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Curious Items from the China Tress., Issue 7910, 18 May 1889
Curious Items from the China Tress.
Ta li is tho most important of the villages in the jurisdiction of the “ Nam-hoi” Hiea, Canton. The people there are a rough and sturdy race, who did good service in defending the city of Canton at the time of the Taiping rebellion. These people have_ a curious China New Year custom, which reiterated official proclamations have failed to check, and which none but a rude and illiterate race would care to indulge in; it is called (a sha, “ throwing sand.” On the first and second days of China New Year the cotton dyers, agriculturists, and lads of the village under twenty years of ago turn out and range themselves in two factions, facing each other in battle array at a distance of some tens of yards, armed with slings and stones. A fierce battle of slinging stones then commences, which goes on until one side is beaten and retreats, sometimes leaving men lying on the field with broken heads or limbs. These are carried to an adjacent joss-house, and their wounds treated with the ashes of incense sticks burnt before the idol, which are believed to have a wonderful healing power on these occasions. Tho combatants meet again as good friends after the fight, and no ill-feeling is caused by tho observance of the old custom, which is supposed to bring good harvests to the fields where it is celebrated, and missiles are never wanting, for heaps of them are produced, it is said, by supernatural agency. This year they did not have en ugh of it at China New Year owing to the rain and mud in the fields, and had arranged, says our correspondent, for an “ intercalary slinging-match ” when the rain cleared off.
In the villages of the Hoh-shau Hien, in tho Ghao-k’ing Prefecture, Kuangtung Province, the village law is very severe against thieves, and if one is caught in the act the people endeavor to exact from him compensation for everything stolen before from anyone during the entire year, even making him sell his field, sons, and daughters without mercy, if necessary; and if he is destitute of everything, exacting compensation from his near and distant relations, A gambler and an opium-smoker of the village of Wei-t’ung, being without a regular livelihood and at his wits’ end to obtain the wherewithal for a pipe of opium, lately conceived the unlucky project of annexing a neighbor’s fowl, which he heard clucking outside his door. He was caught by the watchman and dragged before the village council, who tried the case in the Ancestral Temple, and condemned him to pay for all that had been stolen during the year. He was obliged to take his eldest daughter to Canton for sale, and returned with the means of paying the fine, with a balance of 20dol over. He has become a reformed character, and works for his living, but his wife died of grief soon after the sale of her daughter. On 4th March appeared a rescript from the Empress to a memorial from VVu Tacheng, formerly Governor of Kuangtung, and subsequently director of the Yellow River works. The memorial recommended that on the assumption by the youthful Emperor of the governing power, his father, Prince Ch’un, should nave some extraordinary distinction conferred upon him, I he rescript, in declining to accede to this suggestion, praises Prince Ch’un for his devotion to the service of the State, and for his modesty and absence of personal ambition. Desirous of guarding himself from such an undesired honor when the young
Emperor should hereafter take up the reigns i of government, H.I.H. so long as fifteen . years age, on the eighth day of the first moon oi the first year of the reign of j “ Kwang Sii,” wro* " a memorial deprecating ' the very couise v. nich Wu Tachfing now recommends. He had persistently declined to ride in the magnificent “ apricot-yellow j palanquin ” provided for him, thus showing ; the simplicity and humility of his mind and his desire to be considered a servant of the State rather than the father of the sovereign. While paying this tribute to the virtues of Prince Ch’un, the memorial, it will be seen, conveys an implied reproach to Wu Tacheng. Two fine tigers were lately killed by the people of Yi-Chow, in Chih-li, a very mountainous part. The people gave them to the Prefect, Mr VYu Hiao-ts’ang, and as he was just leaving for Kuang-p’ing Fu, of which he had been appointed Prefect, he had brought them to the Viceroy’s Yamen on passing through Tientsin, and showed them to the Viceroy, Li Hung-chang. The Viceroy was no doubt considerably astonished when the Prefect told the story of the hunting of one of them, the smaller one, which was “put up,” as sportsmen call it, by a rustic taking it by the ear, mistaking it, as it lay asleep in the darkness under a bush, for a strayed calf. Instead of eating the disturber of its rest it bounded on to the roof of a cottage, where the villagers, who had been looking out for it, attacked it with guns and spears, and killed it.
The annexation of Upper Burmah by England is now an old story, but although the new dependency is generally thought to be submissive to the British Government, this is far from being the fact. A powerful chief called Su-la-pao of Ka-ly-yin still maintains his independence, in spite of the attempts of the British forces to crush him. He has 3,000 war elephants and 16,000 or 17,000 fighting men. These men live something like the I’unt'ien (or military colonists) of old, with the difference that they do not till the fields, having none to till ; but are occupied, when not required for fighting, in cutting down the je chi wood on the mountains, for by the sale of this they make their living. Their chief is wealthy and well supplied, except in the matter of rice, which he has to import from other districts ; but his men are but poorly provided with munitions of war and arms. He is adored by his men, and has lately allied himself with the powerful chief of the Suma tribe, to whom he has given his daughter for a bride. They are said to have a design of poisoning the water in all places through which the British forces aro expected to march, and to have engaged 300 desperadoes by bribes of 500 tun each, whose plan is to insinuate themselves into the British camp, disguised either as Native auxiliaries or as servants of the general, and then to attempt an audacious coup. Should it fail, they will, it is said, retreat, if possible, into Yuman and Szechuen.
Curious Items from the China Tress., Issue 7910, 18 May 1889
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