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Dominoes, cards, dice, and chess, are favourite games, The venders of fruits often gamble with purchasers in the following manner:—A boy wishes a half dozen oranges. The fruit and half the price demanded for it are laid down together. Recourse is then had to the dice-box. If the urchin throws the highest number, he pockets his money again, and gets the fruit for nothing; if the seller, he in like manner sweeps the stakes, and the disappointed gamester may whistle for oranges, or try his fortune elsewhere. Quails are trained for fighting, and even a species of cricket, two of which are placed in a bowl together, and irritated till they tear each other in pieces. Fire-works, and the tricks of jugglers, tumblers, rope-dancers, &c. are greatly relished.
Of out-door games, the most popular is kite-flying. In this the Chinese excel. They show their superiority as well in the curious construction of their kites, as in the height to which they make them mount. By means of round holes, supplied with vibrating cords, their kites are made to produce a loud humming noise, like that of a top. A game at shuttle-cock, in which the feet serve as battledores, is also a favourite “field sport.” In Peking, during the winter, skating, and other amusements on the ice, in which the Emperor takes a part, are among the national pastimes.
XIV. Three Cases in the inter-columniations, containing Ornamental Articles.
The contents of these cases will be examined with special interest by the ladies. Each is divided into three horizontal compartments, all filled with articles of virtu and pieces of ornamental furniture, of wood, stone, jade, ivory, metal, &c. The little stands, inlaid with marble or porcelain, are numerous, and the variety of their forms can only be equalled by the beauty of their proportions, and the exquisite style in which they are finished. In the first of these cases there is a curious ornament, rare even in China, and of great cost. It is thus described by Mr. Davis:–“The ornament which has sometimes, for want of a better name, been called a sceptre, is, in fact, an emblem of amity and good will, of a shape less bent than the letter S, about eighteen inches in length, and cut from the jade or yu stone. It is called joo-ee, “as you wish,” and is simply exchanged as a costly mark of friendship; but that it had a religious origin seems indicated by the sacred flower of the lotus (Nymphaea nelumbo) being generally carved on the superior end.” In the lower compartment of the second case there is a framed specimen of a singular kind of stone found in some parts of China, which, when polished, presents rude resemblances of birds, insects, &c.; and also a specimen of painted glass, the subject of the painting being of an astrological nature. The middle section contains a handsome model of a Chinese settee. These are sometimes made with marble seats and backs, for summer use, as may be seen in another model in the third case. The gayest portion of this case is the upper division. The visiter will be first attracted by two splendid specimens of the shell of the pearl oyster, the surfaces of which are carved after the peculiar fashion of the Chinese. On one of them there is a bee, ingeniously wrought out of gold wire, a novel and brilliant imitation of that useful insect. There are several strings of beads, of odoriferous wood, some of them tastefully enclosed in sewing silk. These are much esteemed in China, and are worn by both sexes. We have also in this case, two neat hand mirrors, with carved ivory backs; several groups of figures in ivory of men and animals; two handsome chop-stick cases, with their appropriate contents; besides a variety of other articles peculiar to the country. But the most graceful of these unique ornaments, are certain specimens of filagree fruit, made of silver wire, attenuated to the last degree of fineness. The patience and skill evinced in them, and their delicate beauty, elicit the highest admiration. A characteristic apparatus remains to be signalized and explained. It consists of a silver tooth-pick, ear-pick, and tongue-scraper, worn in the girdle around the waist, to which it is attached by means of a chain of the same material. The lower section of the third case is taken up with a fanning-mill, which bears a close resemblance to those in use among us. The other two divisions contain snuffbottles, of various patterns and materials; elegant silken pocket-books, some of them in shape much like a lady's reticule ; tobacco and other pouches; a cylindrical penholder, made of the bark of a tree; specimens of the Chinese cash,” the only coin they have ; a pair of spectacles, with their silken case; together with stands, carved images, &c. &c. There is likewise what the Chinese call a suan-pan,—calculating-dish,_“having balls of wood strung upon wires in separate columns, of which one column represents units, with a decimal increase and diminution to the left and right, as in our system of enumeration. Each ball above the longitudinal division of the board represents five, and each below it stands for one. In arithmetical operations, the above machine is always used.”*
* Eight of them are about equal to our cent. They have a square hole in the middle, and are carried on strings.
XV. Siarth Wall Case.
This case contains several highly interesting figures; viz: two priests; a gentleman in mourning apparel; his servant; and, in the back ground, two women of the middling classes, with a little boy. The figure on the visiter's left is a priest of Budha, or Fo. He is in full canonicals, consisting of a loose robe of dark-coloured silk, over which is thrown a sort of surplice, made of yellow gauze linen. His entire head is shorn, but the top of it is covered with a ring-like cap. To the right of the Budhist is a priest of the Taou sect, also fully apparelled. Over loose trowsers of some dark-coloured stuff, he wears a gown of yellow crape, variously ornamented on the breast. His head is also shaved, except a small spot just back of the crown. The hair is not braided into a cue, but done up in a bunch, and confined, by means of bodkins, within a kind of wooden case. Each has an enormous rosary about the neck, with a smaller one in his hand.
The two sects whose ministers are thus represented, are, properly speaking, the only religious sects in China. There is, indeed, a third—the Confucian—but its doctrines constitute a system rather of philosophy than of theology. It has no priesthood but the Emperor and his civil mandarins, no temples, and no regular worship. The Taou, or Rational, religion, is indigenous in China. Laoutze, the founder of the sect, has been called the Epicurus of China; and, in some points, there would seem to be a resemblance between the doctrines of the Chinese sage and the Grecian philosopher. The intelligible part of his system consists in the inculcation of a contempt of riches, fame, pleasure, and all worldly distinctions. He placed the chief good in tranquillity and self-enjoyment. Along with these dogmas, there is mixed up much that is mystical, puerile, and silly. The priests of the Taou sect pretend to a knowledge of alchymy, practice magic, and seem, in fact, to be a set of mere cheats and jugglers. Budhism, or the worship of Fo, was imported from India about the middle of the first century of our era. With the exception of Christianity and Mohammedanism, this religion is more widely disseminated than any other. It prevails in Thibet, Siam, Ava, Tartary, Japan, CochinChina, and, to a considerable extent, in China Proper. The leading dogma of the Budhists is the metempsychosis; and the consummation of felicity held out to devotees, is annihilation. Their five principal moral rules are—1. Do not kill any living creature. 2. Do not marry. 3. Do not steal. 4. Speak not falsely. 5. Drink no wine.—The priests of this sect live in a kind of monasteries, connected with the temple of Fo, practise celibacy, fast, pray for the souls of the dead, use holy water, count beads in saying their prayers, worship relics, and pray in an unknown tongue. The Budhists, and many of the Chinese not belonging to this sect, keep what may be called an account current with heaven, upon a system of double entry. Every good act is set down at so much on the credit side; every bad one, at an established valuation, on the debtor side; and the books are balanced, like other account books, annually. This Sect does not flourish under the present dynasty. Its minis