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Full text of "A naturalist in western China, with vasculum, camera, and gun; being some account of eleven years' travel, exploration, and observation in the more remote parts of the Flowery kingdom"

QK355 
.¥5 

V.I 




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A NATURALIST 
IN WESTERN CHINA 




THE AUTHOR 



A NATURALIST IN 
WESTERN CHINA 

WITH VASGULUM, CAMERA, AND GUN 

BEING SOME ACCOUNT OF ELEVEN YEARS' TRAVEL, 

EXPLORATION, AND OBSERVATION IN THE MORE 

REMOTE PARTS OF THE FLOWERY KINGDOM 



ERNEST HENRY WILSON, V.M.H. 

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY 

CHARLES SPRAGUE SARGENT, LL.D. 



WITH ONE HUNDRED AND ONE 
FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS AND A MAP 



VOL. I 

LIBRARY 
NEW YORK 

BOTANICAL 
GARDEN 



METHUEN & GO. LTD. 

36 ESSEX STREET W.G. 

LONDON 



QK355 

V.I 



J^trsi Published in igij 



J' 



TO 

MY WIFE 



UBR/uii 
NfW YOB. 
BOTANICAJ 

GARDEN 



PREFACE 

IN the following pages I have endeavoured to 
give a general account of Western China, more 
especially of its natural history and of the manners 
and customs of the non-Chinese peoples inhabiting 
the Chino-Thibetan borderland. The attempt is based 
as broadly as possible, and it is earnestly hoped that 
the information will be of interest to many sorts and 
conditions of people. 

My travels in Western China began early in 1899, 
and had for their object the collecting of botanical 
specimens and the introducing of new plants into the 
gardens of Europe and North America. I have made 
four separate expeditions, covering in all nearly eleven 
years, and the nature of my work made it necessary 
for me to eschew the beaten tracks of the Flowery 
Kingdom. 

The opportunity to travel and study the natural 
history of China I owe to the business enterprise of the 
house of Veitch, the famous nurserymen of Chelsea, 
to whom I was recommended by Sir William T. 
Thiselton-Dyer, then Director of Kew Gardens, at the 
instigation of Mr. W. Watson, the present Curator 
of that establishment. My first two expeditions were 
in the interest of Messrs. Veitch ; the last two in that 
of the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University. 
The results of these four trips are well known in 
the horticultural and botanical circles of Europe 
and North America. 

In my wanderings in China I have been singularly 

fortunate. The Chinese treated me always with 

^^indly courtesy and respect. I was in interior China 

U; b 

CD 



00 



viii A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

during the Boxer outbreak and the Russo-Japanese 
War, and visited places shortty before or after anti- 
foreign riots, but never experienced any incivility 
meriting the name. I engaged and trained as collectors 
a number of Chinese peasants, who served me faithfully 
throughout my journeys, and we parted with genuine 
regrets. At the commencement of my travels in 
China, Mr. Augustine Henry, now Professor of Forestry 
at Dublin, imparted to me much sound advice which 
I did my utmost to follow. To this gentleman and 
to the devoted services of my Chinese collectors must 
be largely attributed the results of my work in China. 

It is exceedingly pleasant to recall the kindly 
acts and hospitality of the many people I have been 
privileged to meet during my wanderings. Exigencies 
of space forbid the mention of names but do not affect 
my sincere appreciation. But for meeting them 
one's life would have been very much the poorer 
and lonelier. To my friend, W. J. Tutcher of Hong- 
Kong, this book in part owes its inception, and to 
another friend, J. Hutson Edgar, I am indebted for 
much information concerning the peculiar customs of 
the Thibetans and other non-Chinese races. 

In the preparation of this work, I have received 
much encouragement from Professor Charles S. 
Sargent, who has also contributed an introduction of 
the greatest value. To my friend Herman Spooner 
I am indebted for invaluable criticisms of the manu- 
script. To Walter R. Zappey, my associate on the 
third expedition, I owe much for assistance in details 
concerning the colours and measurements of the game- 
birds and mammals. 

Two or three of the chapters I first published in 
the Gardeners' Chronicle during 1905-6, and that on 
insect white-wax in the Chemist and Druggist, 1906, 
but these have been remodelled to suit present require- 
ments, and amended and corrected in accordance with 
increased knowledge. 

With six exceptions, the illustrations are from 



PREFACE ix 

photographs taken by myself with a whole plate 
Sanderson camera for the Arnold Arboretum, and 
permission to use them I owe to Professor Sargent. 
The photographs were developed and printed by Mr. 
E. J. Wallis of Kew, who obtained from the negatives 
the best possible results. For the illustration of 
Budorcas tihetanus, I am indebted to Mr. Samuel 
Henshaw, Director of the Museum of Comparative 
Zoology at Harvard College. 

It is quite impossible to record the full extent of 
one's obligations, since much information is un- 
consciously absorbed through contact with many 
people and extensive reading. I should, however, 
be lacking in filial respect did I not record my sense 
of indebtedness to the Alma Mater who gave me both 
inspiration and opportunity — the Royal Gardens, Kew. 



ERNEST H. WILSON 



The Arnold Arboretum 

Harvard University 

July 191 3 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

, Introduction by Professor Charles S. Sargent . xvii 

CHAP. 

I. Western China : Mountain Ranges and River 

Systems ....... i 

II. Western Hupeh : General Topography and Geology ii 

III. Methods of Travel : Roads and Accommodation . 22 

IV. In Quest of Flowers : A Journey in North- 

western Hupeh . . . . .28 

V. Forest and Crag : Across the Hupeh - Szechuan 

Frontier . . . . . -45 

VI. The Red Basin of Szechuan : Its Geology, Mineral, 

and Agricultural Wealth . . . .64 

VII. Eastern Szechuan : Narrative of a Journey from 

Taning Hsien to Tunghsiang Hsien . . 72 

VIII. The Ancient Kingdom of Pa : Narrative of a 

Journey from Tunghsiang Hsien to Paoning Fu . 85 

IX. The Chengtu Plain : " The Garden of Western 

China " . . . . . . .104 

X. North -Western Szechuan: Narrative of a Cross- 
Mountain Journey to Sungpan Ting . .116 

XI. Sungpan Ting : The Land of the Sifan . . 141 

XII. The Chino-Thibetan Borderland : " The Marches 

of the Mantzu "..... 149 

XIII. The Chiarung Tribes : Their History, Manners, 

and Customs ...... 160 



xii A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

CHAP. 

XIV. Across the Chino - Thibetan Borderland : Kuan 
HsiEN TO RoMi Chango; the Flora of the Pan- 
LAN Shan ...... 



170 



XV. Across the Chino - Thibetan Borderland : Romi 
Chango to Tachienlu ; the Forests of the Ta-p'ao 
Shan ....... 191 

XVI. Tachienlu, the Gate of Thibet : The Kingdom of 

Chiala, its People, their Manners and Customs 205 

XVII. Sacred Omei Shan : Its Temples and its Flora . 219 

XVIII. Through the Laolin (Wilderness) : Narrative of 
A Journey from Kiating to Malie, via Wa- 
wu Shan ...... 228 

XIX. Wa Shan and its Flora .... 245 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



The Author ...... Frontispiece 

FACING PAGE 

A Peak of the Barrier Range (Ta-p'ao Shan), circa 21,000 et. 2 



The Yangtsze River at Ichang 

A General View in North- Western Hupeh 

A View near Hsingshan Hsien with terraced Fields 

San-yu-tung Glen ; Cliffs of Carboniferious Limestone 

Primula sinensis .... 

Our Chinese House-Boat 

Our Caravan ..... 

Hostel at Che-tsze-kou, Pinus armandi Behind 

Highway Lead through a Natural Tunnel . 

Wan-tiao Shan, 8100 FT. 

In San-yu-tung Glen, Cupressus funebris in Foreground 

The Chinese Privet (Ligustrum sinense), 20 ft. tall 

Cercidiphyllum japonicum, var. Sinense, 80 ft. tall, Girth 

7 FT. 

The Large-Leaved Poplar (Populus lasiocarpa), 50 ft. tall. 
Girth 5 ft. ..... 

The Market Village of Tan-chia-tien 

A Typical View in the Red Basin 

A Soap-Tree (Sapindus mukorossi), 80 ft. tall. Girth 12 ft. 

Mausoleum with Ornate Mural Sculpturing 

Taning Hsien : North Gate .... 



6 

8 

12 

14 
16 
22 
22 
26 
30 
36 
40 
46 

SO 

56 
60 
66 
68 
74 
78 



XIV 



A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 



FACING PAGE 

The Chinese Pistachio (Pistacia chinensis), 6o ft. tall, 
Girth 25 et. .... 

A Sandstone Bridge with Cypress and Bamboos 

The Market Village of Tai-lu Ch'ang 

The Redbean Tree (Ormosia hosiei), 60 ft. tall, Girth 20 ft 

Nan-ching Kuan, opposite Paoning Fu 

The Divided Waters and Bridge (An-lan Chiao), 250 yards 

LONG ..... 

Channel cut through the Li-tiu Shan by Li-ping 
View in the Manchu Section of Chengtu City 
The Village Temple, Kung-ching Ch'ang 
A Memorial Arch .... 

View from Hostel, Lao-tang-fang . 

HSUEH-PO-TING, WITH SnOWS ; BeD OF STREAM ENCRUSTED 

with Lime Deposits . 

Looking East-South-East from Hsueh Shan Pass, Ruined 
Fort in Foreground .... 

The City of Sungpan Ting .... 

Two Sifan ...... 

Tomb of Man murdered by Bandits on Hsueh Shan Pass 

The Highway to Tachienlu and Beyond, here blasted 
from Solid Rock 

A Prickly Pear (Opuntia dillenii) naturalized 

The Tachienlu River 

The Wokje Village of Ta-wei 

Idols in a Bonpa Temple 

A Bamboo Suspension Bridge, 70 yards long 

The Village of Hsuan-kou . 

Primula veitchii .... 

The Gi-lung Lamasery 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



XV 



The Town of Romi Chango .... 

Forests West of Chango, a Poplar Tree in Foreground 

Rheum Alexandr^e and other Alpine Flowers 

The Ya-chia-k'an, Peaks 21,000 ft. . 

Tachienlu ; Site of Former Town in Foreground 

Manx Stones ...... 

The Lamaseries just outside Tachienlu 

The Chinese Banyan (Ficus infectoria), 70 ft. tall, Girth 
47 FT. . 

Hydrangea xanthoneura, var. Wilsonii, 15 ft. tall 

Temple on the City Wall, Kiating Fu 

Village of Ping-ling-shih, Mt. Wa-wu in Distance . 

View from Temple on Summit of Mt. Wa-wu, Cliffs clothed 
WITH Silver Fir (Abies delavayi) 

Bamboo Jungle and Silver Fir (Abies delavayi) . 

Wa Shan, 11,200 ft. ..... 



FACING PAGE 



194 
198 
202 
206 
210 
216 

220 
224 
230 

238 
242 
246 



INTRODUCTION 

THE botanical explorations carried on in China in recent years 
make it possible to compare the forest flora of eastern con- 
tinental Asia north of about lat. 22° 30' with that of eastern 
North America north of the Rio Grande. In these explorations Mr. 
Wilson has played an important part, and more than any other 
traveller has shown us the remarkable richness of the flora of 
western central China and the distribution and value of many of the 
most important Chinese trees. A comparison of the flora of eastern 
continental Asia with that of eastern North America made at this 
time cannot be entirely conclusive, for although much has been 
done to make known the Chinese flora much is still left undone ; and 
there are still vast regions of the Celestial Empire into which no 
botanist has as yet penetrated, and these may be expected to yield 
new harvests of still unknown plants. 

It is not surprising that the forest flora of China is richer in 
genera than that of eastern North America, for although the area 
of the two regions under consideration is not very dissimilar there 
is a great difference in their topography. In eastern North America 
only a few mountain peaks reach an altitude of 6000 ft., and these 
are wooded to the summit. In China mountain ranges are more 
numerous, with peaks which sometimes rise far above the upper 
limits of vegetation, and on some of these mountain ranges the 
timber line is at least twice as high as the highest land in eastern 
America. The connection of the great mass of mountains of 
south-western China with the Himalayas which must be considered 
their western prolongation, and the great tropical region which 
extends uninterrupted by any large body of water southward from 
south-western China, will account for the presence in the Chinese 
flora of many Himalayan and tropical forms which have no counter- 
part in eastern North America. On the other hand, the flora of 
eastern North America has drawn from the large and arid plateau 
of Mexico many genera of Cactacese, the Agaves, Yuccas, Dasylirion, 
and other genera which have no representatives in China. While the 



xviii A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

larger mountain systems, the greater height of land, and its more pro- 
lific neighbours can account for a larger number of genera in eastern 
Asia than in eastern North America, it is not possible to find an 
explanation for the greater number of species there of widely 
distributed genera like Acer, Picea, Prunus, Sorbus, and Berberis, 
which are more numerous in China than in any other part of the 
world, or for the absence from eastern Asia of larger numbers of 
species in genera like Crataegus and Amelanchier. 

In eastern continental Asia there is nothing to compare with 
the great maritime pine belt which extends from southern Virginia 
to eastern Texas, and is one of the remarkable features of the flora 
of eastern North America ; and the great forests of Pinus Strobus L., 
which once extended from northern New England and eastern 
Canada to northern Minnesota, are but poorly replaced in north- 
eastern Asia by trees of Pinus koraiensis S. and Z., scattered over a 
comparatively restricted area in eastern Siberia and Korea. The 
Black Oaks, with their lustrous leaves and biennial fructification, 
which are so abundant and conspicuous, except in the extreme north, 
all over eastern North America, are wanting in eastern x\sia ; while 
the Bamboos, the most widely distributed and the most generally 
useful of all the forest plants of China, are represented in North 
America by two small and unimportant species of Arundinaria 
confined to the swamps and river bottoms of the southern states. 

As a rule, to which, of course, there are a few exceptions, the 
trees of eastern North America are larger and more valuable than 
related Chinese species ; but of Chinese shrubs it can be said gener- 
ally that they produce more beautiful flowers than the shrubs of 
eastern North America, although to this statement there are also 
some exceptions. A more detailed examination of the principal 
groups of forest plants in the two regions will show the similarities 
and the differences of the forest flora of the two regions. 

Cyc ADAGES. — Four species of Cycas are found in southern 
China, and in Florida the family appears in two species of Zamia. 

Conifers. — This family is represented in China by fourteen, 
and in eastern North America by nine, genera. In eastern North 
America there are only two genera which are not also represented 
in China, Taxodium, which is replaced there by the nearly related 
Glyptostrobus and Chamaecyparis, represented, however, in Japan 
by two important trees. Libocedrus, Cupressus, Cunninghamia, 
Pseudolarix, Keteleeria, and Fokienia have no eastern American 
representative. In Pinus, eastern North America, with fifteen 
species, has the advantage of eastern continental Asia, in which 



INTRODUCTION xix 

only eight species occur ; and in eastern America Pine trees are 
individually larger, more numerous, and more generally distributed 
than in China. In Picea, China, with its twenty species, has a decided 
advantage over eastern America, where only three species occur, 
and in Abies, China, with its nine species, is richer than eastern North 
America, where there are only two species, and of these one is found 
only on the highest peaks of the southern Appalachian Mountains. 
Of Tsuga there are two species in eastern North America and two 
species in China, but Tsuga canadensis Carr. is a larger tree and 
much more widely distributed than any of the Chinese species. 
Larix, on the other hand, is better represented in eastern continental 
Asia, where it is widely distributed with several species from eastern 
Siberia to the mountains of Western China, where it sometimes forms 
large forests, while in eastern America there is a single species con- 
fined to the north-eastern part of the continent and is a small tree 
which southward is found only in swamps. Juniperus is represented 
in China by six species, and in North America by five species ; but 
none of the Chinese Junipers are as large or as widely distributed as 
Juniperus virginiana L. ; and none of them produce so valuable wood 
as that species and /. harhadensis L. Thuya is represented in each 
region with a single species of about equal importance. In eastern 
America Taxodium is a large and valuable timber tree widely 
distributed in the South Atlantic and Gulf regions, while its Asiatic 
representative, Glyptostrobus, is a small tree confined to the banks 
of a few streams in south-eastern tropical China. 

TAXACEiE. — In this family the advantage is all with China, 
with Taxus, Torreya, Cephalotaxus, Gingko, and Podocarpus, 
while in eastern America it appears with only a single species each 
of Taxus and Torreya, small trees found only in a few smaU isolated 
groves in western Florida . 

Gnetace.i;. — Represented in continental Asia by Ephedra 
and Gnetum, this family does not appear in eastern North America. 

Pandanace^. — One species of Freycinetia and two species of 
Pandanus represent this Old World family in southern China. 

Palm^. — About the same number of species of Palms are re- 
ported from the two regions, fourteen species in seven genera in 
China, and sixteen species in eight genera in eastern North America. 
The species in the two regions belong to different genera, with the 
exception of Cocos nucifera L., which is found on all the tropical 
shores. In eastern North America Palms extend farther north than 
in China, and some of the dwarf species cover in the southern 
United States great areas of dry sandy land with almost impene- 



XX A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

trable thickets, as dwarf Bamboos make travel on some of the 
mountain slopes of Western China almost impossible. 

LiLiACE^. — Of this family Heterosmilax is found only in 
eastern Asia, but Smilax occurs in the two regions, in each of which 
it is about equally represented by a number of species ; Yucca and 
Dasylirion are American. 

Arace^. — Plants of this family are sometimes woody in southern 
China, where species of Pothos and Rhaphidophora are large 
climbers, but in eastern North America all the members of this 
family are herbaceous. 

PiPERACE^. — Piper, with woody species in southern China, is 
the only genus of this family in the two regions. 

Chloranthace^. — Of this small tropical family Chloranthus, in 
China, is the only representative in the two regions. 

Salicace^e. — In the number of species of Populus in the two 
floras there is no great difference. None of the Asiatic species 
grow to a larger size, perhaps, than the American Cottonwood 
(Populus deltoidea Marsh.), but with this exception the Asiatic 
species are larger and more valuable trees than the American 
species, notably the Manchurian Populus Maximowiczii A. Henry, 
and the north China Populus tomentosa Carr., which are among the 
largest and most beautiful Poplar trees of the world. In Salix 
there is probably no great difference in the number of species in the 
two regions, although there is still much to be learned of the alpine 
species of Western China. In eastern North America Willows are 
mostly shrubby, only three or four species attaining to the dignity 
of small trees, while in eastern Asia there are probably ten or twelve 
arborescent species, and some of these are trees of considerable size. 
JuGLANDACEiE. — In this family the advantage is with eastern 
continental Asia, with four genera against two in eastern North 
America, where there is no representative of Pterocarya, Engel- 
hardtia, or Platycarya, Juglans is common to the two regions, but 
Carya is not known in China ; and the presence in eastern North 
America of this genus in many widely distributed species, valued 
as timber trees and for the nuts produced by some of the species, 
economically, at least, makes up for the absence of the three genera 
which occur in China and not in eastern North America. Juglans, in 
eastern America with three species, and continental Asia, with four 
species, is of nearly equal importance in the two regions. None 
of the Asiatic species, however, compare in size with the American 
Juglans nigra L., but Juglans regia L., whose original home is now 
believed to be on the mountains of northern and Western China, 



INTRODUCTION xxi 

yields the most valuable nuts and the most valuable timber pro- 
duced by any species of the genus. 

Leitneriace^, a family of a single species of Leitneria, is 
North American. 

Myricace^. — Comptonia is confined to eastern North America, 
but Myrica, with a small number of species, occurs in the two regions, 
with one species, Myrica Gale L., common to them both. In 
North America there is no species which at all resembles Myrica 
rubra Lour, with its edible fruits. 

BETULACEiE. — In eastern North America Carpinus appears 
as a small widely distributed tree, but in continental Asia seven 
or eight species of the two sections, into which this genus has been 
separated (Eucarpinus and Distigocarpus), are common. Ostrya is 
represented in each region by a single species, the eastern American 
Ostrya being much more generally distributed and more abundant 
than the Chinese species, which appears to be confined to the moun- 
tain forests of Hupeh and Szechuan. The monotypic Ostryopsis is 
confined to Mongolia and China. Of Alnus there are five species 
in eastern North America, four of these being shrubs and one a 
small tree ; but in eastern continental Asia there are at least six 
or seven species of this genus, and one of these, Alnus cremastogyne 
Burk., is a large tree sometimes loo ft. high, shading the banks of 
many streams in Western China with groves of splendid specimens. 
Betula forms a considerable part of the forests of eastern Siberia, 
and is common on many of the mountain ranges of China, especially 
those in western Szechuan, where it reaches altitudes of 10,000 ft. 
In eastern Asia, however, there is no species which, like Betula 
nigra L. of eastern North America, can thrive on the banks of 
streams in the nearly tropical heat of regions like Florida, Louisiana, 
and Texas, where this tree grows to its largest size. The number 
of species in the two regions is not very different, and as timber 
trees the Birches of one region are probably as valuable as those 
of the other. It is doubtful, however, if any eastern Asiatic Birch 
tree ever grows to the size sometimes attained by Betula lutea 
Michx., of the forests of north-eastern North America. 

Fagace^. — In eastern North America there is a single species 
of Fagus ranging from eastern Canada to Florida and Texas, and 
one of the largest and most common trees of all this region. In 
eastern continental Asia Fagus does not extend into the north, 
and appears to be confined to the mountain forests of the central 
western provinces, in which three species are now known ; these 
are smaller and less important trees than the American Beech. 



xxii A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

Castanea is more important in the number of species in eastern 
continental Asia than in North America, but it is doubtful if any 
Asiatic species is anywhere as common or forms such a large part 
of the forest as the American Castanea dentata Borkh. forms on 
some Appalachian slopes ; and in height and girth of trunk this 
American tree has no Asiatic rival. In eastern North America 
there are two other species ; of these one is a small tree or shrub 
and the other a shrub, both bearing a single nut in the involucre. 
In Western China there are also two species with similar fruit, but 
one of these, Castanea Vilmoriniana Dode, is a noble tree and 
the largest of the eastern Asiatic Chestnuts ; the other is a small 
shrub, to be compared with the American Castanea nana Muhl. 
The Japanese Cas/awea crenata S. and Z. reaches Korea, and Castanea 
mollissima Blume, another small tree, ranges from the neighbour- 
hood of Peking to the mountains on the Thibetan border. Cas- 
tanopsis, which is related closely to Castanea, has its headquarters 
in south-eastern Asia, with several species in southern China, 
and one in California, but no representative in eastern North 
America. It is possible that the number of species of Quercus is 
greater in eastern continental Asia than in eastern North America. 
Oak trees, however, are much less widely distributed in the former 
region and are not numerous at the north, the Chinese Oaks being 
chiefly confined to the southern provinces and usually evergreen. 
Some of these evergreen Oaks should be referred to Pasania, 
distinguished from the true Oaks by the arrangement of their flowers 
in bisexual aments, the pistillate in several-flowered clusters below 
the staminate, like the flowers of Castanea and Castanopsis. As 
has been already stated, there are no Black Oaks in China, and 
no species which are counterparts of the eastern American Chestnut 
Oaks. The northern White Oaks are inferior in size to several 
of the White Oaks of eastern North America, and it is doubtful 
if any of the southern evergreen species equal in size Quercus 
virginiana Mill., the Live Oak of the southern United States. 

ULMACEiE. — No Elm tree of eastern Asia equals the so-called 
American Elm {Ulmus americana L.) in size and beauty, but it is 
probable that the genus Ulmus has a larger representation of 
species in western continental Asia than it has in eastern North 
America, although it is still impossible to speak with much know- 
ledge of Chinese Elm trees, which are very imperfectly understood. 
It is interesting that the section of the genus (Microptelea), which 
flowers in the autumn, has representatives in the two regions, 
two in eastern America and one in China, the only other species 



INTRODUCTION xxiii 

of this group growing on the Himalayas. The monotypic Planera 
occurs only in eastern North America, and Pteroceltis and Zelkowa 
have no American representatives. Celtis is common to the two 
regions, but the trees of this genus are larger and appear to be 
more generally distributed in eastern North America than in 
eastern continental Asia. The tropical genus Trema is represented 
in both regions. 

Horaces. — Of this family the monotypic Madura is American, 
and Broussonetia, Cudrania, and Artocarpus, which occur in China, 
have no American representatives. There are two species of Morus 
in each of the two regions, but neither of the two American Mul- 
berries compare in value with the Chinese Morus alba L., for the 
leaves of this tree and its numerous varieties furnish the best and 
chief food of the silkworm in all countries where silk is made. In 
Ficus the advantage is with China, both in the number of species 
and in the size of individuals, only two species having secured a 
foothold in tropical Florida, where they are comparatively small 
trees. Its nearness to tropical south-eastern Asia, which is one 
of the great centres of distribution of this genus, will account 
for the presence of some forty species of Ficus in southern China, 
where some of the species grow to a very large size. 

Proteace^. — Helicia, in south-eastern China, is the only genus 
represented in the floras of the two regions. 

LoRANTHACE^. — Inthis family Phorodendr on is North American; 
Arceuthobium is North American and Japanese, and Loranthus and 
Viscum are found in China and not in eastern North America. 

Santalace^. — Pyrularia and the monotypic Darbya have not 
been found in China. Henslowia is eastern Asiatic, and Buckleya 
has a representative in the floras of the two regions. 

OpiLiACEiE. — One species of the tropical genus Cansjera, in 
south-eastern China, is the only woody member of this family in 
our two regions. 

Olacace^. — Of this tropical family Schoepfia and Ximenia have 
reached southern Florida from the West Indies, each with a single 
species ; in China it appears only in Schoepfia. 

Aristolochiace^. — This family is represented in the floras 
of the two regions by the genus Aristolochia, with more numerous 
woody species in China than in eastern North America. 

PoLYGONACE.E. — No arboresccut or shrubby species of this 
family is reported in China, but in tropical Florida two species of 
Coccolobis occur, and a species of Brunnichia is widely scattered 
through the southern United States. 



xxiv A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

NvcTAGiNACEiE. — Pisonia aciileata L., an inhabitant of tropical 
shores in many parts of the world, probably reaches south-eastern 
China, as it occurs in Formosa ; with other species of this genus 
it is common in tropical Florida. 

Trochodendrace^. — This family is not represented in the 
flora of eastern North America but appears in China in Euptelea. 

Cercidiphyllace^ and Eucommiace^, too, have no American 
representatives, but appear in Western China each with a monotypic 
genus, Cercidiphyllum and Eucommia. 

RANUNCULACE.E. — In this family Pseonia occurs in China but 
not in eastern North America, and the monotypic Xanthorrhiza is 
Appalachian. Clematis is common to both regions, with a much 
larger number of species in eastern Asia than in eastern North 
America, where the genus is poorly developed. 

Lardizabalace^e is an Asiatic and Chihan family, with Decaisnea, 
Stauntonia, Holboellia, Akebia, Sinofranchetia, and Sargentodoxa 
in China. 

Berberidace^. — The woody plants of this family are much 
more numerous in China than in eastern North America. Mahonia 
and the monotypic Nandina do not occur in the latter region, where 
there is only one species of Berberis, while in eastern continental 
Asia, which must be considered the headquarters of the genus, 
some forty species are now recognized. 

Menispermace^. — The woody members of this family are 
represented in eastern North America by Menispermum and Coc- 
culus. These occur also in western continental Asia, where Sino- 
menium, Diploclisia, Stephania, Cyclea, Tinospora, Limacia, and 
the monotypic Pericampylus are also interesting members of this 
family. 

MAGNOLiACEiE. — Magnolia is represented in the two floras by 
about the same number of species. In China, however, species 
occur in two groups, one of which produces its flowers before the 
appearance of the leaves, and in the other the leaves are nearly fully 
grown before the flowers open. To the latter group all of the 
American species belong. Some of the American Magnolias are 
larger trees than the Chinese species, and no Asiatic Magnolia com- 
pares in beauty with Magnolia grandiflora L. of the southern United 
States or equals Magnolia macrophyUa Michx. in the size of leaves 
and flowers. Liriodendron appears in each region with a single 
species, but the American representative of this genus is a larger 
and much more widely distributed tree. Illicium and Schisandra 
appear in the two regions, the former with three species in China 



INTRODUCTION xxv 

and one in the south-eastern United States, and the latter with 
one American and eight Chinese species. Micheha, Kadsura, and 
the monotypic Manglietia and Tetracentron are Chinese, the 
latter being one of the largest and most interesting of the Chinese 
trees. 

Calycanthace^. — Calycanthus, with several species, is eastern 
North American only, and Meratia (Chimonanthus), with two 
species, is Chinese and does not appear in eastern North America. 

Anonace.e. — This tropical family reaches eastern North 
America with several species of Asimina, its most northern repre- 
sentative, and with Anona in tropical Florida. Uvaria, Artabotrys, 
Unona, Polyalthia, and Melodorum represent it in south-eastern 
tropical Asia. 

Laurace^. — In eastern North America this great, mostly 
tropical, family appears only in Persea, Ocotea, Sassafras, Litsea, 
Lindera, and Misanteca, but in eastern Asia there are eight genera 
of Lauraceae, Cryptocarya, Beilschmiedia, Cinnamomum, Machilus, 
Sassafras, Litsea, Lindera, and Cassytha. Of Sassafras there is 
a species in each region, but the American species is a much more 
widely and generally distributed tree, the Chinese Sassafras being 
confined to the mountain slopes of western Hupeh and Szechuan. 
Litsea, which appears in eastern North America in one small shrub, 
in China is represented by at least a dozen species, among them 
several small trees. Lindera, too, is more important in eastern 
continental Asia than in eastern North America, where there are 
only two shrubby species, while China can boast of nearly ten times 
as many species ; some of these are large trees. The greater wealth 
of China in plants of this family appears, too, in the important genus 
Cinnamomum, including the species which yields the camphor of 
commerce, and in Machilus, of which several species are large and 
valuable timber trees. 

Capparidace^. — ^This family appears in the tropics of the two 
regions with Capparis and Crataeva. Capparis is common to both, 
but Crataeva of south-eastern China has no American representative. 

Nepenthace^. — One species of Nepenthes represents, in southern 
China, this Old-World family of a single genus. 

