The New International Encyclopædia/Hang-chow

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HANG-CHOW, häng'chou'. A foo or departmental city of China, and capital of the Province of Che-kiang, the smallest of the 18 provinces (Map: China, E 5). It is situated near the southern end of the Grand Canal, within two miles of the left bank of the Ts'ien- (or Ch'ien-) tang River. Its walls have a circuit of 12 miles, are 30 to 40 feet high, 20 to 30 feet thick, and are pierced with 10 large gates, controlled by the Tatar general, who has a force of 7000 Tatars under his control. The streets are tolerably wide and clean, and there are many good shops. The principal street which runs from north to south is four miles long. The western wall is washed by the famous Hsi-hu or West Lake, the chief attraction of the city. It is a beautiful sheet of water about eight miles in circumference, dotted with islands on which are built monasteries, memorial balls, and shrines. On its western side is an abrupt but magnificent range of hills. A little farther to the west are numerous finely situated Buddhist temples to which tens of thousands of pilgrims repair daily. Hang-chow has long been noted for its magnificence, its wealth, and its luxury. Marco Polo visited it several times toward the close of the thirteenth century, and describes it as 100 miles in circuit, and gives the number of its bridges as 12,000, all of them of stone. The name he gives it is Kinsay, a corruption of Chinese Kingsze, meaning ‘capital’ or ‘metropolis,’ Hang-chow having become in 1127 the capital of the Sung dynasty when the Kin Tatars conquered the northern provinces.

In December, 1806, Hang-chow was opened to foreign residence and trade in accordance with a treaty made at Shimonoseki between the Chinese and Japanese in the spring of the preceding year. A foreign settlement containing 1809 mou or Chinese acres, or about 300 English acres, has been laid off on the east bank of the Grand Canal about 10 li (3⅓ English miles) from the Wun-li Gate. It is described as low and marshy, and infested with mosquitoes. Comnumication with the city can be maintained by small canals leading from the Grand Canal. Hang-chow is noted for its silk. Here is the Imperial silk-factory in which are woven the beautiful silk fabrics for the use of the Imperial household, and there are about 7000 private looms giving employment to about 30,000 persons. There is also a cotton-spinning mill with 15,000 spindles. Hang-chow is noted for its fans, and fan-making is an important industry. It has no direct foreign trade, all produce of native origin finding its way to Shanghai by the canal or coastwise, and foreign goods come in in the same way. The exports consist chiefly of silk, paper fans, lotus-nuts, and tea; and the imports of copper and spelter from Japan for use in the mint, and of native produce, of brass buttons, leather, and tobacco. In 1899 the gross trade of the city passing through the custom-house amounted to 12,000,000 taels. The Ts'ien-tang River and the Grand Canal are the chief arteries of inland trade. The former is navigable at all seasons, but unfortunately is tortuous and shallow, and at certain seasons of the year is subject to an ‘eagre’ or ‘bore’ which rises to a height of 15 feet, and has a velocity of 15 miles an hour. Further it is not connected with the Grand Canal, some miles distant, and the transfer of goods and passengers is very slow, troublesome, and expensive. There are 400 houses engaged in the steam-launch transportation business on the canal, and the journey to Shanghai may be made in from 20 to 24 hours. The seaport of Hang-chow is Chapu, 20 miles lower down the river. The population of the city proper is estimated at 500,000, but the suburbs, which are properly included in the name Hang-chow, are densely populated, and the whole may be set down as 800,000. On December 29, 1861, Hang-chow was captured by the Tai-ping rebels after a protracted siege in which it suffered much.

Bibliography. Marco Polo, edited by Yule (2 vols., London, 1874); Notes on Hangchow, by G. E. Moule (1889); and Scidmore, China, the Long-lived Empire (New York, 1900).