Sometimes whole villages are so formed, in terraces of earth which rise one above the other. These loess beds are very rich and have given to the province of Shan-hsi the name of the "Granary of the Nation." The two largest rivers are the Ho, or Yellow river, and the Yang-tze-Chiang, each over 3,000 miles long. Ho has changed its course many times, and its many floods have given it the name of "China's sorrow." It last burst its banks in 1887, destroying millions of lives. The Grand Canal built by King Kublai joins the northern and southern parts of the empire and is over 600 miles long. The Great Wall is 1,500 miles long.
China is a farming country. Each year the emperor begins the season by himself turning over a few furrows in the "sacred field," while the empress in the same way starts the work among the silkworms, the care of which is left to women. Wheat, corn, and other grains, peaches, pineapples and other fruits, sugar in Formosa, rice and opium are grown, but tea ans silk are the great export crops. Pork is the most eaten, though ducks and geese, fish, caught by tame cormorants, and dogs are also used as food. The famous bird's-nest soup is made by slicing the nest into soup, thus adding an invigorating quality. The great drink is tea, which is drunk weak and clear, and is offered to guests at all hours of the day. It is this tea-drinking habit which has made the Chinese a temperate people, a drunken man being a rare sight. The Chinese clothing is made from their stores of silk, cotton and linen. China is the home of silk; the mulberry grows everywhere grows everywhere, and the silk worm has been cared for since the 23rd century B.C. The manufacture of silk are as good as any made in Europe, while the embroidery is ahead of that of the west. Cotton is also now raised everywhere. For building the Chinese use timber, brick, and stone, but cheap houses are made of a kind of concrete called "sifted earth."
The best architecture of the country is seen in the marble bridges and altars of Peking. In the country, houses are rarely over one story high. In the cities the highest buildings are the pawnbroker's shops, and the finest finished are the guildhalls of the trades. The pavilions and pagodas are picturesque. The streets of the cities are usually not wider than lanes; they are paved with slabs, but badly drained. Matting on the floor, tables, and straight-backed chairs, sometimes a bamboo couch and stools, make up the furniture of the houses. China's coal fields are large; tin, copper, lead, silver and gold are found, but very little has been done at mining. The dress of both sexes is much the same. The most striking appearance of the men is the queue from the hair of the crown, all the rest of the head being shaved; while among the women, the most notable thing is their small feet. This is a late fashion, only being prevalent since the sixth century A.D., and is not customary among the very poor or servants. It is brought about by bandaging the feet in early years so as to prevent further growth.
The Chinese girl at ten years is shut up in th women's apartment, and is taught in the care of cocoons, silk weaving and all woman's work(Like Ants an Bees). At fifteen she wears the hairpin to show that she is now a woman. Marriage is controlled by the parents, and a class of match-makers or go-betweens has arisen, who hunt up desirable matches for parents(genetic engineering). Infanticide or the killing of girl babies, is practiced, but only among the lowest classes, and the reason is poverty. The complexion of the Chinese is yellowish, the hair coarse black, the eyes seemingly oblique, cheek bones high and face roundish. They are stout and muscular, temperate, industrious, cheerful and easily contented. The dead are buried in graves built round in the form of a horseshoe. There is no weekly day of worship and rest like our Sunday. But festivals are many. New Year's Day is one holiday for all. The noise of firecracker is everywhere; the people dress in their best; the temples are visited, and the gambling tables are surrounded by crowds. Other festivals are those of Lanterns, Tombs, Dragon Boats and All Souls.
The Chinese are a very old race, their record going back to 2637 B.C., and has lasted over 2,100 years. The present dynasty, the Manchu-Tartar, began to reign in 1643. The Chinese were not the first people in China. They made their way from the north and west, pushing before them the older inhabitants. However far back you go, you always find two persons of prominence in China - the ruler and the sage. The sage, or Man of Intelligence, advised and helped the ruler, and taught the people lessons of truth and duty. From this grew up the custom in full force since the 7th century A.D., that all officers of the government must be educated. This is now done by competitive examinations. The three religions of China are, Confucianism, representing the brains and the morality of the nation; Taoism, its superstitions, and Buddhism, its worship and idolatry, though it acknowledges no God.
The Chinese practiced Buddhism in its simple form, and worshiped an invisible God, until a few centuries B.C., after which visible objects were adorned. 600 B.C. a system was introduced similar to that of Epicurus, and its followers were called "Immortals"; while the chinese were materialists, they were nevertheless worshipers of idols. In a very short period of time the Chinese became as noted for the multiplicity of the objects of adoration as any other nation. Confucius derived the elements of his system from traditional Chinese wisdom and social conventions. For Confucius, the source of political harmony on earth is tian (t'ien), the sky or heaven, an impersonal force that stands over the affairs of human kind as the celestial vault stands over the earth. A ruler who governs justly and wisely in accordance with the principles of tian gains thereby "mandate of heaven," which will insure stability in the realm. Ideally, the ruler who gains the mandate of heaven should rule over the entire earth. Practically, such a mandated ruler should be the emperor of all China, known in Chinese as Zhong Guo (Chung Kuo) or the " Central Kingdom," which Confucius regarded as being the center of the world, surrounded by various insignificant, barbarian lands and peoples. The emperor's function was to serve as a conduit to earth of heavenly harmony. His duty was insure the prosperity of his subjects , and to pass the mandate of heaven onto one of his offspring, thus establishing a just and enduring dynasty.
