The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey/The Province of Chekiang

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By the Venerable Archdeacon A. E. Moule, B.D.,
Church Missionary Society.

The province of Chekiang contains 36,670 square miles. It is the smallest of the eighteen provinces of China proper; and yet this small area equals the whole of Lancashire and all the midland and southern counties of England. The province measures 260 English miles from east to west, and 380 from north to south. It is equal in size to Portugal, and is twice as large as Denmark; Ireland could lie within its boundaries, and the vast Victoria Nyanza is scarcely large enough to float Chekiang. The population is extremely hard to estimate. The latest statistics, published in the Statesman's Year-Book, give 11,580,692 as the estimated population; but older estimates, both Chinese and English, gave a population of 26,000,000.

The province is one of great historic and antiquarian interest. It formed the extreme southern boundary of Old China, the provinces and districts farther south being in early days regarded as outside and barbarous states. Chekiang has from olden times been the stage upon which some of the principal acts in Chinese history have been performed. Shun, the semi-mythical patriarchal emperor of 4000 years ago, the Cincinnatus of China, called from the fields to reign, is said to have ploughed his father's acres with an elephant not far from the city of Yüyao, 40 miles west of Ningpo; whilst two or three miles outside the walls of Shaohing stands the tomb of the Emperor Yü, the "Great Yü" as he is called, the Chinese Noah, who is said to have subdued the deluge which inundated China in his time, 2205 B.C. The man who attempted to recreate China and make its history begin with his rule, Shih Hwang-ti, 259-210 B.C. (the constructor of the Great Wall, 1250 miles long, and of the Grand Canal, 650 miles from north (Tientsin) to south (Hangchow in Chekiang), and the destroyer of the Confucian books and ancient classics), visited Hangchow, Shaohing, and Ningpo.

In religious legend and antiquities also this province has treasures of singular interest to Buddhist and Taoist devotees. Chang Tao-ling, the Pope or Grand Lama of the Taoists, was born, A.D. 34, near T'ien-moh-san (the "Hill of the Eye of Heaven"), a fine mountain 5000 feet high within the borders of Chekiang. The island of P'u-t'o (the most sacred place to Buddhists in the east of Asia, where Kwan-yin, the "Goddess of Mercy" and patroness of sailors, is said to have lived) lies 50 miles east of Ningpo, and belongs to Chekiang. The great temples beyond the West Lake at Hangchow founded by Indian monks, the one A.D. 306, the other A.D. 581, attract vast crowds of pilgrims from Central China.

Chekiang suffered greatly during the Taiping Rebellion, that great chapter in China's more recent history. In 1861 the Taipings invaded Chekiang, and after storming Hangchow and Shaohing, they captured Ningpo, December 9, 1861. They were driven out of Ningpo in May 1862, and after ravaging the country round for some months, and beleaguering the city a second time, they were eventually driven back on Shaohing and Hangchow; and finally evacuated the latter city and the province of Chekiang in 1864. The idol temples with scarcely any exceptions were destroyed and the idols abolished throughout the province. The Christian element in the aims of the first leaders of the Taipings was early obliterated by the lust of conquest and the adhesion of a vast number of irreligious followers.

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Photo by W. H. Warren

The Burial-Place Of Yü the Great.

At this "Kiosk of the Burial-stone" the Great Yü is said to be buried. He was appointed 2286 B.C. by Shun to control the waters and recover the Empire from the floods. This task occupied him for nine years, during which time he is reported to have thrice passed the door of his own home and yet ignored it in his devotion to his work. Shun appointed him as his successor, and Yü founded the Hsia dynasty 2205 B.C. after having been joint regent for nineteen years. A few notes are added on some of the chief cities of Chekiang. Hangchow, the capital of the province, and for 149 years the imperial capital of China (under the Southern Sung monarchs in the twelfth century A.D.), is not, as China's antiquity measures time, an ancient city. It was founded in the year A.D. 606. During the Taiping Rebellion it was three times besieged, stormed, and sacked, but it retains much of imperial grandeur and dignity. Marco Polo describes the city, under the name of Kinsay, as he saw it in the thirteenth century.

The history of Ningpo goes much further back. The original city was founded 2205 B.C., just after Yü's deluge. It was moved to its present site A.D. 713, the celebrated "Heaven-invested" pagoda having been erected twenty years earlier. The city is proud of its threefold line of defence—the city walls, the river and moat completely surrounding the city, and the amphitheatre of hills beyond.

Shaohing, the Venice of China in Marco Polo's estimation, is probably older even than Ningpo. There are traces of an original foundation as far back as Yao and Shun, 2357-2208 B.C. There the Great Yü held court after the flood. Shaohing is famous for its wine, and for its manufacture of idolatrous paper.

The other Fu cities are Kiaking, Huchow, Wenchow, Chuchow, T'aichow, Kinhwa, Yenchow, and Chüchowfu. The chief river of the province is the Tsientang, on which Hangchow is situated. This river is remarkable for its tidal wave, which sometimes attains to the height of 12 to 14 feet, with a stretch of a mile and a half in width. It is worshipped by the people, and at certain seasons by the magistrates at Hangchow, outside the south-east city gate, which is called, "The Gate waiting for the Tide." Among the numerous smaller rivers, the river Yung, on which stands Ningpo, may be mentioned. In its upper waters it is called sometimes the Yao, sometimes the Shun, the names of the ancient mythical emperors of China. Some branches of the aboriginal race, the Miao-tse, are met with in the mountainous country beyond Kinhwa.

Hangchow is noted for its mulberry and silkworm culture and manufacture of silk. Both in the plains and on the terraces of the hills of Chekiang, rice in its different varieties is the principal crop. Tea is largely grown in the hill districts. The hill people are chiefly occupied in the cutting and carrying of bamboo and fir. River and sea fisheries are important; fleets of fishing-smacks of several thousand sail may be seen off the coast.