Saxifragace^. — This family occurs in each of the two regions, 
with Philadelphus, Hydrangea, Decumaria, Itea, and Ribes. Deutzia 
(with one species in Mexico), Cardiandra, Schizophragma, Pileos- 
tegia, and Dichroa occur in China but not in eastern North America, 
which has no woody genus of the family not found also in eastern 
continental Asia. 



xxvi A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

PiTTOSPORACE^. — Pittosporum, which reaches southern and 
Western China with a few species, is the only genus of this family 
in the two regions. 

HAMAMELIDACE.E. — This family is more important in the number 
of genera in eastern continental Asia than in eastern North America, 
where there is one endemic genus, Fothergilla. Hamamelis and 
Liquidambar occur in the two regions, and in China the family is 
represented also by Distylium, Corylopsis, Fortunearia, Sinowilsonia, 
Loropetalum, Sycopsis, Eustigma, Rhodoleia, and Altingia. In each 
region the Liquidambar is a large, widely distributed, and valuable 
timber tree. The Chinese Hamamelis, like one of the American 
species and the species from Japan, flowers in the winter. 

Platanace^. — Platanus, the only genus of the family, which is 
represented in eastern North America by a large, common, and widely 
distributed tree, has not reached eastern Asia. 

RosACEiE. — Of the thirty-four genera of the woody plants of 
this family found in the two regions, Neillia, Stephanandra, Sorbaria, 
Sibiraea, Exochorda, Cotoneaster, Osteomeles, Chsenomeles, Docynia, 
Pyrus, Eriolobus, Pyracantha, Rhaphiolepis, Eriobotrya, Photinia, 
Stranvsesia, Rhodotypos, Kerria, Prinsepia, Pygaeum, and Maddenia 
occur in China only. Three genera, Aronia, the monotypic Neviusia, 
and Chrysobalanus are American and not Chinese ; and ten genera 
are common in the two regions, Physocarpus, Spiraea, Rosa, Malus, 
Sorbus, Amelanchier, Crataegus, Rubus, Potentilla, and Prunus. Of 
the genera common to the two regions, Physocarpus, with one species 
in eastern Siberia, is better represented in eastern North America, 
where the genus is widely distributed with several species. On the 
other hand, the closely related Spiraea has a few small eastern 
American species, but abounds in China, which is the centre of 
greatest distribution of this genus. Eastern continental Asia, too, 
is greatly superior to eastern North America in species of Rosa, and 
in their variety and horticultural value, for China is the home of 
Rosa IcBvigata Michx., Rosa hracteata Wendl., Rosa BanksicB R. Br., 
Rosa muUiflora Thunb., Rosa indica L., the origin of the Tea Roses 
of gardens, and of Rosa rugosa Thunb. The number of species of 
Malus is probably about the same in the two regions, but it is inter- 
esting that those of eastern North America all belong to a group 
(Coronariae) which is not represented in eastern Asia, where the 
small-fruited species with a deciduous calyx predominate. Sorbus 
in eastern North America is represented by two species of the 
Aucuparia section, while in eastern Asia there are nearly thirty 
species in this group and at least ten species of Aria which does not 



INTRODUCTION xxvii 

appear at all in the flora of eastern North America. Amelanchier, 
which is very widely distributed through eastern North America, 
with a number of species, of which two are small trees, has but one 
shrubby Chinese species. In Crataegus the difference between the 
floras of the two regions is even more remarkable. In all of eastern 
continental Asia only twelve species have been found ; in eastern 
North America are more forms of Crataegus than of any other genus 
of plants, and probably a thousand species. In Rubus the difference 
in the number of species in the two regions is probably not great ; 
several of the American species, however, produce more valuable 
fruit than any of the Asiatic species. Potentilla fruticosa L. ap- 
pears in the two regions with two other related species in eastern 
Asia and one in eastern North America. The composition of 
Prunus is unlike in the two regions. Of the true Plums (Prunophora) 
there is only a single species in eastern continental Asia {Prunus 
salicina Lindl.), confined to southern and Western China, no plum 
tree being found anywhere in the north ; in eastern North America 
plum trees have a wide distribution from the valley of the St. 
Lawrence River to Florida and Texas, a larger number of species 
occurring in the Arkansas-Texas region than in any other part 
of the world. Padus, on the contrary, is represented in eastern 
North America by only four species, while in eastern continental 
Asia about seventeen species are recognized. None of these, 
however, equal the American P. serotina Ehrh. in size or in 
value as a timber tree. Laurocerasus appears in eastern North 
America in two species and in eastern China in three species. 
Cerasus has but three eastern North American representatives and a 
much larger number in eastern continental Asia ; and Amygdalus, 
Persica, and Armeniaca occur in eastern Asia and not in eastern 
North America. 

CoNNARACE^. — Rourea in southern China is the only representa- 
tive of this family in the two regions. 

Leguminos^. — Of the genera of woody plants of this family 
the following occur in eastern North America but not in eastern 
continental Asia : Lysiloma, Prosopis, Parkinsonia, Cercidium, 
Amorpha, Eysenhardtia, Robinia, Coursetia, and Ichthyomethia ; 
and the following in eastern continental Asia and not in eastern 
North America : Fordia, Ormosia, Millettia, Maackia, Caragana, 
Clitoria, Pueraria, Rhynchosia, Dalbergia, Euchresta, Mezoneurum, 
Caesalpinia, Pterolobium, Entada, and Albizzia. The following 
genera have representatives in the two regions : Pithecolobium, 
Acacia, Leucaena (probably naturalized in southern China), Mimosa, 



xxviii A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

Cercis, Cassia, Gleditsia, Gymnocladus, Sophora, Cladrastis, Wisteria, 
Erythrina, Desmodium, Lespedeza, Dalbergia, and Sesbania. 

RuTACEiE. — In eastern Asia representatives of this family are 
certainly more important than those found in eastern North 
America, for they include Citrus, Limonia, Atalantia, two genera 
of interesting trees, Phellodendron and Evodia, besides Toddalia, 
Acronychia, Murraya, Clausena, Orixa, and Skimmia, while in eastern 
North America this family is represented only by Helietta, Ptelea, 
Amyris, and by Zanthoxylum which occurs also in the other region 
which contains the larger number of species. 

Zygophyllace^ is represented in eastern North America by 
Guaicum and Porlieria, and in eastern continental Asia by 
Zygophyllum. 

CocHLOSPERMACEiE. — A species of Amoreuxia in southern Texas 
is the only member of this family in the two regions. 

SiMARUBACE^ appear in tropical Florida in a species of Sima- 
ruba and in Picrasma, and in Texas in Castela, while of this family 
China has given to the world one of its valuable trees in Ailanthus, 
and is also represented by Picrasma, Brucea, and Harrisonia. 

BuRSERACE^. — One species of Bursera is eastern North American, 
and the species of Canarium in China represent this family in the 
two regions. 

Meliace^. — Of the woody plants of this family in the two 
regions Swietenia is certainly the most valuable, although it is the 
only eastern American representative of the family ; while in China, 
representatives of this family are Aglaia, Amoora, Turraea, Cedrela, 
and Melia, one species of the last being widely and generally 
naturalized in the southern United States. 

Malpighiace^. — ^This family reaches tropical Florida with a 
species of Byrsonima and southern Texas with a species of Mal- 
pighia : its only genus in China is Hiptage. 

PoLYGALACEiE. — Of this family only a few Chinese species of 
Polygala are frutescent, the species of this genus in eastern North 
America being herbaceous. 

DiCHAPETALACE^. — This small family is represented in the two 
regions by a single species of Dichapetalum in south-eastern China. 

EuPHORBiACE^. — Woody plants of this family are more 
numerous in China than in eastern North America, where the follow- 
ing genera only appear : Andrachne, Drypetes, Croton, Ditaxis, 
Ricinella, Bernardia, Gymnanthes, Sebastiana, Stillingia, Hippo- 
mane, and Mozinna. These eastern North American representatives 
of the family are all small shrubs with the exception of Drypetes, 



INTRODUCTION xxix 

Gymnanthes, and Hippomane, which are small trees of tropical 
Florida. In eastern continental Asia woody plants of this family 
occur in Bridelia, Andrachne, Sauropus, Phyllanthus, Glochidion, 
Securinega, Breynia, Bischofia, Aporosa, Daphniphyllum, Anti- 
desma, Microdesmis, Alem"ites, Croton, Blachia, Claoxylum, 
Acalypha, Alchornea, Mallotus, Macaranga, Homonoia, Endosper- 
mum, Gelonium, Homolanthus, Erismanthus, Sapium, Sebastiana, 
and Excoecaria. Nearly all of these are tropical genera which, 
coming from the south, have obtained a foothold in south-eastern 
China. Only Andrachne, Croton, and Sebastiana have representa- 
tives in the two regions. Aleurites, a genus of trees which produce 
the wood-oil of commerce, is probably the most valuable genus of 
the family in the two regions. 

BuxACE^. — One species of Pachysandra occurs in each of the 
two regions ; the other genera of this family in the two regions, 
Buxus and Sarcococca, are Chinese. 

CoRiARiACE^, a family of a single genus, Coriaria, has a re- 
presentative in China but not in America. 

Empetrace^. — Empetrum occurs in north-eastern North 
America and in north-eastern continental Asia, and the other 
genera of this family, Corema and Ceratiola, are eastern North 
American, and have no Asiatic representatives. 

ANACARDiACEiE. — In this family, Pistacia, Rhus, and Cotinus 
are represented in the flora of the two regions. Metopium is 
American, and Spondias, Mangifera, and Dracontomelum are 
Chinese. In China, Pistacia chinensis Bunge is a large, widely 
distributed, and valuable tree, but in the United States Pistacia 
mexicana H.B.K. has secured only a precarious foothold on the 
northern bank of the Rio Grande in Texas. Of the members of 
this family in the two regions Rhus verniciflua Stokes, the Chinese 
Lacquer tree, is no doubt the most valuable. 

Cyrillace^. — ^This exclusively American family is represented 
in eastern North America by Cliftonia and Cyrilla. 

AguiFOLiACEiE. — Of this family. Ilex is widely distributed in 
the two regions, and the monotypic Nemopanthus is east North 
American. Ilex usually grows to a larger size in China than in 
eastern North America, but is less northern in its range in the 
former region where most of the species are evergreen. 

Celastrace^e. — In this family, Celastrus and Evonymus are 
common to the two regions. Tripterygium, Perrottetia, Micro- 
tropis, and Elgeodendron are eastern Asiatic and not American, 
and Pachystima, Maytenus, Crossopetalum, Gyminda, Schaefleria, 



XXX A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

and Mortonia are American. Only one species of Celastrus and 
three species of Evonymus occur in eastern North America, but in 
eastern continental Asia the species of these genera are much more 
numerous, and the species of Evonymus are usually larger and more 
beautiful plants. 

HiPPOCRATEACEiE. — Of this Small tropical family there is a 
species of Hippocratea in tropical Florida and two or three in 
southern China. 

Staphyleace^. — Represented in China by Staphylea, Turpinia, 
Euscaphis, and Tapiscia, this family is much more important in 
eastern continental Asia than in eastern North America, where there 
is a single species only of Staphylea. 

Icacinace^. — Without an eastern North American genus this 
family appears in China in lodes, Mappia, and the monotypic 
Hosiea. 

Acerace^. — Eastern continental Asia with its sixty-four 
species is far richer in Acer than eastern North America, where only 
ten species occur. The American Maples, however, are more 
widely distributed, and are larger and more valuable timber trees ; 
Dipteronia and Dodongea of this family are Chinese. 

HiPPOCASTANACE^. — Of this family, ^sculus appears in two 
arborescent species in China, one in the north and one on the 
mountains of the west, but in eastern North America, where more 
species are segregated than in any other part of the world, four 
arborescent and four shrubby species occur in the southern United 
States. The monotypic Bretschneidera is Chinese. 

Sapindace^. — Of the woody plants of this family found in our 
two regions, Urvillea, Serjania, Exothea, Hypelate, Cupania, and 
the monotj^Dic Ungnadia are American, and the monotypic genera 
Xanthoceras and Delavaya, with Nephelium, Schmidelia, Koelreu- 
teria, and Pancovia, are Chinese ; Sapindus is common to the two 
regions. 

Sabiace^, — Without representatives in eastern North America, 
this family appears in China in Sabia and Meliosma. 

Rhamnace^. — Of this family, several genera reach tropical 
Florida from the West Indies and the dry region of Texas from 
Mexico, and the number is larger in eastern North America than in 
eastern continental Asia. The exclusively American genera are 
Rhamnidium, Reynosia, Ceanothus, Condalia, Karwinskia, Colu- 
brina, and Gouania ; and the Asiatic genera are Ventilago, Paliurus, 
and the monotypic Hovenia. Sageretia, Zizyphus, Berchemia, and 
Rhamnus have representatives in the two floras. Species of 



INTRODUCTION xxxi 

Rhamnus, however, are more numerous in eastern continental Asia 
than in eastern North America, and Rhamnus davuricus Pall., and 
other Chinese species, from which a green dye is made, are more 
valuable than any of the American species. 

ViTACE^. — Of the Grape family, three genera, Tetrastigma, 
Ca5n"atia, and Leea, occur in China and not in eastern America ; and 
Ampelopsis, Parthenocissus, and Vitis are common to the two 
regions ; Cissus reaches tropical Florida but has not been reported 
from southern China. Species of Vitis are less numerous in eastern 
North America than in eastern continental Asia ; and in North 
America there is no species which corresponds with the spiny- 
stemmed Grape vines of China (Spinovitis). 

El^ocarpace^. — ^The forest flora of the two regions is only 
represented by the Asiatic Elseocarpus and Sloanea (Echinocarpus) 
of this family. 

TiLiACE^. — ^Tilia is widely distributed in the two regions with 
rather more species in the Asiatic region. In size and in value as 
ornamental trees there is not much difference between the American 
and Asiatic Lindens. The Asiatic genera Grewia, Corchoropsis, and 
Triumfetta do not appear in eastern North America. 

Malvace^. — In eastern North America there are woody species 
in Pavonia, Hibiscus, and Thespesia, and in western continental 
Asia only in Urena, Hibiscus, and Abutilon. 

BOMBACE^. — Only the Asiatic Bombax represents this family 
in the woody plants of the two regions. 

Sterculiace^. — The large genus Sterculia has several Chinese 
representatives, including Sterculia platanifolia L. f., now natural- 
ized in several of the southern United States. Of this family these 
genera also appear in China : Heritiera, Reevesia, Kleinhovia, 
Helicteres, Pterospermum, Abroma, and Buettneria, among which 
are several large trees, while in eastern North America are only 
Hermannia, Melochis, and Nephropetalum, all small shrubs of arid 
Texas. 

Dilleniace^. — Unrepresented in eastern North America, the 
family appears in China in Tetracera, Actinidia, and Clemato- 
clethra. 

THEACE.E. — Much more important in eastern continental Asia 
than in eastern North America where only Gordonia and Stewartia 
occur, this family has several woody plants in China, including Thea, 
Gordonia, Stewartia, Schima,Ternstroemia, Eurya, Hartia,Tutcheria, 
and Adinandra. One of the species of Thea, from the leaves of 
which tea is made, is the most important member of the family ; 



xxxii A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

and in another (Camellia) are found some of the most valued and 
generally cultivated ornamental trees and shrubs. 

GuTTiFERiE. — Of this family only Ascyrum, Hypericum, and 
Clusia appear in eastern North America, but in eastern continental 
Asia, Ascyrum, Hypericum, Cratoxylon, Garcinia, and Calophyllum 
represent this family. 

Tamaricace^. — With Tamarix and Myricaria in eastern con- 
tinental Asia this family has no representative in eastern North 
America, although one species of Tamarix is occasionally naturalized 
in the southern United States. 

CiSTACEiE. — Hudsonia of the Atlantic coast region is the 
woody representative of this family in the two regions. 

C0CHLOSPERMACE.E and KcEBERLiNiAN/E. — A shrubby species 
of Amoreuxia of the former, and a species of Koeberlinia of the 
latter, both in Texas, are the only members of these families in the 
two regions. 

Canellace^, — A West Indian species of Canella which has 
reached tropical Florida is the only member of this family in the 
flora of the two regions. 

Flacourtiace^. — Without a representative in eastern North 
America this family contributes some of its most interesting trees 
to the Chinese flora in Xylosma, the monotypic Carrieria, Itoa, 
and Idesia, and in Poliothyrsis. 

Stachyurace^, of which Stachyurus is the only genus, is Asiatic. 

Turnerace.^. — A shrubby species of Turnera from southern 
Texas is the representative of this family in the two regions. 

Passiflor.e. — Although Passiflora appears in several herbaceous 
species in the southern states, Passiflora ligulifolia Mast, of southern 
China is the only woody species of the family in our two regions. 

Caricace^. — Carica Papaya L., now naturalized in many of 
the warm countries of the world, is possibly a native of southern 
Florida. 

Daphnace.e. — In this family the advantage is with eastern 
continental Asia, as Dirca is its only American representative, 
while in China there are species of Daphne, Edgeworthia, Wick- 
stroemia, and Aquilaria. 

El.eagnace^. — In this family Shepherdia is American, Hippo- 
phae Chinese, and Elaeagnus is found in the two regions. 

Lythrace.e. — ^The monotypic Decodon is the only woody plant 
of this family in eastern North America, while in China appear 
species of Lagerstroemia and Woodfordia, and the monotypic 
Lawsonia. 



INTRODUCTION xxxiii 

Rhizophorace^. — Rhizophora is common on the shores of 
tropical Florida, but the family is more largely represented in 
tropical China by Kandalia, Bruguiera, and Carallia. 

CoMBRETACE^. — Represented in tropical Florida by Bucida, 
Conocarpus, and Laguncularia, this family appears in China in 
Combretum, Quisqualis, and lUigera. 

Myrtace.e. — Rhodomyrtus, Eugenia, Psidium, and Baeckea 
of the Myrtle family have reached south-eastern China, while in 
tropical Florida occur Eugenia, Anamomis, Chytraculia, and 
Syzygium. 

Melastomace^. — Of this family woody species of Barthea, 
Allomorphia, Blastus, Bredia, Anplectrum, and Memecylon occur in 
China, but a species of Tetrazygia is the only woody member of 
the family in eastern North America. 

Araliace^. — An arborescent species of Aralia and a species of 
Echinopanax are the only tree and shrub of this family in eastern 
North America ; in eastern continental Asia the family is more 
largely represented by Aralia, Acanthopanax, Fatsia, Nothopanax, 
Heptapleurum, Dendropanax, Heteropanax, and Hedera. 

CornacE/E. — Of this family Garrya occurs in eastern North 
America but not in China, where are found the monotypic Campto- 
theca, a large tree, Davidia, Alangium, Helwingia, Torricellia, 
Marlea, and Aucuba. Nyssa and Cornus are common to the two 
regions. Nyssa in America is widely and generally distributed from 
New England to Florida and Texas, with several species, of which 
two are large trees, but in China only a small tree is now known, 
confined to the central provinces. On the other hand, Cornus is 
more numerous in species in China than in eastern North America, 
six of the species at least being arborescent and one a tree occasion- 
ally 100 ft. high. 

Clethrace^. — Of this family there are three species of Clethra 
in each of our two regions. 

Ericace.e. — In the number of genera of this family eastern 
North America has the advantage of the Asiatic region, with twenty- 
three genera in the former and only seventeen in the latter. Such 
genera as Bejaria, Leiophyllum, Menziesia, Kalmia, Zenobia, 
the monotypic Oxydendrum, Gaylussacia, and Arctostaphylos have 
no eastern Asiatic representatives. Enkianthus, Craibiodendron, 
and Diplycosia are Chinese, without American representatives, 
and the following genera are common to the two regions : Vaccin- 
ium, Gaultheria, Chamgedaphne, Loiseleuria, Phyllodoce, Andromeda, 
Arctous, and Rhododendron. No single genus except Crataegus so 



xxxiv A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

well illustrates, perhaps, the differences in the floras of the two 
regions as Rhododendron. In eastern North America there are 
only six species of true Rhododendron, all confined to the extreme 
eastern part of the continent, and, with one exception, of restricted 
range, but some one hundred and sixty species have already been 
distinguished in eastern continental Asia, where the genus is widely 
distributed and where, on the mountains of the western and south- 
western provinces, is the greatest segregation of these plants in the 
world. On the other hand, only three species of Azalea have been 
found in China, while in eastern North America, which is the 
region of their greatest development, ten or twelve species are 
recognized. 

Theophrastace^. — The only member of this family in the 
floras of the two regions is a single species of Jacquinia in tropical 
Florida. 

Myrsinace^. — ^This family has a much larger representation 
in eastern continental Asia than in eastern North America, only one 
species each of Ardisia and Rapanea having reached tropical 
Florida, while in southern China there are several species of Ardisia, 
Rapanea, and Myrsine, and where also Msesa, Embelia, and ^giceras 
occur. 

Plumbaginace^. — With Plumbago in the two regions the 
family is also represented in China by Ceratostigma. 

Sapotace^. — In this family eastern North America has the 
advantage with six genera, while only three genera reach southern 
China. Of these only Sarcosperma is not represented in the 
American flora. The other genera which are found in China, 
Sideroxylon and Chrysophyllum, occur in tropical Florida, which 
has been reached also by Dipholis and Mimusops, while Bumelia, 
which is an American genus, is widely distributed through the 
southern United States with several species. 

Ebenace^. — Of this family only one genus, Diospyros, is 
represented with two species in eastern North America, and eight or 
nine species in China. As a fruit tree one of the Chinese species 
is much more valuable than the North American species. 

Styrace^. — Of this family Styrax occurs in the two regions. 
Halesia, with three species, is eastern North American ; and the 
monotypic Alniphyllum and Pterostyrax are Chinese. 

SYMPLOCACEiE. — Symplocos, the only genus of the family, 
appears with one species in the southern United States, and is 
largely represented in China, where twenty species are distin- 
guished. 



INTRODUCTION xxxv 

Oleace.e. — In this family also the advantage is with eastern 
continental Asia, with eight genera, while only four are eastern 
North American. Fraxinus, Chionanthus, and Osmanthus are 
common to the two regions, Adelia is American only, and Fontanesia, 
Forsythia, Syi^inga, Ligustrum, and Jasminum are Chinese and not 
American. Fraxinus is widely distributed in each of the two 
regions, with probably about the same number of species in each, 
but the American species are usually larger and more valuable 
timber trees. As an ornamental plant the American Chionanthus 
is superior to the Chinese representative of the genus, but China's 
contributions to gardens from this family in Forsjrthia, Syringa, 
Ligustrum, and Jasminum more than make up for the beauty of the 
American Chionanthus. 

LoGANACE^. — Gelsemium, with one species, and Buddleia, with 
a species of southern Texas, are the only woody representatives of 
this family in eastern North America. These genera occur in 
China with Strychnos, Gasrtnera, and Gardneria. 

Apocynace^. — Vallesia, Thevetia, and Trachelospermum are 
woody plants of this family in eastern North America. It has a 
larger representation in southern China in Plumeria, Melodinus, 
Rauwolfia, Alyxia, Alstonia, Parsonsia, Pottsia, Wrightia, Ecdy- 
santhera, Anodendron, Trachelospermum, and Scindechites. 

AscLEPiADACEiE. — Roulinia, with a species of southern Texas, 
is the only woody plant of this family in eastern North America, 
but in eastern continental Asia occur woody species of Pentaneura, 
Cryptolepis, Periploca, Taxocarpus, Calotropis, Holostemma, 
Graphistemma, Metaplexis, Henrya, Gymnema, Marsdenia, 
Stephanotis, Pergularia, Dregea, and Hoya. 

CoNVOLVULACE^. — Ipomoea and Argyreia are Chinese representa- 
tives of this family, and a woody species of Ipomoea has reached 
Florida from the tropics. 

BoRRAGiNACE^. — Cordia, Bourreria, and Ehretia are the North 
American genera of this family, with woody species. Cordia and 
Ehretia appear in China in a larger number of species than in 
eastern North America, and Tournefortia is Asiatic and not 
American. 

Verbenace^. — Aloysia, Lantana, Citharexylon, Duranta, Calli- 
carpa, and Avicennia, represent this family in the southern United 
States. In China, Callicarpa, with several species, Premna, Gmelina, 
Vitex, Clerodendron, Caryopteris, Sphenodesma, and Avicennia 
make a larger representation of the family, only Callicarpa, with one 
American species, and Avicennia occurring in the two regions. 



xxxvi A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

Labiate. — A few small shrubs of Salvia in Texas, and the genus 
Elsholtzia, with several species in eastern continental Asia, represent 
the woody plants of this family in our two regions. 

SoLANACE^. — Species of Lycium and Solanum, which occur in 
each of the two regions, are the only woody plants of this family. 

ScROPHULARiACE^. — Of this family Leucophyllum, a small 
shrub of western Texas, is the only woody plant in eastern North 
America, but in eastern continental Asia it is represented by the 
important genus Paulownia, of several species of large trees, and by 
Brandisia. 

BiGNONiACEiE. — In this family Campsis and Catalpa are 
common to the two regions. The monotypic Chilopsis, and Aniso- 
stichus and Crescentia occur only in the southern United States. 
Oroxylum, Dolich an drone, Stereospermum, and Radermachera are 
Chinese and not American. 

Gesnerace^. — iEschynanthus and Lysinotus,with woody species 
in China, are the representatives of this family in the two regions. 

Myoporace.^. — A species of Myoporum of southern China is 
the representative of this small family in the two regions. 

Rubiace/E. — Of this family the American woody representatives 
are Cephalanthus, the monotypic Pinckneya, Exostemma, Genipa, 
Randia, Catesbgea, Hamelia, Guettarda, Erithalis, Chiococca, 
Strumpfia, Psychotria, Morinda, and Ernodea. Of these Cephal- 
anthus, Randia, Guettarda, Psychotria, and Morinda occur also in 
China, where also are woody representatives of Adina, Luculia, 
Wendlandia, Hedyotis, Musssenda, Adenosacme, Myrioneuron, 
Webera, Gardenia, Diplospora, Antirrhcea, Conthium, Ixora, 
Damnacanthus, Lasianthus, Paederia, Hamiltonia, Leptodermis, 
Serissa, Emmenopterys, Dunnia, Pavetta, and Uncaria. 

Caprifoliace^. — Of the ten genera of woody plants of this 
family found in the two regions, Dipelta, Leycesteria, Kolkwitzia, 
and Abelia (with a species in Mexico) occur only in China. Of the 
other genera, Sambucus, Viburnum, Symphoricarpos, Linnaea, 
Lonicera, and Diervilla are common to the two regions. Symphori- 
carpos is chiefly American, with a single Chinese species, and Vibur- 
num, with some seventy species, is richer in China than in eastern 
continental America, although the American species grow to a 
larger size and are more ornamental. Lonicera is poorly represented 
in eastern North America with twelve species, while in eastern 
continental Asia more than one hundred species are recognized, the 
region of their greatest segregation being on the mountains of the 
central and western provinces. 



INTRODUCTION xxxvii 

GooDENiACE^. — A Chinese species of Scaevola is the only woody 
plant of this family in the two regions. 

Composite. — Iva and Baccharis, of the Atlantic coast region, 
are the American shrubby representatives of this family, which 
occurs in China in several species of Blumea and in Pertya. 

It appears, therefore, that 129 natural families are represented 
in the two regions under consideration ; that of these 92 are common 
to the two regions, that 12 occur in eastern North America, but not 
in eastern continental Asia, and that 25 occur in eastern continental 
Asia and not in eastern North America. Of the 692 genera in the 
two regions 155 are common to both, while 158 are found in eastern 
North America and not in eastern continental Asia, and 379 are 
found in eastern continental Asia and not in eastern North America. 
Of the tropical genera 76 have reached southern Florida and 89 
south-eastern China. 

From Mexico the flora of the United States has derived 42 
genera of the woody plants of Texas. 

It is impossible to form an accurate estimate of the comparative 
number of species of woody plants in the two regions at this time, 
but including Crataegus it is probable that the number is as great 
in eastern North America as in eastern continental Asia. 

C. S. SARGENT 
Arnold Arboretum 
July 1913 



A NATURALIST IN WESTERN 
CHINA 

CHAPTER I 
WESTERN CHINA 

Mountain Ranges and River Systems 

WESTERN China is separated from Thibet proper by 
a series of parallel mountain ranges running almost 
due north and south, and divided by narrow valleys. 
On some maps the name Yun-ling is applied to the whole 
system, with sections marked Hsueh shan. Hung shan, Taliang 
shan, and so on. A great many local names, the majority of 
them unpronounceable when converted into English, are also 
applied to this system, but outside certain maps no one general 
name for it exists. Later we shall have much to say about 
this region, for the time being it suffices to note the general 
trend of the ranges and a few of their important features. 

Made up largely of razor-backed ridges, following one 
another in quick succession, these ranges are separated by 
narrow valleys, or rather ravines. The higher peaks are well 
above the snow-line, and for height, savage grandeur, and 
wondrous scenery are comparable only to the Himalayan alps 
of India. The whole region is practically uncharted and im- 
surveyed, and it is the author's firm conviction that some of the 
peaks rival in altitude the greatest of the Himalayan giants. 

About lat. 33° N., in the neighbourhood of Sungpan Ting, 
a mighty spur is thrown out from these ranges of perpetual 
snow, and extends, with a slight southerly dip, due east for 
some 10° of longitude, terminating in low hills near Anluh 

VOL. I. — I 



2 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

Hsien, in north-eastern Hupeh. This spur appears on maps 
under the general name of Kiu-tiao shan (nine mountain ridges) , 
Ta-pa Hng, or Ta-pa shan. The two latter names have direct 
reference only to important peaks of the spur, and the first is 
the most appropriate, since it denotes a series of parallel chains 
closely packed together. The Kiu-tiao shan forms the boun- 
dary between Szechuan and the northern provinces of Kansu 
and Shensi, and is the watershed between the middle Yangtsze 
and the Han River systems. Attaining its greatest altitude in 
the neighbourhood of Chengkou Ting, long. io8° 30', lat. 32° 
15' N. (approx.), it radiates from this climax buttress-like 
spurs in all directions. Those on the south form the boundary 
between Szechuan and Hupeh and extend downwards beyond 
the Yangtsze River. Subsidiary spurs and others thrust out 
from more easterly points of the range, make the whole of 
north-western Hupeh exceedingly wild and rugged. In the 
middle of the province the Yangtsze River has forced itself 
through these spurs, which run at right angles to its course, 
and formed the famous Yangtsze Gorges. 

