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Tibet is known as the land of the lamas, or priests. These lamas control extensive tracts of land and hold a great power over the people.
Although by faith the lamas are men of peace, they are always prepared for war. The home of the lamas is called a lamasery, and it is fortified like an armed camp.
The Tibetans are a superstitious people and have faith in many curious ceremonies. Praying wheels are to be seen everywhere - many of the people carrying them in their hands and turning them rapidly all the while. These prayer wheels are even fastened to the roofs of houses that every passing breeze may help to turn out more prayers for these strange people.
The city of Lassa is the capital and the principal market of Tibet. Chinese traders come here every year bringing silks, carpets, and hardware.
The lamas are so jealous of foreigners that it is often very difficult to carry on trade with them. The Tibetans are fond of tea, and the English merchants of India are anxious to supply them ; but, owing to the suspicion and animosity of the people, difficulties are constantly arising to prevent the rapid growth of the trade.
Lassa has been visited by only two or three Europeans, so jealously is it guarded against all foreigners.
The time will soon come, it is believed, when the Chinese government will withdraw all opposition to travelers entering Tibet. When the country has been fully explored, and the sacred city of the lamas visited, it will not be found so great a land of mystery as it has
been imagined to be. Few travelers will then care to visit the country and endure the difficulties of such a trip; but traders, always alert for new markets, will do much to arouse and enlighten the people of Tibet to the advantages of trade with other nations. This will be the first step toward the fuller development and civilization of these people.
THREE PRODUCTS OF CHINA.
“ CHINA without the bamboo would not be China," some one has said. When we see in what a variety of ways the bamboo enters into the daily life of every Chinaman, whether he be prince or peasant, we realize the truth of this statement.
Bamboo grows in nearly every part of the empire.
From it is derived food and shelter for thousands. An inestimable number of things, from fishing rods to houses, are manufactured of bamboo. The little composition which follows was written by a Chinese boy, and in it he tells, quite fully, of the almost countless uses of this precious grass:
“We have a bamboo hedge in our grounds, and nothing could be prettier. I am writing with a bamboo-handled pencil, and I have seen boats with bamboo masts. On the whole, the bamboo is one of the most precious possessions of China. Its tapering stalks sup
ply joists for houses, ribs for sails, shafts for spears, tubes and buckets for water, fishing rods, and the handles and ribs of our fans; and the great bamboo,
split, makes a most excellent roof. In a freshly cut bamboo, so full is it of moisture, flowers can be sent long distances. Middling-sized bamboos make neat bottles. Indeed, one can have all sizes of bottles. From the roots of the bamboo are carved children's toys and canes for the aged and infirm; and its leaves, sewed upon strings, form a snug rain cloak for the traveler and farmer, while the poor man can use them to thatch his house. Rafts are made of the bamboo, baskets are woven of it, and the stout twisted boat cable and the soft mat are alike woven of it.
“Not only does the wise Chinaman write out his heaven-given thoughts with a bamboo-handled pencil, but he sits in a bamboo chair, at a bamboo table, and he may rest himself in the heat of the day beneath the shade of bamboos, a bamboo hat upon his head. At dinner he may eat the soft and succulent young shoots of the bamboo stewed with rice, or as pickles, with bamboo chopsticks, and, untying the bamboo strings that close the porcelain jar, regale himself with bamboo preserves.
Boys who are permitted can accompany their songs with bamboo clappers. (I never had a pair of these delightful instruments, for my honorable father would not permit me to make such noise.) Schoolmasters punish careless or mischievous pupils with the bamboo. (I never had to suffer blows: Mo-Me has a kind heart; then, stripes will not make a dull boy clever.) The carpenter putting up a bamboo fence or shed uses a bamboo rule. The druggist pours out all his medicines into a bamboo measuring cup, and he and the mer
chant use a bamboo abacus to help them add up their accounts. The cook blows his fire with a bamboo bellows, and old gentlemen keep their pet birds in bamboo cages.
“My honorable father once said that silkworms' eggs are sent out of our land of flowers to the people on the edges of the earth in boxes of bamboo; and I have a bow and arrows of bamboo, while I have seen old FunBan, who shaves men in the streets, whetting up his razor on a bamboo strop. There are many other uses for this Lord of all the Reeds, which is too beautiful and useful for a boy like me to describe fully. But when, like our honorable cousin Hi-Wang, I have gone all about the edges of the world in a fire junk, and have seen all sorts of strange sights and strange people, I ask nothing better than to come back home and sit under the shade of a bamboo veranda, and, when my life shall be accomplished, to ascend the sky from a bamboo bed."
For thousands of years the tea plant has been known and valued in China. Its cultivation has been one of the most important industries of the people; and, since the Chinese have been engaged in commerce with foreign nations, the tea trade is one of their great sources of income.
The tea plant is an evergreen shrub, and frequently grows to a height of six or eight feet. It flourishes best in a warm, moist climate. The tea plant is grown from the seed, and its culture gives employment to large numbers of Chinese laborers.