Page:EB1911 - Volume 06.djvu/188

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
174
[RELIGION
CHINA
native wines are made. The Chinese are, however, abstemious with

regard to alcoholic liquors. Water is drunk hot by the very poor, as a substitute for tea. Tea is drunk before and after meals in cups without handle or saucer; the cups are always provided with a cover. Two substantial meals are taken during the day—luncheon and dinner; the last named at varying hours from four till seven o’clock. At dinner a rich man will offer his guest twenty-four or more dishes (always a multiple of 4), four to six dishes being served at a time. Food is eaten from bowls and with chop-sticks (q.v.) and little porcelain spoons. Men dine by themselves when any guests are present; dinner parties are sometimes given by ladies to ladies. Chinese cookery is excellent; in the culinary art the Chinese are

reputed to be second only to the French.
Ethnologically the Chinese are classed among the Mongolian races

(in which division the Manchus are also included), although they present many marked contrasts to the Mongols. The Tatars, Tibetans, Burmese, Shans, Manchu and other races—including the Arab and Japanese—have mingled with the indigenous population to form the Chinese type, while aboriginal tribes still resist the pressure of absorption by the dominant race (see ante, Population). The Chinese are in fact ethnically a very mixed people, and the pure Mongol type is uncommon among them. Moreover, natives of different provinces still present striking contrasts one to another, and their common culture is probably the strongest national link. By some authorities it is held that the parent stock of the Chinese came from the north-west, beyond the alluvial plain; others hold that it was indigenous in eastern China. Notwithstanding the marked differences between the inhabitants of different provinces and even between those living in the same province, certain features are common to the race. “The stature is below the average and seldom exceeds 5 ft. 4 in., except in the North. The head is normally brachycephalic or round horizontally, and the forehead low and narrow. The face is round, the mouth large, and the chin small and receding. The cheek-bones are prominent, the eyes almond-shaped, oblique upwards and outwards, and the hair coarse, lank and invariably black. The beard appears late in life, and remains generally scanty. The eyebrows are straight and the iris of the eye is black. The nose is generally short, broad and flat. The hands and feet are disproportionately small, and the body early inclines to obesity. The complexion varies from an almost pale-yellow to a dark-brown, without any red or ruddy tinge. Yellow, however,

predominates.”[1]
A few words may be added concerning the Manchus, who are the

ruling race in China. Their ethnic affinities are not precisely known, but they may be classed among the Ural-Altaic tribes, although the term Ural-Altaic (q.v.) denotes a linguistic rather than a racial group. By some authorities they are called Tung-tatze, i.e. Eastern Tatars—the Tatars of to-day being of true Mongol descent. Manchu is the name adopted in the 13th century by one of several tribes which led a nomadic life in Manchuria and were known collectively in the 11th century as Nüchihs. Some authorities regard the Khitans (whence the European form Cathay), who in the 9th and 10th centuries dwelt in the upper Liao region, as the ancestors of this race. It was not until the 16th century that the people became known generally as Manchus and obtained possession of the whole of the country now bearing their name (see Manchuria). They had then a considerable mixture of Chinese and Korean blood, but had developed a distinct nationality and kept their ancient Ural-Altaic language. In China the Manchus retained their separate nationality and semi-military organization. It was not until the early years of the 20th century that steps were officially taken to obliterate the distinction between the two races. The Manchus are a more robust race than the inhabitants of central and southern China, but resemble those of northern China save that their eyes are horizontally set. They are a lively and enterprising people, but have not in general the intellectual or business ability of the Chinese. They are courteous in their relations with strangers. The common people are frugal and industrious. The Manchu family is generally large. The women’s feet are unbound; they twist their hair round a silver bangle placed cross-wise on the top of the head. The Manchus have no literature of their own, but as the language of the court Manchu has been

extensively studied in China.
Authorities.—Sir John F. Davies, China (2 vols., London, 1857);

