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FABRICATION OF BRIDGES AND HONORARY PORTALS. 27
Bridge, showing the mode of morticing the arch.
are laid in the same manner as in Europe; many of the small bridges over creeks and canals have cambered or straight arches. According to Du Halde, the Chinese are the first who ever employed iron in bridges, and they still make suspension bridges on the same principle as that across the Menai strait. When one of these structures falls into ruins or becomes dangerous, the people seldom bestir themselves to repair the damage; preferring to wait for the government, they thereby lose the benefit of self. dependence and action. It is singular how the term triumphal arch came to be applied to the pai lau or honorary portals or tablets of the Chinese; for a triumph was perhaps never heard of in that country, and these structures are never arched; they merely consist of a broad gateway flanked with two smaller ones, and looking more like a turnpike gate with side-ways for foot passengers than a triumphal arch. They are scattered in great numbers over the provinces, and are erected in honor of distinguished persons, or by them to commemorate their parents, by special favor from the emperor. Some are put up in honor of women who have distinguished themselves for their chastity and filial duty, or to widows who have refused a second marriage. Permission to erect them is considered a high honor, and perhaps the term triumphal was given them from this circumstance. The economical and peaceful nature of such honors conferred upon distinguished men in China is highly characteristic ; a man is allowed to build a stone gateway to himself or his parents, and the emperor furnishes the inscription, or perhaps sends with it a patent of nobility. Their general arrangement is exhibited in the title page of this work, but they vary exceedingly in their proportions and ornaments; the two characters shing chi at the top, meaning “sacred will,” intimate that it was erected by his majesty's permission. Some of the pai lau are elaborately ornamented with carved work and inscriptions; and as a protection from the weather, an unsightly thatch of tiles is placed over the top which renders them top-heavy; when this is omitted, their appearance is not destitute of beauty. They are placed in conspicuous places in the outskirts of towns, and in the streets before temples, or near government edifices. Travellers looking for what they had read about, have sometimes strangely mistaken the gateways at the heads of streets, or the entrance to temples, for the honorary portals.” Those built of stone are fastened by mortices and tenons in the same manner as the wooden ones; they seldom exceed 20 or 25 feet in height. The skill and taste displayed in the symmetry and carving upon some of them are creditable, but as the man in whose honor it is erected, is, generally speaking, “the architect of his own fame,” he prudently considers the worth of that commodity, and makes an inferior structure to what would have been done if his fellow-subjects, “deeply sensible of the honor,” had come together to appoint a committee, and open a subscription list for the purpose. The construction of forts and towers presents little worthy of observation, since there is no other evidence of science than what the erection of lines of massive stone wall displays. The portholes are too large for protection, and the parapet too slight to resist European cannonading, but the foundations are very solid. The Chinese idea of a fortification is to erect a wall along the water’s edge, with embrasures and battlements, and a plain wall landward without port holes or parapets, inclosing an area, in
SHAPES AND MATERIALS OF APPAREL. 29
which a few houses are built for the garrison and ammunition. Some of those erected at the junction of streams are pierced on all sides, others are so unscientifically planned that the walls can be scaled at angles where not a single gun can be brought to bear. The towers are square edifices of brick on a stone foundation, forty feet square and fifty or sixty high, to be entered by ladders through a door halfway up the side. During the late war, batteries of sandbags were thrown up for defence, well fitted for an extemporaneous fortification if the troops had possessed the courage to stand by their guns. Dress, like other things, undergoes its changes in China, and fashions alter there as well as elsewhere, but they are not as rapid or as striking as among European nations. The full costume of both sexes is, in general terms commodious and graceful, combining all the purposes of warmth, beauty, and ease, which could be desired; excepting always the shaven crown and braided queue of the men, and the crippled stumps of the women, in both of which fashions they have not less outraged nature than deformed themselves. On this point different tastes doubtless exist, and some prefer the close fitting dress of Europeans to the loose robes of Asiatics; but when one has become a little habituated to the latter, he is willing to allow the force of the criticism that the European male costume is “a mysterious combination of the inconvenient and the unpicturesque: hot in summer and cold in winter, useless for either keeping off rain or sun, stiff but not plain, bare without being simple, not durable, not becoming, and not cheap.” Unlike our own, the Chinese dress has remained in its general style, the same for centuries; and garments of fur or silk are handed down from parent to child without fear of attracting attention by their antique shapes. The fabrics most worn are silk, cotton, and linen for summer, with the addition of furs and skins in winter; woollen is used sparingly, and almost wholly of foreign manufacture. Leather is employed for the soles of shoes, felt for coarse caps and shoes, and straw for summer caps. Laborers out of doors wear a grotesque thatch-work of leaves to shelter themselves from the rain. The principal articles of dress are inner and outer tunics of various lengths made of cotton or silk, reaching below the loins or to the feet; the lapel on the right side folds over the breast, and fits close about the neck, which is left uncovered. The sleeves are much wider and longer than the arms, have no cuffs or facings, and in common cases serve for pockets. A Chinese, instead of saying “he pocketed the book,” would say “he sleeved it.” In robes of ceremony, the end of the sleeve resembles a horse's hoof, and good breeding requires the hand when sitting to be kept in a position to exhibit it. In warm weather one upper garment is deemed sufficient; in winter a dozen can be put on without discommodity, and this number is sometimes actually seen upon persons engaged in sedentary employments, or on those who sit in the air. At Canton, undershirts of flannel have become common among the better sort. The lower limbs are comparatively slightly protected; a pair of loose trousers, covered to the knee by cloth stockings, is the usual summer garment; tight leggings are pulled over both in winter, and attached to the girdle by loops; and as the trousers are rather voluminous and the tunic short, the excess shows behind from under these leggings in a strangely unpleasant manner. Gentlemen and officers always wear a robe with the skirt opened at the sides, which conceals this intermission of the under garments. The shoes are made of silk or cotton, with thick felt soles, which keep the feet dry and unchilled on the tiles or earthy ground ; so that a Chinese may be said really to carry the floor of his house under his feet, instead of laying it on the ground. The thick soles of the shoes render it necessary for ease in walking to round up their ends, which constrains the toes into an elevated position so irksome that all go slipshod who conveniently can do so. The cost of a cotton suit for a day laborer neednot exceed five dollars, and a complete silken one, of the gayest colors and best materials, can easily be procured for twenty-five or thirty. Quilted cotton garments are much worn, and supply the place of woollens. The ancient Chinese wore their hair long, and bound upon the top of the head, somewhat after the style of the Lewchewans; and taking pride in its glossy black, called themselves the blackhaired race. But, in 1627, while the Manchus were in possession of only Liautung, they issued an order, that all the Chinese under them should adopt their coiffure on penalty of death, as a sign of allegiance ; the fashion thus begun by compulsion, is now followed from choice. The head is shaved to the crown, and the hair carefully braided in a single plait behind. Labor
MODE OF DRESSiNG THe hair. 31
Barber's establishment, showing also the dress of the common people.
ers often wind it about the head, or roll it into a ball behind out of the way, when barebacked or at work. The size of the tress can be enlarged, by permitting an additional line of hair to grow : the appearance it gives the wearer is thus described by Mr. Downing, and the quotation is not an unfair specimen of the remarks of travellers upon China:—“At the hotel, one of the waiters was dressed in a peculiar manner about the head. Instead of the hair being shaved in front, he had it cut round the top of the forehead about an inch and a half in length. All the other part was turned as usual, and plaited down the back. This thin semicircular ridge of hair was then made to stand bolt upright, and as each hair was separate and stiff as a bristle, the whole looked like a very fine toothed comb turned upwards.