and it springs after them. In time it learns to go into the water when a whistle is given and to come back when it hears a different whistle. After three or four weeks of this training the bird is ready for duty and no longer needs a string to hold it.
The ancient ou was constructed with only six tones which were attuned thus—f, g, a, c, d, f. The instrument appears to have become deteriorated in the course of time; for, although it has gradually acquired as many as twenty-seven pieces of metal, it evidently serves at the present day more for the production of rhythmical noise than for the execution of any melody. The modern ou is made of a species of wood called kieou or tsieou: and the tiger rests generally on a hollow wooden pedestal about three feet six inches long, which serves as a sound-board.
The kin-kou (engraved), a large drum fixed on a pedestal which raises it above six feet from the ground, is embellished with symbolical designs. A similar drum on which natural phenomena are depicted is called lei-kou; and another of the kind, with figures of certain birds and beasts which are regarded as symbols of long life, is called ling-kou, and also lou-kou.
Another curious wind-instrument of high antiquity, the cheng, is still in use. Formerly it had either 13, 19, or 24 tubes, placed in a calabash; and a long curved tube served as a mouth-piece. In olden time it was called yu.
According to their records, the Chinese possessed their much-esteemed king 2200 years before our Christian era, and employed it for accompanying songs of praise. It was regarded as a sacred instrument. During religious observances at the solemn moment when the king was sounded sticks of incense were burnt. It was likewise played before the emperor early in the morning when he awoke. The Chinese have long since constructed various kinds of the king, one of which is here engraved, by using different species of stones. Their most famous stone selected for this purpose is called yu. It is not only very sonorous but also beautiful in appearance. The yu is found in mountain streams and crevices of rocks. The largest specimens found measure from two to three feet in diameter, but of this size examples rarely occur. The yu is very hard and heavy. Some European mineralogists, to whom the missionaries transmitted specimens for examination, pronounce it to be a species of agate. It is found of different colours, and the Chinese appear to have preferred in different centuries particular colours for the king.
The hiuen-tchung was, according to popular tradition, included with the antique instruments at the time of Confucius, and came into popular use during the Han dynasty (from B.C. 200 until A.D. 200). It was of a peculiar oval shape and had nearly the same quaint ornamentation as the té-tchung; this consisted of symbolical figures, in four divisions, each containing nine mammals. The mouth was crescent-shaped. Every figure had a deep meaning referring to the seasons and to the mysteries of the Buddhist religion. The largest hiuen-tchung was about twenty inches in length; and, like the té-tchung, was sounded by means of a small wooden mallet with an oval knob. None of the bells of this description had a clapper. It would, however, appear that the Chinese had at an early period some kind of bell provided with a wooden tongue: this was used for military purposes as well as for calling the people together when an imperial messenger promulgated his sovereign’s commands. An expression of Confucius is recorded to the effect that he wished to be “A wooden-tongued bell of Heaven,” i.e. a herald of heaven to proclaim the divine purposes to the multitude.
I have hereto annexed the print of a Chinese procession taken from the description of a traveller into that country; by which a good composer would well know how to make a proper choice of what might be exhibited, and what was fit to be left out; especially according as the dance should be, serious or burlesque. In the last case; even the horses might be represented by a theatrical imitation.
As we came to the monastery this morning, I was very much amused at seeing, close by the gates of the monastery, barbers plying their trade al fresco. Two men were being operated upon; one was being shaved, the other having his tail plaited. It is a common sight in the streets of the city to see barbers shaving their customers in the open air.
We ordered mountain chairs, and at eleven o'clock we started. These chairs are very light, and as we had four coolies each, we went at a very good pace. We passed quickly through the city, and on reaching the I-ling-16u, which is in the northern suburb, our chair-coolies stopped at a street restaurant to regale themselves before going into the open country. Henry and I got out of our chairs and sat under a wide-spreading banyan tree. We were much amused by watching many wayfarers, who were passing from or into the city, refreshing themselves at the street restaurant, either with tea and cakes, or boiled rice and fried fish, or with soups, fruits, etc.
On the way to our boat from the parade ground, I was much amused, as I always am, by watching several very young girls and boys with babies strapped on to their backs. When these young people are engaged in play, they seem utterly to forget their living burdens, and one fears for the safety of the poor little babies. At times, when we pass through villages, the boys and girls, in their fright at the sudden appearance of Europeans, take to their heels and scamper away, and then the babies on their backs appear to be in imminent danger.
