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Full text of "The domestication of the cormorant in China and Japan"

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M imm 

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IZ05 
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v. /8 3 

Field Museum op Natural History 

Founded by Marshall Field, 1893 

Publication 300 
Anthropological Series Volume XVIII, No. 3 



THE DOMESTICATION OF 
THE CORMORANT IN CHINA AND JAPAN 

BY 

Berthold Laufer 

CURATOR, DEPARTMENT OF ANTHROPOLOGY 






4 Plates in Photogravure 




CHICAGO, U. S. A. 
1931 



Field Museum of Natural History 

Founded by Marshall Field, 1893 

Publication 300 
Anthropological Series Volume XVIII, No. 3 



THE DOMESTICATION OF 
THE CORMORANT IN CHINA AND JAPAN 

BY 

Berthold Laufer 

CURATOR, DEPARTMENT OF ANTHROPOLOGT«" t LID ft Alii Ul I tit 

OCT 8 - 1931 



4 Plates in Photogravure 



UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS. 




CHICAGO, U. S. A. 
1931 



PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 
BY FIELD MUSEUM PRESS 



■3.65 



V. 



IS 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

List of Illustrations 203 

Introduction 205 

Chinese Terminology 208 

Japanese Terminology 211 

Historical Data 212 

Geographical Distribution 227 

Relation of Japanese to Chinese Cormorant Fishing 232 

The Process of Domestication 236 

Relation of Cormorant to Otter Fishing and Egret Taming .... 249 

Iconography 251 

Folk-lore of the Cormorant 255 

Bibliography , 258 

Index 260 



201 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

XIII. White Porcelain Jar, Yung-cheng Period (1723-35). With 

painting in enamel colors of a fisherman carrying two 
cormorants on a bamboo pole. Cat. No. 180387. 
Presented by American Friends of China, Chicago. 

XIV. Cormorant Fisher. Finger-painting by Kao K'i-p'ei. Dated 

1665. 

XV-XVI. Cormorant Fishing on Bamboo Raft on Min River near 
Fuchow, Fu-kien Province. Photographs taken by Mr. 
Floyd Tangier Smith. 

Vignette on page 205. Jade Carving of a Cormorant of the 
Chou Period. Cat. No. 183296. 



203 



THE DOMESTICATION OF THE CORMORANT 
IN CHINA AND JAPAN 




INTRODUCTION 

However much has been written on cormorant fishing 
in China and Japan, beginning with Friar Odoric of 
Pordenone, no one has ever made a serious study of 
the subject, nor has any one ever consulted the Chinese 
sources relating to it. The present study attempts to 
fill this gap. For more than twenty-five years I have 
been interested in the domestications of animals, espe- 
cially in problems as to when, where, how, and why 
domestications originated and developed. In the course of these 
studies when I perused all general books on domestications and a 
great many monographs on specific subjects, I was struck by the 
fact that China and Japan are hardly mentioned in this literature 
and, if so occasionally, data and conclusions are usually wrong. This 
state of affairs should not be allowed to continue. The Chinese have 
preserved a vast amount of interesting material, both in literary 
records and works of art, bearing upon domesticated animals, which 
if properly used and correctly interpreted, is bound to be of great 
service to our science. 

The problem of the domestication of the cormorant is the more 
interesting, as it is a typically and characteristically Chinese domesti- 
cation. Of all nations of the world, the Chinese is the only one 
that has brought the cormorant into a complete and perfect state of 
domestication, the birds propagating and being bred in captivity. 
The fact is the more striking, as the cormorant is a cosmopolitan 
diffused over nearly the entire world, so that other nations had 
the same opportunity, but they did not seize it, nay, probably did 
not even see it. In Japan, the cormorant is semi-domesticated at 
present, but there is a possibility that there also it was truly domesti- 
cated in former ages. Here the interesting problem arises as to the 
relationship of Chinese and Japanese cormorant fishing, and it will 
be seen that it is a complex question which if studied at close range 
is widely different from what at the outset might be expected. 

Dr. Gudger (I and II, consult Bibliography at end) has in recent 
years published two interesting articles on cormorant fishing in China 
and Japan. Being an ichthyologist and primarily interested in 

205 



206 Domestication of the Cormorant 

methods of fishing, he has treated the subject from this point of 
view and in a bibliographical manner. He passes in review, usually 
quoting the text completely, the more important accounts of cor- 
morant fishing extant in European literature from Odoric down to 
recent times. Few of these accounts are of importance, or add 
much to our knowledge of the subject; most of them give surface 
observations of the fishing method, but say little or nothing about 
the cormorant itself. Fortune and Fauvel are praiseworthy excep- 
tions and have given us data of scientific value. The more recent, 
the more stereotyped and duller the accounts of travelers become, 
and it is difficult to judge what is due to their own observations and 
what they copied from their predecessors. In the eighteenth and 
nineteenth centuries when China was merely a cabinet of curiosities 
in the eyes of European readers, cormorant fishing was not allowed 
to be wanting in any book on "China and the Chinese" and held 
its place alongside with birds' nests, dog and cat flesh, crippled feet, 
eunuchs, punishments and tortures. 

Cormorant fishing was practised in Europe as a transient sport 
toward the end of the sixteenth or beginning of the seventeenth 
century when it appeared almost simultaneously at both the English 
and French courts. 

James I took great delight in fishing with trained cormorants 
(as he did also in watching his tame otters, which were trained for 
a similar purpose), and John Wood was appointed "master of the 
royal cormorants." In 1618 the king decided to build a house and 
make ponds for his cormorants, ospreys, and otters at Westminster. 
In 1609 fishing cormorants were demonstrated at Fontainebleau 
before Louis XIII when he was dauphin. In the nineteenth century 
cormorant fishing was revived in England by Captain F. H. Salvin 
and in France by P. A. Pichot. 

Harting (p. 427) holds that it is not unlikely that the sport was 
first made known in Europe by the Hollanders, who besides being 
enterprising navigators and traders in the East, have in all ages 
been known as skilful falconers and great bird fanciers. Likewise 
Pichot (p. 27) observes that cormorant fishing has come to us from 
the Far East and that it appears to have been introduced into Europe 
by the Hollanders in the beginning of the sixteenth century. Free- 
man and Salvin (p. 328) report two instances of cormorants having 
been brought to England from Holland, where they had been trained. 

Yule (Cathay, new ed. by Cordier, II, p. 189) is mistaken in 
saying that the English bird was formerly used for fishing both in 



Introduction 207 

England and in Holland quite in the Chinese way. This, a priori, 
is utterly impossible, as the Chinese bird is thoroughly domesticated, 
while his European cousin was never domesticated, but merely 
trained for hunting fish. 

In England the training of the cormorant was practised in adapta- 
tion of that of the falcon. The birds were hoodwinked when carried 
out of their enclosures to the fish-ponds so that they might not be 
frightened. The hoods were taken off on arrival at the fishing 
ground. When returning from fishing, the keepers called them to 
their fist, and the birds were carried on the gloved hand like a falcon. 
Nearly all the sportsmen of England and France interested in the 
cormorant were originally falconers. Thus Pichot (p. 27) admits 
that he learned the use of the cormorant from John Barr, a falconer 
from Scotland. This falconry method of cormorant fishing was 
never practised in China, and is peculiar to Europe. While it has 
but little interest to the student of cormorant domestication, the 
notes of European cormorant trainers like Harting, Salvin, and 
Pichot on the behavior of the bird are apt to offer him valuable 
suggestions. 

Hunting with cormorants remained restricted to Holland, 
England, and France. In Germany where cormorants were occa- 
sionally hunted (J. Wimmer, Geschichte des deutschen Bodens, 
1905, p. 363) no attempts at training them were made; neither in 
Scandinavia. Olaus Magnus (Compendious History of the Goths, 
Swedes, and Vandals, 1558, p. 199) briefly describes the cormorant 
under the name "water-crow or eel-rook," but does not allude to 
fishing with cormorants. 

The cormorant of China does not constitute, as was formerly 
assumed, a species of its own, being paraded under such hard names 
as Hydrocorax sinensis Vieillot, or Pelecarus sinensis Latham, or 
Phalacrocorax sinensis. According to Armand David (Les oiseaux 
de la Chine, p. 532) and other ornithologists, the Chinese cormorant 
is identical with that of Europe, and must simply be termed Phala- 
crocorax carbo Schr. Swinhoe. The species is diffused as far north 
as Kamchatka, and is very common along the entire coast of China 
and on lakes and rivers in the interior of the country, as well as in 
Mongolia. Moreover, this species is widely distributed along the 
Atlantic coast of North and South America, in South Greenland, 
Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and New 
Zealand. 



CHINESE TERMINOLOGY 

§$ i, M M lu-ts'e (written language), also pronounced lu-se, 
Phalacrocorax carbo. The Er ya Hf 3£ gives the name of the cor- 
morant as i or ts'e i M M, explained as lu ts'e and defined as a bird 
"with a beak curved like a hook and subsisting on fish" It fii ft jm 

Li Shi-chen ^ ££ %, in his Pen ts'ao kang mu ^ ^ ^ @ , cites 
the Yun shu H # (cf. Watters, Essays on the Chinese Language, 
p. 40) to the effect that both lu iM. and tse ££ mean "black," and that 
these names are conferred upon the bird with reference to its deep- 
black color (cf. I& tse, "black"). This explanation goes back to the 
Ts'ang kie p'ien 3ir rI Jt, on which see Watters, Essays, p. 26, and 
Pelliot, Le Chou King, Mem. concernant VAsie Orientate, II, 1916, 
p. 137). According to the Pen ts'ao, the word i (in some editions 
written S8) is the cry or call of the bird itself (J8 ^ 3£ $ S P£ -&), 
and was hence adopted as the name for the bird. 

S. Wells Williams (Chinese Repository, VII, 1839, p. 54) asserts 
that the etymology of lu ts'e is "the black [bird] in the reeds." Evi- 
dently he thought in this connection of }§. lu ("a kind of reed"), but 
I am not aware of the fact that this derivation is given by any 
Chinese author. The supposition given above seems quite plausible, 
and the bird's name would simply mean "the black one." 

In Lo-lo-p'o, one of the Lo-lo dialects, the cormorant, according 
to Li^tard, is called vi-dzo-mo. The element dzo obviously cor- 
responds to Chinese M, anciently dzi (Shanghai ze). 

The Yi ts'ie king yin i — 4jJJ M It Ji (chap. 19, p. lb), compiled 
by Hiian Ying j£ M toward the middle of the seventh century, defines 
the cormorant after the Tse lin ^ ^ as "resembling the i &| (Giles 
No. 5490, 'the fish-hawk'), but being black, an aquatic bird with 
a beak curved like a hook and subsisting on fish, also called shwi ya 
7K H ('water crow')." The latter term corresponds in meaning to 
our cormorant, derived from Med. Lat. corvus marinus ("sea-crow." 
Cf. German wasserrabe, seerabe; Dutch waterraaf). 

The Mong Hang luW^^k, written by Wu Tse-mu ^g t 
(chap. 18, p. 15) of the Sung in a.d. 1274, classes the cormorant 
among the birds of Hang-chou under the name lu-ho flfe H, adding 
that it is also called lu-ts'e. 

A synonym for the cormorant given in the Pen ts'ao kang mu 
and in several gazetteers of Fu-kien Province (e.g. Hing-hua fu chi 

208 



Chinese Terminology 209 

J& Vt /fr *£, chap. 14, p. 9) is 3§ 7K # S7m sta" /ma, i.e. "water 
flower of Shu" (Se-ch'wan). In the Ch'ang-t'ing hien chi S TV SI 1& 
(chap. 30, p. 58) this name is explained as referring to the cormorant's 
dung, which is used as medicine; it is ground to a powder with water, 
and when administered to a man, has the effect on him that he will 
give up wine. 

^t M Is'e lao, in the Gazetteer of the District of Ch'ang-t'ing 
(chap. 30, p. 58). 

W ls& ts'ing lu, 51 ik kiao lu, in Palladius' Chinese-Russian 
Dictionary (also Giles, No. 1316). 

Designations of the bird in the colloquial language are: 

M @ #1 wu t'ou wang, "black-headed net" (Ts'ing i lu, tenth 
century, see below, p. 221). 

7K ^ H shwi lao ya, "aquatic old duck" (Pen ts'ao yen i, 
A.D. 1116). 

tK 45 31 shwi lao ya, "aquatic old crow." Especially used in 
Che-kiang. 

tUp ya, "fish crow." 

I-J & &tf kou yii lang, "fish-catching gentleman." Giles (Glossary 
of Reference, p. 96) remarks that this name is borrowed from that 
of the kingfisher. 

t& & &■ mo yii kung, "Mr. Fish-diver." 

M $c lu tsei, "cormorant, the robber" (in Tan-t'u hien chi fl* 
it *$ in,*). 

^ J& wu kwei, "black devil." This local Se-ch'wan term is 
discussed in detail below (p. 214). While in the famous passage of 
Tu Fu this term in all probability does not denote the cormorant, 
it has been made to denote the bird from the Sung period onward. 
This term reminds us of Milton's (Paradise Lost, IV, 196) comparison 
of Satan with a cormorant ("and on the tree of life, ... sat like a 
cormorant"). A. Newton (Enc. Brit., VII, p. 162) thinks that this 
similitude is prompted by the bird's habit of sitting on an elevated 
perch, often with extended wings, and in this attitude remaining 
motionless for a considerable time as though hanging itself out to dry. 

& 8$ yii ying, "fish," or rather, "fishing falcon" (in northern 
China, particularly Shan-tung and Chi-li). This term properly 
denotes the fishhawk or osprey, and at Peking and Tientsin is 
especially applied to the common tern (0. F. von Mollendorff, 
Vertebrata, pp. 77, 102). 

It is an interesting fact that the cormorant appears in several 
place-names. According to the Geography of the Ming (Ta Ming i 



210 Domestication of the Cormorant 

t'ung chi), as quoted in Pzen tse lei pten (chap. 210, p. 5), there is a 
Cormorant Cliff (Lu-ts'e Yen J&, a hundred li west of King-ning 
hien ^c ^ %& in the prefecture of Ch'u-chou M W Jfr, Che-kiang; there 
is a spring there a drink from which would cure disease; subsequently 
it was struck by a bolt of lightning and formed a pool; there were 
fishermen who dared not cast their nets in it. A Cormorant Lake 
(Lu-ts'e Hu M) is located forty li southwest of Hai-yen hien #1 m H 
in the prefecture of Kia-hing H M, Che-kiang, and measures over 
forty li in circumference. A Cormorant Embankment (Lu-ts'e Pei 
$£) existed on the River Yuan M tK in the district Nei-hwang 
ft M, which formerly belonged to Ta-ming fu ^C £ Mf, Chi-li 
(now to Chang- te f u ^ ^ fft, Ho-nan), five li southwest from the 
old city of Nei-hwang, measuring eighty li in circumference; it was 
an advantageous place for fishing, protected by the natives. A 
Cormorant Islet (Lu-ts'e Chou $H) is located in the district Shang- 
kao Jb i§i in the prefecture Jui-chou 3n§ *W fft, Kiang-si, east of the 
Lo-han Rock H M J5. 

The earliest European illustration of a Chinese cormorant and 
fishing-boat is contained in Johan Nieuhoff's Dutch Embassy (1669, 
p. 134), and is titled "the bird Louwa." As this is Dutch spelling, 
the diphthong ou is the equivalent of au. The author does not give 
any European name. A. A. Fauvel (La Province chinoise du Chan- 
toung, p. 293, Bruxelles, 1892) identifies this louwa with lao-wa 
which he says is still current in China. I have never heard this word, 
and have in vain looked for it in dictionaries. I imagine that it 
should be written ^ H lao wa, wa being a name for the heron with 
which the cormorant is sometimes confounded. E. H. Parker (Up 
the Yangtse, p. 270, Shanghai, 1899) states that he heard the cor- 
morant call lao wa in the upper Yangtse region. In Mesny's Chinese 
Miscellany (IV, 1905, p. 228) the cormorant is called shwi-lao-wa. 

In Yen-chou, Che-kiang, according to an observation of E. H. 
Parker (J. China Br. R. A. S., XIX, 1885, p. 40), the heron (lu-se 
It M) is called the cormorant, and the cormorant (gang ngo / f£f $!) 
the heron. I note from R. S. Maclay's Dictionary in the Foochow 
Dialect (p. 505, Foochow, 1870) that in Fu-chou colloquial the cor- 
morant is lo li or lo si, lo being M lu ("heron")- 



JAPANESE TERMINOLOGY 

u (a native Japanese word) It, Phalacrocorax carbo. This 
character, read t'i in Chinese, refers in China to the pelican. It is 
not exactly clear why this character was adopted in Japan for the 
designation of the cormorant, but it is intelligible since pelican and 
cormorant are closely allied birds, both belonging to the Palmipedes. 
R. Hemeling, in his English-Chinese Dictionary (1916), assigns to 
t'i the meaning "cormorant." I do not know whether or in how far 
this is correct. 

shimatsu $h W (Manyoshu), £& M, P. capillatus. 

umi-u, P. capillatus. 

hime-u #6 $$, P. pelagicus. 

chishima-u f" IS $$, P. bicristatus. 

kawatsu, P. carbo hanedae Kuroda, a smaller species caught 
mainly on the coast of Tokyo Bay and used for fishing in the streams 
near Tokyo. 

u-bune $1 $&, a boat used in fishing with cormorants. 

u-kai H M, cormorant fisher. 

u-tsukai $1 jS fnj, do. 

u-nawa $1 flk, a line or straw rope used in cormorant fishing. 

eboshi ,% tl iF", head-dress of the cormorant-trainer. 

u-jo, chief cormorant-trainer. 



211 



HISTORICAL DATA 

The earliest mention of the use of trained cormorants for fishing 
occurs in the Chinese Annals of the Sui Dynasty (A.D. 590-617), 
but with reference to Japan. 

