Sivut kuvina

wedge, as a razor; while the use to which it is applied must of course give it that name, and would, if it were still more unlike the western article. So with other things. The ideas a Chinese gives to the terms hwangti, kwansu, pau, pih, and shu, are very different from those conveyed to an American by the words emperor, magistrate, cannon, pencil, and book. Since a person can only judge of what he hears or reads by what he knows, it is desirable that when he reads or hears western names applied to their equivalents in eastern countries, the function of a different civilization, habits, and notions, should form an element in the opinion he forms. These remarks are peculiarly applicable to the domestic life of the Chinese, to their houses, diet, dress, and customs in social intercourse ; and although careful descriptions may go a good way in conveying just ideas, it cannot be hoped that they will do what a single look would instantly accomplish. The notions entertained abroad on these particulars are, it need hardly be remarked, rather more accurate than those the Chinese have of distant countries, and it is scarcely possible that they can lose their conceit in their own civilization and position among the nations so long as such ideas are entertained as the following extract exhibits. Tien Kishih, a popular essayist, thus congratulates himself and his readers: “I felicitate myself that I was born in China, and constantly think how very different it would have been with me, if I had been born beyond the seas in some remote part of the earth, where the people, far removed from the converting maxims of the ancient kings, and ignorant of the domestic relations, are clothed with the leaves of plants, eat wood, dwell in the wilderness, and live in the holes of the earth ; though born in the world, in such a condition I should not have been different from the beasts of the field. But now, happily, I have been born in the Middle Kingdom. I have a house to live in ; have food and drink, and elegant furniture; have clothing and caps, and infinite blessings: truly, the highest felicity is mine.” Whatever may be thought of the accuracy of these statements, it is plain that the author considered his own country preferable to the neighboring regions; and that while the Chinese possessed food and drink, clothing and caps, houses and furniture, the rest of the world, in his opinion, was destitute of them. The architecture of the Chinese is unique, presenting in its


general outline, a resemblance to a tent. From the palace to the hovel, in temples and in private dwellings, this type every. where stands confessed ; nor do many instances occur of an attempt to develop even this simple model into a grand or imposing building. While the Mogul princes in India reared costly mausolea and palaces to perpetuate their memory and the splendor of their reigns, the monarchs of China, with equal or greater resources at command, never indulged in this princely pastime, nor even attempted the erection of any enduring monument to commemorate their taste or their splendor. Whether it was owing to the absence of the beautiful and majestic models seen in western countries, or to an entire ignorance of the mechanical principles of the art, the fact is not the less observable, and the inference as to the advance made by them in knowledge and taste not less just. There is almost nothing in the country like an ancient arehitectural ruin, nothing which has come down to inform us whether previous generations constructed edifices more splendid or more mean than the present. Dwelling-houses are generally of one story, having neither cellars nor basements, and for the most part without dormer windows or attics; they must not equal the temples in height, nor possess the ornaments appropriated to palaces and temples. The common building materials are bricks, sisted earth, matting, or thatch for the walls, stone for the foundation, brick tiling for the roof, and wood for the inner work ; wooden houses are not unknown, the roof being supported by posts, between which is a coarsely woven matwork covered with mud and whitewash. The ni chuen, or sisted earth, is a compound of sisted gravel and lime mixed with water, and sometimes a little oil, of which durable walls are made by pounding it into a solid mass between planks secured at the sides, and elevated as the wall rises; or by . beating it into large blocks and laying them like bricks in a wall; when stuccoed and protected from the rain, this material gradually hardens into stone. In houses of the better sort, the stone work of the foundation rises three or four feet above the ground, and is laid with great regularity and solidity. The fronts of dwelling-houses present no opening except the door, and when the outer walls of several houses join those of gardens and inclosures, the street presents an uninteresting sameness, unrelieved by steps, windows, porticoes, or front yards. The walls

are twenty-five or thirty feet high, usually hollow, or so thin as to be unable to support the roof unaided ; nor are the builders very particular about their perfect uprightness. The bricks are the same size as our own, and burned to a greyish slate color, though there are red bricks; they are made by hand, and sell from $3 to $8 a thousand. Lime is obtained from shells ; for, even if the Chinese were aware that lime can be procured from limestone (which does not appear to be known), the dearness of fuel would seriously interfere with burning the stone into lime. The walls are often stuccoed, but not painted, and the bricks are occasionally rubbed smooth with stones, and the interstices pointed with fine cement. In plage of a broad cornice, the top of the wall is frequently relieved by a pretty ornament of moulded work of painted clay figures in alto relievo representing a battle scene, a landscape, clusters of flowers, or some other design, defended from the weather by the projecting eaves. A black painted band, relieved by corners and designs of flowers and scrolls, is a cheap substitute for the carved figures. The roofs are generally hipped, and everywhere discover their tented origin in the catenary curve of their edges. . They are made of thin earthen tiles, appearing in alternate ridges and furrows. The under layer consists of square thin pieces, laid side by side in ascending rows with the lower edges overlapping; the edges are joined by a layer of semi-cylindrical tiles, which

are further secured by a covering of mortar. Terraces are .

