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- Farmers of Forty Centuries - 6/48 -


gardening on the steep hillsides in Japan. In reaching them and in returning our course led through streets paved with long, thick and narrow stone blocks, having deep open gutters on one or both sides close along the houses, into which waste water was emptied and through which the storm waters found their way to the sea. Few of these streets were more than twelve feet wide and close watching, with much dodging, was required to make way through them. Here, too, the night soil of the city was being removed in closed receptacles on the shoulders of men, on the backs of horses and cattle and on carts drawn by either. Other men and women were hurrying along with baskets of vegetables well illustrated in Fig. 21, some with fresh cabbage, others with high stacks of crisp lettuce, some with monstrous white radishes or turnips, others with bundles of onions, all coming down from the terraced gardens to the markets. We passed loads of green bamboo poles just cut, three inches in diameter at the butt and twenty feet long, drawn on carts. Both men and women were carrying young children and older ones were playing and singing in the street. Very many old women, some feeble looking, moved, loaded, through the throng. Homely little dogs, an occasional lean cat, and hens and roosters scurried across the street from one low market or store to another. Back of the rows of small stores and shops fronting on the clean narrow streets were the dwellings whose exits seemed to open through the stores, few or no open courts of any size separating them from the market or shop. The opportunity which the oriental housewife may have in the choice of vegetables on going to the market, and the attractive manner of displaying such products in Japan, are seen in Fig. 22.

We finally reached one of the terraced hillsides which rise five hundred to a thousand feet above the harbor with sides so steep that garden areas have a width of seldom more than twenty to thirty feet and often less, while the front of each terrace may be a stone wall, sometimes twelve feet high, often more than six, four and five feet being the most common height. One of these hillside slopes is seen in Fig. 23. These terraced gardens are both short and narrow and most of them bounded by stone walls on three sides, suggesting house foundations, the two end walls sloping down the hill from the height of the back terrace, dropping to the ground level in front, these forming foot-paths leading up the slope occasionally with one, two or three steps in places.

Each terrace sloped slightly down the hill at a small angle and had a low ridge along the front. Around its entire border a narrow drain or furrow was arranged to collect surface water and direct it to drainage channels or into a catch basin where it might be put back on the garden or be used in preparing liquid fertilizer. At one corner of many of these small terraced gardens were cement lined pits, used both as catch basins for water and as receptacles for liquid manure or as places in which to prepare compost. Far up the steep paths, too, along either side, we saw many piles of stable manure awaiting application, all of which had been brought up the slopes in backets on bamboo poles, carried on the shoulders of men and women.

II

GRAVE LANDS OF CHINA

The launch had returned the passengers to the steamer at 11:30; the captain was on the bridge; prompt to the minute at the call "Hoist away" the signal went below and the Yamaguchi's whistle filled the harbor and over-flowed the hills. The cable wound in, and at twelve, noon, we were leaving Nagasaki, now a city of 153,000 and the western doorway of a nation of fifty-one millions of people but of little importance before the sixteenth century when it became the chief mart of Portuguese trade. We were to pass the Koreans on our right and enter the portals of a third nation of four hundred millions. We had left a country which had added eighty-five millions to its population in one hundred years and which still has twenty acres for each man, woman and child, to pass through one which has but one and a half acres per capita, and were going to another whose allotment of acres, good and bad, is less than 2.4. We had gone from practices by which three generations had exhausted strong virgin fields, and were coming to others still fertile after thirty centuries of cropping. On January 30th we crossed the head waters of the Mississippi-Missouri, four thousand miles from its mouth, and on March 1st were in the mouth of the Yangtse river whose waters are gathered from a basin in which dwell two hundred millions of people.

The Yamaguchi reached Woosung in the night and anchored to await morning and tide before ascending the Hwangpoo, believed by some geographers to be the middle of three earlier delta arms of the Yangtse kiang, the southern entering the sea at Hangchow 120 miles further south, the third being the present stream. As we wound through this great delta plain toward Shanghai, the city of foreign concessions to all nationalities, the first striking feature was the "graves of the fathers", of "the ancestors". At first the numerous grass-covered hillocks dotting the plain seemed to be stacks of grain or straw; then came the query whether they might not be huge compost heaps awaiting distribution in the fields, but as the river brought us nearer to them we seemed to be moving through a land of ancient mound builders and Fig. 24 shows, in its upper section, their appearance as seen in the distance.

