A Canton Coolie

A Canton Coolie.

A Wheelbarrow For Freight

A Wheelbarrow For Freight.

One Of The Broadest Streets

One Of The Broadest Streets.

Chinese Tea   Pickers

Chinese Tea - Pickers.

Chinese Merchants Drinking Tea

Chinese Merchants Drinking Tea.

On entering some of the shops that line these passageways, I was astonished at the contrast they presented to the streets themselves. The latter are at times no more than four feet wide. Not so the shops. Many of them have a depth of eighty feet, and in the centre are entirely open to the roof. In the corner of each is placed a little shrine. A gallery extends around the second story, and on that floor, or in the rear of the building, the owners live. Some of these shops are handsomely adorned with fine wood-carving and bronze lamps, and on the shelves is stored a great variety of goods, frequently including articles as dissimilar as silk and cotton fabrics, fans, jewelry, umbrellas, Waterbury clocks, and Chinese shoes.

Among these shops we saw a building used partly as a temple and partly as the Guild Hall for the Canton silk merchants. Guilds, or trade-unions, have existed here for centuries. They permeate every branch of Chinese industry, legal and illegal. Even the thieves form themselves into a guild, and I suppose there is "honor" among them. The origin of these unions is partly due to unjust taxation. Canton contains a vast amount of wealth, but those possessing it are careful to conceal all trace of any superabundance. On this account disputes between the various guilds are settled by arbitration. To allow their affairs to go into court would show too plainly to the tax-collectors their financial status. Accordingly litigation is almost unknown. Moreover, when a case is settled by arbitration, the losing party not only pays the disputed sum, but is obliged to give a supper to the victor.

Hall In A Chinese House

Hall In A Chinese House.

A Chinese Bed And Furniture

A Chinese Bed And Furniture.

In another building that we passed I saw a curious ceremony, which Ah Cum explained as that of three Buddhist priests who were clearing a house of evil spirits. It appears that, two weeks before, a man had committed suicide on the premises, in order to avenge himself on the proprietor. For in China a man, instead of killing his enemy, sometimes kills himself, the motive being a desire that the hated one shall be regarded as responsible for his death, and be pursued by evil spirits here and in the world to come. To be annoyed by ghosts must be exceedingly unpleasant, but, on the whole, I hope that all my enemies will try the Chinese method.

Occasionally we discovered in these streets an itinerant barber. These Chinese Figaros carry their outfits with them. First in importance comes a bamboo pole, which is the immemorial badge of their profession. To this is usually attached one solitary towel, - free to every customer. From one extremity of this pole hangs a small brass basin, together with a charcoal stove for heating water; the other end is balanced by a wooden cabinet, which serves the patient as a seat during the operation, and contains razors, lancets, tweezers, files, and other surgical instruments.

Exorcising Spirits

Exorcising Spirits.

Lady And Maid

Lady And Maid.

It matters not where one of these tonsorial artists practises his surgery. A temple court, a flight of steps, a street, or a back-yard, are quite the same to him. He takes his queue where he can find it. One of his commonest duties is to braid that customary appendage to a Chinaman's head, without which he would be despised. It is comical to estimate the thousands of miles of Chinese queues which even one barber twists in the course of his career - enough, if tied together, end to end, to form a cable between Europe and America. Yet this singular style of hair-dressing (now so universal) was introduced into China only two hundred and fifty years ago. Before that time the Chinese wore full heads of hair, and the present fashion of shaved crowns and twisted queues is of Tartar origin, and was imposed by a conquering dynasty as a badge of servitude. The wearing of a mustache in China is an indication that he whose face it adorns is a grandfather. In fact, until he is forty-five years old, a Chinaman usually shaves his face completely; but this fact does not prove that after that time he can dispense with the services of a barber. For the tonsorial art in China is exceedingly varied; and Chinese barbers not only braid the queue; they also shave the eyebrows, clean the ears, pull teeth, and massage. Moreover, they scrape the inside of their victim's eyelids - a custom which is believed by foreigners to be the cause of much of the ophthalmia in China.