We went on for some distance beyond the north gate of the city to witness cricket-fighting, a favourite pastime of the Chinese. As we approached the field where it took place, we saw crowds of men standing about some sheds erected on the spot. Most of the company were of the lowest order, but there were some respectable men, including Tartar officers and mandarins. Much money is lost in this form of gambling. On entering the largest shed, we saw a raised platform on which some men sat behind a counter, who were employed in weighing the crickets, in weighing the dollars, in recording the bets, in receiving the money laid by both sides on each match, and in paying the winner of each particular fight, after deducting a percentage for the expenses of the building. In this shed numbers of men were collected, each holding in his hand a little round earthenware basin covered with a cloth. These basins contained the fighting-crickets. The matches are played for large as well as small sums of money, and many hundred dollars changed hands during the short time we were present.
The Chinese are most inveterate gamblers and I have noticed small boys gambling at stalls where nuts, oranges, or other fruits are sold. In the streets and squares one often sees groups of four or five Chinese squatting, who are engaged in playing cards and dominoes, whilst other stand and look on at the game.
Blacksmiths Working in the Open Air
These itinerant barbers are quite an institution in China, going, as they do, from village to village and from monastery to monastery, in pursuit of their calling. They look so picturesque, as one meets them about the country, wearing, as they do, broad-brimmed straw hats, loose jackets, and long flowing trousers. These men carry a miniature chest of drawers, in which they keep their razors, brushes, combs, and earnings, suspended from one end of a thin bamboo pole which rests on their shoulders. From the other end a wooden washstand and basin are suspended. I have not mentioned soap, as none is used in Chinese shaving. The tiny chest of drawers serves as a seat for the customers.
An Itinerant Barber waiting for a customer
As we came to the monastery this morning, I was very much amused at seeing, close by the gates of the monastery, barbers plying their trade al fresco. Two men were being operated upon; one was being shaved, the other having his tail plaited. It is a common sight in the streets of the city to see barbers shaving their customers in the open air.
The day after we had had our grand Chinese dinner we went into the city, and the first object we visited was the Clepsydra (or water clock), which is placed in a chamber erected on the tower called Kung-Pak-Lau. We saw four tubs containing water, which are placed on an inclined plane and connected by open spouts. The tube vary in size, the largest one being at the top. The water trickles from the one tub into the other. A copper dial resembling a carpenter's rule, with Chinese characters engraved on it marking its divisions, rests on a wooden float in the lowest tub. As this dial rises it shows the length of time expired. A man remains in the building night and day, for the purpose of giving the hour to the citizens of Canton. This he does during the day, by placing boards outside the clock tower, which are painted white, and bear large black Chinese characters marking the hour. A gong and drum are kept in the tower, by which the watchman makes known the various watches or hours of the night. A small shrine is placed immediately above the steps leading to the water clock, in honour of Pwan-Ku, who is described in Chinese mythology as having been the first man. As clothes were supposed to be unknown when he flourished, he is represented as wearing an apron or girdle of green leaves. He appears to be regarded as the tutelary god of the water clock.
I have observed a great number if open-air stalls, which are placed either under mat coverings, or simply under large umbrellas made of dried palm-leaves. I have seen most picturesque groups standing around these stalls drinking soup, or eating boiled rice with chopsticks, or perhaps taking cakes or other light refreshment.
The number of Chinese going in the same direction as ourselves was very great, as the worshipping of the tombs had just begun. Most of these people were on foot, but some went along in chairs. They carried with them long strings of paper ingots, to burn at the tombs. These ingots, or mock-money, are done up like little sugar-loaves, and are strung on cord. I saw men carrying five or six such long strings of ingots from the end of their bamboos. They also had offerings of cake in red painted boxes, fire-crackers, and bright-coloured and white paper, the latter of which they stick in strips on the graves. I also saw some men carrying roasted pigs cooked whole, for offerings. The Chinese are too thrifty to leave these at the tombs ; they merely offer them, then bring them home and feast on them with their relations. All male members of a family must worship their ancestors' tombs yearly, and we met fathers taking their sons of all ages with them to the graves.
