Page:EB1911 - Volume 01.djvu/952

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
899
AMUCK—AMUR

until 1804, when its present name was adopted. It was incorporated as a village in 1830, and was chartered as a city in 1885.

AMUCK, RUNNING (or more properly Amok), the native term for the homicidal mania which attacks Malays. A Malay will suddenly and apparently without reason rush into the street armed with a kris or other weapon, and slash and cut at everybody he meets till he is killed. These frenzies were formerly regarded as due to sudden insanity. It is now, however, certain that the typical amok is the result of circumstances, such as domestic jealousy or gambling losses, which render a Malay desperate and weary of his life. It is, in fact, the Malay equivalent of suicide. “The act of running amuck is probably due to causes over which the culprit has some amount of control, as the custom has now died out in the British possessions in the peninsula, the offenders probably objecting to being caught and tried in cold blood”  (W. W. Skeat) .

Though so intimately associated with the Malay there is some ground for believing the word to have an Indian origin, and the act is certainly far from unknown in Indian history. Some notable cases have occurred among the Rajputs. Thus, in 1634, the eldest son of the raja of Jodhpur ran amuck at the court of Shah Jahan, failing in his attack on the emperor, but killing five of his officials. During the 18th century, again, at Hyderabad (Sind), two envoys, sent by the Jodhpur chief in regard to a quarrel between the two states, stabbed the prince and twenty-six of his suite before they themselves fell.

In Malabar there were certain professional assassins known to old travellers as Amouchi or Amuco. The nearest modern equivalent to these words would seem to be the Malayalim Amar-khan, “a warrior” (from amar, “fight”). The Malayalim term chaver applied to these ruffians meant literally those “who devote themselves to death.” In Malabar was a custom by which the zamorin or king of Calicut had to cut his throat in public when he had reigned twelve years. In the 17th century a variation in his fate was made. He had to take his seat, after a great feast lasting twelve days, at a national assembly, surrounded by his armed suite, and it was lawful for anyone to attack him, and if he succeeded in killing him the murderer himself became zamorin (see Alex. Hamilton, “A new Account of the East Indies,” in Pinkerton’s Voyages and Travels, viii. 374). In 1600 thirty would-be assassins were killed in their attempts. These men were called Amar-khan, and it has been suggested that their action was “running amuck” in the true Malay sense. Another proposed derivation for amouchi is Sanskrit amokshya, “that cannot be loosed,” suggesting that the murderer was bound by a vow, an explanation more than once advanced for the Malay amuck; but amokshya in such a sense is unknown in Malayalim.

See Sir F. A. Swettenham, Malay Sketches (1895); H. Clifford, Studies in Brown Humanity (1898).

AMULET (Late Lat. amuletum, origin unknown; falsely connected with the Arab. ḥimālah, a cord used to suspend a small Koran from the neck), a charm, generally, but not invariably, hung from the neck, to protect the wearer against witchcraft, sickness, accidents, &c. Amulets have been of many different kinds, and formed of different substances,—stones, metals, and strips of parchment being the most common, with or without characters or legends engraved or written on them. Gems have often been employed and greatly prized, serving for ornaments as well as for charms. Certain herbs, too, and animal preparations have been used in the same way. In setting them apart to their use as amulets, great precautions have been taken that fitting times be selected, stellar and other magic influences propitious, and everything avoided that might be supposed to destroy or weaken the force of the charm. From the earliest ages the Oriental races have had a firm belief in the prevalence of occult evil influences, and a superstitious trust in amulets and similar preservatives against them. There are references to, and apparently correctives of, these customs in the Mosaic injunctions to bind portions of the law upon the hand and as frontlets between the eyes, as well as write them upon the door-posts and the gates; but, among the later Jews especially, the original design and meaning of these usages were lost sight of; and though it has been said that the phylacteries were not strictly amulets, there is no doubt that they were held in superstitious regard. Amulets were much used by the ancient Egyptians, and also among the Greeks and Romans. We find traces of them too in the early Christian church, in the emphatic protests of Chrysostom, Augustine and others against them. The fish was a favourite symbol on these charms, from the word ιχθύς being the initials of Ίησοῦς Χριοτὸς Θεοῦ υἱὸς σωτήρ. A firm faith in amulets still prevails widely among Asiatic nations. Talisman, also from the Arabic, is a word of similar meaning and use, but some distinguish it as importing a more powerful charm. A talisman, whose “virtues are still applied to for stopping blood and in cases of canine madness,” figures prominently in, and gives name to, one of Sir Walter Scott’s novels.

