Chin-Chin The Chinaman at Home
THE CHINAMAN AT HOME
(Late of the Imperial Chinese Legation)
R. H. SHERARD
Published by A. P. MARSDEN
27 Southampton Street, Covent
Garden, London. Mdcccxcv
Note.—The price at which this book issupplied to the Trade will not permitof its being sold at a discount.
PREFACE BY THE AUTHOR
The friendly welcome accorded bythe English Public to my “ChinesePainted by Themselves” has encouragedme to publish this translation ofmy last work.
Old Epicurus summed up his philosophy inpleasures well understood. The peoples ofthe world, all epicureans in a certain measure,amused themselves before him, and haveamused themselves since, each after his ownfashion.
I do not think I shall displease the peopleof the Country often called “Merry England”in bringing to their notice “The Chinamanat Home.”
Our pleasures are not such as toshock modesty; they are simpleand honest, as becomes an ancientnation, which has left the age of youthfulfollies long behind it, has due self-respect,and knows how to amuse itself decently.
In my book, “Chinese Tales,” I endeavouredto show the minor details of the lifeof my compatriots, whose political and socialcustoms I have described in my other book,“The Chinese Painted by Themselves.”The object of this new book is to give apicture of our private amusements and of oursmall public fêtes. It belongs, accordingly,[viii]to anthropological literature, describing as itdoes a series of ethnological phenomena,games, ceremonies, and fêtes, which, howevermuch they may resemble those to be seenin all other countries, have, nevertheless, aspecial character in each country. Thischaracter depends largely on the nationalconceptions of the people under consideration.
Everybody amuses himself as he thinksbest. This affirmation is as true for nationsas it is for individuals. Our joys and our waysof manifesting them are they not the expressionof our individuality? And when a wholepeople rejoices in a certain manner, does notthat mean that it offers in its fêtes a kindof picture of its inner life, a synthesis of itsdearest aspirations and desires? Our pleasuresare determined by our moral and philosophical,political, and social views. Religionhas much also to do in fashioning them[ix]according to her likeness. The character ofa nation is never better shown than in itsenjoyments—its fêtes; in one word, in itspleasures. Tell me how you amuse yourself,and I will tell you what you are.
In the task I have laid upon myself ofrevealing the Asiatic East to the EuropeanWest, it seems to me that this new chapterwill not be out of place. In any case, theauthor will be sufficiently rewarded if thereader—albeit only for a moment—finds somepleasure in turning over the leaves of thebook he has written.
|I.||THE CHINESE HOME||1|
|II.||RELIGIOUS AND NATIONAL FÊTES||10|
|III.||THE FÊTE OF THE MOON||19|
|IV.||THE FEAST OF LANTERNS||26|
|V.||THE FEAST OF THE TWO STARS||34|
|VI.||THE FEAST OF FLOWERS||39|
|VII.||NEW YEAR’S DAY||43|
|VIII.||THE END OF THE YEAR||54|
|X.||A BUDDHIST SOLEMNITY||70|
|XI.||RUSTIC PLEASURES—WALKS AND PILGRIMAGES||79|
|XIV.||THE ILLUMINATED BOATS||97|
|XXI.||SYSTEM OF EDUCATION—THE STUDENT||146|
|XXV.||AT TABLE—THE PLEASURE OF DRINKING||178|
|XXIX.||GAMES OF SKILL: CONJURING||208|
|XXX.||THE EVOCATION OF SPIRITS||217|
|XXXI.||PHRENOLOGY AND CHIROMANCY||223|
|XXXII.||DIFFERENT GAMES—ORIENTAL SHOOTING MATCHES—THE CANDLESTICK—SHUTTLECOCKS—THE COIN GAME||232|
|XXXIII.||GAMES OF CHANCE—CARD GAMES—FIRST GAME: AWAITING THE CARD—SECOND GAME: FISHING—THIRD GAME: THE PECKING GAME||239|
|XXXV.||PUBLIC PLEASURES—THE THEATRES||255|
|XXXVI.||ANIMAL FIGHTS—I. CRICKET FIGHTS—II. QUAIL FIGHTS||261|
|XXXVII.||CONCLUSION—THE PLEASURES OF A PHILOSOPHER||266|
THE CHINAMAN AT HOME
THE CHINESE HOME
I remember reading in Mr.Paleologue’s clever book, “L’ArtChinois,” the statement “thatChina never had but one single style ofarchitecture, throughout all the periods ofits history, for her public and private,civic, or ecclesiastical buildings.”
Now, a close observer will notice inour buildings a great variety of styles, thefineness of which naturally is lost upon thosewho do not take the trouble to examinethem carefully. It is just like a passer-bylooking at some of the new streets in Paris,where all the houses are built by one and thesame building company, and resemble oneanother externally; or at the grand avenuesin New York City, or the long strassen inKarlsruhe, spread out round a central squarein the shape of a fan. At first sight onecannot help the exclamation that thesebuildings produce a desperately monotonousimpression.
But should you pay the architect a visitand examine the plans of these variousconstructions, you cannot fail to notice thatnot one interior resembles another. Thedifference is as slight as the physiognomiesof different people, who have the samefeatures but have different faces.
It is true that long ago there was littlevariety in our architectural styles, but inspite of that it can be asserted that eachof our cities has a special character, andpresents, as far as its buildings are concerned,distinctive features.
There are many reasons for this wantof variety. In the first place, those foreignelements, which so often so profoundlymodified European architecture, have beenalmost completely wanting in China. Thenit must be remembered that official prescriptionsregulate the style of houses fordifferent functionaries, a custom which mustnecessarily limit architectural originality andfancy; and then there is tradition, whichis so powerful in our country, and whichdid not allow of any modification of thepure Chinese style, which had been consecratedby the use of centuries.
Let us now examine the different kindsof Chinese houses.
In the northern districts, less favouredby Nature, buildings are generally constructedof earth. It is only the palacesand the houses of rich people of whichthe framework is of wood. In spite of theseverity of the climate and the quantitiesof dust which are brought by the windfrom the sandy regions, these houses have,generally speaking, two stories, in whichthey differ considerably from the housesin the south, which have rarely more thanone. The walls are low, with but a veryslight curve at the top, whereas in thesouth this curve, which we style “thesaddle,” is very pronounced. These wallsare called “fire-walls,” because they areintended to protect the house against fire.
The upper storey is called “the pavilion ofthe horse races,” a name I have never beenable to account for, as the staircases werenever such as to allow of horses beingbrought up them. This upper storey is generallyused as a place of pleasure, the groundfloor being preferred as an ordinary dwelling-place.The Chinese love symmetry inall things, and so, no matter the size ofthe ground on which they build, theirhouses are always constructed so that thedrawing-room is just opposite the entrancedoor, and that on either side of it there beone or two rooms exactly the same. Insteadof speaking of our houses as havingso many rooms, we say, “It has such anumber of rooms on the front—three, five,seven,” &c.
The following is a description of a goodaverage middle-class dwelling:
On entering you find yourself in a largeantechamber, flanked on the right and onthe left by a servants’ room. Facing youare three doors, one large and two small,giving access to a courtyard, which isentered by descending a staircase of threesteps. On either side of the courtyardthere is first a paved gallery, then a room.One of these rooms is reserved for thechildren of the house, the other is asmoking-room, or small drawing-room.
The drawing-room is reached by ascendingthe three steps on the other sideof the