Ethlyn T Clough.

Oriental life : an account of past and contemporary conditions and progress in Asia, excepting, China, India and Japan online

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Oriental Life



Edited and Arranged by


Published by the





Copyrighted 1910



MAR 1 1955


WHILE China, Japan, and India are occupying
more of the attention of the world than any
other of the Asiatic countries, a study of that vast
continent would be incomplete without some knowledge
of those borderlands we have come to designate as the
Near East. Besides, this knowledge is necessary to
those who desire to keep abreast of the forward march
of the nations.

It is no longer sufficient that we become acquainted
with Our Own Country and its advancement, for uni-
versal brotherhood is making its demands upon us, and
America is playing no small part in the modernization
of the East. The old familiar cry that has rung down
the centuries, Come over into Macedonia and help us,
is wafted across the seas to-day. It behooves every
Christian nation to foster and aid this universal desire
for the "federation of the world." Once the patriotic
ideal was all-sufficient ; now the farther we remove
ourselves from the ideal of patriotism to merge our-
selves into that higher ideal of universal peace and
freedom, the better it will be for us as individuals, the
better will it be for us as a nation.

To help, we must understand ; to understand, we
must know something of the life and customs of these
peoples who are struggling to free themselves from the
bondage of centuries of slavery and misrule — slavery
to destructive customs and institutions; misrule under

8724 9G


the grasping - and oppressive monarchs of conquering

The regeneration of Turkey and Persia; the won-
derful resources of Burma and Ceylon being devel-
oped under beneficent British rule, are themes to-day
of world-wide interest. In studying the civilizations
of Asia, it is our desire that Bay View students famil-
iarize themselves with some of the salient features in
the life of these lesser countries of the Orient ; and,
since no condensed volume of information is to be
had, we have, as heretofore, prepared one from the
best and latest authorities. This work by no means
exhausts the subjects handled, but it gives an insight
into the manners and customs of hitherto practically
unknown peoples, and sets forth their needs and their
future possibilities. As in previous volumes, the chap-
ters have been gathered from reliable sources, and a
key-letter at the end of each chapter refers the reader
to a page at the close of the book where due credit is
given. These chapters are not all of them presented
just as the writers themselves prepared them. Many
of them have been corrected from recent statistics and
brought down to date ; some have been amplified, and
all of them have been edited and connected with origi-
nal paragraphs to bring about a running narrative.
If the volume proves interesting and informing, and
inspires the desire to know more about and do some-
thing for these nations knocking at the door of West-
ern Civilization, its mission will have been fulfilled.

Ethlyn T. Clough.



The Iranians and Their Country 14

The Royal Family and Persian Government 26

Persia under a Constitution 38

Manners and Customs of the Persians 50

Early History of the Ottomans 61

The Regeneration of Turkey 74


What American Education Is Doing for

Turkey 87


The Future of the Ottoman Empire 98


Arabia, the Center of the Muslem World. . 109





The Arabs, Their Manners and Customs 120

The Golden Land of Burma 136

The Development of Burma 146

The Land of Poetry and Romance 155

The Development and Resources of Ceylon. . 169

The Hermit Nation and Her People 183

A Vanishing Empire 195

Oriental Life



h \ S far as the East is from the West," is the
.r\. simile that the Psalmist used in likening how
far from the repentant transgressor his sins might be
removed from him, and the simile, in a way, would
hold good to-day. The real East, its people, its reli-
gions, its customs, and we might almost say its geo-
graphical position and physical conditions, are known
to but few. A mighty gulf separates the East from
the West ; the busy throbbing centers of the West take
little note of the things that do not lie near at hand,
and the call of the East comes for the most part un-
heeded across the waste. One of the chief charms to
the student of these comparatively unknown lands is
that subtle something that forever separates the Orien-
tal from the Occidental. It is not so much that they
differ from us in the manners and customs of life, in
religion, education, government, in the clothes we wear,
the food we eat, the houses we live in, and our meth-
ods of work and play, although the difference in these
things is great, but there is something deeper even than
these differences. There is a separation in life and



spirit that does not permit the Oriental or the Occi-
dental to understand one another or to interpret aright
the life of each other. One who has lived long in the
East has said that none of us know these people ; that
we do not understand their purposes nor their feelings,
and perhaps Kipling had true insight into the problem
when he sang —

