Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Hainan

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2661571Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition, Volume XI — HainanHugh Alexander Webster

HAINAN, or, as it is usually called in Chinese, Kiung-chow-foo, an island belonging to the Chinese province of Kwang-tung, and situated between the Chinese Sea and the Gulf of Tong-king from 20° 8′ to 17° 52′ N. lat., and from 108° 32′ to 111° 15′ E. long. It measures 160 miles from N.E. to S.W., and the average breadth is about 90 miles. The area is estimated at from 1200 to 1400 square miles, or two-thirds the size of Sicily. From the peninsula of Lei-chow on the north it is separated by the straits of Hainan, which have a breadth of 15 or 20 miles. With the exception of a considerable area in the north, and broad tracts on the north-east and north-west sides, the whole island is occupied by jungle-covered mountains, with rich valleys between. The central range bears the name of Li-mou Shan or Wu Tchi Shan (the Five-Finger Mountain), and attains a height of 6000 or 7000 feet. Its praises are celebrated in a glowing ode by Ch’iu, a native poet. The island appears to be well watered, and some of its rivers are not without importance as possible highways of commerce; but the details of its hydrography are very partially ascertained. A navigable channel extends in an irregular curve from the bay of Hai-Kow in the north to Tan-chow on the west coast. Being exposed to the winter monsoon the northern parts of the island enjoy much the same sort of temperate climate as the neighbouring provinces of the mainland, but in the southern parts, protected from the monsoon by the mountain ranges, the climate is almost or entirely tropical. Snow falls so rarely that its appearance in 1684 is reported in the native chronicles as a remarkable event. Earthquakes are a much more familiar phenomenon, having occurred, according to the same authority, in 1523, 1526, 1605, 1652, 1677, 1681, 1684, 1702, 1704, 1725, 1742, 1816, 1817, and 1822. Excellent timber of various kinds—eagle-wood, rose-wood, liquidambar, &c.—is one of the principal products of the island, and has even been specially transported to Peking for imperial purposes. The cocoa palm flourishes freely even in the north, and is to be found growing in clumps with the Pinus sinensis. Rice, cotton, sugar, indigo, cinnamon, betel-nuts, sweet potatoes, ground nuts, and tobacco are all cultivated in varying quantities. The aboriginal inhabitants collect a kind of tea called tein-cha, or celestial tea, which looks like the leaves of a wild camellia, and has an earthy taste when infused. Lead, silver, copper, and iron occur in the Shih-luh Shan or “stone-green-hill”; the silver at least was worked till 1850, and the copper would probably pay for its exploitation. Gold and lapis lazuli are found in other parts of the island.

The ordinary cattle of Hainan are apparently a cross between the little yellow cow of South China and the zebu of India. Buffalos are common, and in the neighbourhood of Nanleu at least they are frequently albinos. Horses are numerous but small. Hogs and deer are both common wild animals, and of the latter there are three species, Cervus Eldi, Cervus hippelaphus, and Cervus vaginalis. Among the birds, of which 172 species are described by Mr Swinhoe in his paper in The Ibis, 1870, there are eagles, notably a new species Spilornis Rutherfordi, buzzards, harriers, kites, owls, goatsuckers, and woodpeckers. The Upupa ceylonensis is familiar to the natives as the “bird of the Li matrons,” and the Palæornis javanica as the “sugar-cane bird.”

Hainan, as already indicated, forms a foo or department of the province of Kwang-tung, though strictly it is only a portion of the island that is under Chinese administration, the remainder being still occupied by unsubjugated aborigines. The department contains three chow and ten hsien districts, Kiung-chow-hsien, in which the capital is situated; Ting-an-hsien, the only inland district; Wen-ch’ang-hsien, in the north-east of the island; Hui-tung-hsien, Lo-’hui-hsien, Ling-shui-hsien, Wan-chow, Ai-chou (the southmost of all), Kan-en hsien, Chang-hua-hsien, Tan-chow, Lin-kao-hsien, and Chang-mui-hsien. The capital Kiung-chow-foo is situated in the north about 10 li (or 3 miles) from the coast on the river. It is a well-built compact city, and its temples and examination halls are in good preservation. The population is frequently stated at 200,000, but, according to C. Stuhlmann in the Globus for 1876, it is only 100,000. Carved articles in cocoa-nuts and scented woods are its principal industrial product. In 1630 it was made the seat of a Roman Catholic mission by Benoit de Mathos a Portuguese Jesuit, and the old cemetery still contains about 113 Christian graves. The port of Kiung-chow-foo at the mouth of the river, which is nearly dry at low water, is called simply Hoi-how, or in the court dialect Hai-Kow, i.e., seaport. The two towns are united by a good road, along which a large traffic is maintained partly by coolie porters but more frequently by means of wheel-barrows, which serve the purpose of cabs and carts. The net value of the trade of the port, that is, the foreign and native imports minus the re-exports and the native imports of local origin, rose from 684,772 Hk. taels in 1876 to 1,215,056 in 1878. Out of 182 vessels engaged in the foreign trade in 1878 with a tonnage of 87,290 tons, 152 were British, with a tonnage of 70,078 tons. The exports comprised leather, hides, skins and tallow, sugar to the value of 204,427 taels, hemp, galangal, lung-ngan pulp, grass cloth, and silk, and sesamum to the value of 41,936 taels.

