Across China on Foot eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 330 pages of information about Across China on Foot.

Major H.R.  Davies, whose treatise on the tribes of Yuen-nan at the end of his excellent work on travel in the province, is probably the best yet written, writes that he met Minchia people only on the plains of Tali-fu and Chao-chow, and never east of the latter place.  This was in travel some ten or twelve years ago, and the fact that there are now many Minchia families living in Hungay is a testimony to their enterprise as a tribe in going farther afield in search of the means to live.  There is little doubt that the Minchia originally came from country lying between the border of the province and round Li-chiang-fu and the Tali-fu plain and lake.  Most of them wear Chinese dress; many of the women bind their feet (and the practice is growing in popularity), although those who have not small feet are still in the majority.  In a small city lying some few li from the city of Tali all the inhabitants are Minchia, and I found no difficulty in spotting a Chinese man or woman—­there is a distinct facial difference.  Minchia have bigger noses, generally the eyes are set farther apart, and the skin is darker.  Pink trousers are in fashion among the ladies—­trace of base feminine weakness!—­but are not by any means the distinguishing features of race.

FOOTNOTES: 

[Footnote AP:  Carlyle, Sartor Resartus.]

[Footnote AQ:  Wind-cap, a long Chinese wadded hat which reaches over one’s head and down over the shoulders, tied under the chin with ribbons.—­E.J.D.]

[Footnote AR:  Likin, as everyone knows, is custom duty.  All along the main roads of China one meets likin stations, distinguished by the flag at the entrance.—­E.J.D.]

[Footnote AS:  I passed this spot a month or so afterwards, and am convinced that at the time I wrote the above there must have been something radically wrong with my liver.  Had it been in Killarney in summer, nothing could have been more entrancing than the two lakes midway between Yuen-nan-i and Hungay.  Patches of light green vegetation, interspersed with brown-red houses, skirting the lake-shore in pleasant contrast to the green of the water, which, bathed in soft sunshine, lapped their walls in endless restlessness.  Of that delicate blue which is indescribably beautiful, the morning sky looked down tranquilly upon the undulating hills of grey and brown, which seemed to hem in and guard a very fairyland.  Geomancers of the place did not go wrong when they suggested the overlooking hill-sides as suitable resting-places for the departed.  All was ancient and primitive, yet simple and glorious, and as one of my followers called my attention to the telegraph wires, I was struck by the fact that this alone stood as the solitary element of what we in the West call civilization.  Yet nothing bore traces of gross uncivilization; the people, hard workers albeit, were happy and quite content, with their slow-moving caravan, which we would, if we could, soon displace

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