Another spur, or rather series of spurs, not so clearly defined 
as the preceding, and of less altitude, is thrown out in the 
neighbourhood of Tali Fu, long. 100° E., lat. 25° 42' N. 
(approx.), in western Yunnan. It extends across northern 
Yunnan, southern Kweichou, and northern Kwangsi, and forms 
the boundary between Hunan and Kiangsi on the north and 
Kwangtung on the south. In eastern Kiangsi it is deflected 
north and north-north-east, finally reaching the sea in the 
neighbourhood of Ningpo, long. 121° 35' E., lat. 29° 50' N. 
(approx.). This mountain system extends across some 21 
parallels of longitude, and forms the watershed between the 
Yangtsze River on the north and numberless rivers on the 
south. Of these the Red River, reaching the sea in the Gulf 
of Tongking, and the West River, which enters the sea near 
Macao and Hongkong, are the chief. 

Innumerable lateral spurs are given off by this system, and 
the country is extremely broken, especially in the western 
parts, with which we are concerned. The province of Kwei- 
chou is one mass of mountains, and the same is true of 
southern Hupeh and southern Szechuan. In these three 



WESTERN CHINA 3 

areas there are subsidiary ranges of considerable altitude 
dipping in various directions and connected up with spurs to 
form a heterogeneous and complex mountain system. The 
outstanding feature of the whole region west of 112th parallel 
of longitude is the entire absence of plain or plateau, or any- 
thing in the nature of flat, level country, with the solitary 
exception of the area forming the Chengtu Plain. Of this we 
shall speak in due course. East of the 112th parallel the 
Yangtsze River flows through a flat, alluvial plain in which 
isolated, or more or less connected, mountain ranges and spurs 
occur, but with this region we are not in this work concerned. 

The most important region comprised within the mountain 
systems above described and west of the 112th parallel is that 
termed by Richthofen the " Red Basin of Szechuan." This 
region includes the whole of Szechuan east of the Min (Fu) 
River to near the Hupeh boundary. It is a region of vast 
agricultural wealth, with a magnificent river system, teeming 
with large cities, towns, and villages, and supporting an enor- 
mous population. With the solitary exception of cotton, which 
is imported from the coast, it is self-contained, with a surplus 
of produce to spare for export. Salt is produced in unlimited 
quantities in very many districts ; coal, iron, and other 
minerals of economic importance abound. In short, the 
" Red Basin " is one of the richest and fairest regions in the 
Chinese Empire. 

The whole of Western China, with which this work is con- 
cerned, lies within the Yangtsze River basin. According to the 
geographical information at present available, the Yangtsze has 
its source almost due north of Calcutta, in latitude about 35° N., 
on the south-east edge of the Central Asian steppes. Its exact 
length is unknown, but it is estimated to exceed 3000 miles. 
From its source it pursues a tortuous course, nearly due south, 
through wild and partially unknown country for 1000 miles. 
Then suddenly turning eastward it flows right through the 
heart of China for some 2000 miles, finally reaching the sea 
immediately to the north of Shanghai. 

From its mouth to Ichang, 1000 miles, it is navigable for 
steamers at all seasons of the year, though in winter difficulties 
in the way of shoals and sand-bars are encountered. The 



4 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

greatest difficulty is experienced between Hankow and Ichang, 
and this section is operated by a small fleet of shallow draught 
steamers specially built for the trade. The regular steamer- 
fleet plying between Shanghai and Hankow is also specially 
designed for the service and is luxuriously fitted. Ocean-going 
steamers of deep draught can ascend as far up as Hankow, 
except in low-water season. In summer the river overflows 
and invades much of the low-lying country contiguous to its 
course, and the chief difficulty in navigation at such times is 
to keep to the channel. The difference between summer and 
winter level is very considerable and varies to a large extent, 
according to the width of the river and the nature of its banks. 
At Ichang the river is iioo yards from bank to bank, and the 
average difference between summer and winter levels is about 
40 feet ; in the gorges which commence some 5 miles west of 
Ichang, the river is narrowed to a third of its usual breadth and 
the difference exceeds 100 feet. Above Ichang the river is 
obstructed by rapids, rocks, and other impedimenta, and is 
navigated by specially built native boats that range up to 
80 tons displacement. The difficulties of navigation are 
more especially confined to the stretch of the river between 
Ichang and Wan Hsien, a distance of about 200 miles. From 
Wan Hsien to Pingshan Hsien, some 500 miles farther west, 
the navigation becomes easier. 

Much has been wTitten on the possibility of opening the 
Yangtsze River to merchant steamer traffic from Ichang west- 
wards. So long ago as April 1900, two British river gunboats 
of shallow draught, small in beam and length, and of a special 
design, ascended as far as Chungking, the commercial capital 
of Western China, distant above Ichang some 400 miles. Later 
these boats ascended as far west as Pingshan Hsien and one of 
them succeeded in reaching Mei Chou, a city on the Min (Fu) 
River, about 140 miles above its junction with the Yangtsze at 
Sui Fu. Since this exploit two larger and more powerful 
British gunboats have been built for this work and are now 
stationed at Chungking, which has been made a naval base. 
France and Germany, following the British lead, have also 
gunboats stationed at Chungking. During suitable seasons 
these craft move up and down the river, and regularly every 



WESTERN CHINA 5 

year one or more visit Pingshan Hsien and Kiating Fu, the 
latter city being about loo miles north of Sui Fu on the Min 
River. 

The advent of the gunboats had been anticipated early in 
1898 by a small launch called the Leechuan, commanded by 
Captain C. Plant and owned by the late Mr. Archibald Little, 
the pioneer foreign merchant of these regions. The experi- 
mental test made by this launch took practical shape in 1900 
when a commercial steamer named the Pioneer, captained by 
Plant and operated by a British syndicate, in which Mr. Little 
figured, was placed on this service. She made a trip prior to the 
Boxer outbreak, after which she was chartered by the British 
Government and was finally purchased for naval purposes. 

On 27th December 1900, a German merchant ship, the 
Suihsiang, specially designed and built for the purpose, left 
Ichang for Chungking, but was wrecked and totally lost below 
the Tungling Rapid only some 40 miles above Ichang. 

Early in 1910 the task was again taken in hand; this time a 
powerfully constructed tug named the Shutung, towing along- 
side a flat for passengers and cargo, was employed. This outfit, 
owned by a Chinese syndicate, was commanded by the same 
Captain C. Plant. The venture proved successful, and four- 
teen round trips were made during the year. It is fitting that 
the man who pioneered the whole business should succeed in 
demonstrating the practicability of merchant steam navigation 
on the Upper Yangtsze. The work, however, is dangerous, 
exceedingly difficult, and, moreover, costly, and unless some 
improvements are made in the river-bed, it will be some time 
before any considerable fleet of steamers ply on these waters. 

Above Pingshan Hsien navigation is only practicable for 
small native craft in certain short interrupted sections. The 
river flows for the most part through gorges or between steep 
mountains, and its course is frequently broken by dangerous 
rapids and cataracts that produce a seething, foaming swirl in 
which nothing can live. In the autumn of 191 1 an adventurous 
French naval officer made an extraordinary j ourney down the 
Upper Yangtsze to Sui Fu in native boats specially built for the 
purpose. An account of this journey should prove exciting 
reading. 



6 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

It has been mentioned that the most difficult stretch of 
the Middle Yangtsze was that between Ichang and Wan Hsien. 
This is the region of the world-famous Yangtsze Gorges. Five 
in number, these gorges extend from the immediate west of 
Ichang to Kuichou Fu, a distance of about 150 miles. Through- 
out this stretch the river flows between perpendicular walls of 
rock, is narrowed to a third or less of its usual width, and 
becomes in consequence very deep. Soundings taken by the 
British gunboats in their ascent in 1900 gave 63^^ fathoms of 
water in two places, and this when the water at Ichang was 
rather less than 6 feet above zero mark ! The cliffs, composed 
largely of hard limestone, are 500 to 2000 feet or more high, 
and commonly 500 to 1000 feet or more sheer. The scenery 
hereabouts is savagely grand and awe-inspiring. 

Foreign maps without exception give the name of Yangtsze 
kiang (variously spelt) to this magnificent river. So far I have 
never met a Chinese to whom this name is intelligible. I have 
read that the name denotes " Son of the Ocean," and is applied 
to the section between Wuhu and the sea. This may be so, I 
have no knowledge on the point. Many local names are given 
to stretches of this river, but from Sui Fu, in western Szechuan, 
to its mouth it is universally spoken of by Chinese as the 
Ta kiang (Great River), occasionally it is rendered Chang kiang 
(Long River), or simply Kiang, meaning The River. West of 
Sui Fu it is called the Kinsha Ho (River of Golden Sands) ; the 
Chinese do not consider this the main stream, but regard the 
Min (Fu) River as the principal. They recognize that the Kinsha 
has the larger volume, but it is navigable only for some 40 miles 
and then loses itself in wild and barbarous regions. The Min, 
on the other hand, is navigable to Chengtu, some 200 miles 
above Sui Fu, and is therefore to the utiUtarian mind of the 
Chinese of much greater importance. From near Batang 
northward the Kinsha Ho is known by the Thibetan name of 
Drechu, and finally near its source it goes under the Tangut 
name of Murussu. 

In ascending the Yangtsze from Ichang to Chungking the 
observant traveller is struck by the insignificant character of 
the tributary streams. Apparently the only one of importance 
joins the main stream at Fu Chou on the right bank. This 



WESTERN CHINA 7 

stream, the Kien kiang, rises in western Kweichou and flows 
through the heart of this province. It is navigable from its 
mouth to Szenan Fu, and beyond, for specially constructed 
native boats. Apart from this river there is no tributary of 
seeming importance until Chungking is reached, yet nearly 
every town and village of note stands at the junction of some 
small stream with the Yangtsze. Here and there men will be 
found hauling small, stout-bottomed boats over the stones at 
the mouths of these small rivers. That the main stream is 
joined by many tributary streams a glance at the map proves. 
In western Hupeh the country is wildly mountainous, and the 
streams are torrents, pure and simple. In eastern Szechuan 
the country is much less wild and the streams of a different 
character, and why they appear unnavigable is, on the surface, 
not obvious. 

In 1910 I journeyed overland by a little-known route from 
Ichang to Chengtu. Entering Szechuan a little to the north of 
Taning Hsien, I travelled due west to Paoning Fu, and from 
thence south-west by the main road. On this journey I crossed 
all the principal streams which join the Yangtsze on its left 
bank east of the Min River. The surprising thing observed 
was the fact that they were one and all navigable for boats of 
varying sizes for long distances. On inquiry, I found that 
navigation ceased on most of them some 2 to 5 miles before 
their union with the Yangtsze. The Kuichou Fu, Yunyang, and 
Kai Hsien Rivers may be cited as examples, affording evidence 
of this state of things. 

Near the embouchure of tributary streams the Yangtsze is 
generally narrowed and the water gorged by boulders and 
detritus choking the mouths of these lateral waterways ; 
rapids and races frequently occur at these points. The accepted 
view is that enormous quantities of debris are brought down by 
these tributaries and deposited at their mouths. This theory 
is all very well when applied to mountain torrents, but most of 
the streams under discussion pursue a comparatively placid 
course with easy currents for some 50 miles or more before 
reaching the Yangtsze. Their volume and force of current is 
insufhcient even in summer floods to carry down the enormous 
quantities of detritus which choke up their mouths. My 



8 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

personal observations put the responsibility on the main stream 
itself. During the summer floods the Yangtsze brings down 
vast quantities of mud and detritus, which it deposits wherever 
opportunity offers. Flowing as the Yangtsze does, more or less 
between steep banks, the mouths of tributary streams afford 
the most favourable places for the deposition of this debris. 
The volume of the main stream is enormously greater, and its 
current so much stronger, than that of the tributaries that it 
simply thrusts them back and silts up their mouths. The 
small quantity of debris brought down by the tributary streams 
would also be deposited hereabouts owing to the slacking of 
the flow consequent upon the damming of their debouchure. 

At Chungking the Yangtsze is j oined on its left bank by the 
Kialing or so-called " Little River." A glance at a map shows 
that this river is made up of three streams which unite near 
Ho Chou. The Kialing River and its tributaries drain a fan- 
shaped area, in extent more than half of the entire Red Basin 
situated north of the Yangtsze. Their importance is due to 
their being navigable for such extreme distances. The most 
easterly branch is navigable, for small craft, to some 40 miles 
north of Tunghsiang Hsien ; the next branch is navigable to 
Tungchiang Hsien ; and the next to north of Pa Chou. The 
central (Paoning) river is navigable for fairly large boats to 
Kuangyuan Hsien, and skiffs laden with medicines and other 
native products descend to this town from Pikou, in the province 
of Kansu. The most westerly branch is navigable to Pai-shih- 
pu, a few miles north of Chungpa, and one of its western tri- 
butaries taps the north-east corner of the Chengtu Plain. 

The Kialing River system is thus the greatest collecting and 
distributing waterway in Szechuan, and its commercial im- 
portance, probably greater than that of the Yangtsze itself and 
its tributaries west of Chungking, is not generally understood. 
The To kiang, which joins the Yangtsze at Lu Chou, though a 
natural stream, owes very much of its volume and importance 
to water artificially lead from Kuan Hsien across the northern 
part of the Chengtu Plain via Sintu Hsien, and a secondary 
branch via Han Chou, which meet together at the great market 
town of Chao-chia-to. In summer it is possible to descend in 
boats from Han Chou and Sintu Hsien to Lu Chou. 




A GENERAL VIEW IN NORTH-WESTERN HUPEH 



WESTERN CHINA 9 

The Min (Fu) River proper, save at lowest water, is navigable 
from Kuan Hsien and Chengtu downwards. The Chengtu 
branch is artificially formed by canals led across the plain from 
Kuan Hsien, and unites with the Kuan Hsien stream and its 
tributaries at Chiangkou. A tributary of the Min, which joins 
at Hsinhsin Hsien, is navigable in high water for small boats to 
Kiung Chou, a city situated at the extreme south-west corner 
of the Chengtu Plain, 

The Min (Fu) River rises some 35 miles north of the Sungpan 
Ting, near the boundary of north-west Szechuan and the Amdo 
region in lat. 33° N. (approx.). Immediately to the south 
of Sungpan city it plunges into wild, mountainous country, 
flowing through a gorge from which it emerges only a few miles 
north of Kuan Hsien, where it becomes navigable for rafts only. 

At Kuan Hsien a famous and gigantic irrigation system is 
in operation, but of this we shall deal in due place. 

The Min is really only a tributary of the Tung River, which it 
joins at Kiating Fu, but since it admits of navigation it is of 
more practical importance, and for this cause the Chinese give 
it pre-eminence. The Tung River is only navigable for a few 
miles above Kiating, though rafts descend from a much higher 
point west. Its tributary the Ya, which joins it immediately 
west of Kiating, is of greater commercial importance, and a very 
considerable raft traffic ascends and descends this stream from 
Yachou, which is the centre of the brick- tea industry of western 
Szechuan. 

The Tung River is really one of the longest rivers in Sze- 
chuan, having its source in the north-eastern corner of Thibet, 
about lat. 33° 40' N. It flows through the western frontier 
of the tribes country, where it is known as the Tachin Ho 
(Great Gold River), and ultimately strikes the highway from 
Chengtu to Lhassa at Wassu-kou, a hamlet 18 miles east of 
Tachienlu. From this point to its union with the Min at 
Kiating it is called the Tung Ho, though around Fulin it goes 
by the name of Tatu Ho. Owing to its unnavigability its 
commercial importance is small, but this does not excuse the 
geographer's scant appreciation of it in the past, even if it 
explains the Chinese view. 

Considerably west of Pingshan Hsien the Yangtsze is 



10 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

joined by the Yalung River, an artery almost equal in volume 
to the main stream itself. This river rises in the north-eastern 
limits of the Thibetan highlands in the same general country as 
the Yangtsze, but to the south-east. It flows more or less due 
south throughout the whole course, but the region it traverses 
is, if anything, less known than that through which the Yang- 
tsze flows. In its upper parts it is called the Niachu, since 
it flows through the country of the Niarung tribes, and its 
map cognomen, " Yalung," is probably a transliteration of 
the name Niarung. 

On its right (south) bank the Yangtsze receives many 
streams rising in northern Yunnan and Kweichou, but none 
equalling in importance those uniting on the left bank. How- 
ever, all are significant factors in the distribution of mer- 
chandise in these parts, even though geographically they are of 
comparatively small moment. The important thing to be re- 
membered in connection with the river-system here mentioned 
is this — the Yangtsze River is the main artery of China in 
general and Western China in particular, but Szechuan owes 
its agricultural wealth and general prosperity principally to 
the Kialing and Min Rivers with their network of navigable 
contributary streams and canals. The rivers west of Sui Fu 
flow through wild, mountainous, sparsely populated regions, 
and their course is so much obstructed that practically no 
boats ply on their waters and even ferries are scarce. 



CHAPTER II 
WESTERN HUPEH 

General Topography and Geology 

THE country comprising western Hupeh, with which 
we are concerned, lies west of the 112th parallel of 
longitude. The city of Ichang, situated on the 
Yangtsze River, just west of this parallel and about 1000 
geographical miles from the mouth of the river, is a convenient 
starting-point for exploring this region. This important town 
is a treaty port, opened to foreign trade in 1877. The popula- 
tion is roughly estimated at 30,000. There is also a small 
foreign community consisting of a British Consul, Imperial 
Maritime Customs' staff, a few business men, and missionaries 
of Roman Catholic and various Protestant denominations. 
There is very little local trade, but Ichang being practically the 
head of steam navigation on the river, is a most important 
transhipping port. Six steamers regularly trade between 
Ichang and Hankow, and the thousands of native craft lined 
up in tiers attest its importance as an entrepot of trade. In 
the near future it is destined to be a most important junction 
on the Hankow-Chengtu railway and already important work 
on this enterprise has been commenced there. Ichang is well 
known, and every year foreigners visit it in increasing numbers 
intent on seeing the famous gorges which lie immediately 
beyond. It is easily reached from Shanghai and from Peking. 
From Shanghai palatially fitted and specially designed steamers 
leave every night for Hankow, 600 miles up the Yangtsze. 
From Peking and Hankow a good express train runs to and 
fro weekly. Between Hankow and Ichang a regular fleet of 
steamers keep up constant communication. Ascending the 
river by steamer from Hankow the hilly country commences 



12 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

about 40 miles below Ichang. At first low, the hills gradually 
increase in height, and by the time Ichang is reached one is 
fairly among the mountains. In the vicinity of the town the 
hills are pyramidal in outline, with prominent cliffs near by ; 
north, south, and west of the town the country is much cut up, 
forming an archipelago of peaks 2000 to 4000 feet high, 
the peaks themselves being offsets from spurs attaining alti- 
tudes of 7000 to 9000 feet, situated some days' distance beyond. 
These pyramidal hills around Ichang are very interesting and 
never fail to attract the attention of travellers. They are 
made up of a substratum of pebbly conglomerate, on which are 
reared thin, horizontally deposed strata of marine limestone, 
red shale and sandstone, over-capped with sandy clays. The 
strata are piled with great regularity, and when erosion is 
equal on all sides the characteristic pyramidal shape is pro- 
duced and maintained. This formation is general from the 
edge of the great plain to Ichang, and occasionally it contains 
thin beds of coal. It is of comparatively recent age, dating 
back to Permo-Mesozoic times. The dominant fossils it 
contains are Cycads, and the youngest rocks probably belong 
to the Oolitic series. The cliffs and bold peaks to the north, 
south, and west of Ichang are made up principally of Paleozoic 
limestones, with a little shale and sandstone, the latter of the 
Mesozoic period. The strata are folded in apparent conformity 
and are without notable metamorphism. In eastern Szechuan 
these rocks extend beneath the Red Basin. The Yangtsze 
has forced itself right through them and formed a series of 
mighty chasms in which the structure of the various forma- 
tions is beautifully exhibited. 

In the neighbourhood of Hwangling Miao (30 miles west of 
Ichang), and westwards for 10 miles to the Tungling Rapid, 
granitic gneiss is exposed. These are the oldest rocks in this 
region and the only Pre-Cambrian formation known in situ in 
the Middle Yangtsze. This section of the river is caUed the 
Ta-shih Ho (River of Dregs and Boulders), and weU does it 
deserve this appellation. 

The next oldest rocks of importance are those forming the 
cliffs opposite Nanto, in the Niukan Gorge and in the eastern 
half of the Wushan Gorge. This is a massive formation 4000 to 



WESTERN HUPEH 13 

5000 feet thick, in the major part composed of dark grey or 
liver-coloured limestone free from chert and containing both 
Cambrian and Ordovician fossils. It is, in fact, a great marine 
limestone in all its phases. It weathers into wonderful escarp- 
ments, often sheer for 1000 to 2000 feet, with slightly projecting 
summits, and is frequently many miles in extent. The cliffs 
on the right bank of the river opposite Nanto, which extend 
nearly to HwangHng Miao, are typical examples. At one of 
the major rapids during the low-water season, known as the 
Hsintan, some 45 miles west of Ichang, a bed of shale is beau- 
tifully exposed. This bed is some 1800 feet thick, and com- 
posed principally of olive-green argiUite, with local black shale 
and quartzite. It is of the Middle Paleozoic age. 

Resting apparently conformably on this series of shale is 
a vast deposit of Upper Carboniferous limestone 4000 or more 
feet thick. This is the characteristic formation throughout 
the Ichang and Mitan Gorges ; it occurs also throughout the 
western end of the Wushan Gorge and in the Kui Fu (Wind-box) 
Gorge beyond. The prevailing rock is dark grey or blackish 
limestone, full of marine fossils and with occasional thin layers 
of anthracite coal. This also weathers into wonderful escarp- 
ments, but commonly they are boldly rounded with less linear 
dimensions. This formation is the most general throughout 
western Hupeh, on both sides of the river, though greater on 
the north than on the south, where the Cambrian-Ordovician 
formation preponderates. Next in succession come the Permo- 
Mesozoic beds of red shale and sandstone, with thin layers of 
marine limestone and coal, which were described in reference 
to Ichang. These beds are characteristic of the country west 
of the Mitan Gorge, as far as the entrance to the Wushan Gorge, 
principally on the left bank. Coal occurs in this stretch in many 
places, more especially around Patung Hsien. Glacial deposits 
and signs of glacial action are in evidence in many parts of 
western Hupeh, though nowhere on a large scale. The most 
accessible of these is on the Yangtsze itself, opposite Nanto, a 
hamlet situated on the extreme western end of the Ichang Gorge 
and some 20 miles above Ichang city. At this point can be seen 
a glacial deposit about 120 feet thick, overlaid by marine lime- 
stone of the Cambrian-Ordovician age referred to above. All 



14 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

the evidences of ice action are well disclosed, and the whole 
deposit is most instructively exhibited. Since the deposition of 
these various systems great regional disturbances have taken 
place and the strata has commonly been bent up from a great 
depth. The summits of the very highest peaks in western 
Hupeh are usually comprised of Silurian (? Devonian) shales. 

None of the useful or precious minerals occurs in quantity in 
western Hupeh. Coal is scattered through the entire region, 
but is nowhere found in abundance and the quahty is in- 
different. Iron ore is worked in places and in one or two 
localities the quality is good, but usually it is poor. Copper 
occurs in two districts (Chienshih and Hsingshan) but is not 
worked to any great extent. Salt, so abundant throughout 
the Red Basin of Szechuan, does not occur. The sandy clays 
and marls are used in brick and tile making, and lime is burnt 
in several places and used for building purposes. Both the 
clays and the limestone here mentioned belong to the Permo- 
Mesozoic beds. The carboniferous limestones are quarried and 
used for various construction works. 

In the Gorges the main stream is joined by numerous lateral 
branches which flow through glens of wondrous beauty. These 
streams, winding their way through, usually fiU nearly the entire 
bed of the glen and are bounded by walls of cliff 300 to 1000 
feet sheer. Waterfalls are numerous and wherever it is possible 
vegetation is rampant. The tops of the cliffs are worn into 
curious and grotesque shapes. Caves abound and in these 
stalactites and stalagmites occur. Subterranean springs are 
common and many of the small rivers originate from such 
sources. They issue forth from some cave, or from the face 
of a cliff, or well up through level rocks. The Hsingshan 
River is an example of this mode of origin. The Chinese attach 
much legendary lore to all these caves and subterranean springs, 
and frequently associate fine temples with such spots. 

In the vicinity of the Yangtsze the more commanding peaks 
and crags are crowned by temples, usually belonging to the 
Taouist cult. Commonly these temples cap seemingly inac- 
cessible points, and one marvels how the material used in 
erecting them was transported thither. Whenever possible a 
few trees, usually Xylosma racemosum, var. pubescens (Winter- 




SAN-YU-TUNG GLEN; CLIFFS OF CARBON IFKKOUS LIMESTONE 



WESTERN HUPEH 15 

green), Gleditsia, Cypress, Ginkgo, and Pine are planted near 
the temples and add much to the beauty of the scene. Such 
temples are well built, but unfortunately, since the interior is 
usually dark, filthy, and uninviting, a close inspection robs 
them of most of their charm. From the distance they look 
most picturesque, the style of architecture being in harmony 
with the surroundings, and one admires very much the taste and 
culture which called them into existence. The preservation of 
the " Good Luck " of towns, villages, and communities by the 
warding off of evil influences is a matter of great moment in 
China, and with this good work the temples are associated. 
The pagodas, found all over China, have been erected solely 
with this end in view. Geomancy enters very largely into 
Taouism and holds a most important place in Chinese thought, 
and, in fact, governs many of their actions. As illustrating this 
we will take an example at Ichang. Facing the town, on the 
right bank of the river opposite, is a pyramidal hill nearly 600 
feet high, called by foreigners the " Pyramid." This hill was 
supposed to exert a baneful influence over the town, and was 
held responsible for the town's poverty in local literati. Not 
until a temple was built on an eminence behind the town, 
sufficiently high to enable it to overlook the Pyramid, was this 
evil influence counteracted, and the Goddess of Good Luck 
induced to smile on the town. The very year this temple was 
completed a student passed the provincial examinations with 
high honours. Was not this the beneficial result of the 
building ? The temple, called Tungshantzu, is richly endowed 
and forms a strikingly conspicuous object from all points of 
approach. The logic of " Fung Shui," as this cult is called, is 
beyond the grasp of the average Occidental brain, but of its 
effect on the Chinese mind one is constantly made familiar. 

Too wild and savage for extensive agricultural development, 
and with a marked absence of useful mineral deposits, western 
Hupeh is one of the poorest, most sparsely populated, and 
least known parts of China. For these same reasons it is of 
particular interest to the botanist, since the vegetation there 
has been less molested than is usually found to be the case in 
China generally. Even here, it is hardly necessary to say, 
every available bit of land either is, or has been, under cultiva- 



WESTERN HUPEH 17 

APPENDIX 

The Flora of Ichang 

The Flora of Ichang and the neighbourhood up to aooo feet 
altitude, as included in this note, is essentially of a warm 
temperate character, and includes not a few sub-tropical 
forms. Nevertheless, we find also a number of cool temperate 
plants, and what really obtains is a fusion of these three 
floras, with the warm temperate element in the ascendancy. 
The following characteristic plants will serve to illustrate the 
point : Aleurites Fordii, Liquidamhar formosana, Ligustrum 
lucidum, CcBsalpinia sepiaria, Toddalia asiatica, Wisteria 
sinensis, Rhododendron indicum, Pyracantha crenulata, Primula 
sinensis, Anemone japonica, Aspidistra punctata, Reinwardtia 
trigyna, and Woodwardia radicans. The low hills around 
Ichang are very barren-looking, being mostly clad with 
" spear grass " {Heteropogon contortus), with a few shrubs 
and herbs here and there, and relieved by small woods of 
Pinus Massoniana and Cupressus funebris, with occasional 
groves of the common Bamboo, Phyllostachys pubescens. 

However, it is not to these low hills that we look for the 
floral wealth of Ichang, but to the hmestone cliffs of the glens 
and gorges. Here the variety is astonishing, a striking feature 
being the quantity of well-known flowering shrubs. 

The two first shrubs to flower in the early spring are 
Daphne genkwa and Coriaria nepalensis. It is a thousand 
pities we cannot succeed with the Daphne in England, since it 
is such a lovely plant — by far the finest species of the genus. 
Here, at Ichang, it grows everywhere, on the bare exposed 
hills, amongst conglomerate rock and limestone boulders, on 
graves, and amongst the stones which are piled around the 
tiny cultivated plats in the gorge, sometimes in partial shade, 
but more usually fully exposed to the scorching sun. The 
plants are, on the average, about 2 feet in height, and are but 
seldom branched. Imagine the annual suckers from a Plum 
tree, and you have the appearance of these Daphne plants. 
VOL. I. — 2 



i8 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

For two-thirds of their height they are so densely clad with 
flowers that they look like one large thyrse. The colour is 
lilac, often very dark ; but a white form is not uncommon. 
Its outward resemblance to Lilac leads to its being so called by 
the foreign residents at Ichang. 

The Coriaria is not so well known and is not nearly so 
attractive. Its flowers are pol^^gamous, and the plant when in 
fruit is rather showy. The Chinese consider its foliage and stem 
poisonous to cattle. 

Wisteria sinensis is abundant, often scaling high trees, but 
the semi-bush form is the more common. Its flowers are borne 
in great abundance, and vary much in shade of colour, the 
white form being, however, rather rare. 

Another well-known shrub which abounds here is Loro- 
petalum chinense. On the tops of the cliffs, amongst loose 
conglomerate and limestone boulders, it forms a well-nigh im- 
penetrable scrub. The bushes are seldom more than 3 feet in 
height, very much branched, and when in full flower look like 
patches of snow at a distance. Messrs. Veitch show the plant 
very well, but there is an enormous gulf between the best grown 
pot plants and the plants in a state of nature. In Devon and 
Cornwall, if planted in a rockery, it ought to thrive. 