The tombs were soon on all sides of us ; they are in the form of a horse-shoe, and are built on the sides of the mountain in stone or asphalte. These belong to the rich ; the graves of the poorer class are simply marked by an upright stone or a conical mound of earth.
The Cradle of Chinese Civilization (Map)
The kingdom of Gandhara on the northwest frontier near Peshawar, which flourished in the third century B.C., was a typical meeting-place of the Hellenic and Indian worlds. Here are to be found the earliest Buddhist sculptures, and interwoven with them are figures which are recognizably the figures of Serapis and Isis and Horus already worked into the legendary net that gathered about Buddha. No doubt the Greek artists who came to Gandhara were loath to relinquish a familiar theme. But Isis, we are told, is no longer Isis but Hariti, a pestilence goddess whom Buddha converted and made benevolent.
China had a Taoist deity, the Holy Mother, the Queen of Heaven, who took on the name (originally a male name) of Kuan-yin and who came to resemble the Isis figure very closely. The Isis figures, we feel, must have influenced the treatment of Kuan-yin. Like Isis she was also Queen of the Seas, Stella Maris. In Japan she was called Kwannon. There seems to have been a constant exchange of the outer forms of religion between east and west.
Containing 17 pipes of small bamboo reeds, arranged in five sets, each having pipes of equal length.
The print is the representation of a Chinese Lady, and her Son.
Preforming tricks with Jars
This engraving exhibits a posture-master balancing two large China vases, and throwing himself into most extraordinary attitudes.
Blue or brown cotton frocks with green or yellow trowsers are the ordinary dresses of the female peasantry, all of whom, except such as labour in the field or the fisheries, have the vanity to cramp their feet, in imitation of their superiors. Those in the print are employed in winding cotton yarn. They are, in general, ill featured, and their countenance void of expression.
It is, perhaps, more proper to call the annexed figure, the representation of a person in the character of a female comedian, than “a female comedian,” as women have been prohibited from appearing publicly on the stage since the late Emperor, Kien Lung, took an actress for one of his inferior wives. Female characters are now therefore performed either by boys or eunuchs. The whole dress is supposed to be that of the ancient Chinese, and indeed is not very different from that of the present day. The young ladies of China display considerable taste and fancy in their head-dresses which are much decorated with feathers, flowers, and beads as well as metallic ornaments in great variety of form. Their outer garments are richly embroidered, and are generally the work of their own hands, a great part of their time being employed in this way. If it was not a rigid custom of the country, to confine to their apartments the better class of females, the unnatural cramping of their feet, while infants, is quite sufficient to prevent them from stirring much abroad, as it is with some difficulty they are able to hobble along; yet such is the force of fashion, that a lady with her feet of the natural size would be despised, and at once classed among the vulgar.
This is one of the most common of sedan chairs, used by the peasantry; though there are others still meaner, and without any covering over head. The wages of labour are so low, and the price of provisions so cheap, that any man above a common labourer can afford to be carried in his chair.
Begging is by no means a profitable trade in China, and few therefore pursue it except the monks of Fo and Tao-tzé, and a few impostors who go about pretending to foretell events and predict good or ill fortune. The annexed is the representation of a beggar of a different description. The piece of hollow wood in his hand is struck to draw attention, and the label on his back describes his condition, which is not exactly such as in other countries would excite much compassion. It states his unfortunate situation, as having no children to take care of him, to console him in affliction, to give him food when hungry, or medicine when sick. The want of children is considered in China as the greatest of all misfortunes, and is in reality so, as by the moral precepts of that nation, which have all the force of law, filial piety is looked upon as the first of moral virtues; and, however poor a child may be, he is bound to share his earnings with his aged parents.
If we except the unnatural custom of maiming the feet, which swells and distorts the ankles, and wrapping the latter up in bandages, the dress of Chinese ladies in the upper ranks of life is by no means unbecoming. In the head dress, in particular, they sometimes exhibit great taste, and great variety; and the materials of which their garments are made, and especially those parts of them which consist of their own embroidering, are exceedingly beautiful. Confined by education in their mental acquirements, a great part of their time is employed in works of this kind, in looking after and cultivating plants growing in pots which decorate their apartments and inner courtyards, and in attending to birds, which are either kept for singing, or some particular beauty of form or plumage. The buildings in the back ground form part of a view of Pekin, near one of the western gates.