Oh, East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall

Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God's great Judgment


We used to think of the East as those classic lands
lying just across the border of Europe ; the lands from
which we had our religion and the home of the Moham-
medan power. India was the far background for these
countries, and we had but little interest in her ; while
China and Japan were heathen lands for missionaries
to Christianize. To-day we have the Near East and
the. Far East. To the latter belong those heretofore
heathen lands, China, Japan, and India ; while Persia,
Turkey, and Arabia are but the outskirts of empire
and constitute a portion of the Near East. It is to
these latter countries in conjunction with Burma, Cey-
lon, and Korea that we shall devote these few brief
chapters on Oriental Life.

A great deal of time and energy has been given
during the last seventy-five years to the discovery of
the East, and with what vast results is well-known.
Christian missionaries were pioneers in the movement.
Theirs was the entering wedge that made an opening


later for trade and diplomatic relations, until the high
civilization of the powerful nations of the West came
like an overwhelming flood, bringing new life to the
East. Bringing better methods of education, better
methods of business, more enlightened forms of gov-
ernment, and purer social ethics. We are quite conver-
sant with the transformation these things have worked
in China and Japan, but how have they penetrated and
influenced the countries we are considering?

The changes have not been so perceptible, or, pos-
sibly, we have been so engrossed with the affairs of the
Far East that we have been oblivious to the important
events that have been shaping themselves in these bor-
derlands of empire. Very few understand at all ade-
quately what a change has taken place in Turkey.
In 1907, within the course of a few weeks and with
but a minimum of bloodshed, Turkey passed from the
most absolute despotism to being one of the freest
countries in the world, and the people have given them-
selves up to enjoying their newly acquired freedom to
the utmost. This revolution was brought about by the
organization known as the Young Turks, and wisely
are they dealing with the various problems that have
naturally arisen. Turkish women have taken a large
part in the work of the Young Turks by preparing the
people and the army for the change, and now they arc
demanding their share in the progress that is abroad
in the land. They claim for themselves all that they
see of good in European and American homes. They
ask to be educated so that they can train their children


aright and make the homes of their husbands well-
ordered and happy, and they demand admission into
useful employment for women as in other lands.

Persia has not been a stranger to political evolution
for some time past, and the Constitution granted and
the Parliament formed in 1907 were only the cumula^
tive expression of the evolution that had been long
under way in the ancient monarchy of the Arcfae-
menians and of the Sassanides. England and Russia
had long been competing for political and commercial
supremacy in Persia, and Russia had seemingly won
in the struggle. By the Bagdad Railway, a concession
secured from the Turkish Government in 1902, and
through various institutions established by her sub^
jects in Teheran, Germany gained a foothold in Persia.
These facts, however, did not modify our impression
of Persia as a country of corrupt and brutal satraps,
where offices were sold to the highest bidder, where
men and women were sold for unpaid taxes, and where
the bastinado still held sway. We caught a glimpse
now and then in the columns of our mission papers of
the religious fermentation going on in Persia. The
American missionaries have called our attention to the
rapid spread of Babbism and have interpreted the latter
as a drifting of the Persian masses from Mohammed-
ism toward Christianity. Intelligent Persians, how-
ever, would scarcely accept this as the true interpreta- 1
tion, since the doctrines of that sect would indicate that
Babbism is a pantheism permeated by gnostic and com-
munistic elements. But whatever Babbism may be,


we should accord due credit to the American and Eng-
lish mission schools for their valuable contribution to
the modernization of Persia. The new elementary
schools are modeled after the American schools.