As the journey led on among the fields, so large were the mounds, often ten to twelve feet high and twenty or more feet at the base; so grass-covered and apparently neglected; so numerous and so irregularly scattered, without apparent regard for fields, that when we were told these were graves we could not give credence to the statement, but before the city was reached we saw places where, by the shifting of the channel, the river had cut into some of these mounds, exposing brick vaults, some so low as to be under water part of the time, and we wonder if the fact does not also record a slow subsidence of the delta plain under the ever increasing load of river silt.

A closer view of these graves in the same delta plain is given in the lower section of Fig. 24, where they are seen in the midst of fields and to occupy not only large areas of valuable land but to be much in the way of agricultural operations. A still closer view of other groups, with a farm village in the background, is shown in the middle section of the same illustration, and here it is better seen how large is the space occupied by them. On the right in the same view may be seen a line of six graves surmounting a common lower base which is a type of the larger and higher ones so suggestive of buildings seen in the horizon of the upper section.

Everywhere we went in China, about all of the very old and large cities, the proportion of grave land to cultivated fields is very large. In the vicinity of Canton Christian college, on Honam island, more than fifty per cent of the land was given over to graves and in many places they were so close that one could step from one to another. They are on the higher and dryer lands, the cultivated areas occupying ravines and the lower levels to which water may be more easily applied and which are the most productive. Hilly lands not so readily cultivated, and especially if within reach of cities, are largely so used, as seen in Fig. 25, where the graves are marked by excavated shelves rather than by mounds, as on the plains. These grave lands are not altogether unproductive for they are generally overgrown with herbage of one or another kind and used as pastures for geese, sheep, goats and cattle, and it is not at all uncommon, when riding along a canal, to see a huge water buffalo projected against the sky from the summit of one of the largest and highest grave mounds within reach. If the herbage is not fed off by animals it is usually cut for feed, for fuel, for green manure or for use in the production of compost to enrich the soil.

Caskets may be placed directly upon the surface of a field, encased in brick vaults with tile roofs, forming such clusters as was seen on the bank of the Grand Canal in Chekiang province, represented in the lower section of Fig. 26, or they may stand singly in the midst of a garden, as in the upper section of the same figure; in a rice paddy entirely surrounded by water parts of the year, and indeed in almost any unexpected place. In Shanghai in 1898, 2,763 exposed coffined corpses were removed outside the International Settlement or buried by the authorities.

Further north, in the Shantung province, where the dry season is more prolonged and where a severe drought had made grass short, the grave lands had become nearly naked soil, as seen in Fig. 27 where a Shantung farmer had just dug a temporary well to irrigate his little field of barley. Within the range of the camera, as held to take this view, more than forty grave mounds besides the seven near by, are near enough to be fixed on the negative and be discernible under a glass, indicating what extensive areas of land, in the aggregate, are given over to graves.

Still further north, in Chihli, a like story is told in, if possible, more emphatic manner and fully vouched for in the next illustration, Fig. 28, which shows a typical family group, to be observed in so many places between Taku and Tientsin and beyond toward Peking. As we entered the mouth of the Pei-ho for Tientsin, far away to the vanishing horizon there stretched an almost naked plain except for the vast numbers of these "graves of the fathers", so strange, so naked, so regular in form and so numerous that more than an hour of our journey had passed before we realized that they were graves and that the country here was perhaps more densely peopled with the dead than with the living. In so many places there was the huge father grave, often capped with what in the distance suggested a chimney, and the many associated smaller ones, that it was difficult to realize in passing what they were.

It is a common custom, even if the residence has been permanently changed to some distant province, to take the bodies back for interment in the family group; and it is this custom which leads to the practice of choosing a temporary location for the body, waiting for a favorable opportunity to remove it to the family group. This is often the occasion for the isolated coffin so frequently seen under a simple thatch of rice straw, as in Fig. 29; and the many small stone jars containing skeletons of the dead, or portions of them, standing singly or in rows in the most unexpected places least in the way in the crowded fields and gardens, awaiting removal to the final resting place. It is this custom, too, I am told, which has led to placing a large quantity of caustic lime in the bottom of the casket, on which the body rests, this acting as an effective absorbent.

It is the custom in some parts of China, if not in all, to periodically restore the mounds, maintaining their height and size, as is seen in the next two illustrations, and to decorate these once in the year with flying streamers of colored paper, the remnants of


Farmers of Forty Centuries - 6/48

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