This machine, like a baker’s cart, is the kind of wheel carriage which is most common in the country, and such as even the high officers of state ride in, when performing land journies in bad weather, and the driver invariably sits on the shaft in the aukward manner here represented. They have no springs, nor any seat in the inside, the persons using them always sitting cross-legged on a cushion at the bottom. In these carts the gentlemen of Lord Macartney’s embassy who had not horses, were accommodated, over a stone pavement full of rutts and holes. When ladies use them, a bamboo screen is let down in front to prevent their being stared at by passengers, and on each side, the light is admitted through a square hole just large enough for a person’s head.
In so arbitrary a government as that of China, it would scarcely be supposed that the press should be free; that is to say, that every one who chooses it may follow the profession of a printer or a bookseller without any previous licence, or without submitting the works he may print or expose for sale to any censor appointed by government; but then he must take his chance to suffer in his person all the consequences that may result from the impression that may be made on the minds of the civil officers as to the tendency of the work. A libel against the government, an immoral or indecent book, would subject both printer and publisher to certain punishment both in his person and purse.
The priests of Fo in China are the same as the priests of Boudh are in India, from whence their religion passed into China in the first century of the Christian æra. The temples and the monasteries of China swarm with them; and they practice, ostensibly at least, all the austerities and mortifications of the several orders of monks in Europe, and inflict on themselves the same painful, laborious, and disgusting punishments which the faquirs of India undergo, either for the love of God, as they would have it supposed, or to impose on the multitude, as is most probably the real motive. In China, however, they are generally esteemed as men of correct morals: and there is reason to believe, that the calumnies heaped upon them by the Catholic missionaries are for the most part unfounded, and were occasioned by the mortification they experienced in finding their ceremonies, their altars, their images, their dress, to resemble so very nearly their own
On all the rivers and canals of China a vast number of families live entirely in their boats, and the women are generally quite as efficient navigators as the men, particularly in rowing and steering. Their dress differs very little from that of the men, except about the head, on which the hair is suffered to grow freely, and is sometimes plaited behind like that of the men, as in this figure, but more frequently tied up in a knot upon the crown of the head. Among persons of this description the feet are allowed to grow to their full size, and they are almost invariably without shoes or other cover. They smoke tobacco and chew the betel and areca nut with as much avidity as the men.
There is little more to be observed of the present engraving than this: that whatever wares, goods, or merchandize are exposed to sale in the open air, which in the open plains, as well in the broad streets of cities, is very much the case, the vender and the articles themselves are, during the summer months, protected from the rays of the sun by a large umbrella, which is generally square, like that in the print. Some hundreds of similar stands and umbrellas were displayed on a plain near the spot where the embassy disembarked, within the mouth of the Pei-ho; the little booths, if they may be so termed, being generally well stored with sweet-meats and sliced water-melons laid upon ice. The poorest peasant in China carries an umbrella, either to defend him against the rays of the sun, or heavy rains.
Filial piety in China extends beyond the grave. Every year at certain periods dutiful children assemble at the tomb of their parents or ancestors, to make oblations of flowers, or fruit, or pieces of gilt paper, or whatever else they consider as likely to be acceptable to the manes of the departed. Their mourning dress consists of a garment of Nanquin cotton, or canvas, of the coarsest kind. Some of the monuments erected over the dead are by no means inelegant; like their bridges and triumphal arches, they are very much varied, and made apparently without any fixed design or proportion. The semicircular or the horse-shoe form, like that in the print before which the mourner is kneeling, appeared to be the most common.
The grand canal of China, or rather the water communication between the northern and southern extremities of the empire by a succession of canals and rivers, is certainly the first inland navigation in the world. The multitude of vessels, of every size and shape, is not to be estimated. The large one in the print is one of those which carried the British embassador and his suite up the Pei-ho to the neighbourhood of Pekin, which were in every respect comfortable and commodious. On passing bridges, which are very frequent in the neighbourhood of all towns and villages, the masts are usually lowered down; but many of the bridges are lofty enough to admit the smaller kind of barges to pass underneath with their masts standing. The bridges are almost as various in their shape and construction as the barges, and some of them by no means destitute of taste.
