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is always among the presents to a bride on the occasion of her nuptials. In what circumstances the “golden lilies,” the highest of personal attractions, originated, is not known. The distortion is produced by turning the toes under the soles of the feet at birth, and confining them in that position by tight bandages, till their growth is effectually checked. The bandaging is continued for several years, during which the poor child suffers the most excruciating tortures. This is, no doubt, an absurd, cruel, and wicked practice; but those who dwell in glass houses should not throw stones. It is not a whit worse, nay, we maintain that it is less irrational and injurious, than the abomination of tight lacing. No vital part is here attacked, no vital functions disordered ; and, on the score of taste, if the errors of nature are to be rectified, and her graceful lines and proportions improved, we see not why the process of amendment may not be as reasonably applied to the feet as to the waist. Almost every family in China, however poor, has one daughter with the small feet. Head-dresses of natural and artificial flowers are always worn. No woman, says Sir George Staunton, is so poor as to neglect, or so aged as to give up, adorning herself in this manner. The culture of flowers for this purpose is a regular occupation throughout the country. Among the accomplishments of the Chinese ladies, music, painting on silk, and embroidery, hold the chief places. The musical instruments are various in kind and material, and a supply of them is held to be an indispensable part of the furniture of a lady’s boudoir. Painting on silk is a very common recreation; and embroidery is an almost universal accomplishment. Of the two cases opposite, one contains a variety of highly interesting curiosities. The most beautiful is a model of the celebrated flower-boat, with all its furniture and decorations complete. Nothing of the kind could well be imagined more rich, gay, and showy. The central portion forms what may be called a suite of drawing-rooms, enclosed with the usual carved and gilded screen-work of the country, and provided with elegant miniature furniture. The kitchen is in the hinder part, where are seen models of all the utensils used. The stern is as gay as the gayest trappings can make it, and near the bows there are representations of the flower-pots and flowers, from which the barge receives its name. This boat is much employed for pleasure excursions, particularly in the calm summer evenings; and it is also sometimes used as a dwelling-place by a not very reputable class of females. In the lower section of this case there is a model of a bridge, with five arches, the original of which is of granite, and must be a handsome structure. The arches are formed on strictly scientific principles, though the bridge is several hundred years old. Besides these large articles, there are, in the case we are describing, an air-gun with wooden barrel; a duckgun with matchlock; a curious double sword, capable of being used as one, and having but one sheath; specimens of Chinese bullets, shot, powder, powder-horns, and match-ropes; numerous specimens of tobacco and opium pipes; samples of divers kinds of fruits; two carved ivory balls; and several small wooden stands, of beautiful patterns and elegant workmanship, made for ornamental display on parlour tables, book cases, &c. The national taste for tobacco is well represented by the large collection of pipes. The fondness of the Chinese for this exotic weed is not less strong than for the most celebrated indigenous plant of their own country,
nor its use less prevalent. It is used alike by men and women, rich and poor, high and low, old and young, for the soothing, tranquilizing effect it produces upon the mind. The Chinese tobacco is of a mild, agreeable flavour, and in colour is almost white. The stems of the pipes are generally long, slender pieces of bamboo ; the mouth-pieces amber, ivory, glass, &c.; and the bowls, of Some metallic substance, more or less valuable according to the wealth or taste of the owner, are commonly moderate in their dimensions. Pipes which have been used a long time are usually preferred, “ and the age of a pipe
stem is a pretty certain proof of its value.” Opium is
also smoked in large quantities, but the pipe used for this
quarter of an inch in diameter; and, what is more sur
prising, the inside is inscribed with minute characters, so as to be read through the transparent substance.
The case on the opposite side of the column is filled with Chinese shoes. The most curious are those for the golden lilies, some of them not more than three inches in length. The others are extremely clumsy, with soles varying from half an inch to three or four inches in thickness.
XIII. Fifth Wall Case.
In the fifth case we have a specimen of Chinese theatricals. There are three figures of actors, an adult and two children, a gorgeous state umbrella, a number of theatrical caps, and a sample of embroidered tapestry. The dresses and adornments of the actors are of rich materials, elegantly wrought.
Theatrical exhibitions are favourite amusements of the Chinese, and, as among the ancient Greeks and Romans, they are sometimes connected with religion. The estimation in which they are held may be inferred from a single fact. The money expended upon them in one year at Macao, a place where there are but few wealthy Chinese, amounted to nearly seven thousand dollars.
It is remarkable that there are no regular theatres. The actors are literally vagabonds, strolling about from city to city, and from province to province. In Canton, for example, the inhabitants of a certain quarter club together and make up a purse, with which a company is engaged. A temporary theatre is erected, and the whole neighbourhood is at liberty to attend. When the quid pro quo has been rendered by the actors, they move off to another quarter, and the same thing is repeated. It is customary to employ play-actors at private entertainments, which are never considered complete without a theatrical
exhibition. Upon such occasions a list of plays is handed to the most distinguished guest, who selects whichever best jumps with his fancy. The principal inns and all large private establishments have a room expressly for this purpose. Females are not allowed to appear on the stage. Some notice of the other national amusements will not be out of place here. The Chinese have fewer holidays than perhaps any other people; yet they have a number of festivals, which are enjoyed with a keen relish. The chief of these is the Feast of the New Year, a species of Saturnalia, when the whole Empire abandons itself to a phrenzy of merriment. All labour is intermitted for several days; public business is suspended ; servants are dressed out in all the finery at their command; visits of ceremony and presents are interchanged among friends; the rites of religion are conducted with unusual pomp ; and, in short, gaiety and pleasure are the reigning divinities. The Feast of Lanterns, which occurs soon after this, is a general illumination throughout the Empire. The object seems to be to afford an occasion for the display of ingenuity and taste in the construction and mechanism of an infinite variety of lanterns. It is computed that, upon this occasion, there are not less than 200,000,000 blazing at the same time in different parts of the Empire. There are several agricultural festivals; an annual trial of skill in boat-racing; a festival in honour of the dead; and a sort of general thanksgiving, a holiday highly enjoyed, which takes place in September, at the commencement of the business year. Gaming prevails among the lower orders, but so much infamy attaches to gamblers, that government officers and the more respectable of the people are free from this taint.