« PreviousContinue »
to the Altaic ridge on the north, and from Belur Tag on the west, to the Changai chain on the east, a distance of 1400 miles. A considerable part of this consists of barren land, called the deserts of Cobi and Shamo, which are destitute of water and plants, with the exception of a few spots, and can be travelled only with camels. - 701. Rivers and Lakes. The chief river in Chinese Tartary is the Amur, which has its sources east of the Yoblonnoy mountains, and running easterly enters the Pacific Ocean, after a course of 1850 miles. This large river receives numerous other streams, in the country of the Mandshurs. In this tere ritory also are the sources of the Irtish, the Ob, and the Yenessee, which have been described. This country contains also the large lakes of Tengis and Zainan, each 150 miles in length, and the Lop, which receives the large river Yarkand. The Tengis, or Balkash, receives the Ili, a considerable river, celebrated in Tartaric history.
702. General View of the Inhabitants. This vast coun, try is thinly peopled, containing from 4 to 6 millions of inhabitants, who are of different tribes. The three prine cipal nations, the Mandshurs, Monguls and Tartars, have distinct languages. The most prevalent religion is Shamanism. The nations are now governed by princes who acknowledge the Chinese emperor as their sove. reign. Writing is not unknown among the Monguls, but they are very illiterate. There are some cities and towns, but not of great magnitude. Agriculture is at tended to in the southern parts, and some trade in gin, seng, and pearls found in the rivers, is carried on by the Mandshurs with China and the Russians. Excellent horses are also among their exports.
TIBET, 703. Situation and Extent. Between Hindioostan and Tartary lies Tibet, a country little known to Europeans, It extends from the 75th to the folst degree of east longitude, or about 1400 miles in length ; and from the 37th to the 35th degree of north latitude, or about 450 miles in bredth. The population of this region
is not ascertained, but it is said the country is thinly in. habited.
704. Mountains and Rivers. Tibet contains great chains of mountains, which are said to be high, and covered with snow, but they are imperfectly described. From the Hamala mountains, in the south west of Tibet, proceed the head streams of the Ganges and Burhampooter, the two great rivers which water Hindoostan. The Sampoo, which is the name of the head stream of the Burhampooter, has its sources on the north of the chain, and running south east about 1000 miles, bends to the south west, and after a course of 400 miles further, unites with the Ganges in an estuary. The two great Chinese vivers, the Hoan-ho and Kian-ku, both have their sources in Tibet, as does the Japanese, a large river of Cambodia, and the Irrawady of Birman.
705. Lakes and Forests. Tibet, like other mountainous inland countries, contains many lakes, one of which, the Terkiri, is said to be 80 miles in length, and 25 in bredth. In this country is a singular narrow lake of about 6 miles wide, in the form of a trench, surrounding an island of 12 miles in diameter. Here also is the lake which yields the tincal, or crude borax. Tibet contains large forests, especially Bootan, and its lofty mountainous situation renders it a cool country for its latitude.
706. Minerals and Animals. Tibet produces gold in abundance, iron, copper, lead and rock salt. The crude borax of that country is found in the bed of a lake, in shallow water, near the sides, and the cavities made by digging it are soon filled with the same substance. In deep water of the same lake is found rock salt. The lake is about 20 miles in length, and froze several months in the year. The animals of Tibet present a few singuJarities. The horses and cattle are said to be small, and ihe small breed of cattle called yak are covered with a chick long hair, with a long glossy tail, which is used in families to drive away flies. They do not low, like other cattle, but manifest uneasiness by a grunting sound. Tibet produces goats with a fine hair, which is made into shawls; and the musk deer, which has two tusks curving from his upper jaw, to dig roots for food ;' and near the navel of the male is a sack which contains. the musk of our shops.. · 707. Religion and Government. The Tibetans are the followers of the Lama, the sovereign pontiff of Asiatic Tartary. This personage, who is called the priest of priests, is seen only in a secret apartment of his palace, sitting cross-legged on a cushion, adorned with gold and precious stones. The religion bears a great affinity to that of Hindoostan, which is idolatry. The principal idol is Mahamoonie, which seems to be the same as the Budha of Bengal, and the Fohi of China. The Tibetans hold the waters of the Ganges in great veneration, and loads of it are carried over mountains on men's shoulders. · This country is under the dominion of China, but the principal authority is exercised by the lama, or spiritual chief.