The modernization of Arabia is not so apparent as
that of other countries in the Near East, perhaps be-
cause she has not been so willing to partake of and
assimilate the culture of the West that has flowed to
her very doors. That Arabia is the stronghold of
Islamism is, too, one of the causes of her failure to
keep pace with the forward march of civilization. We
read of frequent uprisings of the Arabians against the
Turks, their rulers, and occasionally fortune seems to
favor their arms, but it is doubtfui if ever they prevail
against the stronger nation, for the unequipped and
ill-drilled Arab fanatics can hardly make a stand be-
fore the Turkish army with its well-drilled soldiers and
its Mauser muskets and Krupp guns. Nevertheless,
the Arabs will never submit complacently to the Turks,
for the former are intensely proud of their nationality
from which sprang the Prophet, and they look upon
their language as the most refined of tongues, used
by even the angels in Heaven. They regard the Turk
as inferior and indebted to Arabian civilization for
everything, and they hate and despise their foreign
ruler. On account of these conditions there will not be
much of modern progress to study in Arabia, but many
things of historical interest and many things of charm
will be found to make pleasant and profitable the study
of this land of ancient culture.


In Burma, the Cinderella of the Indian Provinces,
we will find many changes in the past fifteen years.
Rapid progress has been made along industrial lines,
and her commerce has become of great importance
and is constantly increasing. The mingling of the old
with the new order of things is seen here as perhaps
nowhere else. We invariably associate Burma with
India, and by some it is called Far India ; but it was
not until 1886 that she was annexed as a whole to the
Indian Empire. Since then she has developed rapidly,
and how she has done this is a most interesting story
and one that will be followed with eager attention.
Burma has her own local government, being elevated
to a Lieutenant Governorship in 1897. The story of
her people, her rice-fields, her forests, her railways,
her ruby mines, her religions, reads like a romance,
and it is little wonder that she came long ago to
be called the marvelous "Land of Gold."

More marvelous still than Burma is the Island of
Ceylon. At a period not very remote Ceylon was
little more than a vague image of poetry or romance.
Now it has become an important reality to the mer-
chant, the traveler, and the student of ancient civili-
zation and religion. Those who have had the most,
extensive experience of East and West regard Ceylon
as the very gem of the earth. The economic results
due to its situation in the eastern seas, a spot on which
converge the steamships of all nations for coal and for
the exchange of freight and passengers ; its wealth and
diversity of agricultural and mineral products ; the in-


dustry of its inhabitants, both colonists and natives —
these, together with its scenery and the glamour of its
unrivaled remains of antiquity, entitle Ceylon to a
place of high distinction among the dependencies of
the empire.

Last of all in this brief volume, our attention will
be given to Korea, so full of interest for the Christian
world as the center of the great missionary efforts in
Asia. Her inhabitants resemble those of China and
Japan, and though for a number of centuries she was
a dependency of China, she enjoyed an individual
existence under rulers of her own. By a recent treaty
Korea has ceased to be a nation and has become a part
of the Japanese empire. Her willingness to accept the
Christian religion and her great aid in helping to
spread this religion makes her, as stated, of particular
interest to the Western world, and it is some of these
phases of her life that we shall dwell upon more par-

In this outline of what we shall endeavor to develop
in the following chapters, it will be seen how much of
interest there is to be found in the life of these prac-
tically unknown people who inhabit the borderland of
the vast eastern empires. The main object of this
volume is not so much to deal with the mysterious past
of these countries as to give an idea of the present
conditions, and show how western civilization and cul-
ture is influencing and changing the manners and cus-
toms that have their foundation in remote ages.




