1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/K'ai-Fêng Fu

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

K’AI-FÊNG FU, the capital of the province of Honan, China. It is situated in 34° 52′ N., 114° 33′ E., on a branch line of the Peking-Hankow railway, and forms also the district city of Siang-fu. A city on the present site was first built by Duke Chwang (774-700 B.C.) to mark off (k’ai) the boundary of his fief (fêng); hence its name. It has, however, passed under several aliases in Chinese history. During the Chow, Suy and T’ang dynasties (557–907) it was known as P’ien-chow. During the Wu-tai, or five dynasties (907–960), it was the Tung-king, or eastern capital. Under the Sung and Kin dynasties (960–1260) it was called P’ien-king. By the Yuan or Mongol dynasty (1260–1368) its name was again changed to P’ien-liang, and on the return of the Chinese to power with the establishment of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), its original name was restored. The city is situated at the point where the last spur of the Kuen-lun mountain system merges in the eastern plain, and a few miles south of the Hwang-ho. Its position, therefore, lays it open to the destructive influences of this river. In 1642 it was totally destroyed by a flood caused by the dikes bursting, and on several prior and subsequent occasions it has suffered injury from the same cause. The city is large and imposing, with broad streets and handsome buildings, the most notable of which are a twelve-storeyed pagoda 600 ft. high, and a watch tower from which, at a height of 200 ft., the inhabitants are able to observe the approach of the yellow waters of the river in times of flood. The city wall forms a substantial protection and is pierced by five gates. The whole neighbourhood, which is the site of one of the earliest settlements of the Chinese in China, is full of historical associations, and it was in this city that the Jews who entered China in A.D. 1163 first established a colony. For many centuries these people held themselves aloof from the natives, and practised the rites of their religion in a temple built and supported by themselves. At last, however, they fell upon evil times, and in 1851, out of the seventy families which constituted the original colony, only seven remained. For fifty years no rabbi had ministered to the wants of this remnant. In 1853 the city was attacked by the T'ai-p'ing rebels, and, though at the first assault its defenders successfully resisted the enemy, it was subsequently taken. The captors looted and partially destroyed the town. It has now little commerce, but contains several schools on Western lines—including a government college opened in 1902, and a military school near the railway station. A mint was established in 1905, and there is a district branch of the imperial post. The population—largely Mohammedan—was estimated (1908) at 200,000. Jews numbered about 400.