708. Population, Character and Manners. The population of Tibet is not ascertained, but the climate being cold, and the country mountainous, the inhabitants are supposed not to be numerous. In person they are said to resemble the Chinese and other Tartar races, and they are represented by travellers as mild and peaceable. When the lama dies, it is believed that his spirit passes into his successor, tho an infant. His body is preserved in a shrine, but the bodies of other priests are burnt. The bodies of common people are exposed to beasts and birds of prey, and an annual festival is held in honor of the dead. Marriages are preceded by a feast of three days ; mutual consent is the only bond of union ; but what is singular, females are indulged in a plurality of husbands.
709. General View of the Tibetans. The language of Tibet is said to be the same as that of the western provinces of China, but we have no correct information on the subject. The country contains few large towns. Lassa, the capital, is nearly in the center, on a spacious plain, with houses of stone. About 7 miles east of this city is the mountain of Putela, on which is the palace of the Lama. The monasteries, inhabited by gylangs or . monks, are numerous, and many of them edifices of re
spectable architecture. The worship of the Tibetans is performed in chapels or temples, where great numbers assemble, and chant their service in recitative and cho. rus, accompanied with a band of music... '710. Trade and Manufactures. The Tibetans are said not to be an industrious people. The principal manufactures are that of shawls from goat's hair, and some woollen cloths. The exports of this country are chiefly gold dust, diamonds, pearls, coral, lamb skins, and musk, which are sent to China. To Bengal, through Nipal, are exported gold dust, tincal and musk. The same cominodities and rock salt are sent to Nipal ; and from Bengal, Tibet receives broadcloths, spices, trinke ets, and some valuable stones; and from China it res ceives tea, which is a considerable article of consumption.
JAPAN. · 711. Situation and Extent. The empire of Japan consists of several islands in the Pacific, not far from the coast of Asia, and eastward of China. It extends from the 30th to the 41st degree of north latitude, in the direction of north east and south west, and in length is little less than 1000 miles. The three principal islands are Nipon, Kusiu and Sikof. Nipon is 750 miles in length, and from 80 to 150 miles in bredth. The other islands on the south west are smaller. On the north is Jesso, a large island, sometimes considered as a part of the Japanese empire, but the inhabitants are savage, . 712. General Description of Japan Japan is much diversified with mountains, hills and plains, but being extremely populous, like China, every spot of earth is cultivated. The number of inhabitants is not known, but by comparing it with China, it must amount to 30 Inillions. The precious metals are found in great abun. dance in Japan ; and the climate being hot, the tropical fruits are produced in great perfection. The quadrupeds are few, there being no sheep nor goats, the want of wool being supplied by silk and cotton. Few horses are seen, and fewer cattle, as the Japanese eat neither
their flesh nor milk, but fish, fowl and vegetables. The rivers are small, and the hills are covered with cultivated plants. The camphor and varnish trees, the vine, cedar, tea tree and bamboo grow wild in Japan, and are planted also for various uses.
713. Japanese. The Japanese are evidently of the same race as the Chinese and Tartars, but their language has become different. Their religion is polytheism; they worship in temples, where no idols are to be seen, tho they are said to keep small idols in boxes. Christianity was introduced in the 16th century by the Jesuits, but their pride and avarice, which made them aspire to the councils of the empire, occasioned them to be inassacred or expelled. The government was formerly in the hands of pontiffs, or spiritual monarchs, but is now in the hands of the kubo, or secular monarch. The laws are represented by travellers as salutary, crimes and punishments few, and the police excellent.
714. Manners and Customs. The Japanese are a highly civilized people. The ceremony of marriage is performed at an altar, the bride lighting a torch, by which the bridegroom lights another. The wife is subject to the absolute control of the husband, by which domestic tranquility is insured. The bodies of distinguished persons are burnt after death, but those of common persons are buried, and periodical visits are made to the tombs, besides a festival in honor of the dead. Rice is the principal food ; a liquor made of rice is the chief drink; wine and ardent spirits are unknown. The houses in Japan are of wood painted white, and no more than two stories high. The apartments are all separated by moveable partitions, which slide in grooves. The Japanese use neither chairs nor tables, but sit on mats, with their food in a wooden bowl. Their dress consists of trowsers, and a loose gown or robe, fastened by a girdle. The top of the head is shaved, and the hair of the sides tied over the top. Stockings are not used, and shoes are made of rice straw.
715. Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. The Japanese cultivate literature and the useful arts. They print in the same manner as the Chinese, and are excellent