OF all the mighty empires that have flourished in
the East, that of Persia is undoubtedly one of
the most remarkable and the most celebrated. Endur-
ing through a succession of vicissitudes almost unpar-
alleled for more than two thousand five hundred years
— by turns the prey of foreign enemies and the sport
of internal revolution, yet ever subjected to despotic
rule — alternately elevated to the summit of glory and
prosperity, and plunged into misery and degradation,
— she has, from the earliest period of her existence,
either been the throne of the lords of Western Asia
or the arena on which monarchs have disputed for the
scepter of the East. Poor and comparatively limited
in extent, the more warlike of her sovereigns enriched
themselves and enlarged their dominions by the most
brilliant conquests ; while under timid and peaceful
princes not only did her acquisitions crumble away,
but her own provinces were frequently subdued by
bolder and more rapacious neighbors. Thus her boun-
daries were continually fluctuating with the characters
of her monarchs. It is not our purpose to write the
history of the great Persian empire, but to place before



our readers a description of some of its most remark-
able features. To-day this kingdom occupies the coun-
try within the boundaries of Russia and the Caspian
Sea on the north ; Afghanistan and Beloochistan on
the east ; the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf on
the South, and the Turkish Empire and Mount Ararat
on the west. Its territory extends nine hundred miles
east and west and seven hundred miles from north to
south, and embraces an area of about six hundred and
thirty-eight thousand square miles. It is divided into
thirteen provinces, viz., Ghilan, Mazanderan, Astrabad,
Ardelan, Kauzistan, Pars, Laristan, Kerman, Irak,
Azirbijan, Mekran, Seistan, Kharasan.

In physical contour, Persia consists of an extensive
central plateau, occupying at least three-fourths of the
whole surface ; a series of mountain chains encircling
the plateau on all sides except the east, and an outer
border consisting of gentle slopes, low valleys, and
level plains. The eastern part of the plateau forms
the great deserts of Khorasan and Kerman, and is one
of the most desolate regions of the globe. Although
the plateau is for the most part barren and incapable
of cultivation, along the bases of the mountains and
extending into the plains below are tracts of great
fertility where a rich, varied, and magnificent vegeta-
tion is found.

The fertile and well-watered plains of Persia that
form the outer border of the kingdom produce in great
abundance different kinds of grain, such as wheat,
rice, barley, millet, and maize. In Southern Persia


sugar corn is grown, also cotton, silk, tobacco, and
opium. Ten million pounds of cotton, eight million'
pounds of wool, and over a million dollars' worth of
opium are annually exported. Of the fruits there are
such as grapes, apricots, pears, peaches, almonds, ap-
ples, pomegranates, oranges, lemons, melons, dates,
figs, cherries, plums, nuts of all kinds, garden vegeta-
bles and herbs of every known variety. Flowers, both
cultivated and wild, flourish in beauty and great vari-
ety, and the great forests that fringe the Caspian Sea
are vocal with a variety of those singing birds common
to Europe, including the nightingale, which delights
the ear with its evening song from the thickets of
roses that embellish every Persian garden.

The mineral resources of Persia consist of iron,
lead, copper, mercury, arsenic, sulphur, asbestos, mica,
coal, and manganese. Gold dust is also found in the
Jungari River, and near Rushire in the Naptha
Springs. The pearl fisheries in the Persian Gulf and
the turquois mines in Korassan are the richest in the

The climate of Persia is made up of various varie-
ties. In the north, around the Caspian Sea, it is quite
cold, and in the south, around the Persian Gulf, it is
very hot. "My father's kingdom,'' says the younger
Cyrus to Xenophon, "is so large that people perish
with cold at one extremity while they are suffocated
with heat at the other," — a description the truth of
which can be attested by tourists who have floundered
in the snows of the northern provinces and in a month's


time have gasped for breath on the sands of Dushtis-
tan. On the south side of the northern mountain
ranges the snow commences to fall early in November,
and up to the middle of March ice is seen at Teheran.
Cold winds prevail in April, and even during summer
great and sudden changes of temperature are not un-
common. On the north side of the mountains, in the
plains of Ghilan and Mazanderan, the climate is like
that of a tropical region, in which a dry and a rainy
season regularly alternate, and vegetation has a lux-
uriance not often met with even in lower latitudes.
At the center plateau it is very good, and is pronounced
to be remarkably above that of all other countries for
its purity and dryness.