Rose bushes abound everywhere, and in April perhaps 
afford the greatest show of any one kind of flower. Rosa 
IcBvigata and R. microcarpa are more common in fully exposed 
places. Rosa multiflora, R. moschata, and R. Banksice are 
particularly abundant on the cliffs and crags of the glens and 
gorges, though by no means confined thereto. The Musk and 
Banksian Roses often scale tall trees, and a tree thus festooned 
with their branches laden with flowers is a sight to be re- 
membered. To walk through a glen in the early morning or 
after a slight shower, when the air is laden with the soft delicious 
perfume from myriads of Rose flowers, is truly a walk through 
an earthly paradise. 

In March and April Sophora vicii/olia is very fine in the 
glens and gorges when it is covered with masses of bluish white 
flowers. This plant has a very wide distribution. It is common 
in Yunnan, and in the warm valleys of rivers bordering Thibet. 
The Ichang plant is much less spiny than that of Yunnan and 



WESTERN HUPEH 19 

western Szechuan. Possibly the latter is really the Indian 
5. Moorcrojtianum. 

Two very common plants on the cliffs in the glens are 
Eriobotrya japonica (Loquat) and Meratia prcecox. Both flower 
about Christmas. These are two out of many plants which 
formerly were erroneously supposed to be natives of Japan. 

Among conglomerate boulders Caryopteris incana is 
common, but is not nearly so fine as it is farther west. Pyra- 
cantha crcnulata and Vitex Negundo are exceedingly common, 
and so also is Ccesalpinia sepiaria. This thorny shrub is semi- 
scandent in habit, and very like the better known C. japonica. 
Its handsome foliage and erect thyrsoid racemes of bright 
yellow flowers make it a very conspicuous object. 

Symplocos cratcpgoides, with its pretty white flowers and 
bright blue fruits, is abundant. This is a useful and charming 
shrub, and deserves to be better known. Deutzia Schneideriana, 
Lagerstrcemia indica,Rhododendron indicumj asminum floridum, 
Nandina domestica, Ilex cornuta, Viburnum utile, and Buddleia 
officinalis are all extremely common shrubs. Of other well or 
lesser known shrubs which are common, I may mention — 

Abelia chinensis, A. parvifolia, Rhus Cotinus, Buddleia 
asiatica, Ilex pedunculata, I. corallina, Deutzia discolor, Des- 
modium floribundum, Elceagnus pungens, E. glabra, Spircea 
chinensis, Eurya japonica, Hypericum chinense. Hydrangea 
strigosa, Berchemia lineata, Evonymus alata, Polygala Mariesii, 
Viburnum brachybotryum, V. propinquum, Thea cuspidata, 
Rubus parvifolius, and many other species. Chaenomeles sinensis 
with red, and C. cathayensis with white or blush-white flowers, 
are commonly cultivated. Lengthy as is the list, I am not 
justified in omitting I tea ilicifolia. This Holly-like shrub, with 
long, pendent racemes of white flowers, is one of the handsomest 
of all the Ichang shrubs. Of fluviatile shrubs, the commonest 
are Distylium chinense, Salix variegata, Ficus impressa, Rhamnus 
davuricus, Adina globiflora, Myricaria germanica, and a curious 
Box [Buxus stenophylla) . Climbers are very much in evidence, 
and include such beautiful plants as Lonicer a japonica, Trachclo- 
spermum jasminoides, Pueraria Thunbergiana, Clematis Hcnryi, 
C. Benthamiana, C. Armandi, C. uncinata, Vitis fiexuosa, Par- 
thenocissus Henryana, P. Thomsonii, and Mucuna sempervirens. 



20 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

This last is a rather remarkable plant. Two miles above 
Ichang, on the right bank, is an enormous specimen, called by 
foreigners the " Big Creeper." It covers several hundred 
square feet of ground, climbing over several Pine trees and 
many Bamboos. The base of the main trunk is almost as thick 
as a man's body ; the flowers are dark chocolate coloured, and 
are borne in racemes on the old wood ; the legumes are 2 to 2^ 
feet in length, and contain many large black bean-like seeds. 
It flowers in May. 

Ichang does not possess a great number of trees, but the 
variety is really astonishing. Paulownia Duclouxii and Melia 
Azedarach, with their enormous panicles of flowers, are very 
striking in the spring. In the autumn, Sapium sehiferum, with 
its wonderful autumnal tints, stands alone. In winter the ever- 
green Ligustrum lucidum, and Xylosma racemosum, var. pube- 
scens, are very conspicuous. The latter nearly always shelters 
some wayside shrine. Perhaps the commonest trees are — 

Gleditsia sinensis, Rhus javanica, Platycarya strohilacea, 
Quercus serrata, Cedrela sinensis, and Pterocarya stenoptera. 
The Mistletoe occurs on the last-named tree. Other less common 
trees are Sterculia platanifolia, Populus Silvestrii, Cratcegus 
hupehensis, Celtis sinensis, Dalbergia hupeana, Acer ohlongum, 
Cunninghamia lanceolata, Ailanthus glandulosa, Broussonetia 
papyri/era, Ulmus parvifolia, Hovenia dulcis, Sapindus muko- 
rossi, Salix hahylonica, and Sophora japonica. Of this latter a 
curious variety occurs in which the leaves and young shoots are 
clothed with a dense white velvety indumentum. 

As with flowering shrubs, so with herbs, though in a less 
degree, Ichang is the home of many favourite garden plants. 
One of the commonest and best known is Primula ohconica. 
This charming herb abounds ever3m^here, but more especially 
in moist, grassy places on the banks of the Yangtsze and in the 
glens. Occasionally, under very favourable conditions, in 
height, size of flower, and luxuriance of foliage, it approaches 
the cultivated form, but more usually it is a dwarf and 
almost insignificant weed. 

Again, Ichang is the home of the Chinese Primrose, and 
the type of the cultivated Chrysanthemum occurs there also. 
Other favourites which are common are — 



WESTERN HUPEH 21 

Corydalis thalictri folia, Anemone japonica, Sedum sarmen- 
tosum, Saxijraga sarmentosa, Iris japonica, Reinwardtia trigyna, 
Lycoris aurea, L. radiata, Rehmannia angulata, Hemerocallis 
fulva, and H. flava. Other characteristic herbs are : Adeno- 
phora polymorpha, Bletia hyacinthina, Asarum maximum, 
Ophiorrhiza cantonensis, Viola Patrinii, Delphinium chinense, 
Lysimachia Henryi, L. clethroides,Potentilla chinensis, P. discolor, 
Fragaria indica, Thalictrum minus, Mazus pulchellus, Verbena 
officinalis, Platycodon grandiflorum, and many Compositce, 
Leguminosce, and Umhelliferce. 

Perhaps Ichang is best known to horticulturahsts generally 
as the home of the lovely Lilium Henryi. This acknowledged 
favourite occurs on the limestone and conglomerate rocks, but 
is now by no means common. Lilium Brownii and its varieties, 
chloraster and leucanthum, are fairly common ; L. concolor 
occurs, but is rare. 

Ferns are not rich in species, but Woodwardia radicans, 
Osmunda regalis, Pteris longifolia, P. serrulata,Nephrodiummolle, 
Cheilanthes patula, and Gleichcnia linearis are very abundant. 
A variety of Adiantum Capillus-Veneris is very common on 
stalagmitic limestone in the glen. Pieces of these rocks covered 
with Ferns are detached and find their way all over China, being 
popularly known as " Ichang Fern-stones." 

A hasty reference to the common floating plants of the ponds 
and ditches around Ichang must bring this note to a close. 
Euryale ferox, with its handsome foliage, is very common ; 
Nelumbium speciosum is, of course, cultivated. Other common 
aquatics are — Limnanthemum nymphoides, Jussicsa repcns, 
Salvinia natans, Trapa natans, Azolla filiculoides, Marsilea 
quadrifolia, Monochoria vaginalis, Eriocaulon Buergerianum, 
and several species of Potamogeton and Utricularia. In late 
autumn, when the Azolla changes to a rich crimson tint, the 
ponds look very fine. In some rice fields near Ichang Dr. 
Henry found a very anomalous plant. It was made the type 
of a new genus — Trapclla sinensis, and doubtfully referred to 
the natural order Pedalincce. 



CHAPTER III 

METHODS OF TRAVEL 

Roads and Accommodation 

THE advent of steam navigation on the upper-middle 
Yangtsze has brought Chungking, the commercial 
metropolis of Western China, three weeks nearer the 
coast and occidental civilization. This is a very considerable 
gain to the would-be traveller in these regions, yet it only post- 
pones for a little time longer the inevitable. Sooner or later 
the traveller must dispense with the comforts and luxuries of 
modern occidental methods of travel and adapt himself to those 
more primitive and decidedly less comfortable of the Oriental. 
In the regions with which we deal there is nothing in the nature 
of wheeled vehicular traffic save only the rude wheel-barrows 
in use on the Chengtu Plain. There are no mule caravans, and 
scarcely a riding pony is to be found. For overland travel 
there is the native sedan-chair and one's own legs ; for river- 
travel the native boat. Patience, tact, and abundance of time 
are necessary, and the would-be traveller lacking any of these 
essentials should seek lands where less primitive methods 
obtain. Endowed with the virtues mentioned, and having 
unlimited time at his disposal, he may travel anywhere and 
everjAvhere in China in safety, with considerable pleasure and 
abundant profit in knowledge. With her industrious toiling 
millions, her old, old civilization, her enormous natural wealth 
and wondrous scenery, China alternately charms and fascin- 
ates, irritates and plunges into despair, all who sojourn long 
within her borders. No country, outside Europe and North 
America, is of such perennial interest to the world at large as 
China. Ever-changing yet ever the same, she is the link 
which connects the twentieth century with the dawn of 




OUR CHINESE HOUSE-BOAT 




«# W 



OUR CARAVAN 



METHODS OF TRAVEL 23 

civilization, epochs before the Christian era. To travel 
leisurely through this vast country is an education which 
leaves an indelible impress on all fortunate enough to have 
had the experience. The Chinese do not see time from the 
Westerner's view-point, and for the traveller in the interior 
parts of China the first, last, and most important thing of all 
is to ever bear this in mind. 

The majority of travellers still ascend the river above 
Ichang in native boats, and it will probably be a long time 
before a regular fleet of steamers ply these dangerous waters 
and render the native boat obsolete. The journey from Ichang 
to Chungking and beyond has been described so often that 
the subject is threadbare, and I have no intention of describing 
it over again. Volumes have been written on this subject, 
and some day perhaps a writer will arise and do full justice 
to the theme. 

I have made the journey up and down many times, and on 
each occasion have been more and more impressed with the 
sublime beauty of the Gorges. The scenery in these savage 
chasms is all and more than any writer has described it as 
being. It must be seen to be fully understood and appreciated. 
The more often one travels up and down this stretch of the 
river the deeper grows one's awe and respect for the many 
rapids, swift currents, and innumerable difficulties which im- 
pede navigation. 

The native boats are perfectly fitted for the navigation of 
these difficult waters ; they are the outcome of generations of 
experience, and the balance-rudder and turret-build have been 
used in these craft long before their adoption by Western 
nations. The men, too, who earn their livelihood in navigating 
these boats, understand their business thoroughly. Much has 
been written by hasty travellers on the shortcomings and 
incompetence of these men, that is as unwarrantable as it is un- 
deserved. These Chinese boatmen are careful, absolutely com- 
petent and thorough masters of their craft, and the more one 
sees of them and their work the more one's admiration grows. 
Oriental methods are not occidental methods, but they suc- 
ceed just the same ! When on the boat the Westerner will do 
well to adapt himself to Eastern methods ; any attempt to 



24 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

enforce those of the West generally ends in disaster. Many 
accidents on the Yangtsze have been caused through the 
foreigner, ignorant of local conditions, difficulties and dangers, 
forcing the captain of the boat to proceed against his better 
judgment. The traveller is advised when engaging a boat to 
do so through a responsible Chinese business house, to have an 
agreement drawn up setting forth the arrangements desired, 
and then to leave the boat-master to carry out his engagement 
in his own way. This is the only way to ensure safety, and on 
paper no one would attempt to gainsay it, yet in practice this 
is commonly done, but alwa37S to the jeopardy of the trans- 
gressor. 

Since we shall have much to say on the subject of over- 
land travel a word or two anent roads seems fitting and 
desirable. To the uninitiated this subject may seem trivial, 
but to the experienced it is otherwise. Chinese roads make a 
lasting impression on all who travel over them, and the vocabu- 
lary of the average traveller is not rich enough to thoroughly 
relieve the mind in this matter. The roads are of two kinds, 
paved and unpaved. I have yet to meet the traveller whose 
mind is thoroughly made up as to which of these is worse and 
the more difficult to negotiate. A clever writer once wTote : 
" An Imperial highway in China is not one which is kept in 
order by the Emperor, but rather one which may have to be 
put in order for the Emperor." ^ When any important official 
takes up duties in a distant part of the empire the local officials 
put the roads over which he has to travel in some semblance of 
repair. Such work is always hastily done by labour forced and 
grudgingly given, and in mountainous districts the first severe 
rainstorm destroys considerable portions of it. 

It is nobody's real business to look after the roads, and 
nobody does. The land devoted to roadways is com- 
mandeered, and in agricultural districts the farmer takes 
good care to keep these roads down to a minimum width. It 
usually happens that the roadways get narrower and narrower 
every year, until the advent of some important official forces 
the local authorities into having them repaired and restored 
to their original width. Roads in China owe their origin to 

^ Arthur H. Smith, Village Life in China, p. 35. 



METHODS OF TRAVEL 25 

the same causes that obtain elsewhere in the world, namely, 
military conquest and commercial interchange between distant 
localities. 

Throughout the length and breadth of China run imperial 
highways, few in number, it is true, but of vast importance, 
since they connect the imperial capital with the capitals of the 
provinces. These were made for military purposes in early 
times, when the Emperors were busy conquering the country 
and extending their territories. They are all of great strategical 
importance, and were originally paved throughout with huge 
blocks of stone. Often, indeed, they were actually blasted and 
excavated from solid rock. They vary in width according to 
the configuration of the country and the nature of the traffic 
they have to carry. In the northern parts overland travel is 
commonly done by cart, and the roads are adapted to such 
traffic. In the parts with which we are concerned the country 
is too wild and rugged for wheels, and the only recognized mode 
of travelling is by means of sedan-chair. The imperial roads 
were originally made sufficiently wide to enable two chairs to 
pass one another freely. Ten to twelve feet is a broad highway 
in these parts, and it must be conceded that roads of such width 
amply serve their purpose. Unfortunately this width is rarely 
maintained for any considerable distance. The grading of 
these ancient highways was well done, and the whole work 
speaks volumes for the ability and energy of those old-time 
engineers. Like much else in China these roads were once 
magnificent, but to-day they are far from this. In general 
they are sadly neglected. Floods have destroyed them here 
and there, often the paving blocks have been stolen for house- 
building and other purposes, and gaps of unpaved, muddy 
stretches, almost impassable in rainy weather, occur all too 
frequently. Sufficient of the original road remains to stir 
admiration for the skill and foresight of the engineers, long 
since dead, and to set the traveller longing for those halcyon 
days of old. 

In the prosperous parts of China, highways connect all the 
principal cities, town, and villages. These are usually 8 to 10 
feet wide, and though originally paved throughout, are now in 
a state of more or less disrepair. Nearly all the towns and 



26 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

villages in Western China are situated on the banks of streams 
for the simple reason that the valleys offered lines of least resist- 
ance. Even when the streams are not navigable they afford 
easier means of access to the interior than the mountains and 
forest-clad country. In a general way all the older roads 
in China follow the courses of streams as closely as possible, 
leaving them only when the nature of the country necessitates 
the departure, and watersheds intervene. 

Bypaths and narrow tracks permeate the country in every 
direction, and abound even in the most sparsely populated 
mountainous regions. Some one has very wisely made out that 
the exchange of salt was the first commerce engaged in by 
mankind at large. Salt is, and long has been, a Government 
monopoly in China, consequently the practice of salt-smuggling 
has gone on from time immemorial, and the majority of 
the mountain-paths were very probably first struck out by 
smugglers of salt. Indeed, many important trade-routes to-day, 
in China, presumably originated in this way. The province of 
Szechuan is abundantly rich in salt and also in mountain-paths. 
From a lengthy study I have come to regard this network of 
bypaths as the result of salt traffic, and more especially illicit 
traffic. There are to-day many such paths throughout the 
Hup eh- Szechuan boundary, used for practically no other traffic 
than that of salt, and by these paths salt still reaches certain 
districts in defiance of the law. Very useful, if difficult, the 
traveller finds these bypaths, for without them it would be 
impossible to traverse some of the wildest and most interesting 
parts of central and Western China. 

When travelling overland in China it is not possible to use 
tents, and one has perforce to make use of such accommodation 
as the country affords. The Chinese do not understand tents, 
and it is unwise to try innovations in a land where the people 
are unduly inquisitive. The traveller gets along best when he 
avoids publicity as much as possible. On all the main roads 
there are inns of sorts, usually very filthy, and in season abound- 
ing in mosquitoes, creeping things, and stinks, the latter, in 
fact, being always in evidence. On the byways, and more 
especially in the mountains, accommodation is hard to find and 
is of the meanest description. However, one is usually tired. 



METHODS OF TRAVEL 27 

and any shelter suffices for a night's halt. In wet weather, or 
when held up through flooded torrents or what not, the absence 
of proper accommodation is acutely felt. In the wilds of China 
one hungers for the dak bungalows of India and Ceylon, or 
accommodation on similar lines. 

A traveller in China should have with him an outfit, com- 
prising bed, bedding, victuals, cooking paraphernalia, and 
insect-powder. It sounds rather forbidding on paper, but 
labour is cheap, and a little experience enables one to keep the 
size of outfit within reasonable limits. The necessary coolies 
should always be obtained through a respectable agency and 
an agreement made in writing, stating all necessary details. 
A head-man, called a " Fu-tou," should be given charge of 
the coolies. 

In parts of China where foreigners are well known, it is 
possible to dispense with the luxury of a sedan-chair, but it 
must be remembered that a sedan-chair is an outward and 
visible sign of respectability. It is the recognized medium of 
travel, and, quite apart from its real use, it is a necessity, since 
its presence ensures respect. In the out-of-the-way parts of 
China, even though it is carried piecemeal, a chair is of greater 
service and value to the traveller than a passport. According 
to treaty, all foreigners travelling in China must furnish them- 
selves with a passport, which must be shown on request. This 
is a matter of considerable importance, and should never be 
omitted. 

One thing more is necessary ere the caravan is fully equipped, 
and that is a good cook. Unless the traveller speaks Chinese 
he must have a servant able to speak broken English. A good 
travelling servant is hard to find, but the last thing the average 
traveller should dream of doing is to engage an interpreter. A 
good domestic servant will fill this function in so far as it is 
necessary. 



CHAPTER IV 

IN QUEST OF FLOWERS 

A Journey in North-Western Hupeh 

ON 4th June 1910 I left Ichang for Chengtu, via a new 
route through the wilds of north-west Hupeh. With 
600 miles of overland travel ahead the caravan had 
been fitted up with all the skill at my command, and with 
enthusiasm to spur us on I felt that the difficulties would not 
prove insurmountable. Nearly all the men had been associated 
with me on former journeys of a similar nature. 

We took the lesser road by way of San-yu-tung glen for 
Hsingshan Hsien, in consequence of the main road being 
congested by coolies engaged in blazing a trail for the Hankow- 
Szechuan Railway. The caravan consisted of twenty carrying- 
coolies, several men for collecting and general work en route, 
a chair for the Boy, and another for myself. My own start 
was not propitious. I was riding in my chair and had scarcely 
cleared the precincts of the foreign settlement when one of 
the poles snapped. This occasioned an hour's delay, but 
happening where it did new poles were secured without diffi- 
culty. It is never easy to make an early start the first day, 
and it is always advisable to count on a short stage. It was 
one o'clock when we reached the mouth of the San-yu-tung 
glen, 5 miles above Ichang, and overtook the main caravan. 
The weather was hot, and we only did another 15 li ^ to Sha- 
lao-che, making 35 li in all. This little hamlet consists of a 
few scattered houses, and we availed ourselves of the largest, 
which happened to be a wine-distillery, and the smell of stale 
brewing was very strong. 

The journey up the San-yu-tung glen was very interesting, 

1 Ten li=three English miles. 
28 



IN QUEST OF FLOWERS 29 

much of the scenery being rugged and grand. The cHffs of hard 
hmestone are usually 500 feet or more sheer, and are the home 
of Goral and other animals, and also of many cliff-loving plants. 
In the crevices and niches the Chinese Primrose {Primula 
sinensis) finds its home, but the flowers were past and the 
flower-stems all bent towards the cliffs to ensure the seeds being 
deposited in the rock crevices. This plant is the parent of 
our greenhouse Primulas, and in February and early March 
the cliffs present a wonderful picture, being covered with 
colonies of plants, one mass of warm mauve-pink flowers. 
Wherever the cliffs are not absolutely sheer, vegetation is 
rampant. Pine trees {Pinus Massoniana) fringe the summits 
and Rosa microcarpa was in full flower, otherwise there was 
very little blossom to be seen. Most of the shrubs being spring- 
flowering were in young fruit. 

There was considerable delay in starting the next morning. 
One or two of the coolies gave up, and others had to be found. 
The road was vile all day, and it took us io| hours to cover 
45 li. For the first 10 li the road continues to ascend the 
glen, which narrows and presents even finer scenery than that 
of yesterday. We passed a lovely natural grotto full of 
stalagmites inside, and with the dripping external rocks one 
mass of Maiden-hair Fern. These rocks are known throughout 
the Lower Yangtsze Valley as " Ichang Fern-stones," and 
command a ready sale. 

In the glen Parfhenocissus Henryana is abundant ; in the 
juvenile stage the leaves of this plant have prominent white 
veins, and are very attractive, but in the adult stage this 
variegation is lost, and they become very ordinary by com- 
parison. 

The glen soon became impassable, and we climbed the 
cliffs and ultimately overlooked the country generally. 
Terraced fields are much in evidence, and every available 
inch of country is under cultivation. Wheat, barley, and peas, 
all ripe, were the principal crops, and their yellow culms en- 
livened the landscape. We saw a small patch or two of the 
Opium Poppy hidden away under trees and of very poor 
quality. Pear and Plum trees are commonly cultivated 
hereabouts. Bamboo groves and Cypress trees abound. Here 



30 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

and there we caught an occcisional ghmpse of the white-tailed 
Paradise Fly-catcher [Tchitrea incei). Pheasants were calling, 
and likewise the English Cuckoo. 

Around Niu Ping (Cow-flat), which was our destination 
for the day, much rice is cultivated, and the farmers were 
busy transplanting the tiny rice-plants. The whole country 
is finely terraced and is backed by limestone cliffs of Cambrian- 
Ordovician Age. Near our destination we passed a fine Ginkgo 
tree showing curious root-like protuberances on the branches. 
In rocky places by the wayside, and especially in the walls of 
the terraced fields, Rehmannia angulata abounds. Plants i| 
to 2 feet high carry six to a dozen large, rosy-pink, foxglove- 
like flowers. The local name is " Feng-tang Hwa " (Honey- 
bee Flower). 

" Cow-flat " is a tiny place of about a dozen houses. Our 
quarters were cramped but comfortable, and the people very 
nice. There is a road from this hamlet to Nanto, distant 
30 li. When I first visited this place in 1901 I was an object 
of great curiosity from the moment of my arrival to the time 
of departure. I have been here several times since and am 
now treated as an old-time acquaintance. 

It was quite cool during the night, and a blanket was 
required. At Ichang the very thought of a blanket was 
enough to bring forth perspiration ! We left about 6 a.m., and 
after ascending and descending a series of lateral spurs finally 
reached the small river which enters the Yangtsze at Nanto. 
After ascending this river for a few miles we commenced a 
steep ascent. Now by an easy and then by a heavy grade the 
road winds in and out among the mountains, and we did not 
reach our halting-place for the night until 6.30 p.m. The last 
coolie arrived an hour later. The length of the whole j ourney 
is supposed to be only 60 li, but we all agreed that it is a good 70. 
Whatever the distance, it is certainly a hard day's travel. 

The mountain sides are very steep, with razor-like ridges. 
Terraced cultivation is everywhere carried out, rice is cul- 
tivated in the bottom-lands and maize on the slopes, with 
occasional patches of Irish potato. Where it is too steep, or 
for other reasons unsuitable for cultivation, the mountain-sides 
are covered with shrubs and trees, chiefly scrub Oak and the 




HIGHWAY LKAD THROUGH A NATURAL TUNNEL 



IN QUEST OF FLOWERS 31 

common Pine. Small trees of Cornus Wilsoniana in full flower 
were common here and there. Odd trees of C. kousa, also, in 
full flower, were conspicuous in the outskirts of the woods and 
copses. This small tree is exceedingly floriferous. In habit it 
is flat-topped with horizontally-spreading branches, and the 
flowers borne erect, well above the foliage. The white bracts, 
which are so conspicuous, frequently exceed 5 inches in 
diameter ; with age they become tinged with pink. The fruit is 
large, orange-red, and edible. This Chinese form will probably 
prove a better plant under cultivation than the Japanese form 
with which gardeners are familiar. The plant loves a sunny, 
well-drained situation. But the display of the day was made 
by the wild Roses. By the side of streams the Rambler Rose 
[Rosa multiflora), with both white and pink flowers, was abund- 
ant. In the woods higher up the Musk Rose [R. moschata) 
filled the air with its soft fragrance. Here and there occurred 
Actinidia chinensis, scaling tall trees and wreathing them 
with white and buff-yellow fragrant flowers. In the forenoon 
noted Rehmannia angulata, especially common on steep stony 
places in full sun. 

Our halting-place, Lao-mu-chia, is about 3500 feet altitude, 
and consists of about six houses and a tile-factory. Hereabouts 
much charcoal is burnt for export to Nanto and down river. 
During the day's journey we met several men laden with bales 
of Pear and Crab-apple leaves. These leaves are commonly 
used as a substitute for tea, and there is a considerable export 
from these parts to Shasi. 

On leaving Lao-mu-chia we immediately commenced the 
steep ascent of the Hsan-lung shan, and a climb of 1000 feet 
brought us to the summit, where there is a small temple in a 
ruinous condition. After a precipitous descent of a few 
hundred feet the road meanders over and among the tops of 
hills, composed of granitic-gneiss, which is rapidly disintegrat- 
ing, and ultimately descends to the bed of a torrent and joins 
the main road from Ichang to Hsingshan Hsien. 

Near the summit of Hsan-lung shan, which is composed 
of Cambrian-Ordovician limestones, the Chinese Tulip tree 
[Liriodendron chinense) is common in the woods, and so is 
Viburnum tomentosum with its sprays of snow-white flowers. 



32 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

Styrax Hemsleyanum and Amelanchier asiatica, var. sinica, the 
June berry, are other trees with white flowers remarkable for 
their beauty and abundance of blossom. On the more open 
slopes Symplocos cratcegoides, Lonicera Maackii, var. podocarpa, 
Diervilla japonica, and Cratcegus cuneata made a fine display. 
Thin woods of Pinus Massoniana and Sweet Chestnut {Castanea) 
also occur ; the Pine trunks are gashed for the ultimate purpose 
of producing kindling wood. In open places Rtibus corchori- 
folius abounds, and its red, raspberry-like fruits with their 
delicious vinous flavour were good eating. In the descent 
Dipteronia sinensis, a small bushy tree with erect trusses of 
small white flowers, occurs, and Actinidia chinensis is common. 
The hermaphrodite and male forms of this climber have large 
white flowers quickly changing to buff-yellow, and the fragrance 
is very pleasing. A form with purely female flowers is unknown. 
At the foot of the descent we joined the main road from Ichang 
to Hsingshan Hsien, and following this route we reached 
Shui-yueh-tsze, a village of loo houses, situated in a tiny rice 
flat, at five o'clock. The people were very inquisitive, and I 
held an impromptu reception until bedtime. 

On joining the main road, we saw evidences of the survey 
for the Hankow-Szechuan Railway. The proposed route was 
marked by bamboo poles, and on the rocks with Arabic 
numerals and initials in Roman letters.. The route descends 
a stream, just before reaching Shui-yueh-tsze, to Liang-ho- 
kou, and then continues down the Hsingshan River to the 
Yangtsze, which it connects with at Hsiang-che. Its con- 
struction even in this region promises to be a difficult task, 
and wiU call for great ability on the part of the engineers. 
Much tunnelling and blasting will be necessary, yet from 
Hankow to this point the task is simple compared with that 
which lies beyond. The cost will be enormous even in a 
land of cheap labour. It is highly improbable that the gentry, 
who are so violently opposed to the employment of foreign 
capital in this venture, realize the magnitude of the task and 
its ultimate cost. 

The next day's journey proved interesting but arduous. 
By an undulating path we reached the top of the ridge, which is 
known as T'an-shu-ya (Lime tree Pass), from a gigantic Linden 



IN QUEST OF FLOWERS 33 

which occurs there. This tree {Tilia Henry ana) is about 80 
feet tall and 27 feet in girth, and though hollow appears to be in 
good health. The young leaves are silvery, and the tree, from 
its size, is a conspicuous object for miles around. 

Descending through a cultivated area we entered a glen 
which we followed for 20 li : the scenery in the lower end 
is magnificent. Cliffs of hard limestone rear themselves almost 
perpendicularly some 2000 feet and more. In the upper part 
of the glen Pterocarya hufehensis is common alongside the 
burn. An odd tree or two of the rare Pteroceltis Tatarinowii 
also occurs here. Throughout the glen Lady Banks's rose 
[Rosa BanksicB) is especially abundant. Bushes 10 to 20 feet 
high and more through them were one mass of fragrant white 
flowers. It occurs in thousands and is particularly happy, 
growing on rocks and over boulders by the side of streams. 
CcBsalpinia sepiaria, with erect thyrsoid panicles of fragrant 
yellow flowers, is also abundant hereabouts. Growing on the 
cliffs, Illicium Henryi, with its dull crimson flowers, is also 
worthy of note. On issuing from the glen we struck a shallow, 
rock-strewn stream of considerable width, and after ascending 
it for a short distance made a very precipitous ascent of a 
couple of thousand feet. Crossing over a ridge and a flat area, 
a descending road led to Shih-tsao-che, which we reached as 
night was closing in. This hamlet consists of about a dozen 
houses scattered through a narrow valley. 