In the Sui shu (chap. 81, p. 7) it is on record that "in Japan they 
suspend small rings from the necks of cormorants, and have them 
dive into the water to catch fish, and that they can catch over a 
hundred a day" (« H & 4> £ & * M « * A * ft ft Jft 

wte §f). 

This brief information presumably given by the Japanese envoy 
who visited the Chinese court in A.D. 607 (cf. 0. Nachod, Geschichte 
von Japan, I, pp. 207, 270) conveys the impression that this method 
of fishing was a novel affair to the Chinese chronicler. It is curious 
that neither at the time of the Sui nor under the T'ang do we have 
a single account relating to this matter, so far as China is concerned. 
The only historical text cited in the cyclopaedia T'ai p'ing yii Ian 
^¥^1 (chap. 925, pp. 8b-9a), published by Li Fang 3= W in 
A.D. 983, is the above passage of the Sui shu, while three other texts 
quoted there have merely reference to superstitions or medical 
prescriptions in reference to the bird, but not a word is said about 
its being trained in China. The same holds good for the T'u shu tsi 
ch'eng, where the historical notices of the bird #£ ^ open with the 
text of the Sui Annals, while the Ts'ing i lu ?pf H it of the tenth 
century is given as the first record of trained cormorants in China. 

The information given in the Sui shu is amply confirmed by 
Japanese sources. The cormorant (u H) was utilized for fishing in 
ancient Japan. In the Kojiki l£f ^ IS, completed in A.D. 712, the 
Emperor Jimmu # 5£ ^ M: addresses in a poem "the keepers of 
cormorants, the birds of the island" (translation of B. H. Chamberlain, 
p. 144). The same poem, which in Chamberlain's opinion probably 
dates from a far earlier age, is found in the Nihongi H ^ IS of 
A.D. 720 (translation of W. G. Aston, I, p. 126). In the same work 
we meet the son of Nihe-motsu f*l ^L $8, who was the first ancestor 
of the cormorant-keepers (u-kahi or u-kai) of Ata (ibid., p. 119) 
W >fc ^t ill pP fo M. Again, an allusion to cormorants "diving into 
the water to catch fish" is made in the same chronicle under the 
year a.d. 459 (ibid., p. 341). 

Cormorants must have been abundant and popular in ancient 
Japan, and also played a role in mythology (K. Florenz, Quellen 

212 



Historical Data 213 

der Shinto Religion, p. 68). The father of the Emperor Jimmu 
bore the name Ugayafuki-aezu-no-Mikoto flft M ^ M ^ & # 
("Cormorant-rush-thatch unfinished." — Aston, Nihongi, I, pp. 95, 
98). The lying-in hut (ubuya J& M) was thatched with cormorant 
feathers. In the record of a census made in a.d. 702 appears the 
name U-kai-be ("clan of cormorant-keepers") no Mezurame H ^ p5 
@ £fl f& H of the province of Mino. According to the Record of 
the Customs of the Province of Mino H i& ffl $f H JH i l£, there 
were during the period Engi 5S H (a.d. 901-922) seven houses of 
cormorant fishermen on the Nagara River ik $L Jl| in Mino; these 
prepared special dried ayu hk (sweet-fish) for the use of the emperor 
and annually presented the fishes to the imperial household. The 
ayu is a salmonid about a foot in length and found only in the clear 
upland and mountain streams of central Japan. The Manyoshu 
M MM (chap. 19) contains a poem #f M «&£ by Otomo no Yakamochi, 
written in the province of Etchu. 

Among the Hundred Laws of Ieyasu there is one (No. 24) in 
which it is said, "Formerly there were people who asserted that the 
hunt with cormorants and falcons should be abolished, and yet this 
is not an idle pleasure or a useless destruction of life. It is an old 
custom with the princes of China and Japan that they offer their 
hunting spoils to the emperor," etc. (T. Kempermann, Mitteilungen 
der deutschen Ges. Ostasiens, I, p. II). 

Two Japanese scholars, Ikenoya (1917) and Kuroda (1926), have 
written treatises on the history of cormorant fishing in Japan, and 
excerpts from their data are given in E. W. Gudger's article "Fishing 
with the Cormorant in Japan" (see Bibliography at end). 

Gudger (II p. 9) states, "So far as I have searched, unlike 
similar works for China, none of the early European voyagers to 
Japan, not even Kaempfer, figures or even refers to cormorant 
fishing in Japan." I have found, however, the following interesting 
note in the Diary of Richard Cocks (ed. of Hakluyt Society, I, 
p. 285) referring to the year 1617: 

"Soyemon Dono made a fishing over against English howse with 
cormorants made fast to long cordes behind their winges, and bridles 
from thence before their neckes to keepe the fish from entring their 
bodies, so that when they took it they could take yt out of their 
throates again." This is exactly the method still followed in Japan 
at the present time. 

While there is good evidence for cormorant fishing in ancient 
Japan extending from the fifth and sixth to the eighth century, con- 



214 Domestication of the Cormorant 

temporaneous evidence for China is entirely lacking. To be sure, 
ancient references to the cormorant in dictionaries, poetry, and the 
Pen ts'ao literature are plentiful (see below, pp. 221 and 224), but 
these passages are reticent as to the training of the bird. The first 
and earliest document that contains a notice of trained cormorants 
used by man is the Ts'ing i lu, a work of the tenth century (below, 
p. 221). It is supposed that a passage in a poem of Tu Fu alludes 
to domesticated cormorants; unfortunately, however, the bird does 
not appear there under its real name, but the phrase "black devil" 
is interpreted as such. This passage has been the subject of a lively 
controversy among Chinese authors, and I shall briefly review their 
opinions. At the same time we have occasion to touch upon several 
texts of the Sung period which refer to cormorant fishing. 

In a poem of Tu Fu tt ll (a.d. 712-770) the following verse 
occurs: 

He ||c 3c >% Mt 

This means literally: 

"All families (or: in the houses they) raise the black devil 
And at every meal feed on the yellow fish." 

S. Wells Williams (Chinese Repository, VII, p. 542) translates, 
"Every family trains the black devil, which, often diving, seizes the 
yellow fish." The text, however, contains nothing about "diving" 
or "seizing." If wu kwei really be the cormorant, it may be admitted 
that the cormorant may occasionally feed on yellow fish; but if wu 
kwei, as interpreted by other scholars, is something quite different, 
this conception of the passage is absurd. It is quite clear that kia 
kia is the subject of the second clause and that the families eat the 
yellow fish. The latter is explained in the commentary to the Er ya 
as the name given east of the river VL M (i.e. in the lower Yangtse 
region) to the sturgeon, chan f&L, which is from twenty to thirty feet 
long (Pien tse lei pien, chap. 135, p. 17b, where also the above passage 
from Tu Fu is quoted, the title of the poem being given as lUi f£ W 
W* ft W. Cf. also Su po wu chi H W ^ 1&, chap. 2, p. 6, ed. of Pai 
hai). It is obvious that a cormorant can not catch a fish of the 
dimensions and weight of a sturgeon. The weight of a full-grown 
bird is about seven pounds, and a one-and-a-half pound fish is about 
the maximum weight a bird can carry. Long after I wrote this, I 
found in the Tung ya *§ S (chap. 45, p. 21b) that Ma Yung-k'ing 
^ TJt M, who lived in the first part of the twelfth century, has made 
the same criticism ("Can a cormorant catch a yellow fish?" And 
Fang I-chi ^ Jji Hf, author of the Tung ya, comments, "Why is it 



Historical Data 215 

necessary that he catches yellow fish? Why should it not be a yellow- 
cheeked fish f$ £1 & hwang kia yii [Mollendorff, Vertebrata, 
p. 107]?") . The Pien tse lei pien gives a quotation from another poem 
of Tu Fu, entitled "The Yellow Fish" (cf. also Neng kai chai man lu, 
chap. 6, p. 23) and cites the Yu yang tsa tsu as saying that in Shu 
(Se-ch'wan), whenever a yellow fish is killed, it will invariably rain. 

The phrase "black devil" (wu kwei) has aroused much comment 
from authors of the Sung period; and, it will be seen, is credited with 
several different meanings. The general situation is well summed 
up by Wang Mou. 

Wang Mou 3E 8£, in his Ye ko ts'ung shu 5? ^ M IF (chap. 26, 
pp. 5b-6, ed. of Pai hai), the preface of which is dated a.d. 1202, 
has the following discourse on the subject under the heading Wu kwei 
("Black Devil"): 

"As to the line of old Tu 'in the houses they raise the black devil,' 
there are several explanations. The Lan chen tse #1 ^ "f [by Ma 
Yung-k'ing if iK J$J : Wylie, Notes, p. 164] interprets wu kwei as 
'pig.' Ts'ai Kwan-fu H % ^ [author of Ts'ai shi shi hwa H ft If W, 
biography in Sung shi, chap. 356] explains it as 'the seven gods of 
the dark wilderness' ,% Sf Ac #. The Leng chai ye hwa ?p $F ^ §8 
[by Hui Hung M $£, end of eleventh century: Wylie, Notes, p. 164] 
regards it as 'the devils of the Black Man,' Wu Man kwei ,% S$ J&. 
Shen Ts'un-chung [i.e. Shen Kwa i!t t£, a.d. 1029-93], in his Mong 
k'i pi Van 1£ ^ K£ l&, the Siang su tsa ki ffl& $ $t HE,, the Yii yin 
ts'ung hwa $& H H W [by Hu Tse #J \f of the Sung], the Lu, nung 
shi $k H f»i|j, and the P'i ya *$ %fe interpret it as the cormorant 
{lu-ts'e). These four explanations differ widely. However, solely 
the explanation of the Leng chai is correct. Referring to the chapter 
'Record of the Southern Man' in the T'ang Annals M ♦ $J §£ ft, 
we read that 'they commonly esteem shamans and devils and in 
the great tribes they have Great Devil Chiefs jc J& i, while in the 
families they establish a Small Devil Chief /J> $L ± ; the White Man 
(Pai Man) form a single clan, the Black Man (Wu Man) five clans; 
the latter are so called, because the dresses of their women are made 
of black silk, while those of the White Man are made of white silk.' 
Further, in examining the comment of the Leng chai, Liu Yii-si 
fij & ^ (a.d. 772-842), in his poem Nan-chung l£ +, says, 'They 
sacrifice in excess to numerous dark devils W A, for white-haired 
men are scarce among the inhabitants.' There is another saying 
with reference to the so-called dark devils: The cause of the prestige 
of the Man tribes of the rivers and gorges of Kwang-nan rests on 
the fact that they have such names as dark devils and black devils. 



216 Domestication of the Cormorant 

"In the lines of Tu the 'yellow fish' is antithetical to the 'black 
devil/ from which it follows that the devils of the Black Man are 
meant. Let us further examine a poem of Yuan Wei-chi % Wi £. 
[i.e. Yuan Chen % SI, A.D. 779-831], who says, 'In their rustic taste 
they prize frogs or clams; in their domestic worship, all serve the 
crow or raven' ($G Bfc ± ^r !& |£ P 28 ^ Jb ) . Yuan Chen further says, 
'In case of disease they carry a raven around in a procession, praising 
it as a demon; the sorcerers predict (the outcome of the disease) 
by means of a tile which with them takes the place of a tortoise 
(?S I i i I ^ ^ % ft !£).' According to the commentary, 
the people of the south, when infected by a disease, carry a black 
devil around in a procession. These explanations are similar to, but 
not identical with that given above. As regards the Record of the 
Southern Man (in the T'ang Annals), the word wu M has the 
meaning 'black,' but in the poem of Yuan Chen, as the word ko fcn 
is antithetical to wu &, it must have the meaning 'raven'." 

This discourse is instructive in many respects. We note above 
all what difficulties Sung authors had in correctly understanding 
and interpreting a passage in a T'ang poem and how widely divergent 
their opinions were. I do not see that we poor epigones can do much 
better. There is no doubt that wu kwei, apparently restricted to 
Se-ch'wan, had several different meanings during the Sung period. 
I shall give additional information from the sources cited by Wang 
Mou and likewise from others. 

Wu kwei, as Ma Yung-k'ing informs us, was applied to pigs. 
This is confirmed by the Man sou shi hwa tfl % W W (cited in Pien 
tse lei pien, chap. 207, p. 3b) : "The people of Se-ch'wan are fond of 
pork, and all families there are engaged in the rearing of swine. 
Whenever they call their pigs, they emit the sound wu kwei M %L. 
Hence they call a pig wu kwei ('black devil')." 

Hia-hou Tsie JE & fp (in the T'ung ya, chap. 45, p. 21b, he is 
called JC ;fc ^), a scholar living in the gorges of Se-ch'wan ift^ 4 1 dt A, 
is quoted as saying, "The black devil is a pig. Many families in- 
habiting the gorges serve the devils and raise a particular pig, not, 
however, to be sacrificed to the devils, as this would be useless, 
but they put this pig among the common herd, and from time to 
time call the devils and the pig, keeping them apart, and this is the 
proper thing to do" (Ning-hua hien chi, ^ It H ^, chap. 2, p. 128). 
In the T'ung ya, however, the same scholar is quoted as saying, 
"The black devil is a pig. The families raise a particular pig for the 
purpose of sacrificing it to the devils." If this be correct, the designa- 
tion wu kwei for the sacrificial pig may have arisen from the fact 



Historical Data 217 

that it was intended as a sacrifice to the wu kwei. Yang Shen $1 tK 
(1488-1559) writes that the people in the gorges raise young chicks 
which, provided with copper or tin rings, are offered to the spirits, 
and these are called wu kwei (T'ung ya, chap. 45, p. 21b). 

Wu kwei was also applied to the raven. Corvus torquatus is still 
designated "devil bird" fe By (Mollendorff, Vertebrata, pp. 88, 89). 

Lo Yuan H JPH, author of the Er ya i (twelfth century), writes, 
"In the opinion of some people, the inhabitants of the defiles of Se- 
en 'wan term the cormorant wu kwei, but these folks, on the other 
hand, serve the raven and call it devil; hence wu kwei is not the 
cormorant" (& 2 tt A fH & Jil Jfc B ft A 7b m Mi ® % # * 
fyj -&). Regarding another explanation as "raven" see below, p. 219. 

On the other hand, it cannot be doubted that wu kwei began under 
the Sung to denote the cormorant, and Wang Mou cites four author- 
ities to this effect. This, of course, does not mean that the cormorant 
can be interpreted into the passage of Tu Fu. Wang Mou, however, 
errs in listing Shen Kwa among the pro-cormorantists; on the con- 
trary, as will be seen presently, Shen Kwa, is averse to this explana- 
tion. Wang Mou's misunderstanding is copied from the Leng chai 
ye hwa (chap. 4, p. 7b, ed. of Pai hai), which he quotes, and this error 
was probably caused by the fact that Shen Kwa cites the K'wei 
chou t'u king which seems to be the first Sung work to explain wu 
kwei as cormorant and the text of which is given alike in the P'i ya 
and the Mong k'i pi t'an written between a.d. 1086 and 1093. 

Shen Kwa, in his Mong k'i pi t'an (chap. 16, p. 1, ed. of Pai hai) 
writes as follows: "The scholar Liu K'o dt A. £>J & extensively 
inspected strange writings. One day he lighted on a poem of Tu Fu 
[as quoted above] . The general explanation of this passage now gi ven 
is that all say that in the gorges of K'wei-chou there are up to the 
present time 'devil families' (kwei hu $L J*) f and these are simply 
savages 75 M A & ; their chieftain is called a devil's chief (kwei chu 
% i). However, I have never heard of a phrase like wu kwei 
ife ?fc $l\ ft M %L £. 13fc. Moreover, as regards the devil families, these 
are the savages who are so called, but not something raised by man 
(as the cormorant is). 

"The K'wei-chou t'u king H W M H5 says that 'the inhabitants 
of the gorges of Se-ch'wan call the cormorant "black devil" (wu kwei) 
and that the people of Shu £S A dwelling along the water-courses 
raise this bird and fasten a cord to its neck whenever they send it 
into the water to dive for fish; when the cormorant has caught a 
fish, they pull him out of the water by means of this cord.' In this 
manner it is still practised up to this time, and I can testify to the 



218 Domestication of the Cormorant 

truth of it, for I was in Se-ch'wan myself and saw people there raise 
cormorants (lu-ts'e) and employ them for the purpose of catching 
fish. Only I do not know that the people of Se-ch'wan call the 
cormorant black devil «M ^ £n II ± M k %)." 

Here we have good and trustworthy testimony for domesticated 
cormorants in Se-ch'wan during the eleventh century. As to the 
term wu kwei, one man's word is as good as another's. Shen Kwa 
asserts merely that he did not hear the term used in Se-ch'wan for 
the cormorant, while others affirm they did. There is no reason 
to doubt that in the eleventh century wu kwei was a popular designa- 
tion of the cormorant locally in certain parts of Se-ch'wan. We 
have no evidence, however, that this term was so used three centuries 
earlier during the lifetime of Tu Fu. No text of the T'ang period 
informs us that wu kwei then had the significance "cormorant." 
This is not a T'ang tradition, but a Sung tradition, and what hap- 
pened was that Sung scholars who heard of that local usage inter- 
preted this meaning back into the line of Tu Fu. 

Fan Chen ?a tft, author of the Tung chai ki shi M 3§F 16 ^, who 
lived in the latter part of the eleventh century, deserves special 
consideration as he was a native of Hwa-yang # % in Se-ch'wan 
and must have been well informed on the affairs of his country. 
This work is reprinted in the Shou shan ko ts'ung shu, vol. 84, where 
his notice of cormorants is not given; it is cited, however, alike in the 
Tsing k'ang siang su tsa ki to be noted presently and in the Se-ch'wan 
t'ung chi JZ9 JI| ?i. 1& (chap. 74, p. 21), as follows: 

"The fishermen of Shu raise cormorants to the number of ten 
and daily catch fish to the weight of ten catties. They tie a cord 
around the neck of the bird, so that a small fish may just pass through 
his throat, while he cannot swallow a big fish. From time to time 
the fishermen take the birds out of the water and let them dive into 
the water again. The birds are very tame, and will attend to every- 
thing as if they had a human heart. Whether they have caught a 
fish or not, they return to the boat, and those familiar with the 
flock will feed them and then cause them to return to their work. 
This method is comparable to falconry, but saves the trouble of 
riding on horseback and running. The profit obtained from this 
business is very large." 

