Page:Inside Canton.djvu/116

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115
INSIDE CANTON.

statuettes, and you-i. This last object, which is the emblem of friendship, is a sort of sceptre, about a foot long. The you-i represents in reality a lotus-leaf, whose stem is covered with allegorical figures or characters. One may reasonably suppose that it is not only the emblem of friendship, but also a symbol of authority. In all family pictures, the person who exercises power holds in his hand this species of sceptre. It is perhaps a souvenir of the pastoral staff of the first rulers of peoples—an evident proof that all civilisations have commenced with a moderate use of the ferule! Happy those who in their decline do not fall again under the instrument which has chastised them in their youth; for that which merely bruises the skin of the child, breaks the bones of the old man. There are you-i's in lacquer, in porcelain, and even in bronze. Callery speaks of one of these latter, inestimably valuable on account of its antiquity. The difficulty experienced in cutting the yui stones gives great value to statuettes of this material. But the Chinese sculptors only carefully finish pieces of large dimensions, representing mythological personages—the Virgin Kouanin in her lotus, or the god of riches and of pleasure with his hand on his abdomen. As to the figures, flowers, and insects which the Chinese ladies suspend from the handles of their fans, they are particular in giving them graceful forms—graceful according to their taste, but nothing more. The