THe figure represents a groupe of the common peasantry of the country eating their rice. The particular employment of these, here designated, is that of tracking barges on the canals; the pieces of wood lying by them being those which they place across the chest to drag forward the vessels. It will be seen from the other prints, that the common mode of carrying burthens is that of swinging baskets from the two extremities of a bamboo, which is laid by the middle across the shoulders.
The Leu-tzé, or fishing cormorant of China, is the pelicanus sinensis, and resembles very much the common cormorant of England, which, we are told by naturalists, was once trained up to catch fish, pretty much in the same manner as those of China are. They are exceedingly expert in taking fish, and pursue them under water with great eagerness. They are taken out, on the rivers and lakes, in boats or bamboo rafts; and though sent on the chace after long fasting, they are so well trained that they rarely swallow any of the fish they take until they are permitted to do so by their masters. Many thousand families in China earn their subsistence by means of these birds.
The punishment of the cangue may be compared to that of our pillory, with this difference, that in China a person convicted of petty crimes or misdemeanours is sometimes sentenced to carry the wooden clog about his neck for weeks, or even months; sometimes one hand, or even both hands, are inserted through holes, as well as the neck. The annexed representation is not a common one, and far less painful than the plain heavy tablet of wood, the whole weight of which must be supported on the shoulders; whereas in this it is mere confinement, without the person being compelled to carry a heavy load. The nature of the offence is always described in large characters, either on the edge of the cangue, or, as in the present instance, on a piece of board attached to it.
Piercing the ear with various sharp instruments is among the punishments of the Chinese. A man who had been insolent to one of the suite of Lord Macartney’s embassy, was sentenced to receive fifty strokes from the pant-zee or bamboo, in addition to having his hand pinned to his ear by an iron wire, which was said to have been inflicted immediately after the bastinade.
The middle figure is an inferior officer of the police, who holds a painted board on which the crime is exhibited to spectators; the other personage is a mandarin reproving the culprit.
Kien Lung was the fourth Emperor of the Tartar dynasty, which now possesses the throne of China. When the sketch was taken he was eighty-three years of age, but had all the appearance of a hale, vigorous man of sixty. Indeed his whole life had been spent in the active discharge of public business, and in the violent exercise of hunting and shooting in the wild regions of Tartary, which he continued with unabated zeal almost to the period of life above mentioned. He always commenced public business at two or three in the morning, and gave audience to foreign ambassadors at that early hour, whether in winter or summer, and he generally retired to rest at sunset; and to this invariable habit of rising and retiring at an early hour, he attributed much of his healthy and vigorous constitution.
Throughout all the East, in India as well as in China, the luxury of champooing is enjoyed by all ranks of men; it consists of pulling the joints until they crack, and of thumping the muscles until they are sore; it is generally an operation performed by the barbers, who at the same time cleanse the ears, tickle the nose, and play a thousand tricks to please and amuse their customers, to whom and the surrounding audience they tell their gossiping stories. Of their merit in this respect we have abundant information in the Arabian Nights Entertainments.
Among the peasantry and labouring people of China, all are cooks. A little earthen-ware stove and an iron pan is all that is required. Rice is their principal food, which is simply boiled, and then a little fat of pork or a salt fish put into the pan to mix with it and give it a relish; they drink little else besides water, which is usually carried about in a gourd slung on the back; and they require no table nor chairs. Each person has his bowl and his chop-sticks, and squatting down on his haunches before the pan, he makes a hearty and contented meal. It is quite gratifying to see a party of youngsters making their dinner in this way in the open air.
The collecting and preparing of manure of various descriptions, and making it up into cakes for sale, occupy a very considerable population of the lowest class of society, and for the most part is the employment of the aged and children. No agriculturists, perhaps, understand the value of manure better than the Chinese, and certainly none are so well skilled in the economical distribution of it. It is quite ridiculous to see the avidity with which young children follow a traveller on horseback for the chance of catching what the animal may emit, which is immediately caught up, and thrown into the basket; and if the traveller himself should contribute his portion, it is considered as more valuable than that from the animal.