Confucius(Confuse~Us) endeavored to introduce a reformation of the abuses; licentiousness however, long continued, would not submit to his system of mortifications and an austere virtue. His admonitions were not regarded; he was despised by the Mandarins for instituting a reformation in their Mysteries, which were then, as practiced, the main source of all their wealth and of their power; and an attempt was made to put him out of the way, and he was forced to flee from the society to avoid their machinations to destroy him. He then, in his retirement, organized a school of philosophy; and all who were in any manner inspired with love and virtue and science, were induced to follow him. The effects of his system were preserved for posterity. He made a prediction(he knew the plan) on his death bed that there would come in the West a GREAT PROPHET, who should deliver mankind from the bondage of error and superstition, and set an universal religion to be ultimately embraced by all the nations of the earth. His followers supposed that this was no other then Buddha or Fo himself, and he was accordingly, with solemn pomp, installed into their temples as the chief deity of the Chinese empire: -
"Other idolatrous customs were introduced , and ideal objects of worship, attended with indecent and unnatural rites, accumulated so rapidly that China soon became celebrated for the practice of of every impurity and abomination. The initiations were performed in a cavern; after which; processions were made around the Tan or altar, and sacrifices made to the celestial gods. The chief end of initiation was a fictitious immortality or absorption into the Deity; and, to secure this admirable state of supreme and never changing felicity, amulets were as usual delivered to the initiates accompanied by the magic words, O-MI-TO FO, which denoted the omnipotence of the divinity, and was considered as a most complete purification and remission of every sin. Sir William Jones says, 'Omito was derived from the Sanskrit Armida, immeasurable, and Fo was a name for Buddha.'
"Much merit was attached to the possession of a consecrated symbol representing the great triad of the Gentile world. This was an equilateral triangle, said to afford protection in all cases of personal danger and adversity. The mystical symbol Y was also much esteemed from its allusion to the same Triune God, the three distinct lines which it is composed forming one, and the one is three. This was in effect the ineffable name of the deity, the Tetractys of Pythagoras, and the Tetragrammaton of the Jews.
"A ring, supported by two serpents, was emblematic of the world protected by the wisdom and power (Jachin and Boaz)of the Creator, and referred to the diluvian patriarch and his symbolic consort, the ark; and the ark itself was represented by a boat, a mouth, and a number 8. Tao, or reason, has produced one; one hath produced two; two hath produced three; and three hath produced all things." There was superstition for odd numbers as containing divine properties. Thus, while the sum the even numbers, 2+4+6+8+10=30, the number of earth, the sum of the odd numbers, 1+3+5+7+9=25, was called the number of heaven.
This we presume gave rise to the name of "mystic" to the odd numbers. The rainbow was the universal symbol in all the systems of which we have any knowledge, and demonstrates that these Mysteries must have referred to the deluge. The aspirant represented Noah; the ark, which was called his mother, as well as his wife, was surrounded by a rainbow at the time of his deliverance or new birth; hence he was figuratively said to be the offspring of the rainbow.
The empire is governed from the capital, Peking, by the emperor through the grand cabinet, which meets daily for business between four and six A.M. Seven boards - civil office, revenue, ceremonies, war, punishment, works, and foreign affairs - prepare the matters which are to be dealt with by the grand cabinet. The provinces are governed usually by a governor general and a governor. The rank of the different provincial officers is shown by a knob or button on the top of their caps. The revenue of the empire is under $100,000,000. The imperial army is about 350,000 strong, with headquarters at Peking and scattered in garrison through the provinces as far as and in Turkestan. There are also some 700,000 militia troops, called the national army. China has never cared to have anything to do with the western nations, but has been forced to do so.
In 1516 the Portuguese, followed by the Spaniard, the Dutch and the English, appeared at Canton. In 1767 sprang up the opium traffic. Multitudes of Chinese were eager to buy and smoke it, and all the efforts of the government to keep it out were useless. This opium trade brought on the war with England in 1840, and the war with England and France -n 1855-57. By these wars China was forced to cede the island of Hong Kong to Great Britain , to open many of its ports to trade, and to let in missionaries and opium. It is at least gratifying that the good work done by the missionaries has thus far outweighed the harm done by opium(for the price of brain washing with religion).
On Feb. 24, 1844, Caleb Cushing arrived in China and negotiated the first treaty between it and the United States . The present emperor came to the throne as a child of four years old. He became king in hi own name in 1887. Of late years the Chinese have shown a tendency to seek a livelihood abroad, especially in California, British, Columbia, the Straits Settlements , the Eastern Archipelago and in Australia. More than half the population of Singapore is Chinese, and there are over 200,000 in Java. Chinese workmen or coolies began to come to the United States about the time of the discovery of gold. In 1882, 33,614 came. The low wages at which the cooly was willing to work, threatened to destroy the high wages of American laborers, and this led to action by Congress excluding them from the country for twenty-one years from 1888; though merchants and students may travel or live in the country. British Columbia and some of the Australian colonies have also passed like laws.