During the day I collected specimens of thirty different 
kinds of woody plants. The striking plants of the afternoon's 
journey were the Amelanchier and Dipelta fioribunda, both 
masses of flower. Walnut [Juglans regia) and Varnish trees 
are abundant above 3000 feet ; the sides and tops of the 
mountains are clothed with woods of Oak and Pine, particu- 
larly the former. We also saw many fine Willow and Ailan- 
thus trees. Primula ohconica, Lysimachia crispidens, and a 
blue-flowered Salvia are abundant up to 2000 feet. Near 
the inn a few trees of Catalpa Fargesii occur, but were not yet 
in flower. Hereabouts Daphne genkwa is abundant, but it 
was scarcely in flower at this altitude. 

It rained a little in the early morning and showers fell at 
intervals during the day, nevertheless, the weather was good 
VOL. I. — 3 



34 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

for travelling, since it was not too hot. Most of the journey 
was downhill. Soon after starting in the morning we crossed 
one or two low ridges, intercepted by narrow plateaux, and 
about noon commenced the descent to Hsingshan Hsien. The 
descent is precipitous in parts, but the mountain-sides are 
mostly under cultivation. About half-way down coal is 
mined, but the quality appears to be indifferent. Lime is 
burnt in small quantities and paper-mills occur near Hsing- 
shan. 

Hsingshan, the only district city in these wilds, may claim to 
be one of the smallest and poorest Hsiens [i.e. cities of the fourth 
class) in the whole of China. It is situated on the left bank of a 
stream and contains scarcely a hundred houses, most of which 
are in a ruinous state. The wall facing the river varies from 
4 to 12 feet in height. A road, apparently the main road, runs 
along the top of this wall. The east gate is closed by sewage ; 
the north gate is so low that one has to bend the head when 
passing through ! The whole town is dull and lifeless, as far as 
business is concerned, but children are plentiful, as they are 
everywhere else in China. The town is backed by a steep 
mountain, up two sides of which a wall is carried : most of 
the mountain-side enclosed within the wall is given over to 
terraced fields. The river is broad, with a shingly bottom, and 
the water clear and Umpid. Thick-bottomed boats ply between 
Hsiang-t'an and Hsiang-che, a village at the head of the 
Mitan Gorge, on the Yangtsze. No one stays in Hsingshan, 
and we journeyed on to Hsiang-t'an. This name signifies 
" fragrant rapid " : the waters may perhaps be sweet, but the 
village is foul and stinking. We had some little difficulty in 
securing lodgings, poor as they were, and an objectionable coolie 
had to be evicted before we could settle down for the night. 

Flowers were not common during the day. We passed 
a magnificent tree of Keteleeria Davidiana, 8o feet tall and i6 
feet in girth. This tree shelters some graves, and was probably 
planted long ago. In the descent we passed through orchards 
of CratcBgus hupehensis, all in full flower. This Hawthorn is 
one of several kinds cultivated in China for their edible fruit. 
The interesting TonicelUa angulata occurs sparingly, and here 
and there large plants of Mucuna sempervirens cover large 



IN QUEST OF FLOWERS 35 

trees, Catalpa ovata is common on the plateaux and an 
interesting small-leaved Poplar occurs around farmhouses, but 
is rare. 

Hsiang-t'an being in water communication with the Yang- 
tsze boasts quite a considerable trade. Medicines are the 
principal export. Rifle-stocks, roughly shaped out of Walnut 
wood, are exported from this neighbourhood to Hangyang 
in increasing quantities annually. They are worth locally 300 
cash (about 6d.) each. The village is situated on the left bank 
of the river, and possesses an Opium Likin and a Viceroy's 
Bank. Pigs seem more in evidence than human beings, as 
judged from the four visits I have paid the place in different 
years. Being only 300 feet above Ichang, Hsiang-t'an enjoys 
a hot, dry climate. 

Leaving Hsiang-t'an we immediately crossed the river by 
ferry and ascended a narrow valley, which soon becomes a 
ravine and finally a wild, entrancing gorge. At the head of 
this gorge we took a small mountain-path which entailed a 
severe climb from the river-bed to the tops of the surrounding 
mountains. In this ascent the Musk Rose was a wonderful 
sight, and Loropetalum chinense abundant but out of flower. 
Once on top of the mountains an undulating path leads to Peh- 
yang-tsai, where we found lodgings in a new and fairly clean 
farmhouse. 

In the gorge I gathered Rehmannia Henryi, a herb less than 
I foot tall, with large, white, foxglove-like flowers. Here- 
abouts the root-bark of Lady Banks's rose is collected, and 
after being dried is pressed into bales for export to Shasi. 
This bark is used for dyeing and strengthening fish-nets, and it 
is claimed that it renders the net invisible to fish. In the 
vaUey Kcelreuteria bipinnata occurs, but is rare ; the flora of 
the ravine generally is similar to that of the San-yu-tung glen. 

The mountains are clad with Oak (largely scrub), Pinus 
Massoniana, and Cypress. A few Keteleeria trees occur and 
also Liquidamhar formosana. Populus Silvestrii, with its light 
grey bark, is a very common tree hereabouts. Wood Oil trees 
were a wonderful sight and most abundant. In the ravine 
they were in full leaf, and the fruits were swelling, but from 1500 
feet to 3000 feet they were leafless and covered with flowers. 



36 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

By the side of streams at low altitudes the Rambler Rose 
{Rosa muUiflora) was a pretty sight with its white and pink 
blossoms, but the Musk Rose {R. moschata) was the flower of the 
day — bushes 6 to 20 feet tall and more in diameter, nothing 
but clusters of white fragrant flowers. Growing on some old 
graves I found a sulphur-yellow flowered form of Rosa Bank- 
sice ; this, I think, must have been planted. Rose bushes are a 
special feature in this region and numerically are the common- 
est of shrubs. Around our lodgings the Hardy Rubber tree 
[Eucommih ulmoides) is cultivated for its bark, which is 
valued as a tonic medicine. 

Peh-yang-tsai is a scattered hamlet, situated in a narrow 
valley, some 2500 feet altitude. Facing our lodgings is a 
massive peak called Wan-tiao shan, its face a sheer precipice 
of hard limestone, the summit and farther slopes apparently 
well forested. The people of this hamlet, like the country 
people everywhere in these parts, were extremely nice and 
obliging, and it was a real pleasure to be amongst them. 

Wan-tiao shan looked too tempting to be passed by without 
investigation, so we spent a day, and a very hard day too, 
in making its ascent and descent. Leaving our lodgings at 
8 a.m., several hom^s were occupied in rounding the spurs and 
surmounting the cultivated and scrub-clad land which subtend 
the mountain proper. At 6000 feet we reached Bamboo 
scrub, and a path through this led to an area where medicinal 
Rhubarb was cultivated, and where the drug " Tang-shen " 
was extraordinarily abundant. At 6500 feet we entered the 
timber. At the margin of the woods, to the left of the road, 
are extensive plantations of the drug " Huang-lien." This 
interesting plant {CopHs chinensis) is grown under a frame- 
work of brushwood reared some 3 to 4 feet above the ground. 
The drug is used as a tonic and blood-purifier. 

As the path winds the trees are at first small, with plenty 
of Bamboo scrub, but this belt is very narrow and speedily 
gives place to large trees which extend to within 500 feet of the 
summit, where Bamboo scrub again becomes troublesome. 
Everywhere above 5000 feet, where the woods are thin and 
sunlight penetrates freely, Bamboo scrub is found, rendering 
travel excessively arduous and, unless a path is cut, im- 



IN QUEST OF FLOWERS 37 

possible. In the dense shade of the forest the Bamboo does 
not thrive. 

The forest, though full of splendid timber, is not rich in 
variety. The Chinese Beech {Fagus sinenis) is the commonest 
tree. This species always has many trunks, and trees 60 to 
70 feet high, with stems 3 to 6 feet in girth, abound. The 
interesting Tetracentron sincnse is very abundant ; trees 60 to 
70 feet by 8 to 10 feet girth are plentiful. The leafage of this 
tree is very thin and characteristic. Large trees of White 
Birch and of several species of Maple occur scattered through 
the forest. The smooth-leaved Davidia (D. involucraia, var. 
Vihnoriniana) occurs sparingly, and good-sized trees of various 
Cherries, Bird Cherries, Mountain Ash, and Wild Pear are 
common. Rambling over the tops of the largest trees is 
Berchemia Giraldiana. Several species of Rhododendron 
occur ; one species {R. sutchuenense) forms a tree 30 feet and 
more tall and 5 feet in girth. Shrubs in variety abound ; in 
the glades Viburnum tonientosum was wTeathed in snow-white 
flowers. In more open places the Musk Rose is rampant, 
and near the summit Rosa sericea is abundant. 

The summit forms a sloping, undulating flat, about an 
acre in extent, covered with grass and a few shrubs. On the 
apex stands a small temple now partly in ruins. A sharp, 
rocky ridge extends from the summit, linking the mountain 
up with the ranges to the northward. The face on two sides 
is a vertical precipice, 2000 feet and more sheer. From the 
summit (alt. 7850 feet) we got an extensive view of the sur- 
rounding country. Nothing but mountains on every side ; 
to the north and north-west these are heaped one be3^ond 
another in quick succession and are separated by narrow 
defiles down which torrents rush and roar. Very difficult looked 
the country in front of us, but the call of the unknown was 
strong. We descended by the same devious path, indeed, there 
is no other, and reached our lodgings as darkness overtook us. 
Specimens of some forty odd different plants rewarded the 
day's labour, several of them new and uncommonly interesting. 
On the extreme summit Box is a common shrub, and growing 
with it I discovered a new species of Lilac [Syringa verrucosa). 

The following day we continued our journey northwards. 



38 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

Just beyond Peh-yang-tsai we passed through copses of 
small Oak {Quercus variabilis), where the Jew's ear Fungus is 
cultivated. The culture is as follows : Oak saplings, about 
6 inches thick, are cut down, trimmed of their branches, and 
cut into staves 8 to lo feet long. These are allowed to lie on 
the ground for several months, where they become infested with 
the mycelium of the fungus. They are then stacked slantingly 
in scores or thereabouts, and the fructifications of the fungus 
develop. These are ear-shaped and gelatinous and are by the 
Chinese esteemed a delicacy. I tried them, but did not find 
them very palatable, and the experiment resulted in a bad 
stomach-ache ! 

On leaving these plantations the road descends to a ravine 
along which it meanders for a mile or two. Many shrubs were 
in flower in the ravine, and I gathered amongst other things 
specimens of a new genus, allied to Holboellia, with fragrant 
yellow flowers. (I subsequently secured seeds of this plant, 
since named Sargentodoxa cuneata, and succeeded in intro- 
ducing it into cultivation.) At the head of this ravine a 
steep ascent through woods of Oak and Birch leads to a 
cultivated area where there are two or three scattered houses 
and many Tea bushes. Near one house the Chinese Coffee 
tree {Gymnocladus chinensis) occurs ; the pods of this tree are 
saponaceous and are esteemed for laundry purposes. 

From the Tea plantations the road leads through Pine 
woods, now by an easy, now by a heavy grade, but always 
ascending, and we were all glad when our destination (Hsin- 
tientsze) was reached. Near this place are some fine old woods, 
rich in a variety of deciduous trees and shrubs. I noted a 
Horse Chestnut {Msculus Wilsonii), two kinds of Beech, 
Styrax Hemsleyanum, Meliosma Veitchiorum, the Davidia, and 
many different kinds of Maple and Oak — all of them large 
trees. In the margins of the woods Viburnum ichangense was 
particularly fine, and many Cherry trees, with both pink and 
white flowers, common. In moist shady places in the woods 
a blue Primrose (P. ovalifolia) carpets the ground for miles. 
The yellow- flowered Stylophorum japonicum, an Epimedium, 
and various species of Corydalis are abundant in and near the 
woods. 



IN QUEST OF FLOWERS 39 

The hamlet of Hsin-tientsze, alt. 5600 feet, consists of one 
rather large house. It is built on a slope a few hundred feet 
below the summit of the ridge, and from the front of the house 
a wonderful view of the surrounding country is afforded. 
Nothing but mountains as far as the eye can range, and 
not 20 square yards of level ground in sight ! Our quarters, 
though cramped, were, all things considered, fairly comfortable, 
and were as good as could be expected in these wilds. 

The next morning we made an early start in order to cover 
the 60 li between Hsin-tientsze and Mao-fu-lien. Immediately 
on leaving we traversed an old wood especially rich in species 
of Maple. Davidia and Beech are also common, whilst the 
interesting Cornus sinensis occurs sparingly as a thin tree 
60 feet tall. Pinus Armandi is present, but Conifers generally 
are very scarce in this particular locality. 

We meandered around the mountain-sides, by a tortuous 
ascending path, until we reached a gap in the ridge and crossing 
over made a breakneck descent of a couple of thousand feet. 
A new kind of Poplar, having the young foliage bronzy-red, was 
common on all sides, and in the descent I gathered Primula 
violodora, Rhododendron Augustinii, Acer griseum, and a pink- 
flowered Staphylea, the last two both small trees. The most 
interesting find, however, was a new Hydrangea {H. Sargentiana) , 
a shrub 5 to 6 feet tall, with stems densely felted with short 
bristly hairs and large, dark green leaves with a velvety lustre — 
in foliage alone this species is strikingly handsome. 

At the foot of the descent we came upon small woods of 
Pinus Henryi, a tree averaging 60 feet in height, more or less 
pyramidal in shape, with bark usually rough and black, but 
sometimes red in the upper parts. The cones vary considerably 
in size and are retained on the tree for several years. In the 
valley near the Pine woods there is considerable cultivation. 
Walnut trees are common and Cunninghamia abounds. 

Leaving this valley, a long but fairly easy ascent led to the 
top of another ridge, and a precipitous descent brought us to 
another narrow valley. These ascents and descents were most 
fatiguing and occurred with exasperating frequency every day, 
and several times a day at that. Another climb of over 2000 
feet and we reached our destination for the day, finding 



40 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

accommodation in an inn which is also a large medicine depot, 
and is owned by a wealthy man from the province of Kiangsi. 
This inn is a large, rambling two-storied structure with several 
outhouses and a large courtyard. There is not sufficient level 
space to accommodate the whole place, and the front part is 
supported on posts. It serves as general store for the whole 
country-side, and in addition is a veritable museum. Dirt in 
every shape and form draped everything, and the stink from 
adjacent piggeries was tempered with the odour of various 
aromatic herbs. The business instinct of the house is strong, as 
I found to my cost when changing some silver and buying a goat. 
The rites of ancestor-worship were strictly carried out every 
morning and evening, and everything done to ensure continued 
and increasing prosperity. The burning of incense and candles 
and the performance of mystical genuflexions may assist 
business, but a little more attention to cleanliness and sanitation 
would make a stronger appeal to the foreigner. At least, such 
were my conclusions after a thirty-six hours' stay in the place. 

It rained a good part of the next day, but as we had decided 
upon a day's rest it did not inconvenience us. In the forenoon 
I went out for a few hours to investigate the woods around 
Mao-fu-lien. Some very large trees of Sassafras (5. tzumu) 
occur here — the largest specimen is nearly loo feet tall and 12 
feet girth. The Chinese Sassafras has no medicinal value, and 
the wood is used for box-making and fuel only. Oak and 
Sweet Chestnut are plentiful and form small woods. The 
Chestnut {Castanea Vilmoriniana) is a singular species, with 
a single ovoid nut inside the spiny fruit ; the flowers have a 
peculiarly unpleasant smell. Around the inn are cultivated 
many trees of the Hardy Rubber and also Magnolia officinalis. 
Walnut and Varnish trees are abundant, and behind the house 
is a fine flat-leaved Spruce [Picea pachyclada). The mountain- 
tops are clothed with Grass, Brambles, scrub Oak, bushes 
of the pink-flowered Rhododendron Mariesii, and the scarlet 
R. indicum. 

The view from the inn is one of steep ridges and high 
mountains, separated by deep, narrow chasms as far as the 
eye can range. It is indeed a fascinating country, but exhaust- 
ing to travel over. 




IN SAN-YU-TUNG GLEN, CUPRESSUS FUNEP.RIS IN FOREGROUND 



IN QUEST OF FLOWERS 41 

A fine morning followed yesterday's rain, the country looked 
refreshed, and the air was laden with fragrance from the myriad 
flowers on every side. The coolies grumbled loudly over the 
extortionate charges at the inn, and several hours elapsed before 
they recovered their cheerfulness. The day's journey com- 
menced in a steady ascent to the top of a ridge followed by the 
usual precipitous descent. Hereabouts Staphylea holocarpa, a 
small, very floriferous tree, with both white and pink flowers, 
is very common and most strikingly beautiful. Another in- 
teresting plant is Salix Fargesii, a dwarf- growing Willow, 
having large very dark green leaves. A small torrent marks 
the foot of the descent, and from this point on v/e occupied 
several hours in an exhausting climb to the summit of another 
ridge, finally crossing over at 7300 feet altitude. In the ascent 
a new Spruce, having short square leaves and small cones, was 
discovered, and many small trees of Hemlock Spruce were 
noted. Near the head of the ridge, on cliffs. Box [Buxus 
microphylla) is very common, and a rosy-red flowered Primrose 
is abundant in grassy places. A dwarf Bamboo forms dense 
thickets on the top of the wind-swept ridge. 

The descent quickly leads into copses of Birch, and later into 
fine woods composed of mixed deciduous trees and shrubs and 
a few conifers. In these woods we spent a profitable time, 
collecting in all specimens of some fifty different kinds of woody 
plants. We saw one or two large trees of Davidia and many 
of Tetracentron. Cherries in variety are plentiful, and were a 
wonderful sight — nothing but masses of pink and white. Three 
kinds of Rhododendron were collected, and six in all noted. 
Maples in variety are very common, but one large tree of Acer 
griseum, with its chestnut-red bark, exfoliating like that of the 
River Birch, was the gem of all. Various PomacecB and one or 
two species of Lauracece make up a fair percentage of the small 
trees. Viburnums in variety. Honeysuckles, Diervillas, Deutzias, 
Philadelphus, and Neillia sinensis are everywhere abundant. 
In rocky, more open places Viburnum rhytidophyllum with its 
long, thick wrinkled leaves looked particularly happy, and 
in places exposed to the sun a Crab Apple (Malus sp.) with 
pink flowers was a sight for the gods. On wet, humus-clad 
rocks Pleione Henryi luxuriates, and herbs in endless variety 



42 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

crowd every available spot. A fine torrent collects up the 
waters of countless smaller streams, and falls down the narrow 
ravine, often in a series of waterfalls hundreds of feet high, the 
noise of the falling water alone breaking the silence of the forest 
depths. 

With some difficulty, owing to the timidity of the people, 
we obtained lodgings in a peasant's hut at Wen-tsao, alt. 
6150 feet. This tiny hamlet consists of four small houses, 
scattered and pitched on the steep mountain-slope. It is 
surrounded on all sides by precipitous mountains covered with 
forests. Around the houses small patches have been cleared, 
and wheat, a little maize, and a few peas and vegetables are 
cultivated. 

The forests of this region are particularly rich, and in order 
to better appreciate them I propose to interpolate here extracts 
from my j ournal of another date : — 

" May 30. — Wen-tsao. On a precipitous slope facing our 
lodgings a score or more Davidia trees occur ; they are one 
mass of white, and are most conspicuous as the shades of 
night close in. Two large trees of Pterostyrax hispidus are 
growing amongst these Davidias, and are laden with pendu- 
lous chains of creamy- white flowers." 

" May 31. — Go over and investigate the Davidia trees 
and the forests generally. Crossing a narrow neck a wood- 
cutter's circuitous path leads us down to a narrow defile 
through a fine shady wood. Ascending a precipice with diffi- 
culty, we soon reach the Davidia trees. There are over a 
score of them growing on a steep, rocky declivity ; they vary 
from 35 to 60 feet in height, and the largest is 6 feet in girth. 
Being in a dense wood they are bare of branches for half their 
height, but their presence is readily detected by the numerous 
white bracts which have fallen and lie strewn over the ground. 
The tree starts up from below when felled ; indeed, it naturally 
throws up small stems after it gets old. The bark is dark 
and scales off in small, irregular flakes. By climbing a large 
Tetracentron tree growing on the edge of a cliff, and chopping 
off some branches to make a clear space, I manage to take 
some snapshots of the upper part of the Davidia tree in full 
flower. A difficult task and highly dangerous. Three of us 



IN QUEST OF FLOWERS 43 

climb the tree to different heights and haul up axe and camera 
from one to another by means of a rope. The wood of Tetracen- 
tron is brittle, and the knowledge of this does not add to one's 
peace of mind when sitting astride a branch about 4 inches 
thick with a sheer drop of a couple of hundred feet beneath. 
However, all went well, and we drank in the beauties of this 
extraordinary tree. The distinctive beauty of Davidia is in 
the two snow-white connate bracts which subtend the flower 
proper. These are always unequal in size, the larger usually 
6 inches long by 3 inches broad, and the smaller 3|- inches 
by 2|- inches ; they range up to 8 inches by 4 inches and 
5 inches by 3 inches. At first greenish, they become pure white 
as the flowers mature and change to brown with age. The 
flowers and their attendant bracts are pendulous on fairly 
long stalks, and when stirred by the slightest breeze they 
resemble huge Butterflies hovering amongst the trees. The 
bracts are somewhat boat-shaped and flimsy in texture, and the 
leaves often hide them considerably, but so freely are they 
borne that the tree looks, from a short distance, as if flecked 
with snow. On dull days and in the early morning and 
evening the bracts are most conspicuous. The fruit super- 
ficially resembles a small walnut, but the inner shell is abso- 
lutely unbreakable. To my mind Davidia involucrata is at 
once the most interesting and beautiful of all trees of the 
north-temperate flora. 

" With the Davidia is a good-sized tree of the Horse 
Chestnut (50 feet in height by 4 feet in girth). Higher up 
Hornbeam and Tetracentron are common, and Birch, white, 
red, and black, luxuriate. 

" Maples are a feature of these woods ; all are tall trees, but 
of no great thickness. Unfortunately very few are flowering, 
and indeed this is true of the forest trees generally this year. 

" Perhaps the commonest tree in these forests is the Beech ; 
parts being formed entirely of these trees. So light-demanding 
are they that they suffer no competitors or even undergrowth. 
For the first time it is possible for me to say definitely that 
two distinct species of Beech exist in this region. One forms 
a tree with a single trunk, the other always has several trunks. 
The former species has glabrous, shining green leaves, a large. 



44 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

dense, much-branched head ; it makes a tree 40 to 50 feet 
high with a trunk 5 to 10 feet in girth, and, save for its smaller 
stature, very strongly resembles the European Beech. The 
second species, which is the recognized Chinese Beech, grows 
much taller, but never attains the girth of the other. It 
generally has six to twelve trunks, averaging 2 to 5 feet in girth, 
arising closely together and slanting away from one another 
as they grow. The bark is light grey and the leaves sub- 
glaucous and hairy below ; branches somewhat ascending 
but with the young branchlets slender and pendulous. A 
local name for the Beech is ' Peh Litzu.' Small plants are 
common, but no flowers are to be discovered.^ 

" In the shade of trees, Ribes longer acemosum, var. Wilsonii, 
a remarkable black currant, with racemes i to i^ feet long, is 
common, whilst Rodgersia cBsculifolia, with large, erect, thyrsoid 
panicles of white flowers, is rampant. 

" Five species of Oak — three deciduous and two evergreen 
occur. Meliosma Veitchiorum and many species of Pomacece 
and Cherries are common, whilst the Varnish tree is every- 
where abundant. In dense shade various evergreen Barberries 
occur, and in open country Neillia sinensis forms dense thickets. 

" Of Conifers, Pinus Armandi and P. Henry i are scattered 
over the cliffs ; Picea Wilsonii and a flat-leaved Spruce (P. 
pachyclada) are rare, whilst the Hemlock Spruce ^ is fairly 
common on the cliffs — neat, dense trees of no great size with 
their young leaves just unfolding and old cones abundant. 
The White Pine (P. Armandi) is more common higher up on 
the mountains ; with its long needles, graceful port, and light 
grey bark this tree is strikingly handsome ; the cones are 
pendulous, borne at the ends of the glabrous branches. The 
very resinous wood is used locally for torches, burning with a 
clear, bright flame, and gives a good light." 

'In 1 910 I succeeded in introducing young plants of both species into 
the Arnold Arboretum from this region. 
- Tsuga chinensis. 



CHAPTER V 
FOREST AND CRAG 

Across the Hupeh-Szechuan Frontier 

ON leaving Wen-tsao a sharp descent for a couple of 
hours brought us to the upper waters of the Hsingshan 
River, which we left several days ago. Crossing this 
stream by a covered bridge we reached the hamlet of Li-erh-kou. 
Around this hamlet trees of the Hardy Rubber {Eucommia) and 
Magnolia officinalis (Hou-p'o) are cultivated for their bark. A 
stead}^ ascent from Li-erh-kou through occasional woods of Oak 
and Birch, interrupted by areas where people were busy plough- 
ing the fields and sowingmaize, brought us to the hamlet of Chin- 
tien-po,wherewe lunched. Nearthis place is a fine newMeliosma 
(M. Beaniana), a tree 60 feet high. It was leafless, but one mass 
of creamy- white flowers borne in pendulous panicles. Near by 
this tree I discovered one small specimen of the " Judas tree " 
{Cercis racemosa). Prior to this discovery I knew of only two 
trees some fifteen days' journey south-west of Ichang. This new 
tree was about 25 feet high, with a stem half decayed through 
at the base, and a mop-like head. In spite of its partial decay 
the tree appeared in vigorous health, and was one mass of 
silvery-rose coloured flowers, borne in short racemes. The 
leaves of this species are hairy below. Varnish and Walnut 
trees occur in abundance, and we met several coolies laden 
with cakes of fat, expressed from the fruits of the Varnish 
tree {Rhus verniciflua). The double-flowered form of Spircea 
prunifoUa is commonly planted on graves, and the bushes were 
wreathed in flowers. 

Soon after leaving Chin-tien-po we commenced a precipitous 
ascent, and after climbing for several miles reached the neck of 
a ridge where Viburnum rhytidophyllum luxuriates. From this 



46 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

neck the ascent is more gradual, and but few crops are grown, 
as it is nearing the limits of cultivation in these regions. Near 
some limestone cliffs are two magnificent trees of Maackia, 
each 60 feet tall and 7 feet in girth. The bark of this tree is 
smooth, of a light grey colour, and the unfolding leaves are 
silvery grey. Here, too, are many small trees of the Bladder 
tree (Staphylca holocarpa) and Peach bushes. These were in full 
flower, and flitting amongst the flowers and drinking in the 
honey were many beautiful little sun-birds {Mthopyga dahryi). 
Rhododendron indicum was left behind at 5500 feet altitude. 

A few hundred yards beyond the limestone cliffs we crossed 
over at 7000 feet altitude, into Fang Hsien, and traversed a 
narrow moorland valley clothed with grass and bounded by 
rounded hills covered with thickets. In this moorland are acres 
of Astilbe Davidii and A. grandis, with several Senecios and 
other ornamental herbs. The thickets are composed chiefly of 
Birch and WiUow, with a few Poplar and Silver Fir, and an 
occasional flat-leaved Spruce. The vegetation was scarcely in 
leaf, and it was evident from the appearance of the ground that 
snow had only just melted away. We flushed a Solitary Snipe 
and secured a cock pheasant for the larder, but very little 
life of any sort was visible in these uplands. At the head of 
this moorland valley we entered a narrow defile and, after 
skirting the side of a mountain through thickets in which 
various Maples and Currants were prominent, reached Hung- 
shih-kou. This is a miserable hut of wood in a half-ruinous 
condition, kept by a family clothed in rags. It is situated 
at an altitude of 6300 feet, by the side of a considerable torrent, 
and is walled in by precipitous, well-wooded mountains. 

At night some of the coolies slept in a loft above the room I 
occupied, and every movement they made caused dust and dirt 
to fall over my bed. Oa v, aking in the morning I found myself 
covered with this filth, and nearly choked with the dust into 
the bargain. The owner of this hovel is a hunter, and he has 
shot the Serow of this region, which is known as " Ming-tsen 
Yang." He had a couple of pairs of horns and a flat skin which 
we secured, and, judging from this fragmentary material, the 
beast must be larger than any known species of Serow. (In 
1907 my associate, Mr. Zappey, made several trips after this 




THE CHINESE PRIVET (LIGUSTRUiM SINENSE) '20 FT. TALL 



FOREST AND CRAG 47 

animal, but to no purpose, though he secured a tantalizing 
glimpse of just one specimen.) 

The name Hung-shih-kou signifies " Red stone mouth," and 
has reference to the outcropping of red sandstone which occurs 
here and extends to Hsao-lung-tang, 20 11 distant, which we 
made our halting-place for the next day. Though we had only 
20 li to cover we started early, glad to escape from the miserable 
lodgings into the woods again. Ascending a stream, through 
brushwood thickets composed of Willow, Birch, Spiraea, and 
Roses, we twice crossed the stream by rotten bridges of roughly 
hewn tree-logs before reaching our destination. On the way 
we passed several fine trees of Picea Wilsonii, beneath which old 
graves nestle. The largest trees are about 70 feet tall and 
6 feet in girth ; the leaves bright green, and the habit distinctly 
stately ; the cones are borne in large clusters, and many still 
remained on the trees. Here also are small trees of the White 
Pine [Pinus Armandi) with cones 9 inches long. A new Poplar 
was discovered in flower, and Veitch's Viburnum and Spiraea 
were common with their young leaves just unfolding. 

The handsomest tree in these parts is, however, the Chinese 
form of Betula utilis, a Birch with orange-red bark, which on 
exfoliating exposes the glaucous waxy bloom of the layer below. 
Trees 40 feet high are still pyramidal in habit, much branched, 
with slender, ascending branches on which the lenticels are very 
prominent. The older trees, as seen on the tops of the moun- 
tains, are mop-headed, 60 to 80 feet tall, with a clean trunk for 
40 feet more, and are still strikingly handsome though blown 
and battered by the wind. 