É. Réclus, The Universal Geography, vol. vii. (Eng. trans. ed. by E.G. Ravenstein and A.H. Keane); É. and O. Réclus, L’Empire du milieu (Paris, 1902); Sir R.K. Douglas, Society in China (London, 1895); J. Doolittle, Social Life of the Chinese (2 vols., New York, 1867); H.A. Giles, China and the Chinese (1902); E. Bard, Les Chinois chez eux (Paris, 1900); A.G. Jones, Desultory Notes on Chinese Etiquette (Shanghai, 1906); Mrs Archibald Little, Intimate China (London, 1899) and The Land of the Blue Gown (London, 1902); E.H. Parker, John Chinaman and a Few Others (London, 1901); J. Dyer-Ball, Things Chinese (Shanghai, 1903); Cheng Kitung, The Chinese Painted by Themselves (Eng. trans. by J. Millington, London, 1885); L. Richard, Comprehensive Geography of the Chinese Empire

(Shanghai, 1908).
(X.)

Religion.

The earliest traces of religious thought and practice in China point to a simple monotheism. There was a Divine Ruler of the universe, abiding on high, beyond the ken of man. This Power was not regarded as the Creator of the The ancient faith. human race, but as a Supreme Being to whom wickedness was abhorrent and virtuous conduct a source of joy, and who dealt out rewards and punishments with unerring justice, claiming neither love nor reverence from mankind. If a man did his duty towards his neighbour, he might pass his whole time on earth oblivious of the fact that such a Power was in existence; unless perchance he wished to obtain some good or attain some end, in which case he might seek to propitiate Him by sacrifice and prayer. There was no Devil to tempt man astray, and to rejoice in his fall; neither was there any belief that righteous behaviour in this world would lead at death to absorption in the Deity. To God, understood in this sense, the people gave the name Tien, which in the colloquial language was used of the sky; and when, in the first stages of the written character, it became necessary to express the idea of Tien, they did not attempt any vague picture of the heavens, but set down the rude outline of a man. Perhaps about this period the title Shang Ti, or Supreme Ruler, came into vogue as synonymous with Tien. But although the two terms were synonyms, and both may be equally rendered by “God,” there is nevertheless an important distinction to be observed, much as though Tien and Shang Ti were two Persons in one substance. Tien is far more an abstract Being, while Shang Ti partakes rather of the nature of a personal God, whose anthropomorphic nature is much more strongly accentuated. Shang Ti is described as walking and talking, as enjoying the flavour of sacrifices, as pleased with music and dancing in his honour, and even as taking sides in warfare; whereas Tien holds aloof, wrapped in an impenetrable majesty, an ignotum pro mirifico. So much for religion in primeval days, gathered scrap by scrap from many sources; for nothing like a history of religion is to be found in Chinese literature.

Gradually to this monotheistic conception was added a worship of the sun, moon and constellations, of the five planets, and of such noticeable individual stars as (e.g.) Canopus, which is now looked upon as the home of the God of Longevity. Earth, too—Mother Earth—came in for her share of worship, indicated especially by the God of the Soil, and further distributed among rivers and hills. Wind, rain, heat, cold, thunder and lightning, as each became objects of desire or aversion, were invested with the attributes of deities. The various parts of the house—door, kitchen-stove, courtyard, &c.—were also conceived of as sheltering some spirit whose influence might be benign or the reverse. The spirits of the land and of grain came to mean one’s country, the commonwealth, the state; and the sacrifices of these spirits by the emperor formed a public announcement of his accession, or of his continued right to the throne. Side by side with such sacrificial rites was the worship of ancestors, stretching so far back that its origin is not discernible in such historical documents as we possess. In early times only the emperor, or the feudal nobles, or certain high officials, could sacrifice to the spirits of nature; the common people sacrificed to their own ancestors and to the spirits of their own homes. For three days before performing such sacrifices, a strict vigil with purification was maintained; and by the expiration of that time, from sheer concentration of thought, the mourner was able to see the spirits of the departed, and at the sacrifice next day seemed to hear their movements and even the murmur of their sighs. Ancestral worship in China has always been, and still is, worship in the strict sense of the term. It is not a memorial service in simple honour of the dead; but sacrifices are offered, and the whole ceremonial is performed that the spirits of former ancestors may be induced to extend their protection to the living and secure to them as many as possible of the good things of this world.

For Confucianism, which cannot, strictly speaking, be classed as a religion, see Confucius.

  1. Richard’s Comprehensive Geography, &c. (1908 edition), pp. 340-341.