erected on shops, but balustrades or chimneys on dwellings, or flat roofs, are seldom seen. The corners and ridges of temples and palaces are frequently ornamented with green and yellow earthen figures of dragons, snakes, fishes, &c., which sometimes form a very conspicuous object in the general appearance of the building, where ornament is not looked for, but not so much so as is often represented in Chinese drawings. Occasionally, the side walls rise above the roof in degrees, imparting a singular, bow-like aspect to the edifice. In order to support the roof, the purlines and ridgepole consist of strong timbers extending from wall to wall, and the rafters of slender strips, on which the tiles are upheld ; in hipped roofs, the principal weight rests on pillars, with a series of king and queen posts intervening, by which every part is equably supported, but curb roofs are not made, since the space is not required for attics. The pil.



lars are of stone or red varnished wood, without base or capital, of disproportionate shape, and frequently ornamented with carving and inscriptions, or concealed by scrolls. In two story houses, or where it is impracticable to support the roof in this way, the rooms are contracted, and the cross walls built up to the plate, each room being covered by its own roof. The pillars are occasionally arranged so as to form side passages to the rear rooms, the intercolumniations being screened or built up ; a slight ceiling usually conceals the tiling, but the apartment appears lofty, owing to the elevation of the roof. The general arrangement of a Chinese dwelling of the better sort is that of a series of rooms of different dimensions, separated and lighted by intervening courts, and accessible along a covered corridor, communicating with each, or by side passages leading through the courts. In the former case, the corridor opens out upon a garden. In towns, where the houses are of one story, and the lots irregular in their shape, there is much more diversity in the arrangement and size of rooms; and in the country establishments of wealthy families, where the gradual increase of the members calls for additional space to accommodate the families of the sons, the succession of courts and buildings, interspersed with gardens and pools, sometimes renders the whole not a little complicated. The custom of cramping the feet, and thus disabling the women from going up and down stairs, may have had its effect in keeping the rooms upon a level. In isolated bungalows, a second, and even a third story, each smaller than the one below it, is often built by raising the pillars or cross walls above the roof of the ground story, and surrounding the room thus formed by a veranda. The entrance into large mansions in the country is by a triple gate leading through a lawn or garden up to the hall; but in towns, a single door, usually elevated a step or two above the street, introduces the visitor into a porch or court. A wall or movable screen is placed inside of the doorway, and the intervening space is occupied by the porter; upon the wall on the left is the shrine dedicated to the gods of the threshold. The door is solidly constructed, and moves upon pivots turning in sockets. Under the projecting eaves, hang paper lanterns informing the passer by of the name and title of the householder, and when lighted at night, serving to illumine the street and designate his habitation, for door-plates and numbers are unknown. The roughness of the gate is somewhat concealed by the names or grotesque representations of two tutelar gods, Shintu and Yuhlui, to whom the guardianship of the house is intrusted ; and its sides and lintel are embellished with classical quotations written upon red paper, or with sign-boards of literary rank. The doorkeeper and other servants frequently lodge in small rooms within the gateway, and above the porch is an attic containing one or two apartments, to be reached by a rude stairway. In the country, none but the door-keeper lodges near the entrance. On passing behind the screen, a paved open court, occasionally adorned with flowers or a fancy fish-pool, is crossed when entering the principal hall. At the south, a row of pillars supports the plate instead of a wall, but at the north the front is partly walled up, and the top furnished with a lattice-work or paper windows to admit the light. The upper end of the hall is furnished with a high table or altar, on which incense vases and idolatrous utensils and sacrifices are placed in honor of the divinities and lares worshipped there, whose tablets and names are on the wall. Sometimes the table merely contains grotesque or costly ornaments of various kinds. Before the table is the principal seat, a large square couch, with a low stand in the centre, and a pillow for reclining upon. In front of it, the chairs are arranged down the room in two rows facing each other, each pair having a small table between them. The floors are made of square tiles of brick or marble, or of hard cement, and matted; wooden floors are not very common upon the ground story. Even in a bright day the room is dim, and the absence of carpets and fireplaces, and of windows to afford a prospect abroad, renders it cheerless to a foreigner, accustomed to his own glazed and more elevated houses. A rear door near the side wall opens either into a kitchen or court, across which are the female apartments, or directly into the latter, and the rooms for domestics. Instead of being always rectangular, the doors are sometimes round, leaf-shaped, or semicircular, apertures, and it is thought desirable that they should not open opposite each other, lest evil spirits find their way from the street into the recesses of the dwelling. The rear rooms are lighted by skylights when other modes are unavailable, and the thin lamina of a species of oyster shell (Placuna) cut into small

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