The Siang su tsa ki cited by Wang Mou is called with its complete 
title Tsing k'ang siang su tsa ki 3ff J|§ #B ^ $i f£. This work, as 
implied by the title, was written in the Tsing-k'ang period (a.d. 
1126-27), and is from the hand of Hwang Ch'ao-ying W $8 ^ of the 
Sung (cf. Wylie, Notes, p. 159: early twelfth century). It is reprinted 



Historical Data 219 

in the Shou shan ko ts'ung shu, vol. 69, and the text in question, 
entitled Wu kwei, is in chap. 5, pp. 2b-3a (the T'ang Sung ts'ung shu 
contains only a greatly abridged form of this work of only thirteen 
pages, which does not contain this text). The author refers to the 
Mong k'i pi fan, saying that solely Liu K'o 29 ^ has explained the 
meaning of wu kwei correctly; then he cites the Tung chai ki shi, 
translated above, noting that its author, Fan, does not know either 
that the cormorant should be intended by the "black devil" of Tu Fu. 
Finally he cites the cormorant account of the Sui shu; and, I believe, 
he is the only Sung author who has done so and seen the identity of 
cormorant fishing in Japan and China. Judging from this text, 
Wang Mou is wrong in classifying Hwang Ch'ao-ying among writers 
who interpret Tu Fu's wu kwei as the cormorant; but in the Se- 
ch'wan t'ung chi P3 JM ifi iS (chap. 74, p. 21) Hwang is quoted thus: 
"The people in the gorges (of Se-ch'wan) call the cormorant 'black 
devil' and raise it for the purpose of catching fish, making cormorant- 
fishing their business." If Hwang Ch'ao-ying should really have 
made this statement, which is not contained in the edition of the 
Shou shan ko ts'ung shu, and which contradicts the text of the latter, 
Wang Mou would be right. 

Exactly the same information as in the Se-ch'wan t'ung chi is 
given in the K'wei-choufu chi H j\\ M ]&, 1891, chap. 14, p. 4. 

Wu Tseng ^ H", author of the Neng kai chai man lu IE t& 3§f $1 H 
(chap. 6, p. 21b; middle of twelfth century), cites the passage from 
Yuan Chen's poem with the commentary in the same manner as 
Wang Mou and decides that the wu kwei of Tu Fu has the same 
meaning. He also attributes to Shen Kwa the notion that the 
wu kwei of Tu Fu is the cormorant, adding, "I do not know on what 
evidence this is based" (^ ^D X fpT 9f $1 &). 

The opinion expressed in the Leng chai ye hwa (chap. 4, p. 7, ed. 
of Pai hai) is shared by Kwo T'wan M%-\n his K'wei kit chi H£ $ ]& 
(Wylie, Notes, p. 197; after T'u shu tsi ch'eng; I have not been able 
to trace this passage in the edition of Pai hai), who denies that in 
Tu Fu's verse the term wu kwei refers to the cormorant, but who 
asserts that it alludes to the Black Man devils M ff£ $L and that 
this is the only correct explanation. The Leng chai ye hwa says that 
"the people along the roads in the gorges of Se-ch'wan sacrifice to 
the devils of the Black Man." Fang I-chi adds this comment: "On the 
roads of Pa-tung EL M there are ravens. People traveling by boat 
must throw away their meat and give it to the ravens as provision; 
otherwise they will have no luck. Should these ravens be the black 
devils?" 



220 Domestication of the Cormorant 

In the Wen kien lu K )£ ft by Shao Po-wen BM6 i& of the Sung 
dynasty it is said (Pien tse lei pien, chap. 207, p. 3b), "On the eleventh 
day of the first month of every year the people in the gorges of 
K'wei H $£ £. A offer sacrificial animals and wine in the fields on 
behalf of Ts'ao Ts'ao J§ W ; on this occasion there is a drill of soldiers 
with a great deal of noise, and this they call 'raising the black devil' " 
# J§ J&. The Wen kien lu is reprinted in the Tsin tai pi shu and 
Hio tsin t'ao yilan to which I have not access at present. 

It is certain that the term wu kwei hails from Se-ch'wan. 

It cannot be said that the Sung writers who plead for wu kwei 
as the cormorant have made out a strong case in their favor. They 
are all obsessed with the sole passage of Tu Fu, and do not fall back 
on any other text. Above all, they fail to explain why wu kwei, a 
local Se-ch'wan colloquial term, was transferred to the cormorant. 
From their explanations it is perfectly clear why pig and raven came 
to be called "black devil." Here the relation of these creatures to 
devils or spirits is conspicuous; not so, however, in the case of the 
cormorant who lacks any association with the supernatural world. 
Why this useful helpmate of man who contributes so much to human 
economy should be dubbed a black devil is simply unintelligible. 

Palladius (Chinese-Russian Dictionary, I, p. 127) explains wu 
kwei, "raven, as a demon. In the south of China, in case of any 
disease, the female shamans make an offering and divine by means of 
the tortoise. Swine-mother. Cormorant." Giles, in his Dictionary, 
gives merely the meaning "cormorant." 

I shall not decide how the above verse of Tu Fu is to be inter- 
preted. I have merely reproduced the various opinions of Chinese 
authors from which it follows that the definition of wu kwei as 
"cormorant" in Tu Fu's verse is at least exceedingly doubtful. 
This study is not a contribution to Chinese poetry, but one to the 
domestication of the cormorant. As I have studied the latter subject 
for many years, I feel obliged to say that it seems to me most im- 
probable that the cormorant can be understood in the passage of 
Tu Fu; for to say that "the families raise the cormorant" would imply 
that the domestication of the bird was quite general (at least in one 
part of China or the other) during the eighth century. Now, if this 
had been the case, we should assuredly expect to find other con- 
temporaneous texts corroborating this matter, but no such text of the 
T'ang period, as far as I know, has as yet come to the fore. It seems 
fairly clear that the interpretation of wu kwei as "cormorant" in 
Tu Fu's verse arose only in the Sung period when the subject of 
cormorant fishing became known to scholars, and personally I am 



Historical Data 221 

convinced that the cormorant is not visualized by Tu Fu. But even 
if this were the case, it would simply be an isolated scrap of evidence 
to which no great historical significance can be attached. In my 
opinion the line of Tu Fu means, "The families when they perform 
the ceremony known as 'caring for the black devil,' feed (on this 
festive occasion) on sturgeon." To be sure, Tu Fu, like Li Po, 
Wang Wei, and other poets of the T'ang period, was familiar with the 
cormorant; he mentions it in a verse that begins P*j 9% £§ M A ^ 2|S, 
but here the bird appears under its regular name lu-ts'e, and so it is 
designated by other writers, e.g. Yuan Chen (E. von Zach, Ein 
Brief wechsel in Versen, pp. 216, 220). The salient point is that the 
cormorant is mentioned and discussed by Sui and T'ang authors, 
but there is dead silence on their part as to the domestication 
of the bird. 

The J wu chi M fyj $ of Yang Fu %jk *£, which is possibly a 
work of the Sui dynasty, for instance, says that the cormorant dives 
in deep water in order to catch fish on which it subsists; it is a water- 
bird and nests in high trees. A superstition dealt with below under 
the heading "folk-lore" is added to the text, but nothing is said about 
the employment of the bird in the service of man. 

In so-called classical literature the cormorant appears not to be 
mentioned. It is not referred to in the K'in king $f @ ascribed to 
Chang Hua 311 # (third century A.D.), nor in the Mao shi ts'ao mu 
niao shou ch'ung yu su ^ W ^ ^ th S£ ^ & fife of Lu Ki P£ |$ 
(a.d. 260-303). 

The earliest text that mentions the cormorant as trained for 
fishing is contained in the Ts'ing ilufn^^k (chap. _b, pp. 57b-58), 
written by T'ao Ku 1^1 i£, who lived in the tenth century 
(A.D. 902-970, according to Giles, Biogr. Diet., No. 1898): 

"For the purpose of catching fish they use cormorants (lu-ts'e) 
which are quick and alert to a high degree. In the district of Tang- 
t'u H ^ there are ponds covered with aquatic plants and rocky hills, 
where people live scattered on farms and in cottages and raise 
cormorants in their houses If J5 I ^ ^. They make a small boat 
fast on the bank and daily send a man — T to catch fish for the 
supply of the families. A municipal official (yi yu IL §t), when he 
passed this place, noticed it and said to the hill-people, 'The small 
boat is the arena for receiving the meat sb A" £P #J Ut ^; the cor- 
morant is the small official (siao yii /h M).' It is said also that the 
fishermen of the rivers and lakes use the cormorant and call it 
'the small official.' Other fishermen bestow on the cormorant the 
epithet 'black-headed net' (wu t'ou wang fik Bt i$l)." 



222 Domestication of the Cormorant 

Tang-t'u forms the prefectural city of T'ai-p'ing ^c 3* fft, An-hui 
Province, on the lower Yangtse. How little dependence can be 
placed on the T'u shu tsi ch'eng is shown by the fact that this impor- 
tant document is quoted therein in the following abbreviated form: 
"For the purpose of catching fish they use cormorants which are 
quick and alert to a high degree. The people therefore speak of the 
small boat as the arena for receiving the meat and of the cormorant 
as the small official." The locality and all the significant points of 
the story are coldly deleted. I allow this to stand as I wrote it, 
but afterwards when I consulted the edition of the Ts'ing i lu in the 
T'ang Sung ts'ung shu (chap. 2, p. 13b), I found there to my surprise 
the text as given in the T'u shu. There must be, accordingly, different 
manuscripts of the Ts'ing i lu. 

The document in question is characteristic of the attitude of 
Chinese scholarship. Here we are confronted with the first mention 
of the domesticated cormorant on Chinese soil and might justly 
expect an expression of surprise or astonishment at so unusual an 
achievement, or an inquiry on the author's part into the origin of 
this extraordinary practice. It is simply taken for granted, however, 
without further comment. What the author is interested in is not 
the novel fact, but a literary bon mot for which his story serves as 
an explanation. In fact, his notice is entitled $fo ))# i% (Wj in the 
edition before me, printed in 1875 by W. K M ffl #, is a misprint) 
/h $t, and it is this new, learned term that he is intent on introducing 
to his scholarly readers. This term has not proved a success, for it 
has not been adopted, so far as I know, by any subsequent author. 
The case is analogous to that of the Sung writers who got excited 
over the term wu kwei. The story itself is perfectly clear in demon- 
strating that during the tenth century the cormorant was domesti- 
cated and reared for catching fish in certain places of Tang-t'u, 
apparently out of the way and not easily accessible to officials, who 
noted merely the fait accompli without bothering about questions 
of origin and development. Simple folks, fishermen by avocation, 
had accomplished what an official would never have thought of; 
the process of taming and training the bird, ultimately resulting in 
its domestication, had remained unnoticed by the learned, and no 
record of it is preserved. 

This philological attitude is characteristic of the Chinese scholarly 
mind. Words, phrases, characters, inscriptions, etc., have always 
found attention and were made the subject of profound studies, 
while the subject-matter itself was neglected. It is hardly con- 
ceivable that a matter so characteristically Chinese as the domesti- 



Historical Data 223 

cation of the cormorant, which is an interesting scientific problem 
to us, has left Chinese scholars completely indifferent. Ch'en Hao-tse 
Bfc M iP, in his Hwa king ~%L H, published in 1688, devotes chap- 
ter VI of his work to animals kept by man. Of birds he deals, for 
example, with crane, peacock, egret, parrot, falcon, eagle, pheasant, 
pigeon, etc., but the cormorant is not even mentioned. The Ts'e 
yuan ff M, now revered and quoted by European sinologists as a 
sort of Bible, exhibits the same defect, and in giving a superficial 
definition of the cormorant does not even mention the fact of its 
domestication or its employment in the human household; the term 
wu kwei is given as a synonym of the cormorant, but not even the 
passage of Tu Fu is cited, nor is there any reference to the con- 
troversy which it has aroused! 

In one respect T'ao Ku's story does not enlighten us. He does 
not describe the method of fishing itself, a subject which did not 
greatly interest him; and while he says that cormorants were reared 
in the habitations of fishermen in the Tang-t'u District, which 
indicates that the birds to some extent must have been domesticated 
in that locality at that time (about the middle of the tenth century), 
we are unable to judge to what degree the domestication of the birds 
had then progressed. Was it still in the primary stage? Or had it 
far advanced? The question is important, for we are anxious to 
know to what time the beginnings of this domestication go back. 
If it was in a perfect state in T'ao Ku's days, we have to concede 
that a considerable span of time must have elapsed before this state 
was reached; or, if it then was in its initial stages (and this is more 
probable), this concession becomes superfluous. T'ao Ku's succinct 
note does not give us a direct clue to the solution of this problem. 
While the domestication of the cormorant requires a great deal of 
patience and endurance, it is not excessively difficult, and in my 
estimation it is not necessary to date the preliminary steps leading 
to the domestication in China farther back than about the beginning 
of the tenth century. More will be said about this point in the 
chapter on the Process of Domestication. 

The texts of the K'wei chou t'u king, Mong k'i pi t'an, and Tung 
chai ki ski have been quoted above. These refer alike to the prov- 
ince of Se-ch'wan, which has played an important role in the domes- 
tication of the cormorant, and agree in emphasizing the cord tied to 
the bird's neck — a sure sign of its domestication. There can be no 
doubt that during the Sung period it reached the state of perfection. 

In the EryaiffiZfeM, written by Lo Yuan H ^ in the twelfth 
century, it is stated, "At present there are in Shu (Se-ch'wan) many 



224 Domestication of the Cormorant 

people inhabiting the water-courses who keep and raise cormorants 
by tying a cord around their necks. In this manner small fishes 
may pass the bird's throat, while it is unable to gulp down large 
fishes. From time to time the fishermen call the birds and relieve 
them of their fishes; then they are sent out again. They are so 
docile and familiar with man that signs are sufficient for them to 
grasp their masters' intentions. When they finally return to the 
boat, whether with fishes or without, they are detained and fed, 
and then are allowed to return home. This method is comparable 
to hunting with kites and sparrow-hawks without the trouble of 
hustling around. The profit from this business is rather large, for 
the fishermen raise several tens of birds and daily obtain several 
tens of catties of fish. The fishes coming out of the birds' throats 
have a strong odor, being affected by the unpleasant saliva of the 
birds [the cormorant pockets its prey in its oesophagus]. After they 
have come out of the water, the fishes are spread out on rocks and 
dried in the sun." 

The attitude of the T'ang and Sung Pen ts'ao literature toward 
the cormorant, as far as its domestication is concerned, is negative. 
The Sin siu pen ts'ao M $£ & ^ (chap. 15, p. 25b of the facsimile 
edition published in Japan) does not give a definition or description 
of the bird; in fact, the article in question is not entitled "The 
Cormorant," but "The Cormorant's Ordure" H M fa with the 
synonym Shu shwi hwa; the ordure, it is said, removes black spots 
and pimples from the face; and this is followed by a quotation from 
T'ao Hung-king, who gives a bit of folk-lore concerning the propaga- 
tion of the bird (below, p. 255). Ch'en Ts'ang-k'i B It 2£> author 
of the Pen ts'ao shi i ^ ^ ^a Ja, does not go beyond this; and the 
Pen ts'ao yen i strings its harp on the same note (text given below, 
p. 255). T'ang Shen-wei Mf ^ Wi, in his Cheng lei pen ts'ao Wt M ♦ ^ 
of a.d. 1108 (chap. 19, p. 19b), is not either interested in the cormorant 
itself, although he pictures it in a naively crude drawing. He is 
contented to reiterate the data of the Sin siu pen ts'ao. The T'ang 
and Sung herbalists, accordingly, restricted themselves to pharma- 
cological and folkloristic notes without manifesting any real interest 
in the bird itself. The fact that the T'ang authors of Pen ts'aos are 
silent as to the bird's employment for fishing is, of course, incon- 
clusive; the Sung Pentsaoists do not mention it either, although at 
their time this was an accomplished fact. 

Li Shi-chen ^ B# f£, in his Pen ts'ao kang mu ^ ^ ffl @ , is 
the first herbalist who discusses the cormorant with some degree of 
intelligence: 



Historical Data 225 

"Cormorants occur everywhere in districts where water is found. 
The bird resembles the fish-hawk (yi f&), but is smaller than the 
latter. In color it is black like a crow. It has a long and slightly 
curved bill. It is expert in diving into water and catching fish. 
During the daytime the birds gather on islands; at night they roost 
in the trees of forests. The ordure of the birds is poisonous, and the 
trees on which for a long time they have perched will decay. The 
fishermen in the southern parts of the country keep them by tens, 
tying them together, and thus they catch fish for them. The passage 
in Tu Fu's poem that 'families raise black devils and at every meal 
feed on yellow fish' is referred by some to this species. There is 
another kind resembling the cormorant, but with a head like that of 
a snake, a long neck, and moulting during the winter; it roosts on the 
banks of mountain-streams, and at the sight of men is unable to walk 
and dives into the water. This is identical with what the Er ya calls 
yao t'ou %& M or yu kiao j& $&.; it is not used in the pharmacopoeia." 

This species, under the name yu kiao or simply kiao ("shark"), 
is also mentioned by Ch'en Ts'ang-k'i of the T'ang, who describes 
it as having a slender head and a long body and being white in the 
upper part of the neck (cf. Cheng lei pen ts'ao, chap. 19, p. 19b). 
The description of this species, as given by Li Shi-chen, is almost 
identical with that in the Er ya i, save that there the reference to the 
two names is wanting. 