The inhabitants of Hainan may be divided into three classes, the Chinese immigrants, the civilized aborigines or Shu-li, and the wild aborigines or Sheng-li. The Chinese were for the most part originally from Keang-se and the neighbouring provinces, and they speak a peculiar dialect of which a detailed account by Mr Swinhoe is given in The Phœnix, a Monthly Magazine for China, &c., 1870. The Shu-li as described by Mr Taintor are almost of the same stature as the Chinese, but have a more decided copper colour, higher cheek-bones, and more angular features, while their eyes are not oblique. Their hair is long, straight, and black, and their beards, if they have any, are very scanty. They till the soil and bring rice, fuel, timber, grass-cloth, &c., to the Chinese markets. The Sheng-li or Li proper, called also La, Le, or Lauy, are probably connected with the Laos of Siam, and the Lolos of China. Though not gratuitously aggressive, they are highly intractable, and have given great trouble to the Chinese authorities. Among themselves they carry on deadly feuds, and revenge is a duty and an inheritance. Though they are mainly dependent on the chase for food, their weapons are still the spear and the bow, the latter being made of wood and strung with bamboo. In marriage no avoidance of similarity of name is required. The bride’s face is tattooed according to a pattern furnished by the bridegroom. Their funeral mourning consists of abstaining from drink and eating raw beef, and they use a wooden log for a coffin. When sick they sacrifice oxen. In the spring time there is a festival in which the men and women from neighbouring settlements move about in gay clothing hand in hand and singing songs. The whole population of the island is estimated at about 2 millions. At its first conquest 23,000 families were introduced from the mainland. In 1300 the Chinese authorities assign 166,257 inhabitants; in 1370, 291,000; and in 1617, 250,524; and in 1835, 1,350,000.

It was in 111 b.c. that Lu-Po-Teh, general of the emperor Wu-ti, first made the island of Hainan subject to the Chinese, who divided it into the two prefectures, Tan-urh or Drooping Ear in the south, so-called from the long ears of the nativeking,” and Chu-yai or Pearl Shore in the north. During the decadence of the elder branch of the Han dynasty the Chinese supremacy was weakened, but in 43 a.d. the natives were led by the success of Ma-yuan in Tong-king to make a new tender of their allegiance. About this time the whole island took the name of Chu-yai. In 627 a.d. the name of Kiung-chow came into use. On its conquest by the generals of Kublai Khan in 1278 the island was incorporated with the western part of the province of Kwang-tung in a new satrapy Hai-peh Hai-nan Tao, i.e., the circuit north of the sea and south of the sea. It was thus that Hai-nan-Tao, or district south of the sea or strait, came into use as the name of the island, which, however, has borne the official title of Kiung-chow-foo, probably derived from the Kiung-shan or Jade Mountains, ever since 1370, the date of its erection into a department of Kwang-tung. For a long time Hainan, was the refuge of the turbulent classes of China and the place of deportation for delinquent officials. It was there, for example, that Su-She or Su-Tung-po was banished in 1097. From the 15th to the 19th century pirates made the intercourse with the mainland dangerous, and in the 17th they were considered so formidable that merchants were allowed to convey their goods across only by the narrow channel from Sen-wen. Since 1863 the presence of English men-of-war has put an end to this evil. According to the treaty of Tientsin, the capital Kiung-chow and the harbour Hai-Kow were opened to European commerce; but it was not till 1876 that advantage was taken of the permission.