The country is intersected in all directions by natural and artificial waterways, and all these streams and canals are utilised for irrigating the boundless expanse of rice-fields. In April the view from the hilltops is exceedingly beautiful. The hills themselves, rising in some cases to 3000 feet above the plain, are clothed with yellow and red azaleas. Down below in the plains emerald patches of the most brilliant hue are seen. These are rice-seed beds nearly ready for transplanting into the irrigated fields. In August the scene is changed, but still remarkable for fresh beauty. Overhead is the arch of the blue summer sky, broken only by the white masses of the thunderstorm, still far away on the northern horizon. The groves of bamboo are swayed by the southerly monsoon, and far down in the plains there are breadths of golden grain ready for the sickle, yellow reaches intersected by the lines of Pride of India or of willows which mark the watercourses.

The province of Chekiang stretches nearly from the 27th to the 31st parallel of latitude N. The climate during nine months of the year is temperate, but the summer heat is great and the cold of January and February is severe. There are rainy seasons in June and September, the latter being the most unhealthy month of the year.

The province of Chekiang is governed by a Lieutenant-Governor, residing at Hangchow, who is under the Viceroy of the two provinces of Chekiang and Fukien, who resides at Foochow. The Governor is assisted by a Provincial Treasurer and a Provincial Judge, and within the province
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The T'ien Fong T'ah—"Heaven-appointed" Pagoda, Ningpo.

This pagoda was built about A.D. 693, and is, therefore, more than 1200 years old. See text on page opposite. "The form of the Chinese T'ah (pagoda) is probably derived from the spire on the top of the Hindu Dagoba, as its name is doubtless taken from the first syllable of that word." four Intendants of Circuit or Taotais bear rule. These 4 Taotais govern 11 prefectures (Fu), including 3 T'ing cities and 63 Hsien cities, with market towns, villages, and hamlets innumerable, all the cities being walled.

Roman Catholic Jesuit Missions were early at work in Chekiang.

Protestant Missions.—Milne, one of Morrison's later associates, visited and resided in Ningpo some years before the first treaty which opened ports of China, amongst them Ningpo. In the summer of 1845 the Rev. G. Smith (afterwards Bishop of Victoria) visited Ningpo on behalf of the Church Missionary Society, and urged its adoption as a missionary centre of the first importance. He found missionaries of the American Baptist and Presbyterian Societies already in Ningpo. The dates of the commencement of the different Missions, and statistics as to the present number of their workers and their several fields of work, are given on p. 79.

All the Fu cities of the province are occupied by one or more of the above Missions, and about a third of the Hsien cities, while missionary work, either by foreign or by native agents, reaches now to all parts of the province.

Evangelistic work, either in mission rooms or by itineration and open-air preaching, is carried on by all these Missions, the China Inland Mission devoting its chief attention to this work.

Educational work is carried on by the American Baptist Mission in Ningpo, Shaohing, and Hangchow; by the American Presbyterian Mission (North) in Ningpo and Hangchow; by the Church Missionary Society in Ningpo, Hangchow, and Shaohing ; by the American Presbyterian Mission (South) in Hangchow, Kashing, and Dongshang; by the United Methodist Free Church in Ningpo and Wenchow; and by the Christians' Mission in Ningpo.

Medical work is carried on by the American Baptist Mission in Ningpo, Shaohing, and Huchow; by the Church Missionary Society in Ningpo, Hangchow, and T'aichow; by the American Presbyterian Mission (South) in Kashing, Dongshan, and Kiangyin; by the United Methodist Free Church in Ningpo and Wenchow; and by the China Inland Mission in T'aichow.

The number of Protestant native agents is approximately 700, and of native Christians from 12,000 to 15,000.

The China Inland Mission began in 1866, but the founder, Mr. Hudson Taylor, with his associates, had worked from 1854 in connection with the Chinese Evangelisation Society.

The province of Chekiang was the first in which inland residence and permanent work were effected. In 1859 the Rev. J. L. and Mrs. Nevius of the American Presbyterian Mission, and the Rev. T. Burdon (afterwards Bishop of Victoria) of the Church Missionary Society visited Hangchow at some risk, and resided there for some months; but they were unable to secure permanent residence. Mr. Burdon subsequently attempted residence in Shaohing, and worked there during the summer of 1861, but both Shaohing and Hangchow were left in consequence of the approach of the Taipings. Hangchow was occupied permanently for Inland Mission work in 1864,[1] when the Rev. G. E. Moule of the Church Missionary Society (afterwards Bishop in Mid-China) moved thither from Ningpo, followed a few months later by the Rev. D. Green of the American Presbyterian Mission. Hankow in Hupeh had been previously occupied by Dr. Griffith John of the London Missionary Society in 1861, but Hankow was an open port. Hangchow was made the first headquarters of the China Inland Mission in 1866.

Mission. Date of
number of
number of
Stations and
Chief Stations.
American Baptist

Missionary Union
1844 24 22 Ningpo.
American Presbyterian,

1844 22 16 Ningpo.
Church Missionary

1848 65 62 Ningpo.
China Inland

1857[2] 67
136 Ningpo.
English Methodist

1864 16 11 Ningpo.
American Presbyterian,

1867 25 37 Hangchow.
Christians' Mission 1895 10 10 Ningpo.
  1. Mr. Stock says "the autumn of 1865." See History of C.M.S. vol. ii. p. 583.—Ed.
  2. Archdeacon Moule had stated the date as 1867. The Editor has ventured to change it to 1857, the date which appears in all China Inland Mission statistics, which, though prior to the formation of the China Inland Mission as a Mission, was the date when Mr. Hudson Taylor commenced work at Ningpo.