The hamlet of Hsao-lung-tang (Small Dragon-pool), alt. 
7400 feet, consists of two dilapidated wooden huts pitched on 
opposite sides of a lovely burn, which flows through a narrow 
sloping valley lying almost due east and west. This valley is 
flanked by steep ridges clad only with grass and scrub. Odd 
patches of Birch and Silver Fir attest to forests which have all 
been destroyed by fire. From the numerous old graves and 
abandoned fields it is evident that formerly more people dwelt 
in this valley than do so to-day. Tiny patches of cabbage 
and Irish potato occur around the huts ; and also plantations 
of Tang-kuei [Angelica polymorpha, var. sinensis), a valued 



48 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

Chinese medicine. The people declare the valley too cold for 
wheat or barley ! 

On the occasion of my first visit to this place in 1901, I had 
to retrace my steps owing to dearth of supplies. Since that 
date no white man had visited this region. In the direction in 
which we were bound these are the last inhabited houses for 
over a hundred li. 

I took a photograph of the hostel on my arrival, but what 
I should have liked to photograph was the interior. This was 
impossible, since, even at midday, a light was necessary to see 
into the farthest corners. Dirt and filth in many forms 
abounded, and although plenty of timber is to be had for the 
felling, the house, through the idleness of its keeper, has been 
allowed to fall into a most ruinous state. Of one low story, 
the house is bisected into four compartments, and is provided 
with no outlet for the smoke or for the ingress of light, save 
through the doorway and holes in the roof ; the floor, of course, 
is mother earth. Pigs were quartered in one section, into which 
our arrival also forced the owners. Cows and goats occupied 
a hovel 6 feet from the door, the iloor of which was fully a 
foot deep in filth. Luckily, the weather continued gloriously 
fine, and the miserable surroundings were less evident in con- 
sequence. (In passing, I might record the fact that this was 
the only occasion on which I enjoyed fine weather in this place. 
Twice previously I had been marooned here for days, and either 
stayed in bed or shivered by the doorway watching the rain.) 

Bee-keeping is one of the principal industries of the peasants 
in these wilds, and around this hostel are scores of bee- 
hives. The hives are hollowed-out logs of Silver Fir, about 
3 feet 6 inches long by i foot wide, two pieces of wood are fixed 
crosswise in the centre, and opposite these three or four holes 
are bored to allow the bees ingress and egress. Rude boxes 
often take the place of these logs. The beeswax is not separ- 
ated from the honey, the honeycomb being eaten as removed 
from the hives. Though the climate is rigorous, the bees are 
healthy and strong, and disease is unknown among them. 

The morning following our arrival we ascended the Sha- 
mu-jen range behind our lodgings. The first 500 feet was 
steep going, but afterwards the climb was easy. At about 



FOREST AND CRAG 49 

8000 feet woods of Silver Fir occur. The trees at first are of 
no great size, but their dimensions increased as we ascended. 
Most of the larger trees have been felled and converted into 
coffins ; the remains of thousands of them are scattered every- 
where around. On the decayed trunks of many of these trees 
large bushes of Rhododendron are growing, thereby proving 
that the trees have lain there these many years past. Some 
of the prostrate trunks measured over 150 feet in length and 6 
feet in diameter. None of this size is now standing, but plenty 
that are over 100 feet tall occur. The upper part of the 
ridge is a cliff some 200 feet high, under the lee of which Birch 
and Maple are common and wild Rhubarb is also found. We 
discovered a more or less easypath up the cliff, and crossed over 
at 9700 feet altitude. The highest peak in this range is prob- 
ably a couple of hundred feet higher. The summit is of hard 
limestone with rare outcroppings of red sandstone. Stunted 
wind-swept Silver Fir and various kinds of Currant extend to 
the summit. Rhododendron and a dwarf Juniper (/. squamata) 
are also common. The descent was through woods of Birch 
and Bamboo to an open, grassy, scrub-clad, sloping moorland, 
through which a considerable torrent flows. The Bamboo, so 
common hereabouts, is very beautiful, forming clumps 3 to 10 
feet through. The culms are 5 to 12 feet tall, golden yellow, 
with dark, feathery foliage ; the young culms have broad 
sheathing bracts protecting the branchlets. Taken all in all, 
this is the handsomest Bamboo I have seen.^ 

In the vicinity of the stream shrubs in great variety 
abound ; of these the Willows, Roses, Spiraeas, Philadelphus, 
Hydrangeas, odd bushes of Rhododendron Fargesii, and clumps 
of Aralia chinensis are the principal features. The Rhododen- 
dron referred to is one of the most beautiful, with compact 
trusses of white or, more commonly, rosy-red (occasionally 
deep red) flowers ; the leaves are small, displaying the trusses 
of flowers to great advantage. This species is usually a bush 
5 to 8 feet tall, and of about the same dimensions through the 
head ; more rarely it is 15 to 20 feet tall. The steep grassy 
slopes are almost devoid of trees ; the fine pasture land 
and the typical moorland character of this narrow valley 

' In 1910 I successfully introduced it into cultivation. 
VOL. I. — 4 



30 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

constitute a region that is very different from others in 
central China. 

In the afternoon we visited Ta-lung-tang (Large Dragon- 
pool), a deep, silent pond about a stone's throw across, nearly 
circular in outline with reedy margins, walled in by steep 
grassy mountain slopes. In short, in situation and appearance 
the very kind of pool that in any country legends would be 
wrapped around, and so in this case many curious stories con- 
cerning elfs and demons are centred round this silent pool. 
The day was gloriously fine and sunny, but the wind, which 
swept through the valley in considerable force, was very cold. 
Whether it be due to local conditions or to the altitude I could 
not determine, but the tree flora is comparatively poor and of 
little interest, and very unlike the belts that occur between 
4000 and 6500 feet. The altitude, however, favours coarse 
herbs, and these are rampant. Many interesting shrubs also 
occur, but with the exception of Silver Fir, Birch and Poplar 
trees are rare. 

With a prospect of 60 li of unknown road before us we 
planned a daylight start, but this scheme did not mature, 
as the men had to prepare and cook their morning meal 
before starting. The entire absence of food supplies makes 
travelling hereabouts extraordinarily difficult. Yesterday 
four of the men journeyed back 45 li in order to buy 
food-stuffs, and returned only after dark ; several of them 
were up most of the night grinding maize and preparing 
cakes for the march. 

On leaving Hsao-lung-tang we ascended the lesser branch 
of a stream through a narrow valley flanked by bare grassy 
mountains having here and there small patches of Silver Fir 
and Birch forest. The road is one steady climb, never steep 
but often difficult owing to the Bamboo scrub. The decaying 
stumps and stark tree trunks speak eloquently of the magni- 
ficent forests which must have formerly existed here until 
destroyed by axe and fire. To the botanist and lover of 
Nature this vandalism is painful, but presumably it was 
necessary for economic reasons. The unwitting cause of it 
all has been the Irish potato. But Nature took her revenge 
when, twenty-three years ago, the Potato disease devastated 



^Mk 






"^..:.i^ 













CERCIDIPHVI.LUM JAPOMCUM VAR. ^.INK.NSK, m) FT. TALL, (ilRTH 7 FT. 



FOREST AND CRAG 51 

the crop and ruined the country-side, causing a general exodus 
of all the people. Nature is fast reclaiming the whole region, 
but re-afforestation is a slow process. 

Nearing the head of the pass we entered large timber — 
a fragment of the virgin forest, composed exclusively of 
Silver Fir and Birch with a dense undergrowth of Rhodo- 
dendron. The last named comprise four species — R. Fargcsii, 
R. maculiferum, R. sutchuenense, and R. adenopodum, most 
of them bushes 10 to 20 feet tall, their flowers making one 
blaze of colour. The Silver Fir and Birch trees are of huge 
dimensions, but none was fruiting. On emerging from this 
patch of forest we entered a rolling moorland covered with 
Bamboo scrub which merges gradually into areas clad with 
the dwarf Juniper, coarse grasses, and herbs, amongst which 
a species of Onion was abundant. This moorland extends 
across the rounded saddle of the range and for several miles 
down the other side. The crest of the saddle I made 9500 feet 
altitude, and from this point we obtained a fine view of the 
series of bare, savagely jagged peaks from which the range 
(Sheng-neng-chia) takes its name. The highest peaks prob- 
ably exceed 11,000 feet altitude, and the lower slopes are 
forested, but the country is not attractive. Animal life is 
remarkable for its absence, and hardly a bird was to be seen. 
The solitude which reigned in this remote, inaccessible region 
was broken only by the noise of rushing waters and the low 
whining of the wind amongst the tree-tops. In shady places 
blocks of ice still remained, and about the head of the pass 
the grass was only just beginning to show green. Save for an 
alpine Primula and a Dandelion no flowers of any sort were 
to be seen. 

On crossing the pass we again entered Hsingshan Hsien, 
and after wandermg across moorland for a few miles a short 
steep ascent led us across a lateral spur into Patung Hsien. 
From this point a precipitous descent of 2000 feet brought us 
to a ruined and deserted hut at a place called Wapeng, the 
only accommodation the country-side affords. In the descent 
we passed hundreds of curious rock-stacks — bare blocks of 
shale standing erect, with acute edges, like gaunt sentinels 
guarding the neighbourhood. The mountain-side was formerly 



52 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

under cultivation, but is now abandoned and covered with 
grass and coarse herbs. Around the hut a httle Medicinal 
Rhubarb and much Tang-shen was growing, telling of former 
plantations of these and other medicines. The country on all 
sides is very steep and much cut up, but stark decaying tree 
trunks, the sole remnants of former forests, mar the beauty 
of the landscape on all sides. 

We reached Wapeng (alt. 8400 feet) fairly early in the 
afternoon, and the men were busy till nightfall collecting fuel 
and rigging up a bamboo shelter beneath which to pass the 
night. The day had been gloriously fine and the night proved 
equally so, with a distinctly frosty nip after sundown. A 
roaring fire made things look cheerful, and everybody was in 
the best of health and spirits. The sides of the hut were airy 
and the wind played about one all night. The roof was 
partially wanting and afforded a good view of the starry 
heavens above. It was a lonely place, yet one felt peculiarly 
happy and glad to be privileged to visit a region so remote from 
the world in general. 

There was no difficulty in getting the men up next morning, 
and we were off just as the sun's rays broke over the landscape. 
Dark mists obscured the view for an hour or so, but as the sun 
rose these disappeared and we enjoyed another gloriously fine 
day. A steep and precipitous, nay breakneck, descent of a 
1000 feet brought us to a narrow well-wooded valley, walled 
in by forest-clad mountains. The Silver Fir does not descend 
more than 500 feet from Wapeng, below which its place is 
taken by Hemlock Spruce. This Spruce is not plentiful, but 
giants 100 feet tall by 12 feet in girth occur. The forests as 
we descended quickly become of mixed character, and finally 
conifers completely disappear. The variety of trees and 
shrubs was astonishing, and nearly all the more interesting trees 
of western Hupeh were to be found and in quantity. Maples 
are particularly abundant, and I gathered specimens of a 
dozen species in flower. Four species of Rhododendron occur 
scattered, but not in quantity. On rocks in places an 
interesting orchid {Pleione Henryi) abounds and was one mass 
of flowers. The Davidia is fairly common, and the curious 
Euptelea Franchetii and Tetracentron sinense are the commonest 



FOREST AND CRAG 53 

of trees. A feature in these woods was Staphylea holocarpa, a 
small tree covered with pendulous trusses of white and rosy- 
pink flowers. A Horse Chestnut {Msculus Wilsonii), the 
Chinese Yellow-wood [Cladrastis sinensis), Hemsley's Styrax 
and Pterostyrax hispidus, all of them large trees, were fairly 
common ; Cherries, Bird Cherries and many Pomacece abound. 
Birch is one of the commonest constituents of these forests ; 
in the more open areas Bamboo scrub forms dense thickets, 
and high up in the woods Rhododendron maculiferum forms 
trees 25 feet tall with a trunk i foot in diameter. 

Here and there clearings have been made for the cultiva- 
tion of the medicine " Huang-lien " [Coptis chinensis). In 
one abandoned clearing were hundreds of Liliuni tigrinum 
luxuriating amongst the grass and tall herbs. In dark shady 
places the noble Lilium mirahile is common. This lily has 
tubular snow-white flowers spotted with red within, and 
glossy green, cordate leaves. An occasional Spruce or Pine 
tree occurs, and at the edge of the forests Cunninghamia 
appears. Many of the cliffs are clothed with Hemlock Spruce. 
Birch is fairly common, but, v.dth the exception of one or two 
evergreen species, Oak is very scarce. Hornbeam is not 
plentiful, and Magnolias are decidedly rare trees ; Ash is 
general, and the Linden, represented by three or four species, 
abundant. The Laurel family is represented by four species, 
all of them deciduous, including a handsome kind with young 
foliage of a bronze-red. Honeysuckles are rare, save for the 
climbing species Lonicera tragophylla, which has golden- 
yellow flowers. Clematis in variety are common, especially 
C. montana (white and rosy-red forms) and C. pogonandra 
with its top-shaped yellow flowers. Many species of Schis- 
andria, all of them a wealth of flowers, Holhoellia Fargesii, 
and the botanically interesting Sinofranchctia sinensis are the 
principal climbers. 

The road follows the course of a torrent which rises near 
Wapeng and quickly becomes a considerable stream. The 
path is narrow, very rocky and difficult to follow, and how 
our chairs got through was a puzzle. Both torrent and path 
ultimately plunge into a narrow ravine shut in by lofty cliffs, 
unclimbable and bare. In places the rocks are of limestone, 



54 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

but from 5000 feet downwards slate and mud-shales pre- 
dominate. 

At 4500 feet altitude we reached the edge of the forest 
and entered a cultivated area, where there arc a few inhabited 
houses — the first we had seen for two days. Barley and Irish 
potato are the crops. Near the edge of the forest the torrent 
flows underground for about a mile. On rocks here Loniccra 
fileata abounds as a fluviatile shrub ; the curious climber 
Hosiea sinensis is common, covering rocks fuUy exposed to the 
sun. In the open country I noted in full flower a fine 
specimen of the Chinese Tulip tree [Liriodendron chinense), 
70 feet tall and 5 feet in girth. 

A precipitous descent, through fields margined with Tea- 
bushes, led to the tiny hamlet of Sha-kou-ping, where the torrent 
we had followed joins with a very considerable stream flowing 
down from the north-east. The united waters plunge at once 
into a ravine and finally enter the Yangtsze a few miles 
above the city of Patung. Sha-kou-ping is only 2600 feet 
above sea-level, and is hemmed in on all sides by lofty 
cliffs. The flora is that common to the glens and gorges 
around Ichang, and the wealth of flowers was extraordinary. 
The Banksian rose is one of the commonest shrubs here- 
abouts, and was laden with masses of fragrant white flowers. 
Opium Poppy was abundant and the whole country- 
side was gay with the colour of flowers. Sty rax Veitchiorum 
occurs here, and trees 12 to 40 feet tall were masses of ivory- 
white. 

From Sha-kou-ping we toiled slowly up the rocky ravine 
down which the main stream rushes. A paper-mill or two 
are located here, but houses are few and far between. The 
rocks are of slaty shales, often very rotten, and the torrent 
is a succession of rapids and cataracts. In spite of the 
turbulent nature of its waters it is full of fish, some of them 
of good size. 

The hamlet of Ma-hsien-ping, our intended destination, 
proved to be a miserable place of some half a dozen hovels 
all filled with people engaged in collecting tea. We there- 
fore journeyed on for another 10 li to some farmhouses at 
Shui-ting-liangtsze, and arrived just as the sun was setting 



FOREST AND CRAG 55 

behind the range. We found accommodation in a large farm- 
house, alt. 3900 feet. The day's journey proved very arduous, 
but there was much by way of compensation. The scenery 
was subhme and the flora wonderfully rich and varied. In all 
I gathered specimens of upwards of fifty new kinds of woody 
plants, many of them previously unknown. This region is one 
of the richest I have visited, and I subsequently secured a fine 
haul of seeds, the great majority of the plants raised from them 
being now found growing and thriving in many gardens of 
Europe and America. (Later I again traversed this same 
region, and owing to heavy rains was over a week in crossing 
the country between Hsao-lung-tang and Shui-ting-liangtsze, 
a flooded torrent holding us up for three consecutive days.) 

It was nearly midnight when all was quiet last night, the 
men being loud in their grumbling against taking the road to 
Taning Hsien instead of that to Wushan Hsien. The reports 
we had heard indicated a bad time ahead for all of us and for 
the men in particular, owing to the extreme poverty of the 
country-side. I heard them as I lay in bed, but fortunately 
no complaints were brought to me. 

It was later than usual when we got away in the morning. 
After a steep ascent we meandered along the mountain-side, 
and ultimately crossed over into Fang Hsien again by a low 
pass, alt. 5600 feet. This is the real watershed of the Han 
and Yangtsze River systems. The Sheng-neng-chia is a gigan- 
tic spur thrust out from the backbone of the chain, and the 
streams which take their rise from three sides of this spur 
flow down to the Yangtsze. From the watershed we had a 
good view of the Sheng-neng-chia peaks bearing E.S.E., 
and of some equally lofty mountains to the east, evidently 
in the vicinity of the Yangtsze itself. On both sides of the 
watershed is a rather broad cultivated valley bounded by razor- 
backed hills clothed with woods of Oak and Pine. Varnish 
trees abound on the edges of the fields and Walnut trees are 
also common. Farmhouses are scattered over the country-side, 
and the crow of the Pheasant, the coo of the Wood Pigeon 
and the notes of the Cuckoo were heard on all sides. By the 
wayside are many fine trees of Sweet Chestnut and Magnolia, 
and one very fine specimen of Corylus chinensis, 120 feet tall 



56 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

and 12 feet in girth. Many medicines are cultivated hereabouts, 
more especially Rhubarb and Tang-shen. Populus lasio- 
carpa, with huge handsome foliage, is one of the commonest 
trees. 

After a few miles the cultivated valley ends and we entered 
a narrow defile flanked by steep, well-wooded mountains. 
Hereabouts the interesting Sinowilsonia Henryi is common, 
forming a small, bushy tree with handsome foliage and long, 
pendulous racemes of inconspicuous flowers. The most orna- 
mental tree, however, is a fine Crab Apple, which was laden 
with umbels of pure white fragrant flowers borne on long slender 
stalks. Issuing from this defile we entered a small cultivated 
flat and found lodgings at the hamlet of Pien-chin, alt. 5200 feet. 

The vegetation during the day's journey was not very 
remarkable, though I added sixteen kinds of plants to the 
collection. Noteworthy on the rocks and cliffs was Viburnum 
fhytidophyllum, with its large flat corymbs of dirty white 
flowers, which are not very pleasing to the nostril. In the 
defile the mountain-side is rich in shrubs; amongst which various 
Rhododendrons were prominent ; Rhododendron indicum was 
common and Rosa sericea was just opening its flowers. All day 
Oak woods were common, but these never contain much that is 
of more than passing interest. In abandoned cultivated areas 
a small Poppy, resembling the common Iceland Poppy, with 
deep yellow (occasionally orange) flowers was very abundant 
and attractive. In shady places the large yellow flowers of 
Chelidonium lasiocarpum made a fine show, and common on 
bare limestone cliffs are Corydalis Wilsonii and C. tomentosa, 
both species with yellow flowers and glaucous foliage. Around 
our lodgings there was much cultivation, maize, barley, pulse, 
and the Irish potato being the principal crops. Several paper- 
mills occur by the side of the stream, bamboo pulp being the 
raw material from which the paper is made. 

On leaving Pien-chin we followed a river to a point where it 
is joined by a tributary stream which we crossed and then 
ascended the road which skirts its banks. This stream is gentle 
for a Hupeh torrent, and for 10 li the road is of the easiest. The 
mountain-sides are covered with shrubs and trees; among which 
Cercidiphyllum was conspicuous. Occasional houses and small 




THK LAR(;K-LKAVED poplar (POPULUS LASIOCARPA) W FT. TALL, 
GIRTH 5 FT. 



FOREST AND CRAG 57 

patches of cultivation occur, but the country generally is very 
sparsely peopled. Populus lasiocarpa is abundant, and large 
branches are commonly driven in the ground to make fences ; 
these branches take root and form groves. A magnificent tree 
of Ailanthus Vilmoriniana, 150 feet tall and 20 feet in girth, 
was passed, and I was astounded at the huge size of this specimen. 
Tangled masses of AcUnidia chinensis and various kinds of wild 
roses were everywhere abundant, filling the air with soft 
fragrance. Leaving this delightful mountain stream we made 
a steep ascent of 900 feet and then, to our great surprise, 
entered a broad level valley. This valley was evidently in 
earlier times a mountain lake — to-day the margins are cultivated 
and the centre is a marsh. The whole district is known as 
Chu-ku-ping or Ta-chu-hu, — the latter name having reference 
to its former condition as a lake. A flat area of this character 
is unique in these regions, as far as my knowledge goes. Several 
roads cross this flat and we took the one for Taning Hsien. 
By the wayside strawberries, white and red, luxuriate and were 
very good eating. Quite a number of horses and cattle were 
grazing in this valley, and the country could support many more. 

After meandering some 15 li over the easiest of roads we 
made a very steep and fatiguing ascent to alt. 7300 feet, and 
crossed over into the province of Szechuan. From the neck of 
the divide, looking away E.S.E., we obtained a good view of 
the Sheng-neng-chia and the main and subsidiary ranges and 
peaks — nothing but mountains on every side save the tiny 
valley at our feet which we had just crossed. In the ascent we 
passed many shrubs in full flower ; particularly striking were 
the various kinds of Viburnum, Deutzia, Abelia, and Cornus. 
A precipitous descent through a ravine and we reached the 
hostel at Hwa-kuo-ling, alt. 6350 feet, where plantations of 
Rhubarb were common and several other medicinal plants 
cultivated. 

The road we were following is called the " Great salt road," 
but we only met four men carrying salt in the day's march. 
Indeed, on the whole journey we encountered practically no 
traffic. This wild mountainous country supports only a very 
sparse population and foreign trade has no chance hereabouts. 
Our great difficulty was in securing enough food for the men. 



58 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

At Chu-ku-ping we managed to get one good meal from the 
local head-man and bought portions of a wild pig recently 
killed. At the hostel nothing was obtainable and the men had 
to eke out on the small rations they had with them. Goitre 
is common in these regions and nearly every one is affected. It 
would seem to be hereditary, since I noticed children in arms 
showing unmistakable sweUings in the throat. 

Boisterous winds and heavy clouds alternating with bright 
sunshine marked our first day's journey in eastern Szechuan. 
We were again amongst cliffs of hard limestone and the scenery 
strikingly resembles that of the Yangtsze Gorges and contiguous 
country. The whole region is too steep for cultivation, and 
habitations are few and far between and most dilapidated in 
character. The soil is stiff, clayey loam and the few crops we 
saw were wheat, Rye {Secale fragile), Irish potato, maize, and 
pulse. The cliffs are for the most part well timbered, and 
the common trees and shrubs of Hupeh are represented. Pinus 
Armandi is very abundant and P. Henryi is also common. 
Odd trees of Spruce and Hemlock also occur. A fine speci- 
men of Acer griseum, 60 feet tall, 7 feet in girth, with curious 
cinnamon-red papery bark was the feature of the day's march ; 
unfortunately, it was badly situated for photographing. Beech, 
Yellow-wood and Dipteronia sinensis were common trees en 
route. 

The road is one long succession of ascents and descents 
and most fatiguing. In the afternoon, after a particularly 
trying ascent, we wandered for an hour or so through woods of 
Oak (chiefly Quercus variabilis and Q. aliena) and Sweet 
Chestnut, the latter laden with its white, evil-smelling flowers. 
Walnut and Varnish trees are everywhere abundant and 
Campanula punctata is a common weed of cultivation. No 
foreigner had ever before traversed this region and the people 
were very timid, locking up their houses and hiding themselves 
from view at our approach. The cliffs in this neighbourhood are 
full of caves and many of these are bricked up to form places of 
refuge in troublous times. We found lodgings for the night at 
Peh-kuo-yiien, alt. 3750 feet, in the house of the head-man of 
the hamlet. Food-stuffs were scarce and there was great 
difficulty in persuading the people to part. What little we 



FOREST AND CRAG 59 

did eventually obtain was at famine prices and the grumbling 
was loud on all sides. 

The following morning we descended by a moderately easy 
path to a torrent and then commenced a heart-breaking 
ascent of some 2600 feet. It was excessively hot and I do not 
remember perspiring so much before. A rugged, precipitous, 
sparsely populated country is this, and I never wish to see it 
again. Limestone regions are magnificent from the scenic 
point of view, but for travelling over they are fierce and 
arduous beyond words ! Our destination was Hsao-pingtsze 
and no one knew the distance. Inquiries made as often as 
possible always elicited the same reply : " Seven or 8 li from 
Peh-kuo-yiien, 7 or 8 li to Hsao-pingtsze." Late in the after- 
noon the distance to go increased to 30 li and did not shorten 
until we suddenly sighted the two huts which form the hamlet 
of Hsao-pingtsze ! 

The ascent was largely under cultivation, but the final 
stage was through jungle. Lonicera fragophylla is common 
and was in full flower, but we saw no good plants. A bush 
of Schizophragma integri folium, one mass of the purest white, 
on the cliffs, was conspicuous from afar. But the flora 
generally is very ordinary, with Rhododendron discolor and 
R. Mariesii common here and there. On reaching the top of 
the cliffs we entered a cultivated slope where Walnut and 
Varnish trees abound. The district is called Ta-ping-shan 
and consists of several scattered farmhouses surrounded by 
fields of maize, pulse, barley, and Irish potato. At one of 
these farmhouses my followers managed to secure a good meal 
and high spirits prevailed in consequence. 

On leaving this place we continued to ascend by an easy 
path skirting rolling downs. A few scattered houses occur 
for a couple of miles but were mostly deserted, and we soon 
left all signs of cultivation and habitation behind us. The 
downs are treeless and clad mostly with grass with scattered 
bushes of Willow, Barberry and Spirsea. The depressions 
between the hills were masses of blue Forget-me-not. The 
whole region would make excellent grazing ground for cattle. 
Crossing over at 7950 feet altitude, we descended by an easy 
road for a mile or so and passed a couple of huts surrounded 



6o A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

by extensive plantations of Medicinal Rhubarb. Man}?' fine 
herbs luxuriate hereabouts, and among them Iris Wilsonii 
with its yellow flowers was conspicuous, covering large areas. 
Eventually we reached the edge of a precipice, down which 
the road fairly tumbles for 5 li to Hsao-pingtsze. This 
hamlet, as the name indicates, is situated on a tiny flat 
(probably caused by a landslide) and boasts two miserable, 
dilapidated houses. We took up lodgings in the smaller and 
presumably less squalid of the two, but there were little to 
choose between them in all conscience. On three sides the 
hamlet is walled in by steep cliffs and the fourth is the edge 
of a precipice itself. It was only some 30 yards from our hut 
to the edge of this precipice, and the view from this point is 
one of the most extraordinary and wonderful my eyes have 
ever beheld. Below me (some 4000 feet the morrow proved) 
at an acute angle lay a small village with a considerable river 
flowing past it. Beyond this was range upon range of bare, 
treeless, sharp-edged ridges, averaging 5000 to 6000 feet in 
height, with outstanding higher peaks and grander ranges in 
the beyond. The rocks are mainly of limestone, white, grey 
and reddish, giving a bizarre appearance to the whole scene. 
Never have I looked upon a wilder, more savage and less 
inviting region. A storm was brewing and the light rapidly 
failing, making it impossible to take a photograph, though 
no photograph could have produced a picture that would give 
an adequate idea of the savage grandeur of the whole scene. 
It was indeed sufficient to awe and terrorize one. Such scenes 
sink deep into the memory and the impressive stillness 
produces an effect which is felt for long years afterwards. 
Soon the angry rain-clouds darkened and blotted out the 
whole scene and the next moment a thunderstorm burst over 
us. This storm lasted through the night and, the roof of our 
hovel being like a sieve, the rain soon converted the mud floor 
of the hut into a quagmire. We huddled together and did 
what we could to keep dry and warm, but the night proved 
long and cheerless. 

Soon after daybreak next morning we made our escape 
from these wretched quarters, but rain was still falling, and of 
the wonderful scene of the preceding evening nothing was 



FOREST AND CRAG 6i 

visible from the gap but an ocean of clouds. The descent is 
most precipitous and for the first 2000 feet we fairly tumbled 
down. Afterwards it became more gradual and led over a 
steep cultivated slope of red clayeysoil, making walking difficult. 
Nowhere is this descent easy, and very glad were we all that 
our route was down instead of up this mountain-side. At the 
foot of the descent the road leads through a rocky defile to 
emerge on the banks of a clear-water river some 60 yards 
broad. Across this we were ferried to Tan-chia-tien, the village 
we saw from near our lodgings last night. This village consists 
of some fifty houses which are huddled together and overhang 
the river in front and cling to the cliff behind in an extra- 
ordinary manner. From this village a kind of long street 
with houses scattered here and there along its length extends 
for 2 miles to the village of Chikou, situated at the junction of 
this river with another of almost equal size, A mile or so 
from Chikou up the secondary stream are the salt wells of 
Taning-ching. 

The road we struck at Tan-chia-tien is a highway leading 
northwards to Shensi and southwards to Kuichou Fu on the 
Yangtsze River. Hereabouts and down to Taning Hsien, 
12 miles distant, and northwards I know not how far, the 
cliffs are sheer to the water's edge. The road is well graded 
and a good 6 feet broad, and has been excavated or blasted 
from the solid rock. 

