d. 1894 Terrien de Lacouperie.

The children of China. Written for the children of England online

. (page 6 of 18)
Online Libraryd. 1894 Terrien de LacouperieThe children of China. Written for the children of England → online text (page 6 of 18)
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to have a tail which reaches to the ankles. When Chinamen are
in mourning they allow^ their hair to grow all over their heads.

One way of punishing thieves is to cut off their pig-tails,
which is considered a great disgrace. When labouring men go
to their w^ork they often bind tlieir plaits round their heads and
tie them up to get them out of the way.




Some of the ladies do their hair in a veiy wonderful way ;
sometimes it is all drawn np to the top of the head and arranged
to imitate a vase of flowers, or a hird with its wings stretched
out, or the handle of a teapot. They use the gum of a particula/i'
tree instead of pomade, and this helps to keep the hair in the
shape in wdiich it is arranged. It takes a great many hours to
do a lady's hair in this way.

Chinese ladies w^onld often be pretty if it were not for their
pinched feet, and for another silty practice they have of painting
their faces red and white. They cut their eyebrow^s too, when
they are young, till they are only a fine, curved line, wdiicji
they compare to a new moon, or to a young willow leaf. ^



OW that yon know a little what the people of China look
like, yon will want to know what clothes they wear.
They have some funny ways about dress too, as they
liave ahout most other things ; at least they are funuy
to us. I expect our ways are just as funny to them.
If you were to see a Chinaman first in the summer,
and then in the winter, you would think he had grown stont very
quickly, but when the next summer came he would look thin
again. The reason of tliis is, that in China people do not have
fires in their houses to keep them wann, as we do in England ;
instead of that, the colder it gets, the more clothes tliey_. wear,
putting on several pairs of trousers, one over another, and a_good
many jackets ; the richer people hue their clothes with fur in the

Another difference between summer and winter dress, is in the
gentlemen's hats. Tn the summer they wear a poiuted cap made
of bamboo or straw with the ball on the top which shows their
office, and a fringe of silk or horse-hair, hanging from the place
where the ball is fastened on. The winter cap fits closer to the
head, and has a turned-up brim all rounrl, made of black velvet or
fur, with the ball and fringe the same as in the summer cap.
~ As soon as the hot or cold weather begins, the greatest man in
the province changes his cap ; then it is put in the newspapers
that he has done it, and every man wlio is working for the



goveruijient changes liis cap too ; but tliey always wait i(n" the
chief man to set them the example.

In Slimmer the gentlemen wear a long loose gown of silk or
gauze or linen, very loose in the neck and sleeves : when they are
in full dress, this robe is fastened in with a silk girdle ; hanging
from this there is often a sheath worked in silk containing a fan —
for gentlemen use fans in China as well as ladies — and a small
leather bag in which are a piece of flint and a little bit of steel for
lighting a pipe ; the tobacco is kept in an embroidered pouch.

In winter they wear long, loose trousers, fastened round the
ankles, a long dress of silk or crape, reaching nearly to the feet.




and over that a jacket with large sleeves, reaching only as far as
the hips: this jacket is often made of fur. In summer the neck is
generally left bare, while in winter it is covered with a collar of
silk or fur. The dresses always fold over to the right breast, and
are often fastened from top to bottom with buttons.

The working men wear loose cotton trousers, tied round the
waist, and a loose shirt or smock, generally blue or black. Their
hats are very broad, like umbrellas, and ai'e made of banjboo, but in
winter they wear felt caT)s. In rainy weather they have water-
proof cloaks, but instead of being made of cloth, they are of reeds,
like the thatch of a cottage, from which the water runs off in




All who can afford them wear stockings of cotton or silk, or
sometimes of cloth in very cold weather. The poorest kind of
shoes are made of straw, and only cover the sole ; t^iey are fastened


to the foot with a straw^ band. The coolies generally wear shoes of
this kind. Another kind, a little better than these, are made of
rushes, sometimes mixed wdth coarse cotton : these are worn by



the men that wander about from place to place, selling then- goods.
The next best are made of dark calico, and the toes are trimmed



with pieces of cotton velvet ; the richer people wear satin shoes,
with the toes embroidered in silk.

All men's boots are made with ver}' thick soles, and when


tliey want to liave them cleaned they have the sides of the
soles rubhed witli wliitmg, so they wliiten their boots instead of
blacking them : that is one of the many things in which the
Chinese do just opposite to the way we do. Ladies gene-
rally wear socks, and gentlemen stockings ; that is backwards
again, isn't it ? Some of the children's shoes are made of l)rown
or pnrple calico bound with red, and worked on the toes with
colonred silk ; the soles are made of pieces of coarse cloth stitched
together. The richer children wear shoes of scarlet satin, and
on the toes the}?^ have ej'es and ears, to make them look like tigers'
heads. In the summer they sometimes wear shoes made of fine
open rush work, with a bright coloured lining showing through,
and the toes are worked with little pieces of velvet and gold thread
to imitate butterflies. These shoes will not cost very much, as
they are only three inches long. Ladies' feet are called "golden
lilies " in China, if the}^ are very small.

All these shoes are made for dry weather ; when it is wet
"rain shoes " are worn, made of leather, raised about half an inch
from the ground on iron pegs ; the poor people's rain shoes are
sometimes made with wooden soles an inch thick.

When boots and shoes want mending, they are not sent to
the shoemaker, but kept until a cobbler passes by, and he sits near
the house and mends them, just as you have seen men sharpening
knives in the street in England.

■^ One thing that is very seldom seen in Chinese dress is white
linen. This is true of other things as well as of clothes, for there
are no sheets and no table-cloths ; but people in mourning dress
all in white or else in blue, just as we in England dr-^ss all in

The skins of nearly all animals in China are made into clothes ;
sheep, cats, dogs, goats, squirrels, rats, and mice, so that many
winter dresses are made of fur. Expensive fur dresses are handed
down from father to son, for there are no changes of fashion in

^^^^^ C-^ ^1 IK


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Online Libraryd. 1894 Terrien de LacouperieThe children of China. Written for the children of England → online text (page 6 of 18)