The original weapon of the Chinese, which by the way seems to be the offensive arms of most savages, is the bow. It is still preferred by them to the matchlock; and the Tartars are so fond of it, that it forms an essential part of the education of the young princes of the blood. Their bows are large, and require a considerable degree of strength, as well as a peculiar knack to string them. Even the Emperor wears a ring of agate on the right thumb for the string to press against in drawing the bow, which is the weapon he uses every summer in hunting tigers and other wild beasts in the forests of Tartary.
The figure kneeling before the deities mounted on pedestals is a priest of the sect of Fo. He is burning incense, or rather paper that is covered over with some liquid that resembles gold. Sometimes, in lieu of this, tin foil is burnt before the altars of China, and this is the principal use to which the large quantities of tin sent from this country is applied. On the four-legged stool is the pot containing the sticks of fate, and other paraphernalia belonging to the temple, and behind it is the tripod in which incense is sometimes burned. These superstitious rites are performed several times by the priests every day, but there is no kind of congregational worship in China. The people pay the priests for taking care of their present and future fate.
The Chinese have full as great a variety of musical instruments as most other nations, but they are all of them indifferent, and the music, if it may be so called, produced out of them, execrable.
Some millions of Chinese live entirely on the water, in boats and barges of various kinds, some occupied in carrying articles of provisions and merchandize, others in conveying passengers, some in feeding and rearing ducks, and others in fishing. Some of these vessels have masts and sails, others are forced forwards with large sculls or pushed on with poles, some are dragged along by men, and others, but very rarely, by horses. Near the head of each vessel is suspended in some convenient place, one of those noisy instruments well known in this country by the name of gong, which is used to regulate the motions of the trackers, and to give notice to other vessels of the approach and intentions of the one that beats the signal.
The police is so well regulated in all the large cities of China, that disturbances rarely, if ever, happen during the night. The watch is set at nine, and continues till five in the morning. A gate is placed at each end of the cross streets, which are all streight, and at right angles with the main streets; from each gate a watchman proceeds till he meets his brother watchman about the middle; at every half hour he beats the hollow bamboo tube, in his left hand, with the mallet in the right, striking the same number of blows as there may be half hours elapsed from nine o’clock: the blow gives a dead, dull sound, sufficiently audible, and to a stranger sufficiently disagreeable. Each watchman is also furnished with a paper lantern. At the great gates of cities, and at certain distances in the main streets are guard-houses, at which a party of soldiers are stationed to aid the police, if necessary; but this is rarely the case, as, in addition to the common watch, every tenth housekeeper in every street is made responsible for the orderly good conduct of his nine neighbours. In the day time there is plenty of noise, and quarrelling and scuffling among the lower orders of the Chinese.
There is no nation so fond of illuminations and fire-works as the Chinese, and no nation has exerted its skill so effectually in the multitude of contrivances to exhibit light. Their lanterns are as various in shape as in materials. The most common are of painted paper. The most beautiful and ornamental of silk gauze, finely painted and stretched on frames that are not deficient in carving and curious workmanship, and decorated with tassels of silk of various colours. Other lanterns are round and cylindrical, and of one single piece of thin transparent horn, sometimes of an immense size.
It is a peculiar feature in all the Oriental nations, that the most beautiful specimens of workmanship in the various arts are made with the most simple and at the same time most clumsy tools. The artificers moreover are rarely fixed, or settled in a workshop convenient for their purposes, but generally travel about the country carrying their shop and apparatus with them. The annexed figure represents an itinerant smith, who has more tools than almost any other artificer of China, and yet performs his work the worst. Their cast iron is light and good, but their manufactures of wrought iron are very indifferent: they can neither make a hinge, nor a lock, nor even a nail that can be called good. The bellows of the smith is a box with a valvular piston, which, when not in use, serves as a seat, and also to contain his tools. The barber also makes a seat of his basket; the joiner uses his rule as a walking-stick, and the same chest that holds his tools serves him as a bench to work upon: such are the expedients which thousands resort to, both in India and China.
The Chinese merchants and tradesmen are most expert and ready reckoners; but they perform all arithmetical operations mechanically, by means of a table divided into two compartments, through which pass iron wires; and on these wires are strung in one compartment five, and in the other two, moveable balls. The principle is something of the same kind as that of the abacus of the Romans, and is with some little variation still made use of in Russia. It has been observed, that in weighing several thousand chests of tea, or bales of goods, at Canton, the Chinese accountant can invariably name the sum total long before the European can cast up his account.