Persia is rich in the remembrances of Bible history.
Tradition tells us that it was first settled by Elm, son
of Shem, who was the son of Noah. It is supposed
that Cherdorloomor, who lived at the time of Abra-
ham, was one of the early kings. Here we have the
tomb of Daniel the Prophet, and other prominent men
of ancient times. Here also are the sepulchers of
Mordecai and Queen Esther.

Five hundred years before Christ the fire-worship-
ers established their religion, which resulted finally in
Zoroastrianism, and the ashes of their sacred fires,
burning for centuries, have left many hills. Six hun-
dred and fifty years after Christ the Mohammedan and
Arab tribe came and abolished Zoroastrianism. They
taught then, as they still teach, that there is but one
God, creator of heaven and earth, and Mohammed is


His prophet. At the point of the sword the people of
Persia gave up their own religion and embraced that
of the Arabs ; a remnant of them who were faithful
going over into India to continue their chosen worship,
and a few in Persia keeping it up in secret, so that it
has never entirely died out. In the reign of Cyrus
the Great the inhabitants of Persia numbered about
eighty millions. At present they are estimated at about
ten millions, made up of the following nationalities
and sects: Zoroastrians, 15,000; Jews, 15,000; Nes-
torians, 25,000; Armenians, 50,000. The remainder
are all Mohammedans, consisting of Kurds, Arabs, and

The chief cities of Persia are Teheran, the capital ;
Tabreez, Mishid, Ispahan, Yezd, Kermansha, Hama-
don, Urmia, Burfrush, and Kashan. Also in Persia
there are many interesting ruins of ancient populous
and celebrated cities — for example, Persepolis, Shapur,
Istakhar, Shushan, Homadan, etc. The monuments
and inscriptions found at some of these places form a
highly interesting study.

Up to 1907, the government of Persia consisted of
r pure despotism, the King possessing absolute author-
ity over the lives and property of the people. In 1907,
the King, or Shah as he is called, granted the people
a constitution, but already they are tired of it and are
begging him to take it back. This has not been done
as yet, but with the help of his ministers the young
King has somewhat modified the constitution recently.
It is the duty of the King to appoint governors to each


of the States we have previously mentioned. The
standing army consists of two hundred thousand men,,
of which only fifty thousand are well-disciplined in-
fantry, ten thousand artillery, ten thousand irregular
cavalry, and a few thousand irregular infantry and
guards. The officers in the army are, for the most
part, ignorant and inefficient, while the soldiers are
intelligent, sober, obedient, and capable of enduring
great fatigue.

The trade of Persia is nearly all with Europe.
There are no railroads nor wagon roads. The means
of travel is by foot or horseback, on narrow footpaths.
Instead of express, they have burdens carried on the
backs of camels, horses, mules, donkeys, or oxen. Cara-
vans of camels perform the greater part of their jour-
neys bv night. Each caravan is composed of from
one hundred to two hundred camels. These are under
only a few leaders, for camels are very gentle. During
nights while at rest the camels are let loose. Thieves
do not steal them and wild beasts can hardly eat them ;
occasionally, however, thieves cut the straps that bind
the burdens to the camels, roll them down chasms, and
afterwards secure the plunder. The marching caravan
is like the marching of an army, so much tinkling of
bells. When thieves attack a camel, the bells cease
tinkling and the owner knows that something is hap-
pening. The caravans exchange the products of Persia
for muslin, leather, skins, nankeen, china, glass, hard-
ware, dye stuffs, and spices. The great part of the
commerce of Persia centers at Tabreez, to which place


are conveyed all the products of East Persia, Turkis-
tan, Cabul, Beloochistan, and India. European goods
are brought to Tabreez by way of Constantinople and

The foregoing gives some idea of present condi-
tions in Persia, and it may not be uninteresting to give
briefly some of the facts relating to the history of the
ancient kingdom. According to the description of
Persian geographers, when their country was in its
greatest glory, its territory comprehended four seas —
the Caspian Sea, the Black Sea, the Red Sea, and the

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Online LibraryEthlyn T CloughOriental life : an account of past and contemporary conditions and progress in Asia, excepting, China, India and Japan → online text (page 1 of 13)