Page:The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey.djvu/296

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to the east of the river Min, the balance of 33 being scattered over the west of the province.

Early Inhabitants.—Information on the early history of Szechwan is somewhat meagre and unreliable. "There are evidences," says Mr. Hosie in his valuable report[1] on the province, "all over the Red Basin of the existence in prehistoric times of a race of cave-dwellers. The Yangtse, Kialing, T'o, and Min have, in the course of ages, worn for themselves deep beds in the sandstone, and in the steep cliffs are rock-cut dwellings, with small doorways and occasional windows, and here and there a certain amount of rude mural sculpture inside and outside, vestiges of a bygone race. These empty dwellings are called by the Chinese Mantse tong—that is, Mantse caves; Mantse being the generic name applied to all the tribes inhabiting the west of the province.

"Coming to historical times, however, we find the Szechwan of to-day was, during the former and latter Han dynasties (206 B.C. to a.d. 230), divided into five principalities, one of which, called Yi-cheo Shu, and afterwards simply Shu, was usurped and ruled by the Minor Han dynasty (a.d. 221-263), with its capital where the city of Chengtu is now built, the whole kingdom being represented by the present prefecture of Chengtu."

In the declining years of the Ming dynasty (a.d. 1368- 1643) a rebellion broke out in Szechwan. It was headed by three men—Li Tsi-ch'eng, Chang Hsiang-chong, and Wang San-kuai. Much destruction of property and loss of life was caused by these men, especially by Chang and Wang. It is commonly believed that these two men almost depopulated the province. When order was restored by the Imperial Government, the province was repeopled by forced immigration from other provinces of the Empire. Even to the present day it is difficult, if not impossible, to get an inhabitant of the provinces to admit that he is a native of Szechwan. He will tell you that he belongs to Hupeh, Hunan, Shensi, Kiangsi, Chekiang, or even

  1. China, No. 5 (1904), by Consul Hosie.