From Chikou to Taning Hsien is said to be 30 li with not 
a house or hovel between. To cover this we with difficulty 
engaged boats, long, narrow, lightly built affairs (Sin-po-tzu), 
turned up at prow and stern, with no oars and steered by 
long sweeps projected fore and aft. The current was strong 
and rapids numerous ; aided by a freshet we covered the 
whole distance in half an hour. The brief journey was through 
one grand chasm, the walls of rock being sheer to the water's 
edge with no space even for a shingle-bank to lodge. These 
cliffs are treeless and mostly bare with here and there grassy 
patches and clumps of delicate, graceful Bamboo [Anmdinaria 
nitida). The road zigzags around the cliffs on the right 
bank well above high-water mark, and every inch of it has 
been blasted from the hard wall of rock. Stone gates and 



62 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

barriers occur at intervals, but there are no houses. This road 
is of such a nature that time and neglect can affect it but little, 
but it is now scarcely used except by occasional pedestrians 
and salt-carriers when the river is impracticable. I tried hard 
to discover when and by whom the road was built but found 
no one who could tell me. It is evidently one of the ancient 
arteries of China, and probably dates back to the discovery 
of the salt-wells. It struck me as being an old military road 
and may probably have been built centuries ago when Kuichou 
Fu was a place of infinitely greater importance than it is 
to-day. 

The river I have mentioned, known locally as the Taning 
Ho, rises near the borders of Shensi, Hupeh, and Szechuan, and 
after flowing nearly due south enters the Yangtsze at Wushan 
Hsien. From Chikou boats descend to its mouth, 200 li distant. 

Taning Hsien, alt. 750 feet, the most easterly inland town 
in Szechuan, is situated on the right bank of the river, here 
about 100 yards broad, and sweeping from the gorge in a fine 
curve. The town is wedged in on the side of a mountain-slope 
up which the city wall ascends for several hundred feet. The 
river-front is bounded on one side by the city wall, and the shops, 
houses and yamens are crowded together near the river. The 
upper slopes enclosed within the city wall are given over to 
agriculture. The town, comprising about 400 houses, is the 
residence of a district magistrate, and boasts a trade in salt 
and odds and ends. Formerly it was the centre of a large 
opium traffic. 

At Taning Hsien the Chinese Banyan {Ficus infectoria), so 
abundant and characteristic of the central parts of Szechuan, 
puts in an appearance. Near a temple, a few hundred yards 
from the north gate of the town, I observed from the boat 
what appeared to be a Mantzu cave built in the face of lime- 
stone rock. On inquiring I was told of four or five similar 
caves in this neighbourhood. Later I may have something 
to say about these caves, but it is interesting to be able to 
register their presence at the extreme eastern edge of the 
province, since heretofore they have been considered a feature 
of the more western parts. Physically and geologically 
speaking, the country east of the Taning River belongs to 



FOREST AND CRAG 63 

western Hupeh. Almost immediately west of it the charac- 
teristic red sandstone of Szechuan commences. 

For twenty-two consecutive days my followers and I had 
struggled through the wild, lonely mountain fastnesses of north- 
western Hupeh, suffering much from bad roads, worse accom- 
modation and scarcity of food supplies. For the first time on 
record the journey had been accomplished by a foreigner, and 
one and all of my followers were happy in the thought of the 
comparative luxury and plenty of the country which was now 
before us. 



CHAPTER VI 
THE RED BASIN OF SZECHUAN 

Geology, Mineral, and Agricultural Wealth 

THROUGHOUT the eastern and central parts of the 
province of Szechuan, from near the Hupeh boundary 
to the valley of theMin River, the predominant rocks are 
red clayey sandstones, probably of Jurassic age. These rocks 
are of immense thickness and impart a characteristic red colour 
to the surface, and for this reason the late Baron Richthofen 
gave the term "Red Basin " to the whole region. This basin 
is nearly triangular in shape, the city of Kuichou Fu marking 
the " apex." Imaginary lines connecting Kuichou Fu with 
Lungan Fu in the north-west, and Kuichou Fu with Pingshan 
Hsien keeping a little to the south of the Yangtsze River, 
respectively mark the northern and southern ' ' sides. ' ' Another 
line from Lungan Fu and thence skirting the valley of the Min 
River to Pingshan Hsien marks the " base " of the triangle. 
The entire basin is nearly 100,000 square miles in area, and is 
surrounded on all sides by lofty mountain ranges, those on 
the west rising above the snow-line. In the east the boundary 
ranges are composed principally of Upper Carboniferous lime- 
stone, as described in Chapter II, The western boundary 
ranges are largely made up of shales. The Yangtsze River 
traverses the basin from west to east, following a course nearly 
parallel with the southern limits of the basin itself. Within 
this triangle there is abundant life, industry, prosperity, 
wealth, and intercommunication by water. Outside of it on 
all sides the contiguous country is sparsely inhabited, little 
productive and no river is navigable save the Yangtsze, where 
it leaves the basin. 

In ancient geological times this region was doubtless a vast 

64 



THE RED BASIN OF SZECHUAN 65 

inland lake with a fairly even floor. Since the draining off of 
the waters the Yangtsze River and its network of tributary 
streams have eroded channels 1500 to 2500 feet deep through 
these soft sedimentary rocks, and converted the whole basin 
into a thoroughly hilly country. To-day practically the only level 
area is the Plain of Chengtu, some 80 miles long and 65 miles 
wide, with an average altitude of 1800 to 2000 feet above sea- 
level. The rest of the basin is broken up into a network of 
low, rolling or flat-topped mountains averaging about 3000 
feet above sea-level, and nowhere exceeding 4000 feet altitude. 
The whole of this region is under agriculture, the highest 
development of which obtains on the Chengtu Plain, perhaps 
the richest area in the whole of China. Anent this particular 
part we shall have something to say later. 

How great a period of time has elapsed since the disappear- 
ance of the waters from this basin is purely conjectural. But 
that this triangle has long constituted a well-marked boundary 
is evidenced by the fact that remarkably few of the plants 
found in the mountains bordering the eastern limits at 2000 
feet altitude and upwards are common to the mountains 
bordering the western limits. The genera are of course the 
same, but the species are usually distinct. The difference 
between the floras of the eastern and western border-ranges is 
too great for a mere 500 miles of longitude to account for 
solely. The same is true of the fauna in so far as the game 
birds and animals are concerned, as Chapters XI and XIII, 
Vol. II, dealing with these will confirm. 

From evidence presented by the flora to-day it appears 
doubtful if ever the Red Basin was covered with great forests. 
Rather would I suppose that subsequent to the disappearance 
of the waters the region bore some resemblance to the " bad 
lands " of certain parts of the United States of America. 
All this is admittedly pure conjecture. Everjrwhere to-day, 
trees, shrubs, and herbs are common, but the flora, in contra- 
distinction to that of the contiguous regions, is relatively poor, 
and the species largely common to the entire basin. Further, 
the majority of these species are widely spread throughout 
the warmer low-level legions in China, some indeed ranging 
to the extreme eastern limits of the country. A theory is apt 
VOL. I.— 5 



66 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

to become fascinating, and may easily be carried too far. The 
facts above recorded are best left until the geology of China 
generally is more accurately known. 

Coming down to historical times we learn that the region 
previous to the advent of the Chinese was peopled by an 
aboriginal population divided into the kingdom of Pa in the 
east and the kingdom of Shu in the west. This aboriginal 
population has entirely disappeared, but records in the shape 
of well-constructed caves having square entrances are found 
scattered all over the Red Basin. These caves are especially 
abundant around Kiating Fu. A little investigation of these 
interesting places has been attempted, and fragments of pottery 
and odds and ends discovered. The entrances to these caves 
could only be closed from the outside, and from this fact, and 
other details, it is probable that they served as the burial-places 
of the chiefs and more wealthy among this extinct people, 
rather than as dwelling-places or harbours of refuge. Doubtless 
they have been subsequently used for these latter purposes, 
but that they were designed for tombs seems to best explain 
their origin. From Chinese history we learn that as early 
as 600 B.C. the kingdom of Pa had relations with the Chinese 
kingdoms of Ts'u, which occupied the regions north of the 
barrier ranges. Later, Pa princesses married Ts'u kings. 
Ts'u was in time conquered byTs'in (another Chinese kingdom), 
which gradually absorbed Pa, and finally conquered Shu about 
315 B.C. A military road was commenced from the neighbour- 
hood of modern Hanchung Fu, designed to connect with the 
region around modern Chengtu, by Ts'in-shih Hwang about 
220 B.C. This road, which enters Szechuan from across the 
barrier ranges near Kuangyuan Hsien, is still in existence as 
the great highway connecting Chengtu with Hanchung Fu, 
Sian Fu, and, ultihiately, Peking itself. For the next fifteen 
centuries the history of this region is full of w^ar, rebellion, and 
internecine strife. Usurpers established petty dominion over 
the country from time to time, only to disappear amongst 
awful slaughter and bloodshed. There is scarcely a square mile 
of the whole region but what recalls scenes of valour, treachery, 
and carnage. In the latter half of the thirteenth century the 
famous Tartar, Kublai Khan, carried his arms victoriously 



THE RED BASIN OF SZECHUAN 67 

over nearly the whole of modern China, and formed an Empire 
which the succeeding Ming and Manchu dynasties maintained 
more or less intact. 

Since the time of Kublai Khan many rebellions have 
swept over Szechuan, decimating the population and paralysing 
industry. The present population is mainly derived from 
immigrants (voluntary and otherwise) who settled there during 
the early half of the eighteenth century. A census taken in 
A.D. 1710 returned only 144,154 souls for the whole province. 
To-day the population is estimated at 45,000,000 ! In spite 
of all the long-sustained wars and bloody rebellions, agri- 
culture has managed to subsist, and the whole of the Red Basin 
is a lasting monument to Chinese genius and industry in matters 
agricultural. An abundant water-supply and constant tillage 
are necessary to obtain a full crop from these sandy clays 
and marls. Fortunately, the whole region is one vast net- 
work of streams, all of which drain into the mighty Yangtsze. 
The Chinese have taken full advantage of this intricate river 
system, and devised manifold methods of irrigation. These 
devices, combined with the untiring patient industry of the 
people, have converted an incipient " bad land " into a rich 
and fertile region of terraced fields. In no part of China that 
I have visited are the people entitled to greater praise for 
meritorious agricultural accomplishment than throughout this 
Red Basin. 

In many parts of this region the river valleys are so steeply 
eroded that very little cultivatable bottom-land is formed. 
Consequently the rice belt is relegated to slopes and summits 
of the low, flattened hills. In limestone regions the bottom- 
lands constitute the main rice belt, but in the sandstone 
regions the opposite obtains. The climate of the whole region 
is mild and genial, and during both winter and summer the land 
is cropped. Rice is the great summer crop with maize, millet, 
sweet potato, sugar-cane, tobacco, pulse, and various other 
crops. The principal winter crops are wheat, rape, peas, 
broad beans, cabbage, Irish potato, etc. Formerly opium was 
cultivated in enormous quantities as a winter-crop, but this 
has lately been almost entirely suppressed. Cotton does not 
thrive in the Red Basin, though its culture is attempted in 



68 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

many districts, notably Yilung Hsien and in Tungchuan Fu. 
Cotton is the one commodity that this region has to import, 
and nearly all its surplus products go to meet this deficiency. 
But, if cotton is very little grown, many kinds of hemp are 
produced in quantity, though very little is used for textile 
purposes. Silk production is everywhere an industry of import- 
ance; and in many districts the staple. Only the very poorest 
are without some silk garment, though such is only habitually 
worn by the more wealthy. Tea is grown in many districts 
both for local consumption and for export. In the more 
westerly parts tea for the Thibetan market is a staple product. 
Wood Oil and many other valuable economic trees are also 
largely cultivated. Fruit is generally grown, including peaches, 
apricots, plums, apples, pears, and oranges in variety. 
Oranges thrive remarkably well in this red sandstone; and the 
extensive orchards are a wonderful sight during the month of 
December. Tangerine varieties are most generally cultivated, 
and the fruit in season can be purchased at the rate of twelve 
hundred or more for two shiUings ! The tight-skinned varieties 
are less frequently grown, and are more expensive. Around 
Lu Chou are plantations of Litchi trees. Wlien they came from 
their original homes the settlers evidently brought with them 
their favourite trees and grains and planted them around their 
new homesteads. These introductions, and the favourable 
climate, explain the presence of such a vast variety of culti- 
vated plants, which is probably greater than that found in any 
other province in China. 

The steeper and rougher country is covered with small woods 
of Oak, Pine, and Cypress, elsewhere trees are confined to the 
vicinity of streams, houses, temple-grounds, wayside shrines, 
and tombs. 

The streams are navigable for extreme distances, and a 
perfect network of roads traverse the basin in every direction. 
These roads are, on the whole, well built for Chinese roads, but 
are not kept in thorough repair any more than those elsewhere 
in the land. The streams, however, are well supplied with 
ferries, and well-built bridges, substantially constructed of 
stone, and kept in good repair, are a feature throughout the 
entire region. Large cities, market villages, hamlets, and farm- 



pUHHIi^Hj^ i'r. _><<*« 




THE RED BASIN OF SZECHUAN 69 

houses dot the land, which everywhere appears prosperous 
and its inhabitants contented. Drought occasionally brings 
famine, but, on the whole, the Red Basin suffers much less 
from this dread calamity than do other and less favoured parts 
of the eighteen provinces of China. 

The mineral wealth of the Red Basin is not varied, but 
enormous brine deposits occur scattered over the whole area, 
and are worked at depths varying from almost surface level to 
3000 feet. In the eastern parts, Kuichou Fu, Wen-tang-ching, 
for example, the rivers have scoured the rocks until the brine- 
deposits are practically exposed. In the west, however, as at 
Wu-ting-chiao, situated on the left bank of the Min River a few 
miles below Kiating Fu, the brine is found at about 500 feet 
down. At Tzu-liu-ching, on the left bank of the To River, 
where the richest deposits occur, the brine is found at depths 
from 1000 to 3000 feet. 

Salt is worked in some thirty-nine districts in the Red Basin. 
It is everywhere a Government monopoly, and its production 
and subsequent distribution are rigorously controlled. The 
annual output is estimated at about 300,000 tons. At Tzu-liu- 
ching most of the brine is evaporated by inflammable gas ; in all 
other places the brine is evaporated by coal heat. In boring the 
deep wells, it is uncertain whether brine or gas will be struck, 
but both are equally valuable. The occurrence of this in- 
flammable gas indicates the presence of petroleum beds at 
still greater depth. 

Coal is found in greater or lesser quantities scattered all 
over the Red Basin, and is always found not very far removed 
from brine pits. This coal varies from lignite to anthracite. 
The average quality is poor, but one or two good seams have 
been found, notably at Lung-wang-tung, a few miles north 
of Chungking. 

Our early description of the Red Basin needs some ampli- 
fication to explain the presence of coal and other minerals. 
Although the sedimentary sandstones are in a state of undis- 
turbed stratification over a great part of this area, yet there is 
dissecting this Red Basin a number of linear elevations, in 
which the underlying limestone is bent up from a great depth. 
This limestone forms in every case an axial core, lined on either 



70 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

side by highly inclined strata, among which there is ordinarily 
noticeable, next to the axis, a double belt of coal-formation, 
followed on either side by strata of red sandstone standing on 
edge. Baron Richthofen estimates that " the area of the coal- 
bearing ground in Szechuan probably exceeds in size the total 
area of every other province of China." But probably through- 
out nine-tenths of this area the coal-measures are buried deep 
beneath the superincumbent strata, and with trifling exceptions 
can never become available for mining. In the linear elevations, 
above referred to, the belts of coal-formations, though narrow, 
are of great length. They are most readily accessible in those 
places where rivers have cut through and exposed the ends of 
the seams. Mining is done by means of horizontal adits 
working from an exposed surface inwards. Coal is very 
generally obtainable throughout the Red Basin, and is the 
ordinary fuel of the entire region. 

Iron-ores occur scattered throughout the entire region, but 
though in the aggregate the iron-smelting industry is a con- 
siderable one, in no one place is iron made on a large scale. 

Sulphate of iron (copperas) is found in combination with 
coal in one or two districts, notably in Kiangan Hsien. Lime 
is common to aU the linear elevations mentioned above, 
occurring in juxtaposition with coal, and is burnt in kilns in 
the usual way. 

Gypsum is found and worked in one or two places, notably 
Mei Chou and Pengshan Hsien, both districts on the Min River, 
between Kiating and Chengtu. 

Mineral oil in small quantity occurs in the district of Pengch'i 
Hsien, where a native company has made some attempts to 
develop the industry, but with unsatisfactory results. 

Other less important minerals occur in small quantities. 
The precious metals, gold and silver, are not found in the Red 
Basin proper but in the mountainous country to the west of 
this region, where copper, lead, and zinc ores also occur. 

In reference to gold it should, however, be mentioned that 
rude placer mining is carried on during the winter months, 
throughout the numerous shingle banks exposed in the beds of 
the Yangtsze, Kialing, and Min Rivers. On the Yangtsze this 
precarious industry is first to be noted some 50 miles below 



THE RED BASIN OF SZECHUAN 71 

Ichang, but it is not general until the region west of the Gorges 
is reached. The industry is carried on by the unemployed 
peasantry, and the returns are most insignificant. This gold 
is in all probability brought down by the Yangtsze and its 
larger tributaries during the summer floods. There is no record 
of any gold-bearing quartz having been found in situ in the 
Red Basin proper. In the mountains bordering its western 
and north-western limits, gold quartz is found in greater or 
less quantities, and all the principal rivers of this region either 
take their rise in, or flow through, these ranges. This fact 
explains the presence of small quantities of gold far removed 
from the gold-bearing strata. 



CHAPTER VII 

EASTERN SZECHUAN 

Narrative of a Journey from Taking Hsien to 

TUNGHSIANG HsiEN 

THE region described in this chapter was traversed by 
Lieut. -Colonel C. C. Manifold and Captain E. W. S, 
Mahon when surveying for a possible route for the pro- 
posed Hankow-Szechuan Railway in 1903 or 1904, I am not 
sure which. There is no record of any other traveller having 
crossed this part of eastern Szechuan, though it is very 
possible that missionaries may have done so. I do not know 
the conclusions arrived at by these surveyors, but the con- 
struction of a railway along the route I traversed would be 
a difficult and costly undertaking. 

The following narrative is compiled from my diary, and may, 
perhaps, convey a brief idea of the nature of the country and 
the flora found in the more easterly parts of the Red Basin. 
As will be gathered, I took ten days to cover the distance, 
but I travelled leisurely, and the journey could be accomplished 
in six days. 

June 28. — Yesterday we spent the day at Taning Hsien, 
refitting and preparing for our journey westwards to Chengtu 
Fu. Money exchange proved an involved and difficult business. 
Ten-cash pieces, both Hupeh and Szechuan currency, are 
accepted here at 20 per cent, discount. This means that the 
purchasing power of a thousand such cash is only equal to 
800 string-cash. Farther west, Hupeh lo-cash pieces are not 
current, and the Szechuan lo-cash piece is only accepted for 
two days' journey west of this town. We had therefore to 
burden ourselves with string-cash, which added considerably 
to the weight of our loads. A thousand cash in lo-cash pieces 



EASTERN SZECHUAN 73 

weighs less than 2 lb. ; in string-cash the same equivalent 
weighs over 8 lb.! If there is one reform more badly needed 
than another in China it most certainly is in the matter of 
currency. 

Leaving Taning Hsien by way of the west gate we made 
a slight ascent and entered a narrow, highly cultivated valley, 
flanked on our right by fairly high and on the left by lower 
mountains, nearly treeless and sparsely cultivated. The town 
of Taning lies in a depression, and the morning mists obscured 
the general view. It is a very small place, with much of the 
land enclosed within its walls given over to cultivation. An 
outer gate, wall, and block-house guards the west gate proper. 

Ascending the valley by an easy road which more or less 
skirts a fairly large tributary stream of the Taning Ho, we 
reached the village of Che-tou-pa before noon. Rice was 
abundantly cultivated everywhere, irrigation being effected 
by means of large " Persian " wheels. Much cotton is culti- 
vated following wheat, the winter crop. Maize was 5 feet 
tall and in full flower. Paliurus orientalis, a thin tree 30 to 
50 feet tall, is very common, and was laden with white, 
circular, odd-looking fruits. Weeping Willows, Cj^ress, and 
fine specimens of a hairy-leaved, small-fruited Hog Plum 
[Spondias) were noteworthy, with Bamboo groves in abundance. 

On leaving Che-tou-pa we deserted the main tributary 
stream and ascended a small branch. The valley narrows, 
and the hills are more wooded, chiefly with C3rpress. The road 
is easy, though here and there sadly in need of repair. We 
journeyed slowly, and eventually crossed over a ridge of low 
hills to the hamlet of Lao-shih-che, which we reached at 
5 p.m. This tiny place, alt. 1950 feet, and 55 li from Taning 
Hsien, consists of half a dozen houses, scattered through a 
narrow valley with rice fields on all sides. The people were 
very nice, but inquisitive. 

We were on the edge of the Red Basin and much of the 
soil had the characteristic red colour. Wood Oil trees are 
commonly cultivated, but cotton was not in evidence dm'ing 
the afternoon. In a grove I noted some magnificent trees of 
Pistacia chinensis and Sapindus mukorossi. The young shoots 
of the former are cooked and eaten, but the round fruits of 



74 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

the Sapindus are used as soap. Celtis trees are common, 
their smooth, pale-grey bark rendering them conspicuous. 
On a ridge we noted many trees of the interesting " Button 
tree " {Adina racemosa). These trees were 30 to 60 feet tall, 
2 to 4 feet in girth, and the finest specimens of their kind I have 
met with. The Chinese Pine {Pinus Massoniana) is general, 
but by far the commonest tree of the day was the Cypress 
{Cupressus funebris). 

The road proved a pleasant change ; instead of wild and 
savage scenery, low rounded hills backed by steeper mountains, 
all rather treeless, and for the most part cultivated, were the 
order of the day. Here and there were a few outstanding 
cliffs of limestone with an occasional temple crowning odd 
crags. At Taning Hsien we secured a number of new coolies, 
and these men described the country passed through in the 
afternoon as Laolin (wilderness). This immensely amused my 
Ichang men, who recommended these newcomers to try the 
Sheng-neng-chia before speaking of " Laolin " ! 

The day was grilling hot, and all were fairly exhausted on 
arrival at Lao-shih-che. Whether it was the heat or the after 
effects of a day's holiday I could not determine, but I was 
called upon to play " Doctor " to nearly half my followers. 
The majority were suffering from stomach troubles, several 
from filthy sores. Epsom salts, permanganate of potash, and 
iodoform dressings soon improved the majority. 

The next day was gloriously fine, but scarcely so hot as 
the previous day, or perhaps the slightly increased altitude 
made it more bearable. The whole day we travelled nearly 
due west through a narrow valley bounded by moderately 
high parallel ranges. The road continues easy with occasional 
ascents and descents. We were still on the fringe of the 
Red Basin, but in the afternoon grey sandy soUs were most 
in evidence. Rice is cultivated wherever sufficient water is 
obtainable, and was scarcely ever out of our view. Maize is 
the other principal crop, with various kinds of pulse and the 
Irish potato. The sweet potato is cultivated here and there, 
and Wood Oil trees are even more abundant than before. 
Much oil is evidently produced in this region, and we noted 
many oil-presses during the day. The parallel ranges are 



EASTERN S2ECHUAN 75 

from 500 to 1000 feet above the valley, sparsely cultivated, 
and for the most part well timbered with Cypress {Cupressus 
funebris), Pine [Piniis Massoniana), and Oak [Quercus serrata). 
Poplar is a common tree, and by the sides of streams Weeping 
Willows abound. Shrubs in variety occur the most note- 
worthy being Itea ilicifolia and Torricellia angulata. Nowhere 
else have I seen this latter shrub so plentiful ; it favours the 
sides of streams, ditches, and rocky gullies, forming a densely 
leafy bush 8 to 12 feet tall. The fruit when ripe is black, and 
is borne in large pendulous cymes. The Itea occurs in rocky 
places, and its pendulous tails of greenish-white flowers are 
often 18 inches long. The leaves very closely resemble those 
of the common Holly, and when not in flower it might easily 
be mistaken for that plant. 

Houses are scattered along the route, but the population 
is sparse. We met a few mule trains, but there was really 
very little traffic on the road. We found accommodation for 
the night at Hsia-kou, a prettily situated hamlet, alt. 2800 
feet, 65 li from Lao-shih-che. Our lodgings were spacious, 
but the occupants of the house looked unprepossessing opium 
sots. 

At To-chia-pa, a small hamlet passed a few miles before 
reaching Hsia-kou, a road branches off to the northward and 
leads to Chengkou Ting. It was said to be a hard road to 
travel over. 

On leaving Hsia-kou we immediately plunged into a ravine 
with steep limestone cliffs 300 to 500 feet high ; the road 
follows the dry bed of a torrent. At the head of this ravine 
we made a slight ascent, and wandered across low mountain- 
tops for a few miles, then descended and crossed a branch of 
the Kuichou Fu River by a covered bridge. Up to this 
point Pine and the Chinese Fir {Cunninghamia lanceolata) are 
common. At the bridge I photographed the largest tree of 
Platycarya strohilacea I have seen. This specimen was fully 
75 feet tall, with a girth of 6 feet. I had no idea it could attain 
such dimensions. A few miles beyond this point we forded 
the main branch of the Kuichou Fu River, a broad, shallow, 
clear-water stream, and about noon reached the village of 
Chiao-yang-tung. Soon afterwards we were overtaken by a 



76 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

furious thunderstorm, which arose with amazing suddenness. 
The fury of the storm spent itself in a torrential downpour of 
short duration, but rain fell steadily during the rest of the 
day. The rain did not improve the mud road, and our progress 
was slow and difficult in consequence. During the whole 
afternoon we made a steady ascent, skirting the mountain-sides 
through woods of Pine and Oak. Eventually the road enters 
a narrow sloping valley, at the head of which we found lodgings 
for the night in two houses which constitute the hamlet of 
Shan-chia-kou, having travelled 65 li. Around this place the 
flora is varied and essentially cool-temperate in character. 
Bushes of Mock Orange {Philadelphus) were conspicuous on 
aU sides with their wealth of pure white flowers. The Hautboy 
strawberry is abundant, and around our hostel I gathered in 
a few minutes enough of these luscious fine-flavoured white 
berries to stew for dinner. The Torricellia was again common. 
It ascends up to 3500 feet altitude, and often forms a smaU 
inelegant tree. 

We saw very little rice during the day, maize and Irish 
potato being the chief crops. There is practically no traffic 
on this road ; the mule-trains seen yesterday evidently came 
down the road from Chengkou Ting. Population is sparse, and 
what there is looked strongly addicted to the opium habit. 
So far, however, we had not seen any signs of poppy. 

A magnificent day ushered in the new month. The morning 
was bearably hot, but the afternoon scorchingly so. A hundred 
yards beyond our lodgings we reached the head of a ridge, and 
an abrupt descent of a couple of thousand feet or so led to a 
narrow vaUey where much rice, maize, Irish potato, and a 
little Hemp {Cannabis) are cultivated. The parallel ranges 
flanking this valley are of limestone with outstanding bare 
rocks and cliffs, very little cultivated but with good woods of 
the common Pine. Here and there in the valley we passed fine 
trees of Sassafras, Sweet Chestnut, Sweet Gum [Liquidamhar) , 
Chinese Fir, and Poplar. At the head of the valley we made a 
slight ascent to the top of a ridge. Below us, some 2500 feet, 
flowed a considerable river waUed in by lofty limestone 
precipices. It was 10.30 a.m. when we reached the top of 
this ridge, and the rest of the day's march was a more or less 



EASTERN SZECHUAN 77 

precipitous descent to the river, which we reached at Sha-to-tzu 
about 3 p.m. In its early stages the descent is as difficult as 
it well could be — over loose Rowley-raglike debris, down and 
up steep steps, and over slopes of greasy clay. We crossed 
one or two cultivated slopes, but most of the time the road 
skirts around the sides of cliffs. At the edge of one precipice, 
500 to 1000 feet sheer, the road is carried through a narrow 
tunnel some 50 yards long and 3I feet broad at the exit. This 
tunnel is partly natural and partly made by blasting the hard 
limestone. It was quite dark within the tunnel save for a 
faint glimmer of light at the exit. Both chairs and loads were 
with difficulty carried through this tunnel. This roadway is 
of recent date, and is unique in my experience of Chinese roads. 
Rough as it is it saves about 10 li and a very steep ascent 
and descent. 

From the tunnel-way the road skirts the tops of the cliffs 
with many exasperating and wearying ascents and descents. 
Finally we descended to a small tributary of the main stream 
and, crossing over, reach Sha-to-tzu, a busy market village and, 
for the nature of the country, of considerable size. Up the 
tributary stream some 10 li, iron is mined and smelted, the 
quality being described as good. Around Sha-to-tzu, coal 
is worked and lime burnt. 

The river we had with so much fatiguing travel reached 
enters the Yangtsze at Yunyang Hsien, distant 150 li. It is 
a clear-water stream of considerable volume, and is navigable 
for small boats from just below Sha-to-tzu to within 15 li of its 
mouth. Salt and a little peddling traffic was noticeable on the 
road; also odd loads of medicines, including Tu-chung, the bark 
of Eucommia ulmoides. The salt is a product of Yunyang 
Hsien, and is not allowed to enter Taning Hsien. The quality 
is said to be superior to that found within the latter district. 

The flora of the day's journey was not particularly interest- 
ing, being very much the same as that found in the glens 
and gorges around Ichang. A new Stachyurus and Ahelia 
Engleriana were collected. The Heavenly Bamboo {Nandina 
domestica) was particularly abundant in rocky places, its 
elegant foliage and large erect trusses of white flowers with 
conspicuous yellow anthers making it very attractive. In 



78 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

autumn and winter the masses of scarlet fruit render it ex- 
tremely beautiful. Wood Oil trees were general in rocky places, 
and Hypericum chinense, a wealth of rich golden yellow, was 
strikingly handsome, nestling on the cliffs everywhere. Quite 
a little Ramie [Bcehmeria nivea) is cultivated, and the people 
were busy stripping the fibre-containing bark from the stems. 
The leaves, like those of several other plants, are used for 
feeding pigs. The stripping and cleaning is all done by hand 
labour. 

The day's march was full of interest, but the intense heat 
and hard road made the 60 li very trying, and all were glad 
when the end of the stage was reached. The scenery was 
magnificent, and forcibly reminded us of the glens and ravines 
around Ichang. The railway surveyors must have been filled 
with despair when they encoimtered this steep limestone 
country ! 

