Page:Inside Canton.djvu/118

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117
INSIDE CANTON.

of porcelain, and they assume the same form, and often the same colours and the same designs, as those of a high price. The same thing occurs in France, where the vulgar snuff-box of papier mach, represents certain historic incidents, and presumes to contend with delicate productions, and the most precious materials. In the middle of an official dinner, Ki-In, in a moment of amicable expansion, offered M. de Lagrené the flask he was using on that day. It was of rock-crystal, marked with a character which expressed the name of the Imperial commissary's child—a charming diminutive which maternal tenderness had invented for him.

Nearly all the Chinese of any distinction wear a ring on the thumb of the right hand, which embraces the whole of the second joint. No mandarin in an official visit can dispense with this ornament. It is a Tartar fashion which the conquerors have imposed on the dignitaries of the Empire, as they have imposed the long queue on the rest of the nation. Pan-se-Chen, as a skilful courtier, often showed one of those agate rings called pan-chi, which the viceroy of the two Kuangs had given him. There was but one thing remarkable about it: it was formed of three concentric circles of equal width and different colours; the first was red; the second, white; the third, black. These gems were arranged with such precision, that a practised hand could not