During the Ming period cormorant fishing appears to have been 
flourishing. Sii Fang % ^ of the Ming writes, without specifying 
localities, that "cormorants were reared by many people along the 
rivers, being carried on small rafts. Fishing was done in stagnant 
water or in places where the river formed eddies and where fishes 
congregated. The birds dived deeply into the water and swiftly 
brought up small fishes; when their strength failed in carrying big 
ones, they broke them up. A small ring was tied around their necks, 
so that they could not swallow fishes of large size; when they caught 
such, the fishermen took them away at once. Small fishes entered 
their throats as far as the spot where the ring was placed, but the 
birds could not swallow them on account of the bones. When the 
fishes had piled up and the birds were hungry, they were fed with a 
couple of fishes. The birds were greedy and insatiable, but the 
fishermen were satisfied and reaped a large profit" (text in T'u shu 
tsi ch'eng, XIX, chap. 45, i wen). 

To the Buddhists, naturally, cormorant breeding and what is 
associated with it has been a thorn in the flesh. In a Buddhistic 



226 Domestication of the Cormorant 

tract written in the colloquial language and published by L. Wieger 
(Moral Tenets and Customs in China, p. 203, Ho-kien-fu, 1913), 
the officials are urged to prohibit the keeping of cormorants as well as 
fishing or catching crabs. Here the term yil ying M. M is used. 






GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION 

The center of cormorant fishing is the lower Yangtse Basin 
including the provinces of An-hui, Kiang-su, and Che-kiang, the 
present T'ai-p'ing fu on the Yangtse being pointed out as early as 
the tenth century. The region around Lake T'ai (T'ai hu) and the 
entire country intersected by a net of canals around Wu-si, Su-chou, 
Hang-chou, Chu chou, Shao-hing, Fung-hua, and Ning-po swarm 
with cormorants kept by fishermen. The easternmost point to which 
the trained cormorant advanced is Ting-hai on the Island of Chu-san 
(Ting-hai t'ing chi ^ M M $, chap. 34, p. 42). The most celebrated 
of the localities of Che-kiang is T'ang-si-chen, a small town situated 50 
li northwest of Hang-chou, whose inhabitants are reputed to 
possess a secret which insures to them a decided success in the rearing 
of cormorants (Fauvel, p. 230). Nearly all district and prefectural 
gazetteers of the province allude to the industry; for example, 
Ts'ing-t'ien Men chi pf BB $£ a£ (1875, chap. 4, p. 29) ; Shao-hing fu 
chi *g m #F 1&, chap. 11, p. 31; Ts'e-k'i hien chi & & U 1&, 
chap. 54, p. 9. In the region of Shao-hing and Ning-po I observed 
cormorant fishing many times in 1901. 

From Che-kiang the practice spread to the province southward, 
Fu-kien. A careful examination of the prefectural and district 
gazetteers of this province in the Library of Congress has led me to 
the following result. Fishing with cormorants occurs all along the 
seacoast of Fu-kien from Fu-ning fu in the north down to Fu-chou, 
Hing-hua, Ts'iian-chou, and Chang-chou in the south, all along the 
Min River from Yen-p'ing to Fu-chou; further, in Lung-yen chou, 
Yung-ch'un chou, as far west as T'ing-chou fu (tT #i fft 1&, chap. 8, 
p. 19) and as far north as Kien-ning fu. It may be said, therefore, 
that cormorant fishing is generally practised over the entire province. 

As to Fu-chou, cormorant fishing was observed by R. Fortune 
(I p. 88) in 1843 and by G. Smith in 1845 in the suburb of Nan-tai 
(Chinese Repository, XV, 1846, p. 207). Freeman and Salvin 
(p. 328) also state that they met with people who saw it about 
Fu-chou fu, at the mouth of the river. Cormorant fishing is still 
actively pursued there. 

The two coterminous provinces Che-kiang and Fu-kien have 
always exchanged cultural products, and most probably cormorant 
fishing spread from Che-kiang to Fu-kien. The Gazetteer of 
Hing-hua fa H ft #F j& (chap. 14, p. 6) in Fu-kien stresses the 

227 



228 Domestication of the Cormorant 

fact that "the people of Che-kiang are in the habit of raising cor- 
morants who dive to catch fish, swallowing the small ones, but 
bringing the big ones to their master." 

In Fu-chou, Fu-kien, it seems to be customary that when a bird 
has brought a fish to the surface, the boatman paddles his raft to the 
spot and casts a net into the river, hauling bird and fish on board 
(G. Smith, Chinese Repository, XV, 1846, p. 207). This unnecessary 
procedure goes to show that the fishermen in question had passed to 
the use of the cormorant from a former method of fishing with nets. 
J. Doolittle (Social Life of the Chinese, I, 1865, p. 55) intimates 
that the fishermen of Fu-chou take bird and fish out of the water with 
a dip-net only in case the fish is a large one and a struggle ensues 
between bird and fish. 

In An-hui Province, to which our earliest Chinese account relates, 
the district of Wu-ho 3l f^T f$ enjoys a reputation for breeding 
cormorants (Korrigan, p. 39). This method of fishing is practised 
all along the Huai River ?# M, which traverses Ho-nan and the 
northern part of An-hui. 

As to the province of Kiang-si, we have observations of cor- 
morant fishing made in the prefecture of Nan-an ^j 5£? f(f by Father 
Ripa in 1710 (F. Prandi, Memoirs of Father Ripa, 1844, p. 40). 
The P'o-yang Lake in this province, as well as the Tung-t'ing Lake 
in the adjoining province of Hu-nan, swarms with fishermen who avail 
themselves of the cormorant. The birds coming from Hu-nan, as 
well as from Ho-nan, enjoy a special reputation. The district of 
Siang-yin M "i? in the prefecture of Ch'ang-sha, and Li chou 
^ ^N, as well, are emphasized as cormorant-breeding localities in the 
Hu-nan fang wu chi M1& ~3j % ^ (chap. 2, p. 17; chap. 7, p. 14. 
Regarding this work see below, p. 237). 

In Kwang-tung Province cormorant fishing is practised at Ts'ung- 
hua $t it, in the prefecture of Kwang-chou (witnessed by J. H. Gray, 
China, II, 1878, p. 297). De Guignes (Voyages a Peking, Manille 
etc. faits dans l'intervalle des ann^es 1784 a 1801, I, 1808, pp. 271, 
289, 293) observed in 1794 cormorant fishing in the prefecture of 
Shao-chou IS #1 #p. Dyer Ball mentions the North River above 
Canton and the river above Ch'ao-chou fu M :H1 fft. 

Dr. Gudger (I pp. 37, 38) has reproduced two photographs 
taken by Dr. C. K. Edmunds in 1907 on the Fu River, a tributary 
of the Si Kiang or West River. Dr. Edmunds states that he found 
fishing with the cormorant everywhere practised on the lower sections 
of the Grand Canal and the connecting canals in the Yangtse Delta 
and throughout South China generally. 



Geographical Distribution 229 

That there is cormorant breeding in Kwei-chou Province may be 
inferred from a note of E. H. Parker (Up the Yangtse, p. 233, Shang- 
hai, 1899), who observed fishing cormorants in the gorges of the 
upper Yangtse and remarks, "They are said to come from the wild 
lands of Yun-nan and Kwei-chou, notably from the Wu-chiang 
River in the latter province. There is a well-known place on the 
Se-ch'wan and Yun-nan frontier, called Lao-wa Tan, which perhaps 
may have some connection with the catching of these birds." E. G. 
Kemp (The Face of China, 1909, p. 201) gives a colored picture of 
the Lao-wa Tan river and village, saying that the name means 
"cormorant rapid." 

Cormorant fishing in Yiin-nan Province is attested by T'an Ts'ui 
W. 3£ in his Tien hai yu heng chi M ffe M $& M (chap. 6, p. 3b, ed. 
of Wen ying lou yii ti ts'ung shu), published in 1799. "In the southern 
part of Tien (Yiin-nan) the inhabitants of many mountains and 
rivers rear cormorants by catching them. Though it cannot be said 
that 'all families raise black devils' [quoting Tu Fu], they occur in 
certain places. In the same manner as they rear falcons to seize 
pheasants and hares, they raise cormorants for the purpose of 
catching fish. These birds perfectly understand the commands of 
men and exert themselves for men's benefit. They are also styled 
'aquatic old crow.' It happens that several birds unite forces in 
catching a large fish, some pecking the eyes of the fish, others its fins, 
others its tail and dorsal fin. When the fish is thus exhausted, they lift 
it together out of the water, and their master takes the fish. Truly, 
a clever performance!" See also Yiin-nan t'ung chi k'ao (chap. 68, 
p. 23), which in the main cites T'an Ts'ui. 

His observation as to several birds seizing a large fish is quite 
correct and has also been made by several European writers. "And, 
what is more wonderful still, if one of the cormorants gets hold of a 
fish of large size, so large that he would have some difficulty in 
taking it to the boat, some of the others, seeing his dilemma, hasten 
to his assistance, and with their efforts united capture the animal 
and haul him off to the boat" (R. Fortune). Harting once saw 
three cormorants trying to tackle a large eel which one of them had 
brought up, but from its size and weight could not hold; the other 
two came to his assistance, and the three worried it like hounds with 
a fox. 

F. Gamier (Voyage d'exploration en Indo-Chine, I, 1873, p. 517) 
noticed the fishing with cormorants on the lake of Ta-li fu, Yiin-nan, 
saying that the fishermen cast rice on the water as a bait to the 



230 Domestication of the Cormorant 

fish. Prince Henri d'Orleans (From Tonkin to India, 1898, p. 141) 
observed cormorant fishing on the lake of Ta-li fu, giving a sketch 
of a boat with eight birds. 

The province of Se-ch'wan has been an active center of cormorant 
breeding and fishing ever since the days of the Sung dynasty. We 
have seen in the section of Historical Data that the prefecture of 
K'wei-chou H ji\ M played an eminent role in this respect during 
the middle ages. The Se-ch'wan t'ung chi P9 )\\ M, ^ (chap. 74, pp. 21, 
28a) gives the same prefecture, as well as Mei chou M jW, among 
localities where cormorants are kept. They are likewise used in the 
districts of Ch'eng-tu and Hwa-yang ($t %$ H 1&, chap. 3, p. 10; 
# IB II £, chap. 42, p. 49b). 

On the whole, cormorant fishing occurs intensely in central, 
western, and southern China. The foregoing citations of localities 
should merely be taken as examples. It is impossible and also un- 
necessary to give a complete list of such localities. In the north of 
China keeping of cormorants is comparatively rare, but sporadically 
it does occur wherever conditions are suitable. 

As to Shan-tung, F. von Richthofen (Schantung, 1898, p. 97) 
limits cormorant fishing to the western part of the province, which 
is quite natural, as the employment of the bird followed the Grand 
Canal. John Barrow's (Travels in China, 1804, p. 506) brief remarks 
refer to Tsi-ning chou. 

J. NieuhofTs (or Neuhof's) account (Gesantschaft der ost-indi- 
schen Geselschaft, 1669, p. 134) of cormorant fishing refers to Ning- 
yang ^ Wj in Yen-chou fu, western Shan-tung. In another passage 
(p. 353) Nieuhof writes that the bird louwa, as he calls it (the name 
cormorant was unknown to him), occurs throughout Sina. 

Dr. Gudger (I p. 39) has reproduced a photograph taken in 1921 
by Mrs. Mary G. Lucas of cormorants ready for fishing on a stream 
outside of Peking. I have never seen cormorant fishing or heard of 
it in the environment of Peking or in other places of Chi-li, but 
Sowerby (p. 72) refers domesticated cormorants to the vicinity of 
the lakes in Pao-ting fu and to the stretches of water to the west 
of Tientsin. 

That cormorant fishing occurs on the Wei River in Shen-si is 
known to me only from a photograph published by Clark and 
Sowerby, "Through Shen-kan," plate XX, which is thus captioned, 
but no description of it is given. 

As has been shown, cormorant fishing is distributed in China over 
a vast stretch of territory. The cause of this wide distribution lies 
in the fact that the bird has been truly domesticated and is bred in 



Geographical Distribution 231 

captivity, with the result that hundreds of birds thus bred can be 
easily transported from one locality to another where there are 
prospective fishing grounds. In opposition to China, cormorant 
fishing is restricted in Japan to certain localities and practically 
to a single fish, the ayu aforementioned. In Japan, the trained 
cormorants are recruited and always replenished from wild stock, 
so that no active trade in the birds could develop. The principal 
and famous old center of cormorant fishing in Japan is the Nagara 
River It $i )\\, the town of Gifu C& -$• being the metropolis of the 
industry. 

Cormorant fishing is further practised on Lake Biwa and in the 
northern part of Kyushu in the Naka and Sawara Rivers, in 
the department of Fukuoka M |33 JH, province of Chikugo; and in the 
Sagami +11 ^, Tama % Hi or 3£ JM and Ara $c Jl| Rivers near Tokyo, 
which enter into the Sea of Japan. 

A study of the geographical distribution, unfortunately, does not 
allow us to recognize exactly in what territory of China the cormorant 
was first domesticated and how it was diffused from this center to 
other localities. The documents fail us. Certain it is that northern 
China must be excluded from the places where the domestication 
might have originated. The lower Yangtse Basin would seem to 
have been the logical center. I would not lay too much stress on 
the fact that the majority of Sung authors refer to cormorant fishing 
in Se-ch'wan; the fact remains that they were not interested in 
the subject itself, but that they were exercised over the significance 
of the term wu kwei; and since the latter hailed from Se-ch'wan, 
the existence of trained cormorants there had to be emphasized. 
While in this manner we get good evidence for Se-ch'wan, there is 
no reason to believe that the trained cormorant was monopolized 
by this province during the Sung period; it must certainly have 
persisted in the prefecture of T'ai-p'ing on the lower Yangtse, where 
it is reported in the tenth century. Assuming that there the primeval 
domestication took its origin, it is not difficult to realize how from 
An-hui and Che-kiang it spread to Fu-kien, Kiang-si, Hu-nan, and 
Kwang-tung, how another movement sent the domestication up the 
Yangtse to Se-ch'wan and Yun-nan, and finally how the Imperial 
Canal promoted its northward migration through Kiang-su, Shan- 
tung, and Chi-li. 



RELATION OF JAPANESE TO CHINESE 
CORMORANT FISHING 

The first problem that confronts us is, What is the relation of 
Japanese to Chinese cormorant fishing? Did one nation acquire the 
domestication from the other? Or what was the historical develop- 
ment? The only author who has ever ventilated this question is 
Dr. Gudger (II p. 8), who argues as follows: "If now the commonly 
held belief be accepted that Chinese culture and civilization (includ- 
ing the use of the cormorant in fishing) antedated that of Japan, 
then, since we have dates for the sending of Chinese embassies to 
Japan, we need not find it difficult to believe that the Japanese 
learned this method of taking fish from the Chinese, and indeed 
possibly got their first birds from these embassies." This conclusion, 
first of all, is based on wrong premises; and, secondly, is a rather 
sweeping generalization unsupported by any evidence. Gudger did 
not have the historical side of the question straight. He quotes the 
notice of the Sui shu indirectly by translating it from Hervey-Saint- 
Denys' rendering of Ma Twan-lin's Wen hien t'ung k'ao, and is thus 
led to the belief that it refers to the thirteenth (instead of the sixth 
or seventh) century. Ma Twan-lin's work, of course, has no inde- 
pendent value and presents merely a compilation of older sources; 
the quotation given by Dr. Gudger is merely copied from the account 
of Japan contained in the Sui Annals. As shown above, this is the 
earliest extant reference to cormorant fishing in the world, and is 
much earlier than any Chinese references to the practice in China. 
The first unmistakable notice of cormorant training in China is not 
older than the tenth century, so that according to our Chinese 
documentary evidence the use of the bird in Japan antedates that 
in China by at least three centuries, while according to Japanese 
sources it is even much older. For this reason no serious historian 
will rush at the conclusion that the Japanese have simply adopted 
the domestication from the Chinese, or will indulge in such com- 
fortable speculations as the one that the Japanese possibly got their 
first birds from Chinese embassies. If this had been the case, Japanese 
writers would have been sincere enough to admit it. Whenever the 
Japanese received cultural elements from China or Korea, they placed 
such indebtedness on record. We have no right to conclude that 
because much of ancient Japanese culture is derived from China, 

232 



Japanese and Chinese Cormorant Fishing 233 

everything Japanese must have radiated from the same center; this 
has to be proved for each and every case, and we have to be mindful 
of the fact that there are numerous Japanese cultural traits which 
cannot be laid at the threshold of China. L. Reinhardt (Kultur- 
geschichte der Nutztiere, 1912, p. 403), without giving any reason, 
alleges that the Japanese learned the fishing with cormorants from 
the Chinese. 

Let us consider the opposite possibility that the Chinese might 
be indebted to Japan for the trained cormorant. E. H. Parker, in 
translating Ma Twan-lin's account of Japan (Transactions As. Soc. 
of Japan, XXII, 1894, p. 44), comments on the cormorant passage, 
"It would thus seem that the Chinese owe at least one idea to the 
Japanese." The Chinese knew of this Japanese fishing method in 
the beginning of the seventh century, and the fact was recorded in 
the official dynastic annals. The records of foreign countries con- 
tained in the Sui shu, as well as the biographical portion, were 
completed in a.d. 636. It would not be impossible that a Chinese 
official who read this notice might have conceived the idea of inducing 
his compatriots to try the same experiment; but, if an official had 
taken the initiative in this matter, some official record of this event 
would surely have been preserved. And then we should expect to 
see this experiment carried out soon afterwards, say, in the beginning 
of the T'ang period ; yet we face this long gap of nearly three centuries 
between the Sui and the Wu-tai periods which cannot be bridged 
over. The possibility that the Japanese account of the Sui shu or 
Pei shi should have struck the eyes of a fisherman of An-hui, Che- 
kiang, or Se-ch'wan appears to me so remote that it does not merit 
a discussion. 

The plain fact remains that Chinese sources do not admit any 
indebtedness to Japan in matters of cormorant fishing, in the same 
manner as the Japanese on their part do not credit it to the Chinese. 
And this fact, in my opinion, carries weight. I have already insisted 
on Japanese honesty, and I plead the same degree of honesty for the 
Chinese. Every one familiar with the history of Chinese civilization 
knows only too well that the Chinese have always been frank and 
upright in acknowledging foreign loans. To us trained in scientific 
thought the domestication of the cormorant appears a significant 
affair; and, as pointed out, it is a unique phenomenon in the history 
of the world. To the Japanese and Chinese, however, who alone of 
all peoples accomplished the permanent training of the bird, it is 
something insignificant over which they never made any fuss. These 
two nations were always distinguished for modesty, reserve, lack of 



234 Domestication of the Cormorant 

conceit and ego worship. Neither preserved the name of the first 
fisherman or men who did the deed. It was too trifling a matter. 
But if the Greeks or Romans had accomplished it, what pride would 
swell the chests of our classicists! Of course, the Greeks would have 
handed down the name of the "inventor" with a romantic story of 
how his genius was inspired by the gods, and every school boy in 
our midst would be obliged to learn it by heart. As matters stand 
now, he is spared this thrilling or sad experience, and things peculiarly 
Japanese and Chinese do not bother our public. The thirteenth 
edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica devotes an entire column 
to the cormorant with a lengthy story of its training in Europe, 
but maintains cold silence about its domestication in Japan and 
China! In the fourteenth and last edition the article in question is 
curtailed to a half column, and it is said, "The practice is nearly 
obsolete in Europe, though still common in China." And this is all. 

As the evidence stands, there is but one conclusion admissible, 
and this is that the domestication of the cormorant and everything 
connected therewith was independently achieved in China and Japan. 
This conclusion is corroborated by many facts which lie in the 
domestication itself. The principal facts are as follows: 

The method of using and treating the cormorant in Japan is 
fundamentally and radically different from that of China. Here the 
Latin saying "si duo idem faciunt, idem non est" holds good. What 
the Japanese practise may be briefly defined under the name of the 
harness or team method. A cord or rein of spruce fiber, about twelve 
feet long, is attached to the body of each bird, and the master lowers 
the birds one by one, altogether a team of twelve, into the stream 
and gathers all reins in his left hand, manipulating the various lines 
thereafter with his right hand, as occasion requires, to keep them 
free of tangles. This method is absolutely unknown anywhere in 
China. In China, the cormorant has reached a perfect stage of 
domestication, is reared in captivity, and is the born slave of his 
master. Nothing like this is at present done in Japan, where the 
cormorants pressed into service are all caught from wild stock on 
the coast of the Owari Gulf and immediately receive their training. 
The Japanese method in all its various details is as different from 
the Chinese as both Japanese and Chinese methods are at variance 
with that formerly adopted in Europe. What these methods are 
will be more fully discussed in the following chapter. The point to 
be made here is that in view of these principal differences Chinese 
and Japanese utilization of the cormorant cannot have a common 
basis of origin. The two are entirely distinct. The only point in 



Japanese and Chinese Cormorant Fishing 235 

common to the two civilizations is that the cormorant is used by 
man for the purpose of catching fish; but this is all, and here the 
coincidence comes to an end. The discrepancies outbalance in 
weight the outward similarity. Different causes, different methods 
and technique have merely yielded a similar result. 

Another observation remains to be made. It is a significant 
fact that cormorant fishing was never practised in Korea and that 
it is unknown there at present (I speak advisedly, as I had occasion 
to interrogate Korean students on this point). Accordingly, cormo- 
rant fishing does not belong to that series of culture elements which 
spread from China to Korea and were further transmitted from Korea 
to Japan. In fact, the Chinese cormorant domestication did not 
spread at all; it was not communicated to any of those nations which 
came under the spell of Chinese civilization. The aboriginal tribes 
inhabiting western and southern China did not adopt it; neither did 
the Annamese or any other peoples of Indo-China or the Siamese, 
Burmese, or Malayans. The domestication of the cormorant and 
the peculiar method of raising, training, and using the bird have 
remained a purely and typically Chinese affair. And this method 
did not spread to Japan. Japan has evolved a method of her own 
and peculiarly herself without the aid of outward influences. 

The question of a possible mutual stimulus, that may be raised, 
dwindles into insignificance and is wholly immaterial, as compared 
with the basic processes. If it is a question of priority and precedence 
in originality, the balance of the evidence certainly favors the 
Japanese. 



THE PROCESS OF DOMESTICATION 

The only scholar who has treated of the cormorant as a domesti- 
cation, unfortunately too briefly, is Eduard Hahn (Die Haustiere, 
1896, pp. 347-350). No other book dealing seriously with domesti- 
cated animals — and there are many of these — mentions the cormo- 
rant. Hahn points out that the cormorant as a domesticated animal 
is an achievement of Chinese civilization, which shows the patience 
and intelligence of the Chinese at their best. He refers to Friar 
Odoric, Armand David, and R. Fortune. It was vaguely known to 
him that fishing with cormorants is practised in Japan, and he offers 
a curious misunderstanding of a passage in Journal asiatique (1871, 
p. 403), "If it be correct that the mythical Matwan-lin is Japan, 
this method must go back to very ancient times, as far back as the 
sixth century A.D." L. Reinhardt, in his popular book, "Kultur- 
geschichte der Nutztiere" (1912, pp. 400-403), gives a few notes on 
the life of the wild bird, copies the historical information of Hahn 
(without acknowledgment and adding some errors of his own), and 
says very little about the domestication itself. 

The wild cormorant is not difficult to tame. The only statement 
to the contrary I have found is made by L. Reinhardt (op. cit., p. 403), 
who writes, "As the excellent ornithologist Naumann with good 
reason designates the cormorant as difficult to tame and fond of 
biting, the great patience and endurance of the Chinese in making 
it a domestic animal must be the more acknowledged." Naumann 
may have been a good ornithologist, but has never attempted to 
train a cormorant. Those who did venture to dissent from him. 

Harting (p. 438), who had much experience in training cormorants, 
states that "cormorants are by no means difficult to train, and do 
not require half the care and attention which has to be bestowed 
upon hawks for example." Pichot (p. 27) writes in the same spirit. 
"This web-footed marine bird is very easily tamed. His heart is very 
near to his stomach, and one may be reached by way of the other. As 
I was engaged in falconry, I was naturally led to practising cormorant 
fishing. This is a delightful sport and the easier, as the cormorant 
becomes rapidly familiar; if you feed him out of your hand, you will 
have trouble to prevent him from following you everywhere, ascend- 
ing the stairs behind you, perching on your furniture, and leaving 
on all pieces incontestable traces of his rapid and abundant digestion." 

236 



The Process of Domestication 237 

In China, the cormorant has attained the stage of a complete 
and perfect domestication, the birds propagating and being reared 
in captivity. It is said by Sowerby (p. 73) that the domestic stocks 
are replenished from time to time by the capture of wild birds or 
by robbing the latter's nests; it is very sensible, of course, to refresh 
the blood of a domestic species occasionally by interbreeding with a 
wild congener, but I believe this is but seldom done. The early 
travelers to China were merely content to record their surface observa- 
tions of cormorant fishing without inquiring into the life and habits 
of the bird. Nieuhoff was the only one who possessed enough 
intelligence to ask the question whether the birds also propagated 
and bred many young, and was given the reply that "this happens, 
but very slowly and little." (Dr. Gudger [I p. 12] cites Nieuhoff in 
Ogilby's English translation of 1669, which in the cormorant section 
is inaccurate and deficient.) 

A statement concerning the use of domesticated birds is also 
found in a Chinese source. The Hu-nan fang wu chi ffll 1& 3j fyj ]& 
("Record of the Local Products of Hu-nan Province"), written 
in 1818 by Ki Chung-liang Jgf to & and Tsiang Siang-wei M & #t 
(chap. 7, p. 14; edition before me printed in 1864) cites from the 
San ch'ang wu chai Ch'ang shwo H £t % # H: s£ the following: "In 
the south the cormorants are all attached to the fishermen's houses, 
and are fed and reared by them. I have never heard that birds born 
in freedom (or wild birds) are used for fishing" ($j + S& M % fl& 
% J& # * K ^ W £ #). The date of the book San ch'ang, etc., 
is not directly known to me, but as farther on Li Shi-chen's Pen 
ts'ao kang mu is quoted in it, it must be a product of the seventeenth 
or eighteenth century; the title of the book is Ch'ang shwo, and it 
was published by the San ch'ang wu Studio which issued also a 
ts'ung shu. 

The effect of the domestication is shown in the complete submis- 
sion and subordination of the birds, who become as docile and obedient 
as dogs, knowing their master and his boat and understanding his 
commands perfectly well, and in their outward appearance they 
display variation in color, a marked characteristic of all domestic 
breeds. Sowerby (p. 72) observed in Chi-li many pied or even 
pure white individuals. 

The females lay yearly from three to nine eggs in the first and 
eighth month. The eggs are green in color and the size of a duck's 
egg; what is called the white of the egg is light greenish; the eggs 
are never consumed. The eggs of the first month are the only ones 
retained for hatching, for the reason that the young birds will grow 



238 Domestication of the Cormorant 

up in the spring; if those of the eighth month were hatched, the young, 
who are extremely sensitive to cold weather, it is feared, would not 
live through the winter. The eggs are always hatched by hens, not 
by the cormorant mother. The only author who gives a different 
account is Dabry de Thiersant, who writes that "the cormorants 
prepare in a spot retired and dark a nest of straw, on which the 
female lays her eggs which she herself covers all the time." I have 
but little confidence in this statement, in view of the fact that the 
author shows himself rather uncritical and credulous in his notes 
on the cormorant; for instance, when he asserts that on the tenth 
day after birth the fledglings are taken by the trainer out on his 
boat and seek their places on the common perch; while the training, 
in fact, begins only two months from the date of birth. 

The fact that the eggs are given to hens to hatch is attributed by 
several authors to the female cormorants being bad mothers (Fauvel, 
p. 230). "Curiously enough the mothers are so careless that they 
cannot be trusted to rear their own young" (Gordon-Cumming in 
Dyer Ball, p. 182). This comment savors of Chinese mentality, 
being made in response to a question, and is either really believed 
by the breeder or is just elicited to satisfy the curiosity of an impor- 
tune inquirer. This explanation, of course, is absurd, for "the young 
of the wild species are assiduously fed and cared for by the parents" 
(Sowerby) ; and how with this alleged lack of maternal affection could 
the species have spread over the entire world? The female kept 
in captivity lacks her nest in high trees and the natural conditions 
of her life, and this rather is the reason why she declines to incubate 
the eggs. Moreover, experience has taught the breeders that safer 
and faster results are attained from hens than from female cormorants. 

The fledglings come out of the egg after a month's incubation. 
They cannot stand on their legs, and are very sensitive to cold. 
They are transferred to cotton-stuffed baskets which are kept in a 
warm room. The young birds are enveloped in cotton wool and fed 
with small morsels of bean-curd (tou-fu) and pellets of raw fish, 
preferably eel, if procurable. Cormorants are inordinately fond of 
eels and prefer them to all other fish; where eels are plentiful they 
will even catch nothing else. Fortune was given the information 
that for five days the young are fed with eels' blood and that after 
five days they can be fed with eels' flesh chopped fine. Dabry de 
Thiersant denies that this is done in the central provinces, and 
states that during seven days the young receive three times a day 
finely minced meat which they prefer to any other food; afterwards 
small fish are added to the meat. There is no doubt that in matters 



The Process of Domestication 239 

of feeding and training a good many local variations exist. Lean 
and weak birds are fed on dogs' flesh ( Ning-hua Men chi 3£ it f& iS, 
chap. 2, p. 128). "After the tenth month the cormorants are given 
dog's flesh which will keep their bodies warm and protect them from 
the cold ; even when breaking through the ice and plunging into the 
water, they will not die from a chill" (Pen ts'ao kang mu shi i, 
chap. 9, p. 7b). 

Under the heading "Method of rearing cormorants," Fang I-chi 
3; Jsi H?, in his Wu li siao shi fyt} M 4* M, (chap. 10, p. 5), gives the 
following brief notes: "For a period of six months the (young) 
cormorants are susceptible to cold. Their keepers wrap them in 
refuse cotton and feed them with pepper. In autumn and winter 
the birds are turned loose into the water to catch fish. Those incu- 
bated in the summer are so strong that they can peck up the eye- 
balls of large fish." If pepper is given the young birds, it must be 
mixed, of course, with some food, which Fang I-chi forgets to men- 
tion, and may act as a sort of tonic. 

At the end of a month feathers begin to cover the down, and the 
quantity of fish is increased for their diet, while the proportion of 
bean-curd is reduced. After the second month the birds have doubled 
their size, and are fit for the market, a female being half as much 
in price as a male. This difference in price is due to the superior 
strength of the male who is able to capture larger fish. 

When the nursery days are over, the schooling of the birds begins 
at once, and they are turned over to a professional trainer. Their 
wings are clipped to prevent their flying away. The first lesson is 
as follows. A string is tied to one of the bird's legs, the other end 
of the string being fastened to a stake set in the bank of the pond 
or canal. The bird is driven into the water, the trainer whistling 
a peculiar call and, if necessary, enforcing obedience by the persua- 
sive strokes of a bamboo, the great educational means of China. 
Small live fish are thrown to the bird who will pounce upon them 
greedily, as he was previously kept on a reduced diet. He. is now 
called back by a different whistle signal and, to make him under- 
stand, is first pulled back by means of the string or line until he 
has learned to comprehend the call and to obey it spontaneously. 
This procedure is repeated daily for about a month till the bird is 
accustomed to his master's voice and commands. 

The second lesson is given in a boat along the same line as previ- 
ously, and lasts four or five weeks according to the bird's intelligence. 

When the young birds are accompanied by older well-trained 
birds, which is usually done, the time of instruction is shortened 



240 Domestication of the Cormorant 

considerably, as they will quickly learn from their elders. At the 
end of this period they are relieved of the leash or line. Birds not 
properly trained by that time are regarded as stupid and hopeless. 
A period of seven or eight months may be considered sufficient to 
turn him into an expert fisher. 

There is a good deal of individual character in the birds. Some 
are intelligent, alive, and alert; others are dull, lazy, and sulky. 
Some are more expert at diving and catching than others. European 
writers have described the cormorant as "solemn, weird, uncanny"; 
but such words are elicited by impressions of our mind, and are 
not objective characteristics of the bird. What is more important 
is that each bird possesses enough individual characteristics to enable 
his master to recognize him among a flock of other birds working 
in the water; and vice versa, the birds are endowed with sufficient 
intelligence to know their master and their boat; they always occupy 
the same place assigned to them in the boat. Many fishermen name 
their birds, and will always call them by their names. 

"These birds differ much in their tempers, some being most spite- 
ful and savage, as well as shy and disobedient in the field, whilst 
others are just the reverse. They are very sagacious, knowing the 
places where they have caught fish and are likely to meet with them 
again, etc. They are also capable of great affection. Honest 'Isaac 
Walton' was particularly fond of his master and, singularly enough, 
he would not allow any one else to approach without showing fight. 
When angry, the cry somewhat resembles the gobble of a turkey, 
and when pleased, it is a loud guttural sound, like 'haw, haw!' " 
(Freeman and Salvin, Falconry, p. 331). 

The domesticated cormorants of China live in basket-like cages, 
or in the summer are also left in the open where they are tied to their 
perches by means of a leather thong fastened to one of their legs. 

The fisherman who uses the birds is not necessarily the breeder. 
There are special establishments which make it their business to 
breed the birds and to sell them or lease them to the fishermen. 
Fortune mentions such a large establishment, which he visited 
in 1848, thirty or forty miles from Shanghai and between that town 
and Chapu, where a pair was then sold at from six to eight dollars. 
The tenants usually repay the owner of the birds with a certain 
quantity of fish. Under this system the birds are worked as hard 
as possible, for the fisherman's sole interest is in catching as large 
a booty as possible in order to gain a surplus for himself in excess 
to what he owes to his landlord. Under these circumstances the 
friendly and sympathetic relations that exist between man and his 



The Process of Domestication 241 

domestic animals must be completely lost. The wholesale breeding 
of birds, however, has one advantage that they can be distributed 
and sold in the entire country. 

The earlier writers on China represented cormorant fishing as a 
sort of royal monopoly. R. Willes (see p. 245) has a fantastic 
account of the king of China possessing a good store of barges full 
of sea-crows allowed a monthly provision of rice; these barges the 
king bestows upon his greatest magistrates. Juan Gonzalez de 
Mendoza has a similar story, and Nieuhoff has the fishermen pay 
an annual tax to the emperor for the use of the birds. With reference 
to Lord Macartney, who stated that exorbitant taxes had to be paid 
to the emperor for the permission to use cormorants, Fauvel remarks 
that he never heard of such in Che-kiang and that they probably 
existed nowhere in his time. Of course, the cormorant fishermen, 
like every one else, paid an annual tax, but these taxes never were 
excessive, nor has a government monopoly on cormorants ever 
prevailed, nor has the government to all appearances ever taken an 
interest in the whole business. It is known to every one who was 
in the China of the Manchu dynasty that the people were in the 
habit of complaining and sobbing to foreign visitors about high 
taxation, oppression, and extortion, while in fact they were the most 
lightly taxed people in the world, comparatively speaking. In 
Chinese sources I have found nothing alluding to a cormorant mono- 
poly or special taxation. The only item I have found is as follows: 

In the Gazetteer of Ning-hua ^ it U J& (chap. 2, p. 128), in 
the prefecture of T'ing-chou, Fu-kien, it is stated, "At present the 
inhabitants of Yen and Kien M ft A (Yen-p'ing fu and Kien-ning 
fu), who raise these birds, pay their taxes to the officials in rice ffi 

# ^ H\" 

Authors like Fortune and Fauvel have also given price quotations 
for the birds, which can hardly claim any validity at present. I 
mention only that the Ning-hua Men chi (chap. 2, p. 128) gives the 
price of a single bird as ten taels (ounces of silver), and this may 
be regarded as an average value. 

Most writers who have described cormorant fishing, although 
their accounts are incomplete and deficient, do not fail to mention 
the ring or strap around the bird's neck, and do not get tired of 
repeating the worn-out statement that this is done to prevent him 
from swallowing the fish which he catches. Friar Odoric (Yule, 
Cathay, new ed., II, p. 190) is the first of European travelers who 
noted that the fisherman tied a cord round the birds' necks that 
they might not be able to swallow the fish which they caught. True 



242 Domestication of the Cormorant 

it is Chinese authors make the same statement. Several have been 
quoted to this effect (p. 224) , and another may be added here. "Those 
who raise the cormorant tie a cord around its neck, so that small 
fishes can pass its throat, while big fishes can not; from time to time 
the fishermen call the bird and take the fish away from it; and then 
they send it out again" (Yung-ch'un chou chi ?K ^ jNi 1&, chap. 7, 
p. 22; the same in Ning-hua Men chi, chap. 2, p. 127; both localities 
are in Fu-kien). 

The fact itself is correct, but is not logically expressed. That 
the cormorant is prevented from swallowing a large fish is the effect 
of the ring or strap, but not the cause of it, which is quite different. 
The ring is the symbol of the cormorant's bondage, and was the 
original expedient that brought its domestication about. It takes 
the place of the dog's neck-collar, the horse's bit, the water-buffalo's 
nose-ring, the falcon's leash and hood. In order to govern and keep 
a cormorant, man required some means of grasping and holding him, 
and a cord of hemp slung around his neck and terminating in a line 
which man could seize was the means he devised. Man's first thought 
in training the bird was to hold him in check, to bridle him, to direct 
him; he did not think, at first, of preventing the bird from swallowing 
large fish; this resulted as a secondary effect from the use of the strap 
or ring. 

The ring is called chuan HI (Ma-kia-hiang t'ing chi $? %. # M &, 
chap. 12, p. 11) ; in the Sui shu, as pointed out above (p. 212), hwan. 

Great care must be exercised in placing the cord or strap around 
the bird's neck; it must be fastened in such a way that it will not 
slip farther down upon his neck, as this would be apt to choke him. 

Different materials are used for the ring in various localities; 
straw, hemp, bast, tow, bamboo (Kwang-tung), rattan, and even 
iron (Maffei and Nieuhoff) are reported. The use of iron is unneces- 
sary, even foolish, as its weight will hamper the bird's free movements. 

That the neck-collar is merely a stepping-stone in the gradual 
development of the domestication becomes clear from the fact that 
in the last and highest stage of development the neck-collar is simply 
discarded, especially in Che-kiang. At this stage of the game the 
birds are disciplined to such a degree of perfection that they fish 
in unrestrained and absolute freedom. A well-trained cormorant, 
while on duty, will not swallow any fish whether large or small; 
he knows his business and his lord. 

G. Staunton (Account of an Embassy to the Emperor of China, 
1797, II, p. 388), for instance, reports that "the birds appeared to 
be so well trained, that it did not require either ring or cord about 



The Process of Domestication 243 

their throats to prevent them from swallowing any portion of their 
prey." His observations were made on the Imperial Canal near 
Hang-chou. Milne (Life in China, 1857, p. 307) writes that he 
could find neither ring nor cord about the necks of any of them 
to prevent the swallowing of fish. 

De Guignes (Voyages a Peking, I, pp. 271, 289) states expressly 
that in Kwang-tung Province, where he noticed cormorant fishing 
in three different places (in 1794), the birds were free and appeared 
well tamed; "they did not have, as P. du Halde says, a collar around 
their necks." 

What Friar Odoric describes (Yule, Cathay, II, p. 190) is also a 
free method of fishing which indicates a highly developed stage in the 
evolution of domestication, though of a somewhat lower degree than 
the preceding one. The water-fowl were let loose without being 
driven, and straightway began to dive, catching great numbers of 
fish and putting these of their own accord into the baskets, so that 
before long all the three baskets were full. Of course, as mentioned 
previously, Odoric's birds were equipped with the neck-strap; and 
when their task was finished, they were tied to perches in the boat. 

In some parts of the country the fishermen haul the bird with his 
catch out of the water in a dip-net, and methods of managing the 
bird vary according to locality. For instance, at Tsi-ning chou and 
probably in other places too, the fisherman who commands a flock of 
ten or twelve birds will not rush all of them into the water at once, 
but will allow only one or two of them to dive at a time; and when he 
perceives that they are fatigued, he will take them in and feed them 
and then dispatch another pair into the water. This humane method 
has the advantage that it will give the poor workers a good chance 
for rest. On the Min River in Se-ch'wan cormorants, after diving, 
are brought up to the surface in baskets of much the same shape as 
the birds (E. G. Kemp, The Face of China, 1909, p. 180). 

Some of these varying practices, particularly those bearing on 
minor details, may simply be due to local variations of custom; but 
in the main, the basic differences are an index of the various stages 
through which the development of the domestication has run. It 
is clear that the more the bird's movements are restricted, the more 
restraint is imposed upon him, the older this stage of development 
must be. It was gradually recognized that the laws deemed necessary 
for his enslavement need not be too rigidly enforced, that the creature 
was attached to his master and would not forsake him, that barriers 
could be slowly removed and a greater amount of liberty be restored 
to him. In this point the Chinese have manifested admirable 



244 Domestication of the Cormorant 

wisdom, and have advanced far beyond the Japanese. This indeed 
is the goal for which all cormorant domestication must strive — 
granting the bird a maximum degree of freedom. This makes a 
happy cormorant and a more successful and therefore happier 
fisherman. 

Another implement indispensable to the cormorant trainer and 
fisherman is a long bamboo pole, which serves a twofold purpose — 
propelling the raft or boat tenanted by the fisherman with the heavier 
end of the pole and directing and controlling the movements of the 
birds with the other. He uses the pole as the conductor of an orches- 
tra does his baton. When the theatre of action is reached, he signals 
to the birds to dive by beating the water with the pole. When a 
bird fails to attend to his business, a blow of the bamboo on the water 
near where the bird floats accompanied by an angry shouting, is 
sufficient to remind him of his duty. Whenever a bird gets tired, or 
when his gullet is filled with rich booty, the pole is stretched forth so 
that he may jump and perch on it, and be lifted into the boat. On 
the same bamboo pole the birds are carried from their home to the 
water's edge and back home when their task is done (compare 
Plate XIII). 

The methods of fishing with cormorants have frequently been 
described and are beyond the scope of this study which is concerned 
with the cormorant as a domestication; but I wish to mention one 
point, as it has not been brought out by previous authors. There are 
two principal methods of fishing — the solitary one and the method 
of group fishing. A man single-handed, especially on a raft, is able 
to manage three or four cormorants and to attend to the whole 
business (see Plates XV-XVI); a variation of this is duet fishing 
when two men join in dividing labors, one steering and propelling 
the boat, the other tending the birds and the fish caught by them. 
Rafts are chiefly used in the southern provinces. Boats are either 
single, or two of them are placed side by side and connected by a 
plank; the latter are more stable (illustration in Korrigan, p. 42). 
The raft owners usually operate with from two to four birds; the boat 
masters, with ten or twelve. In group fishing a fishermen's gild 
or association gets together and makes common cause. A fleet of 
small boats moves into action and spreads out in a line or crescent 
formation, setting the frightened fish moving and driving the birds 
in front. As each fisherman knows his own birds and as each bird 
knows his boat and his place on it, everything proceeds in orderly 
fashion. The concerted action in this manoeuvring naturally insures 
a larger haul of fish. The solitary method assuredly is older than the 



The Process of Domestication 245 

group or community method, and is the one pointed out in our earliest 
Chinese source, the Ts'ing i lu, which advisedly refers to "a single 
man" (above, p. 221). The first mention of community fishing 
occurs in R. Willes' Reports of the Province of China (about 1565), 
based on the data of Portuguese, chiefly Galeotto Pereira (Hakluyt, 
Glasgow ed., II, p. 327). Here it is said (I modernize the old English 
spelling), "At the hour appointed to fish, all the barges are brought 
together in a circle, where the river is shallow, and the crows tied 
together under the wings are let leap down into the water, some 
under, some above, worth looking upon; each one as he has filled his 
bag, goes to his own barge and empties it, which done he returns to 
fish again. . . . There were in that city where I was, twenty barges 
at the least of these aforesaid crows." 

From what has been said about the present-day training of 
cormorants, it is not difficult to imagine what the steps in the primeval 
process of the domestication have been during the tenth century. A 
wild young cormorant was ensnared, and the Chinese have always 
been skilful bird-catchers. A cage with a perch, a cord and a leash 
or line, a bamboo pole were all the paraphernalia required. A noose 
was tied around the bird's neck, and along a line he was immediately 
dispatched into the water. The first man who did it merits greater 
admiration for the originality of his idea than for what he accom- 
plished, while the bird as the natural fish-hunter is deserving of 
greater credit for the achievement. At the outset it is difficult to 
realize what keeps the enslaved cormorant in bondage, or why he 
continues hard labor for an employer who has so little to offer him 
in return. The service of domesticated animals is based on a silent 
pact which gives them advantages not enjoyed by their wild con- 
geners: proper shelter, protection from rapacious enemies, adequate 
food, and assurance of a constant and regular food supply. The 
cormorant to some extent suffers from what the modern Chinese 
would call an "unequal treaty." He is hardly fed by man, but looks 
out for his own meals, catching his own fish. In some parts of China 
he is given a morsel to eat after every catch, and some fishermen even 
feed their birds with their own hands, stroking their necks to facilitate 
the downward movement of the food, which the birds are said to 
like very much. They are also fed with morsels of bean-curd, but 
this alone can hardly be a sufficient attraction for the bird to remain 
in his state of socage. He has no natural enemies, as chickens and 
pigeons have, from whom he would need protection. His quarters 
are by no means palatial or sumptuous, and there is but little senti- 
mentality in a fisherman's heart. Even granted that he treats his 



246 Domestication of the Cormorant 

birds well in his own interest, the cormorant's psychology is not 
perfectly clear and requires further elucidation. I have never heard 
of a cormorant attempting to break loose in order to gain his liberty, 
and with his wings clipped and his spirit broken it is questionable 
how far he would get; probably he would be pursued and soon 
captured by his owner. Born and raised in captivity, he is ignorant 
of the sweetness of liberty and looks upon slavery as his natural lot. 

While the domestication of the cormorant has passed through 
several successive stages and has improved by degrees, it is not 
necessary to imagine that the primeval or initiatory process was a 
superhuman task which required a long span of time. I have there- 
fore suggested that in accordance with the present state of our 
knowledge the beginnings of the domestication in China should not 
be dated farther back than the tenth century A.D. 

In its natural state the cormorant is said to live twenty to 
twenty-five years. It is an interesting fact that in Japan the cap- 
tured and trained birds reach a much higher age than the domesti- 
cated ones of China. According to Ikenoya, the Japanese birds will 
live to the age of twelve. Palmer, as quoted by Chamberlain, 
estimates that they work well up to fifteen, often up to nineteen or 
twenty years of age. According to Kuroda, birds from four to eight 
years old are the best; beyond this age they begin to slow down in 
their work, but they can be employed up to about fifteen years of age. 

According to Jametel, the cormorants of China begin to lose their 
plumage from their fourth year, and they usually die before reaching 
the age of six years. Fauvel (p. 233) states that a good cormorant 
can serve during five years, but at the lapse of this period begins to 
lose its feathers and will die soon. Dabry de Thiersant, however, was 
informed that the birds are serviceable up to the age of ten years. 
Whatever the exact facts on either side may be, there is no doubt 
that the average is much higher in Japan than in China. And the 
reason for this is not far to seek. The Japanese birds are kept busy 
only a five months' season and rest during the winter, while the 
Chinese birds are worked and overworked the whole year round, 
except during extreme frost in the winter. The Chinese have not 
yet learned that domestic animals also need a vacation and time for 
rest and play and that this concession will prolong their lives and 
intensify their ability to work. There is no doubt also that the 
Japanese treat and nurse their birds better than the Chinese. In the 
summer, the cormorant quarters in Japan are even surrounded with 
mosquito nets. Lack of cleanliness in their cages must necessarily 
breed disease and doom many birds in China to a premature death. 



The Process of Domestication 247 

But aside from this, the Chinese method of domestication is 
infinitely superior and preferable to the Japanese method of catching 
young birds and training them. They are caught on their roosting 
places around Shinoshima in the province of Owari. Their wings are 
clipped, and they are sent blindfolded to Gifu. At first they are 
very vicious, and are kept tied up. They are daily taken out at 
noon, under the leash, on the river and allowed to dive, catch, and 
swallow from one to two pounds of fish. After about fifteen days 
they are taught to catch and disgorge fish. 

At Gifu a cord is attached to the bird's foot and passes under its 
belly up to its neck where it connects with the ring. Twelve birds 
form a team, and their cords are fastened to a single line directed by 
one master. In this manner the cormorants are kept close to the 
boat and hampered in their free movements. Pichot (p. 32), in 
criticizing this method, remarks that the true sport consists in having 
the cormorant work with liberty without any other means of restraint 
than the leather ring around his neck. I would go a step farther 
and say that, as demonstrated by the example of Chinese fishermen, 
even the ring can be dispensed with and that a well-trained cor- 
morant may be given the "freedom of the seas." It might be advis- 
able for the Japanese to send a commission of experts to China for a 
thorough study of the Chinese system of cormorant breeding with a 
view to apply it at home, or at least to improve the domestic system. 
On the other hand, I am sure, Japanese cormorant experts could 
teach the Chinese a great deal in the proper care of their birds. 

The complex and cumbrous apparatus set in motion by the 
Japanese is unconsciously inspired by the fear lest the captured bird 
might escape, and he is fettered and closely watched every minute. 
Too much unnecessary fuss is made about the whole business, and 
too many fads and frills are connected with it. In the fishing method 
followed by the Japanese the birds are unnecessarily excited, and 
their agitation when in the water is increased by the burning sparks 
which fall into the water from the braziers or cressets on the boat 
intended to illuminate the nightly scene. The weird light of lanterns, 
the noise from music and songs on the boats of the pleasure-seekers 
make the birds still more nervous. 

The Japanese procedure in fishing with harnessed cormorant 
teams has the one advantage that the keeper has absolute control 
over each member of his team and can pull him out of the water 
from his particular line instantaneously he has caught some fish. 
The Chinaman may lose some time in giving commands or repri- 
manding or punishing lazy or recalcitrant birds, but he is more 



248 Domestication of the Cormorant 

humane and more sportsmanlike in allowing his birds some freedom 
of action; and freedom, after all, is what makes good sport. The 
Japanese method, although in its outward appearance a sport, is, 
in fact, not a sport, at least so at the present time. I am inclined 
to think that it was different in ancient and mediaeval Japan when 
the cormorant was still regarded as a sacred bird. It was this 
sacred, mythological character of the bird which prompted the 
ancient Japanese to keep it in captivity, and, I am disposed to 
believe, to domesticate it, although I cannot produce any docu- 
mentary evidence to this effect. In the modern Japanese and 
European sources I have been able to consult nothing is said about 
the birds propagating in captivity or the breeding of birds born in 
captivity; I should be very grateful for any information on this point, 
as it is an important matter for the history of domestications. 

In opposition to Japan cormorant fishing in China is carried on 
during the day. This is reported alike by all observers. Sowerby 
(p. 73), however, asserts that "sometimes and in some parts of China 
the fishing is done at night, when great flares are carried on the 
boats, which serve to attract the fish and also to help the birds to 
see them." It would be interesting to have more specific information 
on this point, especially as to the localities where it is done and as to 
the methods applied. 

In Japan, in opposition to China, cormorant fishing is usually 
carried on during the night. In China it is an industry from which 
fishermen gain a livelihood, while in Japan it has rather the character 
of a sport connected with pleasure parties and spectacular festivals 
for the entertainment of illustrious visitors and ordinary sightseers. 
This, however, to all appearances, is a modern development which 
does not hold good for ancient and mediaeval Japan. This recent 
sporting tendency may be largely due to two imperial visits at Gifu 
in 1878 and 1880. 

Where cormorant fishing is a commercial enterprise in Japan, it is 
also carried on in daytime only, in one locality both night and day. 

Another difference between China and Japan is that Japanese 
cormorant fishing is practically restricted to the ayu (above, p. 213), 
while the Chinese without discrimination take any fish the cormorant 
is able to hunt. 



RELATION OF CORMORANT TO OTTER FISHING AND 

EGRET TAMING 

A question that remains to be answered is whether there is any 
relation between otter fishing, as still practised in the upper Yangtse 
Basin, and cormorant fishing. It would seem so at the surface, 
judging from a remark of Sung K'i 5fc 1(5 (a.d. 998-1061), who in his 
Pi ki ^ fil (known as 5fc /!; 3C & ^E Id) makes a certain Wang 
Tse-huan 3: -J- £.7 say that he saw with his own eyes at Yung-chou 
(in Hu-nan) tame otters kept for fishing in the place of (or, as 
substitutes for) cormorants & W # HI & \X & % & Tfc tft & 
and that these daily caught about ten catties of fish, enough to 
supply the want of a family. Wang Tse-huan was apparently 
familiar with cormorant fishing, while the sight of otter fishing was a 
novel experience to him. It cannot be said, however, with any regard 
to historical truth that the otter replaced the cormorant in certain 
parts of the country; for otter fishing was practised at an earlier date 
than cormorant fishing and was known under the T'ang. Translations 
of two passages to this effect from T'ang authors were transmitted 
by me to Dr. Gudger, who published them in his article Fishing with 
the Otter (pp. 198-199). As cormorant fishing was in all probability 
inaugurated in the Lower Yangtse Valley in the beginning of the 
tenth century, the two events are distinct as to space and time, and 
it is hardly necessary to assume an interrelation of the two. It 
may be, of course, that news of otter fishing on the upper Yangtse 
reached fishermen in the lower course of the river and might have 
suggested to them a similar idea which may have set them to think- 
ing about the cormorant. For the rest, the two events are entirely 
different. The cormorant was gradually brought into a state of 
domestication, while the otter could merely be tamed, and has 
always remained in the feral state. 

The egret (lu Ht, Ardea egretta) was also kept in captivity, although 
it is not stated for which purpose. The earliest notice to this effect 
I have been able to find occurs in the Mao shi ts'ao mu niao shou 
ch'ung yiisu^t%^^M>%ktik1&ifc (chap. B, p. 4b, ed. of T'ang 
Sung ts'ung shu), where it is said, "At present the people of Wu also 
raise egrets" (^ ^ A Jf # ;£&). The authorship of this work is 
ascribed to Lu Ki &£ Wt (a.d. 260 or 261-303), although my edition 
of the T'ang Sung ts'ung shu makes him "T'ang"; but as Legge 

249 



250 Domestication of the Cormorant 

(Classics, IV, p. 178) says that "the original work was lost and that 
now current was compiled, it is not known when or by whom, mainly 
from K'ung Ying-ta's constant quotation from it," it is difficult to 
date the above passage. The Wu lei siang kan chi $3 M +B $L Je?, 
ascribed to Su Shi (a.d. 1036-1101), says that "the heron is kept by 
men in ponds and becomes as tame as domestic fowl; whenever the 
day Pai-lu 6 H- (8th of September) appears, the herons fly away 
and are gone." This evidently refers to the southward migration 
of the birds. The same information is given in the P'i ya *$ 9f£ by 
Lu Tien ^ fa (a.d. 1042-1102), who writes that "the people of the 
present time raise white herons intensely and that there are birds 
quite tame and docile; when they have left on the day Pai-lu, they 
cannot be kept again." The Hwa king $L H, written by Ch'en 
Hao-tse W. W -f in 1688 (chap. 6, p. 4b), says that many people keep 
these birds in ponds and pools. 

Li Fang ^ B# (a.d. 924-995), compiler of the T'ai p'ing yu Ian, 
is said to have raised five herons whom he called "cloud guests" 
(yun fco if 3§P), according to the Ts'e lin hai ts'o M $fc #1 Ib. 

The Gazetteer of Shao-hing Bft M> #f J& (chap. 11, p. 31) gives 
the following information: "The egret is snow-white in color, and 
on its crest has a silk-like bunch over a foot long; when the bird 
desires to catch fish, it droops this feather-bunch. Many people 
living on the banks of rivers north of the mountains keep the egret 
in their houses, and the birds become so tame that they do not fly 
away; only during the day Pai Lu 3 E (8th of September) is it 
necessary to cage the birds for the entire day so that they do not 
escape." 

If this information be correct (and it should be verified in the 
locality), egret taming may bear some relation to cormorant training. 
It is a curious coincidence that the employment of the heron in the 
service of man begins about the same time as, or a little earlier than, 
cormorant training, but it seems never to have reached a great 
practical importance. 



ICONOGRAPHY 

The oldest representation of a cormorant known to me is a 
carving in jade of the Chou period in Field Museum, Chicago. 
Illustrated in Laufer, Archaic Chinese Jades, 1927, plate XXVI, 
fig. 7, and as a vignette on page 205 of this article. 

It is singular that cormorant fishing has not inspired any great 
Chinese artist. To be sure, there are many drawings and pictures 
of the subject of Ming and Ts'ing periods, but all these are mechanical 
productions of small or no artistic value. I feel almost confident 
in saying that no T'ang or Sung artist has ever painted a cormorant. 
The Siian ho hwa p'u 1[ ?B :§£ fH enumerates many pictures of 
herons, even herons engaged in fishing, for instance, by Hwang 
Ku-ts'ai, but not a single cormorant painting. 

Fishing with cormorants is depicted in a Chinese painting 
attributed to the Ming period (weak as a painting and teaching but 
little about the method of fishing), reproduced in 0. Sir^n, Chinese 
Paintings in American Collections, plate 138. 

A finger-painting by Kao K'i-p'ei, representing a cormorant 
fisher, is in the possession of Mr. Benjamin March, Detroit, to whom 
I am indebted for kindly placing at my disposal a photograph of it 
here reproduced in Plate XIV. The painting (46 by 22 inches) is on 
paper, in black ink on a blue background wash and some tan-orange 
in the foreground. It illustrates well the method of solitary fishing 
described above (p. 244). The bare-legged fisherman is cautiously 
propelling his five-bamboo raft with a long pole, and one of his two 
cormorants is spying the water for fish. The picture is inscribed in 
grass characters as follows: ^!S^B%tlf-H ^E$t 
Htj 3£ 1R Ib Jlfc, i.e. "Finger-play (finger-painting) of Kao K'i-p'ei 
of T'ie-ling (in Fung-t'ien fu, Sheng-king, Manchuria, place of 
his birth), done on the day before the first full moon of the year 
(the Feast of Lanterns) of the year i-se of the K'ang-hi period" 
(1665). As the artist died in 1734, he must have been very young 
when he sketched this picture; the date of his birth seems to be 
unknown. The date 1665, at any rate, is apt to rouse suspicion, 
and there may be something wrong about it and the entire legend; 
1725, an i-se year, would be more probable, but this falls within the 
Yung-cheng period. The year 1665 is separated from 1734 by 69 
years; presuming that in 1665 Kao was about 20 years old, he must 
have lived to the age of 89; this is not impossible, but it is harder to 

251 



252 Domestication of the Cormorant 

believe that in his youth he should have done this picture which bears 
the ear-marks of a work of maturity. Hirth (Scraps, p. 30) remarks 
that his best period seems to fall in the years 1700-15. Field 
Museum possesses a finger ink-sketch by him, representing two 
hawks fluttering around a bare tree-trunk with a date corresponding 
to 1685, and another, undated, representing a carp swimming up- 
stream and stretching its head out of the water. Both pictures are 
reproduced in Laufer, History of the Finger-print System, Smith- 
sonian Report for 1912, plates 5 and 6. Kao K'i-p'ei, as is well 
known, was a great exponent of the art of finger-painting, and was a 
really good artist. 

The woodcut inserted in the T'u shu tsi ch'eng (XIX, chap. 45) 
shows a single bird perching on a rocky platform and overlooking 
the water; the figure is fairly exact, except the beak, the upper 
mandible of which is but slightly curved instead of terminating 
in a hook. The Pen ts'ao kang mu contains an engraving of a cor- 
morant floating downstream with a small fish in its beak. 

The San ts'ai t'u hui (1607, sect. Birds and Animals, p. 18) 
illustrates a cormorant on the bank of a river, a rather sorry speci- 
men. The figure and scene are very similar to the illustration in the 
Cheng lei pen ts'ao (above, p. 224). 

Good examples of Chinese ink-drawings of cormorant fishing are 
reproduced in the book of P. Korrigan (p. 38) and in Gray's 
China, II, opp. p. 297. 

G. E. Freeman and F. H. Salvin (p. 328) entertained the idea that 
"this ingenious method of catching fish was most likely invented by 
the Chinese, and must be of very great antiquity, if we may judge by 
the representation in old China ware and other Chinese illustrations," 
to which is added in a foot-note, "We have seen cormorant fishing 
represented upon some ancient china cups at Leagram Hall, Lanca- 
shire, the seat of J. Weld, Esq." 

On a white porcelain bowl of the Yung-cheng period (1723-35), 
brought from China by Mr. C. T. Yao of New York and presented 
to Field Museum by the American Friends of China, Chicago, 
various scenes in the occupations of fishermen are represented in 
enamel colors, among others a man standing in a boat and carrying 
on his shoulders a bamboo pole on which two cormorants perch 
(Plate XIII). 

The Ku yil t'u p'u (chap. 71, p. 13) illustrates a jade spoon or 
ladle terminating in a cormorant's head H 3£ K$ H #?, placed in a 
water receptacle in the shape of a tazza; evidently made in allusion 



Iconography 253 

to the cormorant wine-vessel of Li Po (see Pien tse lei pien, 
chap. 210, p. 5, or Ts'e yuan: lu-ts'e). A curious coincidence is 
represented by a spoon of the Eastern Dakota Indians, used in the 
feasts of the Medicine Lodge, which is provided with a handle carved 
to represent a cormorant's head (in Field Museum, Cat. No. 60411). 

I do not enumerate the illustrations of cormorant fishing in 
China contained in the older European books, as these are reproduced 
by Gudger (I) with critical annotations and as in this age of photo- 
graphy they have but little scientific value. 

The National Geographic Magazine of June, 1927 (p. 704), con- 
tains a good reproduction of an excellent photograph of a cormorant 
fisher taken by Dr. Camillo Schneider in western Yun-nan. 

A photograph of cormorant fishing on the Wei-ho in Shen-si is 
reproduced by Clark and Sowerby (plate XX), without description; 
it shows a single fisherman standing astride on two small boats 
joined together, operating with three birds. 

H. Kraemer's "Der Mensch und die Erde" (X, opp. p. 288) con- 
tains a colored plate entitled "Fishing with trained cormorants in 
China" after a painting by F. de Haenen. A fisherman is shown in the 
act of removing a fish from the bill of a cormorant which has just 
reached the edge of the boat; three birds are swimming in the water, 
and a confused mass of ropes is visible. The picture is rather fan- 
tastic than instructive. In the caption accompanying the plate it is 
said that the birds dive to a depth of 50 meters (!) and swim under 
water for two or three minutes with immense velocity. In the text 
which purports to trace the development of fishing all over the world 
nothing is said about cormorant fishing. 

Yukihide Tosa (fifteenth century) has painted in colors an excel- 
lent scene representing cormorant fishing; a man in the boat governs 
two birds with strings held in his left hand, closely watching them; 
one bird is shown in the act of diving. A color reproduction of this 
picture is in Kokka, IV, No. 47, plate 1. 

Korin Ogata, who died in 1716, is the creator of a masterly picture 
in ink on silk, showing an old fisherman in a boat with torchlight, 
eagerly watching his two cormorants in the water; one of the birds 
holds an ayu in its beak. The picture belongs to Baron Iwasaki of 
Tokyo, and is reproduced in Kokka, XXX, No. 352, 1919, plate VI. 
It is said there that the theme was favorite with Korin and that this 
work belongs to his best. 

Cormorant fishing at night in the Nagara River is illustrated in 
a colored print by Yeisen said to be "very rare" (reproduced in 



254 Domestication of the Cormorant 

Japanese Color Prints of Lindsay Russell, New York, 1920, p. 22). 
It is evidently identical with No. 55 of the Sixty-nine Stations of the 
Kisokaido by Hiroshige and Yeisen. 

A tsuba by Hironaga in Field Museum shows a fisherman with a 
lighted torch in the water, holding the ropes attached to a cormorant 
whose bill reaches up toward a fish (H. C. Gunsaulus, Japanese 
Sword-mounts, plate L, fig. 1). 

Pichot's book illustrates seven boats fishing with cormorants in 
Lake Gifu, Japan; a lantern made in the same place and painted 
with cormorant fishing-boats; the count R. de Najac holding his 
cormorant "Pole Nord" or "Careme"; and a French engraving of the 
eighteenth century showing falconers and pecheurs au cormoran. 

"Fishing with cormorants on the Nagara River, Gifu" is the 
subject of an illustration in an article on The Fisheries of Japan by 
Jihei Hashiguchi in Far Eastern Review, XIV, 1918, p. 319. 

Dr. Gudger's article (II) contains many good reproductions of 
fine photographs representing cormorant fishing in Japan, many of 
these having been supplied by the Municipal Office of Gifu. 



FOLK-LORE OF THE CORMORANT 

The Chinese folk-lore of the cormorant is not particularly inter- 
esting, but some notions entertained regarding the bird are worthy 
of mention. It is an old popular conception first pointed out by the 
calligrapher Wang Hi-chi 3E ^ 2. (a.d. 321-379) and by T'ao Hung- 
king pSs| %; Jp: (a.d. 452-536) that "this bird is not born from eggs, 
but spits its fledglings out of its mouth." Such an absurd idea could, 
of course, obtain only at a time when the bird's life was unknown, 
and no attempt at training it had been made. Ch'en Ts'ang-k'i, 
the physician of the K'ai-yiian period (a.d. 713-741), writes that 
"this bird is viviparous ftu ^fe and brings its young forth from its 
mouth like the hare vomits its offspring; hence women at the time 
of childbirth, when holding this bird, will have an easy delivery." 
In the Yu yang tsa tsu (chap. 16, p. 2) it is said, "The hare spits its 
young out, the cormorant spits its fledglings out." 

The / wu chi of Yang Fu (T'ai p'ing yu Ian, chap. 925, p. 8b), 
quoted on p. 221, adds to this superstition that the number of young 
born from the mouth is large, at least seven or eight, and that five 
or six are connected with one another and come out like a silk thread. 
In the Buddhistic dictionary Yi ts'ie king yin i the number of young 
ones brought forth from the mouth at one birth is given as eight 
or nine. 

A parallel to the notion that holding a cormorant will bring 
about easy delivery occurs in ancient Japan, where for the same 
purpose a cormorant feather was grasped in the hand of a parturient 
woman (Aston, Nihongi, I, p. 98). 

K'ou Tsung-shi *£ *£ its, in his Pen ts'ao yen i^^ffi w& (chap. 16, 
p. 9, ed. of Lu Sin-yuan) written in a.d. 1116, gives the following 
account of the cormorant: "T'ao Yin-ku [T'ao Hung-king Pft ^ ^:] 
asserts that this bird is not born from eggs, but vomits the fledglings 
out of its mouth. The people of the present time call it 'old water- 
duck.' The birds nest in large trees where they flock in large num- 
bers. The trees in which they lodge for a long time will decay. 
Their droppings are poisonous. Pregnant women do not dare 
eat this bird on account of the fledglings being vomited out of its 
mouth. Ch'en Ts'ang-k'i, on the other hand, states that, in order 
to insure an easy childbirth, one should let a woman, when her 
hour approaches, hold a bird. While T'ao Siang-hi served as an 
official at Li-chou [in Hu-nan], there was a large tree behind the 

255 



256 Domestication of the Cormorant 

house of this gentleman. In the crown of this tree there were thirty 
or forty cormorant nests, where at evening the birds could be observed 
in the act of mating. Egg-shells of green color were found spread 
over the ground. How should this bird then obtain its young by 
vomiting them forth from its mouth! Such a thing has never been 
verified, and is nothing but baseless talk of the people." 

This is one of the rare instances where a superstition is refuted 
by actual observation. S. Wells Williams (Chinese Repository, VII, 
1839, p. 542), referring to this belief, asserts that "Li Shi-chen very 
wisely puts such accounts among errata." Li Shi-chen, however, 
does not make any comment on this point; the criticism in question 
is solely due to K'ou Tsung-shi. 

According to Wang Hi-chi, the ordure of the cormorant is white 
and dispels black spots on the face (apparently a skin-disease). 
According to the Fang shu jj #, evidently a book of medical pre- 
scriptions, cormorant's ordure is called "water-flower of Shu" l|j ?K 
#:, it is rubbed into a powder and administered in water; it has the 
effect of causing men to renounce wine; the bird's head is a good 
remedy for fish-bones sticking in the throat (Ko chi king yuan, 
chap. 80, p. 3b) . According to the Pen ts'ao kang mu, the ' 'water-flower 
of Shu" is even mentioned in the Pie lu, and T'ao Hung-king com- 
ments, "It is plentiful in the valleys with streams; it is necessary 
only to get hold of it oneself, as what is offered in the markets cannot 
be trusted." 

As the cormorant is able to swallow a fish, bone and all, it is 
easily understood that in the pharmacopoeia parts of the bird are 
recommended as relieving one from fish-bones sticking in the throat. 
T'ao Hung-king prescribes for this purpose the bird's bones to be 
burnt and mixed with lime and water; this medicine will force fish- 
bones down the throat. Fan Wang ^a £E, a physician, at the time 
of the Eastern Tsin dynasty (a.d. 317-419) recommends to swallow a 
cormorant's beak or to burn a cormorant's wing (prepared in the 
same manner as the bones previously) as a remedy against choking 
from fish-bones; even an inch square of a cormorant administered 
will bring the bone down, if only the bird's name is called out (T'ai 
p'ing yu Ian, chap. 925, p. 9). Li Shi-chen extols the bird's crop 
which must be swallowed, as very efficient for the same purpose. 

Finally the cormorant appears in one story as a rain bird. In 
a.d. 797, at the time of a drought, prayers for rain were offered in 
the Dragon Hall of the Hing-k'ing Palace JfiJf M f M U & f I fc 
when a flock of white cormorants appeared above a pond, grouped 
as though conducting the imperial barge; on the following morning 



Folk-lore of the Cormorant 257 

it rained ( Nan pu sin shu ^i n& $f #, written by Ts'ien Yi H 4* 

about a.d. 975, chap. N, p. 2b, ed. of Yiie ya fang ts'ung shu. 

The story is told with some greater detail in Kiu Tang shu; see 

T'ai p'ing yii Ian, chap. 925, p. 8b, or Yuan kien lei han, chap. 427, 

p. 8b). 

The description of the cormorants as "white" in the above text 

seems somewhat anomalous; perhaps there is confusion with herons. 

In England it was regarded as a sign of rain or wind when cormorants 

and gulls bathed themselves much, pruned their feathers, nickered 

or flapped their wings (J. Brand, Observations on the Popular 

Antiquities of Great Britain, III, 1888, p. 218). 

Two popular sayings in the Amoy dialect are noted by Francken 

and De Grijs (Chineesch-Hollandsch Woordenboek van het Emoi 

Dialekt, p. 365, Batavia, 1882): 

15 M W. *1 lo tsi k'o am, to have a ring around the neck like 

a cormorant; i.e., not to be wholly one's own master. 

<& M & £fl H HC Ji lo tsi bu tsai bu ao ts'ao, the cormorant is 

not conscious of the odor penetrating from under its tail; i.e., not 
to see one's defects. 

In England the voracity of the bird was proverbial, and Shake- 
speare likens to it a man of large appetite, as "the cormorant belly" 
(Coriolanus, 1, 1), "cormorant devouring Time" (Love's Labour's Lost, 
I, 1), "this cormorant war" (Troilus and Cressida, II, 2). Compare 
T. F. Thiselton Dyer, Folk-lore of Shakespeare, 1884, p. 108. Harting 
(Ornithology of Shakespeare, p. 260) writes, "Although Shakespeare 
mentions the cormorant in several of his plays, he has nowhere 
alluded to the sport of using these birds, when trained, for fishing; 
a fact which is singular, since he often speaks of the then popular 
pastime of hawking, and he did not die until some years after James I 
had made fishing with cormorants a fashionable amusement." 
E. Phipson (Animal-lore of Shakespeare's Time, 1883, p. 285) also 
writes that Shakespeare's references to the cormorant are only as 
an emblem of insatiable appetite. 

The scanty information known to the ancients about the 
cormorant (if indeed it refers to this genus) has been collected by 
0. Keller (Die antike Tierwelt, II, p. 239). 

A mythology of the cormorant exists only in ancient Japan (see 
above, p. 212) and among the Tlingit and some other Indian tribes 
along the northwest coast of America (for references see 0. Dahn- 
hardt, Natursagen, 1910, III, pt. 1, pp. 28, 29, 77, 105, 147, 232). 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 

The earlier works on China which make reference to cormorant fishing have 
not been included here, as Dr. Gudger (I) has canvassed this ground, nor is men- 
tion made of modern works on China which have a casual reference to the subject 
without contributing anything new or worth while. 

Anon. — Cormorant Fishing. East of Asia Magazine, Shanghai, II, 1903, pp. 95-97. 

Brief description inaccurate in several points. 4 ill. 
Ball, J. Dyer.— Things Chinese, 4th ed., Shanghai, 1903, pp. 181-183. 

Belvallette, Alfred. — Traits de fauconnerie et d'autourserie. Suivi d'une 
6tude sur la p§che au cormoran. Paris, 1903. 

Brown, Lucy Fletcher. — Fishing with the Birds of Gifu. Japan, XIV, 1925, 
pp. 23-24, 31. 3 ill. 

Chamberlain, Basil H. — Things Japanese, 5th ed. London, 1905, pp. 105-108. 

Cochrane, May L— Harnessed Birds of Gifu. Asia, XXV, 1925, pp. 301-305. 

Dabry de Thiersant, P. — La pisciculture et la p§che en Chine. Paris, 1872, 
pp. 171-172, plate XIX, fig. 1. 

David, Armand, and Oustalet, Emile. — Les oiseaux de la Chine. Paris, 1877, 
pp. 532-533. 

Brief description of the species. 
Doolittle, Justus. — Social Life of the Chinese. London, 1868, pp 36-38. 1 ill. 

Fauvel, Albert-Auguste. — Promenades d'un naturaliste dans l'archipel des 
Chusan et sur les cotes du Chekiang. Cherbourg, 1880. 
Cormorant fishing: pp. 230-233 (valuable observations). 
Floericke, K. — Kormoranfischerei. Kosmos, XI, Stuttgart, 1914, pp. 30-33. 

Fortune, Robert. — I. Ten Years' Wanderings in the Northern Provinces of 
China. 2d ed., London, 1847, 1, pp. 98-103. 3d ed., London, 1853, 1, pp. 86-90. 
II. Two Visits to the Tea Countries of China, 3d ed., London, 1853, 
I, pp. 86-90. 

Freeman, G. E., and Salvin, F. H. — Falconry. Its Claims, History, and Practice. 
To which are added Remarks on Training the Otter and Cormorant. London, 
1859. 

Fishing with Cormorants, pp. 327-349. 
Fishing with Otters, pp. 350-352. 
Gray, John Henry, Archdeacon. — China, II, pp. 297-298. ill. London, 1878. 

Gudger, E. W. — I. Fishing with the Cormorant in China. The American 
Naturalist, LX, 1926, pp. 5-41. 16 ill. 

II. Fishing with the Cormorant in Japan. The Scientific Monthly, 
XXIX.1929, pp. 5-38. 31 ill. 

III. Fishing with the Otter. The American Naturalist, LXI, 1927, pp. 
193-225. 6 ill. 

Hahn, Eduard. — Die Haustiere. Leipzig, 1896, pp. 347-350. 

Harting, James E. — Essays on Sport and Natural History. London, 1883, 
pp. 423-440: Fishing with Cormorants. 

Ikenoya, S. — Cormorant Fishing. Japan Magazine, 1917, pp. 31-32. 

Jametel, Maurice. — La Chine inconnue. Paris (Rouam), 1886. Chap. XII: 
Le faucon a poisson, son education, pp. 207-213. 

Information on the training of the cormorant copied from Fauvel. 

258 



Bibliography 259 

Jordan, David Starr. — Fishing for Japanese Samlets on the Jewel River. Outing, 
XL, 1902, pp. 23-25. 1 ill. 

Republished in Jordan's Guide to the Study of Fishes, II, New York, 
1905, pp. 116-118; and Fishes, New York, 1925, pp. 142-144. 2 ill. 

Jouy, P. L. — On Cormorant Fishing in Japan. American Naturalist, XXII, 
1888, pp. 1-3. 

Korrigan, Pol. — Causerie sur la pfiche fluviale en Chine. Chang-hai, Imprimerie 
de la Mission Catholique, 1909. 

An excellent booklet. Cormorant, pp. 39-43. 

Kuroda, Nagamichi. — Cormorant Fishing on the Nagara River. Japanese 

Magazine, Tokyo, XVI, 1926, pp. 303-320. 16 ill. 
(Le comte) Le Couteulx de Canteleu. — La p§che au cormoran. Paris, Revue 

britannique, 1870. 

He was the owner of a flock of cormorants at his castle Saint-Martin. 

Leonhardt, E. — Aus China. Deutsche Fischerei Correspondenz, V, 1901, June, 
p. 7; July, p. 3. 

A few data on the training of the cormorant in China. 

Pichot, Pierre-Amedee. — Les oiseaux de sport. Paris (A. Legoupy), 1903. 

Cormorant: pp. 27-35; chiefly with reference to France and Japan. 

Rupprecht Prinz von Bayern. — Reise-Erinnerungen aus Ost-Asien. Munchen, 
1906. 

Cormorant fishing in Tamagawa west of Tokyo, pp. 322-323. 

Schmidt, M. — Fortpflanzung des gemeinen Cormorans in Gefangenschaft. Der 
Zoologische Garten, XI, 1870, pp. 12-18. 

Interesting data on the nesting habits and breeding of the cormorants. 

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1885, pp. 270-271. 

Ornithological classification and description. 

Smith, Hugh M. — I. Japan, the Paramount Fishing Nation. Transactions 
American Fisheries Society, 33rd meeting, 1904, pp. 129-132. 4 ill. 

II. The Fisheries of Japan. National Geographic Magazine, Wash- 
ington, XVI, 1905, pp. 213-214. 3 ill. 

Sokolowsky, Alexander. — Der Kormoran in seinen Beziehungen zur mensch- 
lichen Wirtschaft. Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv, Zeitschrift fur allgemeine 
und spezielle Weltwirtschaftslehre, Jena, XII, 1918, pp. 315-320. 
With a short bibliography. 

Sourbets, G., and Saint-Marc, C. de. — Precis de fauconnerie, suivi de l'dduca- 
tion du cormoran. Niort, Clouzot, 1887. 

Sowerby, Alfred de C— The Cormorant in China. China Journal of Science 
and Arts, IV, 1926, pp. 72-74. 4 ill. 

Special Catalogue of the Ningpo Collection of Exhibits. International Fishery 
Exhibition, Berlin, 1880. Also in Ibis, IV, 1880, pp. 375-376; and Special 
Catalogue of the Chinese Collection in Great International Fisheries Exhibi- 
tion, London, 1883. 

Information on cormorant by A. A. Fauvel. 

Stone, Jabez K.— Cormorant Fishing at Gifu. Japan, VIII, 1919, pp. 5-7, 44. 
5 ill. 

Williams, S. Wells. — Notices in Natural History: the Loo-sze or Fishing 
Cormorant. Chinese Repository, VII, 1839, Canton, pp. 541-543. 
Very incomplete translation of the text of the Pen ts'ao. 



INDEX 



An-hui, cormorant fishing in, 221, 222, 

228 
Aston, 212, 213, 255 
ayu, 213, 231, 248, 253 

Buddhists, attitude of toward cormo- 
rant fishing, 225 

Chamberlain, 221 

Ch'ang-t'ing hien chi, 209 

Che-kiang, cormorant fishing in, 227, 
242 

Ch'en Hao-tse, 223, 250 

Ch'en Ts'ang-k'i, 224, 225, 255 

Cheng lei pen ts'ao, 224, 225, 252 

Chi-li, cormorant fishing in, 230, 237 

Cocks, 213 

cormorant, Chinese terminology of, 208; 
folk-lore of, 255 ; geographical distribu- 
tion of, 207, 227; iconography of, 251; 
Japanese terminology of, 211; process 
of domestication of, 236 

Cormorant Cliff, 210 

Cormorant Embankment, 210 

Cormorant Islet, 210 

Cormorant Lake, 210 

Dabry de Thiersant, 238, 246, 258 
De Guignes, 228, 243 
Doolittle, 228 
duet fishing, 244 

eels, preferred by cormorants to other 

fish, 238 
eggs, of cormorant, 237 
egrets, tamed and kept in captivity, 

249-250 
England, cormorant fishing in, 206, 207 
Er ya, 208, 214, 225 
Er ya i, 217, 223, 225 
Europe, cormorant fishing in, 206 

falconry, cormorant fishing compared 

with, 218, 229 
Fan Chen, 218 
Fan Wang, 256 
Fang I-chi, 214, 219, 239 
Fang shu, 256 

Fauvel, 210, 227, 238, 241, 246, 258 
fishermen's gild, 244 
Florenz, 212 
Fortune, 206, 227, 229, 238, 240, 241, 

258 
France, cormorant fishing in, 206 
Fu-kien, cormorant fishing in, 227-228 



Giles, 208, 209, 220, 221 
group fishing, 244, 245 
Gudger, 205, 213, 230, 232, 237, 249, 
253, 254, 258 

Hahn, 236, 258 

Hai-hou Tsie, 216 

harness method of cormorant fishing in 

Japan, 234, 247 
Halting, 206, 207, 229, 236, 257, 258 
Hemeling, 211 
Hing-hua fu chi, 208, 227 
Hironaga, 254 
Hiroshige, 254 

Holland, cormorant fishing in, 206, 207 
Ho-nan, cormorant fishing in, 228 
Hu-nan, cormorant fishing in, 228; other 

fishing in, 249 
Hu-nan fang wu chi, 228, 235, 237 
Hu Tse, 215 
Httan Ying, 208 
Hui Hung, 215 
Hwa king, 223, 250 
Hwang Ch'ao-ying, 218, 219 
Hwang Kii-ts'ai, 251 

I wu chi, 221, 255 
Ikenoya, 213, 246, 258 
Indo-China, cormorant fishing absent 
in, 235 

James I, fishing with cormorants, 206, 

257 
Jametel, 246, 258 
Japan, cormorant training and fishing 

in, 212, 213, 231, 246-248 

Kao K'i-p'ei, 251, 252 

Kiang-si, cormorant fishing in, 228 

K'in king, 221 

Kojiki, 212 

Korea, cormorant fishing absent in, 235 

Korin Ogata, 253 

Korrigan, 228, 244, 252, 259 

K'ou Tsung-shi, 255, 256 

Ku yu t'u p'u, 252 

Kuroda, 213, 246, 259 

Kwang-tung, cormorant fishing in, 228, 

243 
Kwei-chou, cormorant fishing in, 229 
K'wei-chou fu chi, 219 
K'wei-chou t'u king, 217 
K'wei ku chi, 219 
Kwo T'wan, 219 



Lan chen tse, 215 



260 



Index 



261 



Lao-wa Tan, 229 

Leng chai ye hwa, 215, 217, 219 

Li Po, 221, 253 

Li Shi-chen, 208, 224, 225, 256 

Liu K'o, 217 

Liu Yii-si, 215 

Lo Yuan, 217, 223 

Lu Ki, 221, 249 

Lu nung shi, 215 

Lu Tien, 250 

Ma-kia-hiang t'ing chi, 242 

Ma Twan-lin, 232, 233 

Ma Yung-k'ing, 214, 215 

Magnus, Olaus, 207 

Man sou shi hwa, 216 

ManySshu, 213 

Mao shi ts'ao mu niao shou ch'ung yii 

su, 221, 249 
March, Benjamin, 251 
Mendoza, 241 
Milton, 209 

Mollendorff, 209, 215, 217 
Mong k'i pi fan, 215, 217 
Mong liang lu, 208 

Nachod, 221 

Nan Man ch'wan, 215, 216 

Nan pu sin shu, 257 

Neng kai chai man lu, 215, 219 

Newton 209 

Nieuhoff, 210, 230, 237, 241, 242 

Nihongi, 212 

Ning-hua hien chi, 216, 239, 241, 242 

Odoric, 205, 241, 243 
ordure of cormorant, as a remedy, 224, 
256; considered poisonous, 225, 255 
otter fishing, 249 

Palladius, 209, 220 

Parker, 210, 229, 233 

pelican, 211 

Pelliot, 208 

Pen ts'ao kang mu, 208, 224, 252 

Pen ts'ao kang mu shi i, 239, 252, 256 

Pen ts'ao shi i, 224, 255 

Pen ts'ao yen i, 209, 255 

Pi ki, 249 

P'i ya, 215, 250 

Pichot, 206, 207, 236, 247, 254, 259 

Pie lu, 256 

pig, sacred, 216 

raft, for cormorant fishing, 244 

raven, worshipped as a demon in Se- 
ch'wan, 216, 219 

Reinhardt, 233, 236 

ring around cormorant's neck, signi- 
ficance of, 241, 242 

Ripa, 228 

Salvin, 206, 207, 252 
San ts'ai t'u hui, 252 



Se-ch'wan, cormorant fishing in, 218, 

230, 231, 243 
Se-ch'wan t'ung chi, 218, 219 
Shakespeare, 257 

Shan-tung, cormorant fishing in, 230 
Shao-hing fu chi, 227, 250 
Shao Po-wen, 220 
Shen Kwa, 215, 217, 219 
Shen-si, cormorant fishing in, 230, 253 
Siang su tsa ki, 215, 218 
Sin siu pen ts'ao, 224 
Siren, 251 

solitary fishing, 244, 249 
Sowerby, 230, 237, 238, 248, 253, 259 
Staunton, 242 
sturgeon, 214 
Su Fang, 225 
Su po wu chi, 214 
Su Shi, 250 
Slian ho hwa p'u, 251 
Sui shu, 212, 219, 232 
Sung K'i, 249 

Ta Ming i t'ung chi, 209 

T'ai p'ing yii Ian, 212, 250, 255, 256, 

257 
Tan-t'u hien chi, 209 
T'an Ts'ui, 229 
Tang-t'u, 221, 222 
T'ao Hung-king, 255, 256 
T'ao Ku, 221 
team method of cormorant fishing in 

Japan, 234, 247 
Tien hai yii heng chi, 229 
Ting-hai t'ing chi, 227 
Ts'ai Kwan-fu, 215 
Ts'ai shi shi hwa, 215 
Ts'ang kie p'ien, 208 
Ts'e-k'i hien chi, 227 
Ts'e yuan, defects of, 223 
Ts'ing i lu, 209, 212, 214, 221, 245 
Tsing k'ang siang su tsa ki, 218 
Ts'ing-t'ien hien chi, 227 
Tu Fu, 209, 214, 215, 217, 218 
T'u shu tsi ch'eng, 212, 222, 225, 252 
Tung chai ki shi, 218 
T'ung ya, 214, 216, 217 

Wang Hi-chi, 255, 256 

Wang Mou, 215, 218, 219 

Wang Wei, 221 

Wen hien t'ung k'ao, 232 

Wen kien lu, 220 

Wieger, 226 

Willes, 241, 245 

Williams, 208, 214, 256, 259 

Wu-ho, reputed for breeding cormorants, 

228 
wu kwei, discussion of term, 214-221 
Wu lei siang kan chi, 250 
Wu li siao shi, 239 
Wu Tseng, 219 



262 Domestication of the Cormorant 

Yang Fu, 221, 255 Yuan kien lei han, 257 

Yang Shen, 217 Yukihide Tosa, 253 

Ye ko ts'ung shu, 215 Yule, 206 

Yeisen, 253 Yiin-nan, cormorant fishing in, 229, 253 

Yi ts'ie king yin i, 208, 255 Yung-ch'un chou chi, 242 

Yu yang tsa tsu, 215, 255 

Yii yin ts'ung hwa, 215 Zach, 221 

Yuan Chen, 216, 219, 221 



THE LIBRARY CF THE 
OCT 8 - 1931 

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS. 




SS3 

Si 

E S 

o DC 

■3 1 

u V 
1 ? 

E £ 

0) Jx 



THE LIBRARY 

OF THE 

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS 



Field Museum of Natural History 



Anthropology, Vol. XVIII, Plate XIV 




CORMORANT FISHER, FINGER-PAINTING 
BY KAO K'1-P'EI 



THE UBMW 
Of ^E 
«*E0U 0F llL1H01S 



Field Museum of Natural History 



Anthropology, Vol. XVIII, Plate XV 




FISHERMAN ON BAMBOO RAFT WITH CORMORANTS 




FISHING WITH CORMORANTS ON BAMBOO RAFT 




CORMORANTS PERCHING ON BAMBOO RAFT 
Photographs taken by Floyd Tangier Smith on Min River near Fuchow, 
Fu-kien Province 



THE LIBRARY 

OF ME 

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS 



Field Museum of Natural History 



Anthropology, Vol. XVIII, Plate XVI 





FISHERMAN HOLDING CORMORANT 




PLACING THE CATCH IN A BASKET 




FEEDING THE CORMORANT AFTER THE CATCH 

Photographs taken by Floyd Tangier Smith on Min River near Fuchow, 

Fu-kien Province