Sha-to-tzu is only about 700 feet altitude, and, in spite of 
the swift- flowing stream which passes its " front door," was 
suffocatingly hot. We managed to find a good inn with 
quarters removed from the street and remarkably private in 
character. We had no difficulty in changing silver here, but 
lo-cash pieces are no longer negotiable. String-cash was the 
only kind the people would accept. 

Just below Sha-to-tzu we crossed the river by a ferry which 
is assisted by a convenient rapid, and commenced a steep 
ascent. A few hundred feet up we were afforded a good view 
of the village we had just left. It contains about a hundred 
houses, crowded together on a narrow, fan-shaped slope. A 
few temples shaded by large Banyan trees were conspicuous, 
and the whole made a decidedly pretty scene. The ascent is 
through cultivated fields, groves of Wood Oil trees, and finally 
Pine woods. At 3100 feet altitude we crossed a gap, and 200 
feet more led to the top of the range. The rest of the day we 
followed an undulating, easy road which meanders through 
rocky. Pine and Cypress clad mountain-tops, and finally 
descends to Che-kou-tzu, which was our destination for the day» 

The country is very pretty ; farmhouses are scattered along 
the route, and where possible the land is under cultivation. 
Rice was of course the crop where water is obtainable, maize 



EASTERN SZECHUAN 79 

and Irish potato elsewhere. Tobacco is grown ; a little of 
this crop has been noted every day since leaving Taning Hsien. 
Limekilns were common all day. In one place we saw a 
number of men out with guns after Muntjac. They fired 
several times, but did not succeed in killing the animal during 
the time we watched the sport. 

A few li before reaching Che-kou-tzu we passed an un- 
usually large house of much architectural beauty. It was 
erected by a rich man named T'ao, who held the purchased 
rank of " Hsien." He died some twenty years ago, and the 
family has fallen on evil times, thanks to idleness and opium. 

The flora was not very interesting. Some fine trees of 
Cypress and odd ones of Catalpa Duclouxii were noteworthy. 
Pine abounds, and I saw several examples of " clustered 
cones," These cones, a hundred and more crowded together, 
were all small, and appeared to have displaced the male 
flowers. Che-kou-tzu, alt. 2050 feet, consists of some forty 
houses situate above the mouth of a stony stream and backed 
by low mountains, on the top of which is an ancient fort. 

On leaving Che-kou-tzu we immediately entered a pretty 
valley, highly cultivated with rice and bounded by low, 
rolling hills. A large number of farmhouses and a small 
hamlet occur in this small but prosperous valley. Through- 
out the whole forenoon we traversed a number of such depres- 
sions separated one from another by low ridges, always 
ascending slightly with the valleys narrowing until finally they 
become mere basins surrounded by rocky limestone mountain- 
tops. Crossing a final ridge we entered Kai Hsien at a place 
called Shih-ya-tzu, 35 li from Che-kou-tzu. Up to this point 
the scenery is very pretty, the rocky mountain-tops being 
clothed with woods of Pine and Cypress. Oak is common, 
and in more open places and around habitations we passed fine 
trees of Spondias, Pistacia, Paulownia, Tapiscia, and Hovenia 
dulcis ; the last covered with masses of white flowers. 

The afternoon's journey was all downhill, ending in a very 
precipitous descent to Wen-tang-ching. The road led through 
maize plats, odd rice fields, and bare, treeless hilltops, with 
no flora of interest. Nearing our halting-place for the day it 
was fearfully hot, and the absence of shade was severely felt. 



8o A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

Here and there the hilltops are crowned by old forts built 
of dressed stone. These relics (Chaitzu) of turbulent times 
abound all over the salt districts and more wealthy regions 
of eastern Szechuan. Limekilns, small clay-covered affairs, 
were common en route, and many of the rice fields had been 
dressed with slaked lime. 

Wen-tang-ching is a town of considerable size, by far the 
largest place we had met with since leaving Ichang. It is 
built on steep slopes bounding the two sides of a clear-water 
stream, and backed by high limestone cliffs. On the south- 
west side these cliffs are stark and sun-baked. Large quan- 
tities of salt are produced here. The brine pits are situated on 
the foreshore and immediate neighbourhood of the stream. The 
supply depends on the state of the river, the lower the water the 
more brine is obtainable. During summer floods the industry 
is suspended. The salt is white, powdery, of moderate quality, 
valued at twenty-six cash per i6-ounce catty. It is dis- 
tributed throughout the north and west of the Hsien, but 
cannot enter the city of Kai Hsien itself. Dust-coal is mined 
in the neighbourhood and used for evaporating the brine. 

The town consists of about a thousand houses and boasts 
several temples and large guild-halls, that belonging to the 
Shensi guild being very prominent on account of its large size 
and ornate architecture. Two small pagodas protect the luck of 
the place, and many Chaitzu crown the surrounding hills. The 
inhabitants are not prepossessing, being unusually dirty and 
over-curious. Some were not over-civil, and there was a slight 
scuffle between my men and some rowdies. Our inn was dark, 
suffocatingly hot, and most undesirable in every way. It was 
the best we could find, and served its purpose, uncomfortable 
as it was. Behind the inn is a huge cave with vast stalactites 
and a cool breeze blowing through it. This is the curiosity of 
the town, and was pointed out with a great show of pride. 

All along the route from Taning Hsien there has been much 
argument over the price of food-stuffs. The natives constantly 
putting up the price on my men, this led to heated words, but 
generally ended in the men getting a fair price. Many of 
them had travelled too far^not to know " the ropes." 

Wen-tang-ching is only 750 feet altitude, and with the 



EASTERN SZECHUAN 8i 

heat from stark surrounding cliffs and hundreds of furnaces 
is a regular inferno. Prosperous it may be, but it failed to 
appeal to us, and one and all were glad to quit it. 

A steep ascent of a few hundred feet and we cleared the 
town. After passing through a large graveyard we descended 
to an alluvial valley where much sugar-cane, maize, tobacco, 
and a little cotton is cultivated. The road is broad, paved 
with blocks of hard stone, and traverses the valley to its head 
at Ma-chia-kou, 12 li from Wen-tang-ching. Ma-chia-kou is 
the coal port for the salt-wells. Coal is carried overland 
some 30 li, and at this point put into small boats and conveyed 
to the brine-pits. This coal is valued at three cash per catty, 
the carriers receiving one cash per catty for carrying it down. 
The boats are small, steered by sweeps fore and aft, and can 
descend this stream to Kai Hsien, 60 li below Wen-tang-ching, 
and from thence to Hsiao Ch'ang on the Yangtsze, no li 
distant. At Ma-chia-kou the road leaves the main stream, 
which flows down from the northward, and after crossing a 
neck descends to a broad stony torrent, which it ascends through 
uninteresting country, eventually leading through a limestone 
ravine. The coal supply is of primary importance to the salt- 
wells, consequently the road is kept in good repair. During 
the forenoon we met hundreds of coolies and many women 
laden with coal. Iron is found in this neighbourhood, and 
pigs of this metal were being carried down to the boats. 

On leaving the above-mentioned ravine we traversed a 
valley of rice fields and reached Yi-chiao-tsao about noon. 
Five li above this hamlet we crossed over, and during the rest 
of the day's march descended a narrow valley flanked by steep 
Cypress-clad slopes. Sweet potato is abundantly cultivated, 
also rice and maize. Houses are frequent, and the people 
appear fairly well-to-do. 

We found lodgings for the night at Wang-tung-tsao, 
alt. 1350 feet, having covered our usual 60 li. The day was 
terribly hot, making the journey very fatiguing. The inn is 
beautifully situated in a grove of Bamboo and Cypress, but is 
poor and abominably stinking. Really, it is a pity that such a 
vile house should defile such a charming spot. 

The next day was also grilling hot, with no signs of a storm 

VOL. I. — 6 



82 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

to cool the air. Descending a few li we struck a rather broad 
stream with many red-sandstone boulders in its bed. The 
road ascends this stream to its source, and steep ascents and 
descents were all too frequent. We lunched at the village of 
Kao-chiao, and a more hot, fly-infested, stinking hole, with 
people more inquisitive, I have not experienced. Savage, 
snarling, yelping dogs abounded, and these, with the other dis- 
comforts, did not add relish to the meal. My followers seemed 
to share my views of this village, and grumbling and male- 
diction were loud on all sides. Our meal did not occupy long, 
and we all felt better when clear of this filthy, pestiferous place. 
The whole day was spent among sandstone, grey and red, 
and we were seldom out of sight of rice fields. Pine abounds, 
but the Cypress does not appear to be at home here, and occurs 
very sparingly as compared with previous days. Wood Oil 
trees are common, but the flora generally is not interesting. 
Elseagnus bushes are common and were in ripe fruit. The 
stems of this shrub (Shan-yeh-wangtzu, or Yang-ming-nitzu) 
are commonly used for making the long stems of tobacco 
pipes so frequently seen in this region. The Burdock {Arctium 
major) is common in stony places and often cultivated, being 
used as medicine under the name of " Yu-pangtzu." 

Three li before reaching our lodgings we crossed a ridge, 
and passing through a stone gateway, entered the district of 
Tunghsiang Hsien. We found an inn at P'ao-tsze, a small 
scattered hamlet, alt. 2650 feet, 65 li from Wang-tung-tsao. 
The inn is clean and prettily situated in a little valley bounded 
by low red-stone hills all under cultivation. The host is 
evidently a man of substance, and amongst other things owns 
a reclining chair of novel workmanship, of which he is evidently 
very proud. 

There was no breeze last night, and I slept badly, partly 
owing to the heat and partly to the occupants of the inn talk- 
ing in high argumentative tones till past midnight. This is a 
common habit of the Chinese and very exasperating to any one 
trying to get to sleep. 

With only 50 li to do to Nan-pa ch'ang the men were in 
high spirits and set out in style. The road proved easy — by 
one o'clock we had covered the distance, and had a couple of 



EASTERN SZECHUAN 83 

long rests into the bargain. On leaving P'ao-tsze we made a 
short, steep ascent, and then descended by an easy road lead- 
ing over and among sandstone bluffs. Twenty-five li on we 
reached the bed of a small stream and followed it to its union 
with a large, clear-water stream flowing down from the north- 
ward. This stream flows past Nan-pa ch'ang and is navigable 
for small boats down to Tunghsiang Hsien and up-stream some 
290 li to Tu-li-kou. Near our destination we passed many 
coolies carrying down bright anthracite coal. This comes from 
Fu-che-kou, some 50 li away, and the men receive 200 cash 
per picul (100 catties) for carrying it down. We also noted 
iron in flat slabs, which comes from Tung-che-kou, 25 li distant. 

Pine was again the common tree, but C3rpress also was 
fairly common. The sandstone is evidently more favourable 
to the Pine than to the Cjrpress. We saw two or three trees of 
the rare " Hung-tou-shu " {Ormosia Hosiei). The wood of 
this tree is highly valued and so heavy that it sinks in water. 
Wood Oil trees continued abundant, and around Nan-pa ch'ang 
plantations of Mulberry were being made. Evidently seri- 
culture is about to be attempted in this district. 

Nan-pa ch'ang, alt. 1550 feet, is a village of considerable 
size, and is built on a flat bordering the stream. Formerly it 
was one of the most important centres of the opium trade 
in Szechuan, and its product was of very superior quality. 
The opium trade is now completely stopped, and this place 
has suffered tremendously in consequence. It also boasts a 
trade in general merchandise, supplying a large area of country 
to the northward. But opium was its real source of wealth, 
and with the disappearance of the opium traffic all trade has 
declined. To the northward a lot of tea is grown and the 
leading people of Nan-pa ch'ang are endeavouring to divert 
this trade from its present headquarters, Taiping Hsien, to 
their own village. 

Around Nan-pa ch'ang there are a few Mantzu caves. 
Everything was very quiet in the village and we attracted 
little or no attention. We saw a couple of uniformed police, 
odd street lamps, and other signs of modern ideas. Leaving 
this village the next morning at 7 a.m., in four small boats, we 
dropped down the beautiful clear-water stream, and reached 



84 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

Tunghsiang Hsien at 3 o'clock. The distance is 140 li by water, 
90 li by land. Numerous rapids obstruct the stream, but 
since the volume of water is comparatively small they are not 
dangerous. The river is bounded by sandstone cliffs, often 
steep and covered with Pine, Cypress, and mixed shrubby 
vegetation. Chaitzu are common, and here and there we 
passed villages. Cultivation is general, and the crops were 
beginning to show signs of suffering from drought. Pulse in 
variety is abundantly cultivated, together with rice and other 
favourite articles of food. Ordinarily the whole region is one 
of plenty and prosperity. 

It was a pleasant change dropping swiftly down this beauti- 
ful river, and we all enjoyed the journey. On reaching Tung- 
hsiang Hsien a thunderstorm broke and the rain cooled the air 
delightfully. 

We entered the city of Tunghsiang, alt. 1400 feet, through 
the east gate, and found accommodation in a quiet and 
moderately clean inn. The city, though not large, seemed a 
busy place. Formerly it boasted a large traffic in opium, and 
its general trade was then very considerable. It nestles among 
low hills on the right bank of the river, and is faced on the 
opposite bank by steeper and higher mountains. Sandstone 
cliffs and bluffs abound, and in some respects the whole scene 
reminded me of the country around Kiating Fu. 

Our inquiries into the matter of currency disclosed the fact 
that Szechuan dollars are accepted here, but lo-cash pieces 
were still useless. The Roman Catholic and China Inland 
Mission have estabhshed outstations here. An Irish missionary 
belonging to the latter was staying here at the time of my visit, 
and I enjoyed for an hour or so the pleasure of his company. 
It was pleasant to hear my own tongue spoken again. Not 
since leaving Ichang, 35 days before, had I encountered a 
single foreigner. 



CHAPTER VIII 

THE ANCIENT KINGDOM OF PA 

Narrative of a Journey from Tunghsiang Hsien 
TO Paoning Fu 

FROM Tunghsiang Hsien the recognized route to Chengtu 
or Paoning Fu descends the river via Suiting Fu to Ch'u 
Hsien, then strikes westward to Chengtu, north-west to 
Paoning Fu. I had no fancy for the main route, since, by 
going due west from Tunghsiang Hsien to Paoning Fu, we 
should explore new ground. My map (War Ofhce, Province of 
Ssu-ch'uan, Eastern Sheet) gave no route, but indicated villages, 
and it was evident, therefore, that these villages were connected 
by a road of some sort. Chiangkou seemed a good place to 
start for, so my men were instructed to find a cross-country 
road to this town. At first the innkeepers, chair hongs, and 
local officials denied all knowledge of any such road, and indeed 
of such a place. But any one who has travelled in China values 
such denials at their proper worth and is not discouraged. The 
men who had charge of these inquiries were trusted followers of 
ten years' standing, andthough entirely ignorant of the geography 
of the region could be relied upon to ferret out a route if such 
existed. After about six hours' investigation, from the magis- 
trate's Yamen downwards, I was informed that a small 
mountain road did exist, but was over hard and difficult 
country, affording the poorest of accommodation. This was 
sufficient ; they were told to get an itinerary of this route and 
engage a few local men as extra carriers. I went to bed 
about 10.30 p.m., satisfied that by 6 o'clock next morning 
everything would be ready for our cross-country jaunt. In my 
travels about China I have been singularly fortunate in never 
having any trouble with the Chinese. In the spring of 1900 

8s 



86 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

I engaged about a dozen peasants from near Ichang. These 
men remained with me and rendered faithful service during 
the whole of my peregrinations. After a few months' 
training they understood my habits thoroughly and never 
involved me in any trouble or difficulty. Once they grasped 
what was wanted they could be relied upon to do their part, 
thereby adding much to the pleasure and profit of my many 
journeys. When we finally parted in February 1911, it was 
with genuine regret on both sides. Faithful, intelligent, 
reliable, cheerful under adverse circumstances, and always 
willing to give their best, no men could have rendered better 
service. 

This cross-country journey from Tunghsiang Hsien to 
Paoning Fu, viaChiangkou, promised to be of more than ordinary 
interest. There was a novelty about it also, since there was no 
record of any foreigner having attempted it before. The route 
lay across the old kingdom of Pa (see Chapter VI, p. 66), and I 
hoped to find some evidences of this ancient race. Chinese 
history is dry, difficult reading, and it is hard to dig out solid 
facts. Wars, rebellions, and massacres deluge everything in 
blood ; the arts of peace are seldom given any prominence. 
The Chinese historians have always treated the aboriginal 
races with arrogant contumely, rendering it almost impossible 
to discover at this late date anything about the arts and life 
of these lost peoples. That the modern province of Szechuan 
boasted kingdoms and dynasties of its own before the advent of 
the early Chinese is historical fact. The first Emperor of the 
Ts'in dynasty, Tsin-shih Hwang or Shih Hwang-ti(22i-209B.c.), 
incorporated part of the kingdom of Pa with the rest of 
his dominions and nominally also that of Shu, whose capital 
was near modern Chengtu Fu. The succeeding Han dynasty 
(206 B.C. to A.D. 25) made the conquest complete. Since this 
time no aboriginal chief has ruled the Red Basin of Szechuan, 
though it has been conquered and re-conquered time and again 
by usurping Chinese and alien races. During the period a.d. 
221-265, the Chinese Empire was divided into three kingdoms, 
one of which, under the Emperor Liu-pei, had its capital at 
Chengtu. Liu-pei and three of his generals and statesmen are 
handed down as popular idols, and everywhere in Szechuan 




A SANDSTONK BRIDGK WITH CYPRESS AND BAMBOOS 



THE ANCIENT KINDGOM OF PA 87 

stories are told of the doughty deeds accomphshed by these 
heroes of old. With this brief introduction I again take up my 
narrative : — 

My principal men once more proved equal to the occasion, 
and on 8th July everything was arranged for our cross-country 
journey. An itinerary had been made out, and the Hsien 
provided us with a couple of uniformed soldiers. (He sent six, 
but I managed to get them reduced to two.) Heretofore on 
this journey we had managed to avoid taking official escort, 
although it is the custom to do so in Szechuan. No ordinary 
traveller desires this honour, but it is thrust upon him and 
cannot easily be avoided. The presence of this escort renders 
the officials responsible for the traveller's safety in accordance 
with treaty arrangements. It is necessary to pay these men a 
few cash, but often they prove useful in odd ways. Cash is 
cheap, and an extra hundred per day for each soldier does 
not amount to any considerable sum. The difficulty is in 
keeping the escort down to two men. Four and six are common 
numbers, and if one did not protest continuously an almost 
unlimited number of authorized and unauthorized ragamuffins 
would attach themselves to one's caravan. If there is cash to 
be made the legitimate escort is often not above farming in a 
few extra " hands," thus securing more money. The escort is 
provided with a letter from the official supplying it wherein the 
number of men dispatched and their destination is given, so 
by examining this it is possible to check any attempt at fraud. 
On dismissing these men at their journey's end it is necessary to 
give them a card to carry back to their superior. Their letter is 
stamped by the official who provides the new escort, and the 
card signifies that their duty has been satisfactorily carried out. 
If they return without a card for any reason or other they are 
liable to be punished. 

Leaving Tunghsiang Hsien by the west gate we followed 
the main road to Suiting Fu for a few li, then branched off to 
the right. The road is well paved, and we met plenty of traffic. 
For the first 20 li the road is practically level, winding in and 
out among low hills. It then makes a steep ascent to the top of 
some bluffs, where Mien-yueh ch'ang is situated, 30 li from the 
city of Tunghsiang. Throughout the rest of the day the road 



88 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

was easy, leading through and among low hilltops and shallow 
valleys intercepted by hills 300 to 500 feet high. Cypress and 
Pine are abundant, so also are Pistacia and Alhizzia lebbek, 
both making large umbrageous trees. Vitex Negundo is the 
commonest shrub, sometimes attaining to the dignity of a small 
tree : it was everywhere covered with masses of lavender-purple 
flowers. 

The country is highly cultivated. Rice predominates, with 
various kinds of beans (especially Lutou, i.e. green beans) next 
in importance — both crops evidently follow after wheat. We 
passed odd patches of cotton and very many Plum trees. 
The region is well populated, bypaths abound, and it was 
no easy matter for us to keep to the right road. At one point 
the road bifurcates, one branch leading to Shuang-ho ch'ang, 
the other to Shuang-miao ch'ang, our proposed halting-place 
for the night. The names of these two villages, when spoken 
rapidly, sound much alike, even to Chinese ears. My men got 
somewhat confused, and for a time there was danger of the 
caravan following two divergent routes. 

We passed through the market village of Wang-chia 
ch'ang (ch'ang signifies market village), a curious little place, 
dominated by a temple in the middle, the roofs of the houses 
uniting to form a central covered way, beneath which the road 
passes through the village. 

Shuang-miao ch'ang was our intended destination for the 
day, but being market day the village was filled to overflowing. 
A hundred or more people followed us into an inn, and in 
a little while there was hardly room to breathe. Many were 
obviously under the influence of wine. It was too hot to 
tolerate such overcrowding curiosity, so we pushed on a 
further 5 li, where we happened on a decent farmhouse, which 
we commandeered. The owner being away, his wife was at 
first sorely afraid, but in a couple of hours her confidence was 
gained and all was well. The men had difficulty in obtaining 
food and lodging. The majority went back to the village, 
but none complained : they all realized the impossibility of 
my remaining the night in such a crowded place. 

Our quarters were new and shaded by a grove of Bamboo 
and C5rpress, but mosquitoes were multitudinous, rendering 



THE ANCIENT KINGDOM OF PA 89 

life miserable. The place is called Hsin-chia-pa, alt. 1950 
feet. We had covered 80 li, through a rich and interest- 
ing country. Lady Banks's rose was particularly abundant, 
with stems 2 feet round, festooning trees 40 to 50 feet tall. 
Mantzu caves occur sparingly. In several places we passed 
cultivated patches of Panicum crus-galli, vai.frumentaceum. 

We parted excellent friends with our hostess at Hsin-chia- 
pa, a trifling present and 400 cash made her extremely happy ; 
her thanks were both genuine and profuse. Soon after 
starting we made a precipitous ascent of 1000 feet and crossed 
what is probably the water-shed of the Suiting and Sanhuei 
Rivers. A descent led to the head-waters of a small river, 
where is situated the tiny market village of San-che-miao. 
Market was in full swing, the one short street with its few 
hovels being crowded with people. We passed through 
without stopping to satisfy the curiosity of the crowd. At this 
village several roads converge, the one we followed continuing 
to descend the stream, and leading through a rocky jungle- 
clad defile. The cliffs are of red and grey sandstone, steep, 
rugged, and crowned with Pine and Cypress. As fiuviatile 
shrubs Distylium chinense, various Privets [Ligustrum] and 
Cornus paucinervis abound. The last-named is a low-grow- 
ing shrub with spreading branches, and laden with small 
flat corymbs of white flowers it formed a most attractive 
bush by the water's edge. In the jungle-clad slopes through 
which the road winds Tea bushes 15 feet and more tall are 
common. They looked uncommonly like spontaneous speci- 
mens, but were possibly planted long ago, though some of them 
have been undoubtedly naturalized. Occasional trees of the 
Red Bean (" Hung-tou "), Ormosia Hosiei, occur ; at one time 
this was probably a very common tree in this region. Its tim- 
ber is most valuable, and the tree has been ruthlessly felled. 
There is practically no cultivation in this defile, or room for 
any, and not a house for 20 li. 

After traversing this wild and interesting ravine for several 
hours we made a steep ascent to the top of the cliffs, and on 
the way up discovered spontaneous plants of the Tea Rose 
{Rosa indica) in fruit. These were the first really wild specimens 
I had met with. Once on top of the cliffs we found that 



go A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

the country all around is under cultivation, chiefly rice, with 
houses at frequent intervals. After a few li the road descends 
to the river again, and crossing by stone steps we reached the 
market village of Peh-pai-ho, where we found accommodation 
in a large house. This village, alt. 1600 feet, also known as 
Peh-pai ch'ang, is a small place with unprepossessing residents. 
Our quarters were dark, fairly filthy, and loafers crowded 
around until bedtime. 

The day's journey of 60 li was through a sparsely populated 
country, which, considering the low altitude, was unusually 
wild and jungle-clad. The flora had points of interest, the 
finding of Tea bushes and bushes of the Tea Rose in the rocky 
defile being particularly noteworthy. On bare sandstone 
cliffs large white trumpet-flowered Lilies were common, with 
their stems thrust out at nearly right angles to the cliffs. 
We met very few people on the road, and most of the women 
' we saw had natural feet. In the early morning we passed quite 
a lot of Panicum crus-galli, vax. frumentaceum, cultivated. 

The itinerary my men secured at Tunghsiang Hsien did 
not err on the side of accuracy. Constant inquiries were 
necessary, but the results were confusing. The river which 
flows past Peh-pai ch'ang was said to unite with the Chiangkou 
stream at Chiang-ling-che, 70 li distant. 

A heavy thunderstorm occurred in the night, accompanied 
by a downpour of rain which lasted intermittently into the 
early forenoon of the next day. The country needed rain 
badly, and the air was cool and fresh in the morning. Peh-pai 
ch'ang is a regular warren of dilapidated houses, filthy and 
stinking, with a loafing and unduly curious population. A 
loin-cloth belonging to one of my chair-bearers was stolen 
during the night, and my followers had little that was com- 
plimentary to say about the village or its inhabitants. 

Following the river down-stream for 5 li, we reached Lei- 
kang-k'eng of the maps. This hamlet (pronounced Lei-kang- 
t'an, from a fine waterfall on a small river which, flowing 
from the north, joins the main stream at this point) consists 
of a deserted temple, a few scattered houses, and an old fort 
high up on the cliffs. It and Ta-chen-chai, another old 
fortress, are the only places marked on the map — both are 



THE ANCIENT KINGDOM OF PA 91 

to-day of no importance. The market villages, the real 
places of importance, are not shown. Maybe these villages 
have sprung up comparatively recently, and the forts, from 
long-continued peace, lost their importance. This is the 
only feasible explanation which occurs to me. This section 
of the country is only known from Chinese maps, and these 
were probably compiled during military times long ago. 

From Lei-kang-k'eng a steady ascent for 30 li leads to the 
top of a ridge where is situated the important market village 
of Peh-shan. This place boasts a fine temple and about a 
hundred houses. Like all such villages in these parts it con- 
sists of one central street, practically closed over by the nearly 
uniting eaves of the houses. These market villages are a 
striking feature of this part of Szechuan. They are situated 
approximately 30 li apart, and nine markets are held monthly 
in each. These are arranged in such manner that the three 
villages lying nearest to one another hold market on different 
days, thus between them practically covering the month. 
On market days the country-folk assemble from all sides to 
buy and sell. Pedlars and itinerant merchants constantly 
journey from m^arket village to market village. Such markets 
are of the highest importance in a sparsely populated country, 
but the denizens of these villages suffer from too much spare 
time. Market days are what they exist for, and on : the other 
days are mainly spent in gambling and sloth. This system 
of market villages dates away back to the very dawn of 
Chinese civilization, and in the region we are concerned 
with here, is very little changed from what it was in the 
earliest times. 

Five li before reaching Peh-shan ch'ang we struck a road 
which comes from Suiting Fu, 120 li distant. The country 
hereabouts is split up in low mountain ranges, averaging 
3000 feet altitude, composed of grey and red sandstones. 
The river-valleys are mere ravines clothed with dense jungle, 
Pines, and Cypress, with no bottom lands nor cultivation of 
any sort. Some 500 feet up the cultivated area begins and 
extends to the summit. Terraced rice fields abound, tier 
upon tier, intercepted by low bluffs, the tops of all of which 
are cultivated. The whole country is very pretty, and in 



92 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

many respects peculiar, as far as my experience goes. Most of 
the women have natural feet, and many were busy weeding 
and firming the rice plants. 

On leaving Peh-shan ch'ang the road makes a steep descent 
to a stream and a correspondingly steep ascent to the top of 
the bluffs again, winding round to the crest of a ridge where 
is situated the market village of Yuen-fang. This place, 
alt. 3100 feet, which was our destination for the day, hav- 
ing covered the allotted 60 li, is prettily situated. We found 
lodgings in a new and clean house boasting a veranda over- 
looking a grove of Pine and Cypress trees. The crowd which 
collected was small and though inquisitive kept at a respectful 
distance. 

The flora proved identical with that of the previous day's 
journey. I again met with sub-spontaneous Tea bushes in 
the jungle and also saw a number of the Red Bean trees. 
Perhaps the most interesting objects noted during the day 
were the tombstones. These are very different from any I 
have seen elsewhere. They are of freestone, often highly 
sculptured, the workmanship being superior and the effect 
both artistic and dignified. One or two old stone mausoleums 
were magnificently sculptured. The aboriginal population 
of this region were accomplished workers in stone, and their 
work may have served as patterns for the Chinese to copy 
from. In conception the designs are evidently not pure 
Chinese, and I strongly suspect " Mantzu " influence, to use 
the Chinese term for the aboriginal population. 

At Fu-erh-tang there is a particularly fine family temple, 
and near by a Mantzu cave in an isolated piece of rock. 
Around many of the mausoleums and family temples ancient 
stone pillars (wei-tzu, i.e. masts) occur. Wayside shrines and 
small temples, dedicated to Kwanyin (Goddess of Mercy) and 
to the tutelary genii are common, the images being carved in 
stone and mostly coloured blue and white. The day's journey 
was more than usually interesting ; somehow one felt instinc- 
tively that one was traversing a region closely associated with 
man from very ancient times. 

Leaving Yuen-fang ch'ang soon after 6 a.m., we traversed 
country similar to that of the day before, and reached Pai- 



THE ANCIENT KINGDOM OF PA 93 

(pronounced P'an)-miao ch'ang at 10 o'clock. Here, contrary 
to what my map indicated, I found no river. Replies to 
inquiries gave it as 30 li farther on, and so it proved. The 
map for this region is hopelessly inaccurate, and it was quite 
useless attempting to be guided by it. Pai-miao ch'ang is a 
small village built on the top of a ridge and surrounded in 
part by woods of Cypress and Pine. Crossing an undulating 
area we descended by an easy path, finally reaching the 
T'ungchiang River, 10 li above Chiangkou. This river is fully 
100 yards broad, with red-coloured water and a sluggish 
current. