Page:Inside Canton.djvu/144

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143
INSIDE CANTON.

tures, after the Chinese fashion, and each containing perhaps a table, a few chairs, and sometimes a bed. The upper storey serves as a cloak-room for the visitors of both sexes, and a store for the various articles consumed. This explains perfectly, by the way, the name given to these boats: Keng-Heou, which signifies compartments and storeys. Certain establishments of smaller dimensions, such—for instance, as those called Cha-Kou—have something in common with the French cafés-chantants; for they contain a large public room and a few private chambers.

The flower-boats are the great ornament of the floating city of Canton. Externally, they are decorated with unheard-of luxury; the entrance is covered with carving; the lateral parts, composed, so to say, of open work, are sculptured with an art of which the beautiful Chinese ivory fans can alone convey an idea. The main body of the boat is red, blue, or green, all the raised parts being carefully gilt. In front, four lanterns, brilliantly painted, are hung on masts, and, at the back, four lozenge-shaped streamers wave their joyous colours. The terraces, vestibules, and staircases, are decorated with large china vases, in which great bunches of flowers are constantly kept. It was certainly this display of splendour which originated the name which these boats now bear in all the languages of Europe. On only one occasion did I ever see a