See also Arpe, De Prodigiis Naturae et Artis Operibus Talismanes et Amuleta dictis (Hamburg, 1717); Ewele, Ueber Amulete (1827); and Koop’s Palaeographic Critica, vols. iii. and iv. (1829).

AMUR (known also as the Sakhalin-ula), a river of eastern Asia, formed by the confluence of the Argun and the Shilka, at Ust-Stryelka, in 53° 19′ N. lat. and 120° 30′ E. long. Both these rivers come from the south-west: the Argun, or Kerulen as it is called above Lake Kulun (Dalai-nor), through which it flows about half way between its source and Ust-Stryelka, rises in 49° N. lat. and 109° E. long.; the Shilka is formed by the union of the Onon and the Ingoda, both of which have their sources a little farther north-east than the Kerulen (Argun). The Amur proper flows at first in a south-easterly direction for about 800 m., as far as long. 132′ E., separating Manchuria from the Amur government; it then turns to the north-east, cuts its way through the Little Khingan mountains in a gorge 2000 ft. wide and 140 m. long, and after a total course of over 1700 m. discharges into the Sea of Okhotsk, opposite to the island of Sakhalin. It is estimated to drain an area of 772,000 sq. m. Its principal tributaries from the south are the Sungari, which the Chinese consider to be the true head-river of the Amur, and the Usuri; from the north it receives the Oldoi, Zeya, Bureya, Kur, Gorin and Amgun. As the mouth is choked with sandbanks, goods are disembarked at Mariinsk and carried by train (9 m.) to Alexandrovsk at the head of the Gulf of Tartary. Navigation on the river is open from April to early in November.

See T. W. Atkinson, Travels in the Region of the Amoor (1860); Collins, Exploration of the Amoor (ed. 1864) and Voyage down the Amoor (1866); Andree, Das Amurgebiet (ed. 1876); and Grum-Grshimaylo, Account of the Amur (Russian, 1894).

AMUR, a government of East Siberia, stretching from the Stanovoi (Yablonoi) mountains southwards to the left bank of the Amur river. It includes the basins of the Oldoi, Zeya and Bureya, left-bank tributaries of the river Amur, and has the governments of Transbaikalia on the W., Irkutsk and Yakutsk on the N., the Maritime province on the E., and Manchuria on the S.W. and S. Area, 172,848 sq. m. Immense districts are quite uninhabited. All the north-western part is occupied by a high plateau, bordered by the Great Khingan range, whose exact position in the region is not yet definitely settled. Next comes a belt of fertile plateaus bounded on the east by the Little Khingan, or Dusse-alin, a picturesque well-wooded range, which stretches in a north-easterly direction from Kirin across Manchuria, is pierced by the Amur, and continues on its left bank, separating the Bureya from the Amgun. To the east of it stretches in the same direction a strip of marshy lowlands. In the ranges which rise above the high plateau in the north-west, in the vicinity of the Stanovoi watershed, gold mines of great richness are worked. Coal of inferior quality is known to exist on the Oldoi, Zeya and Bureya. The Russians are represented by the Amur Cossacks, whose villages, e.g. Albazin, Kumara, Ekaterino-Nikolsk and Mikhailo-Semenovsk, are strung at intervals of 17 to 20 m. along the whole course of the river; by peasant immigrants, chiefly nonconformists, who are the wealthiest part of the population; and by a floating population of gold miners. Nomadic Tungus (Orochons), Manegres and Golds hunt and fish along the rivers. Steamers ply regularly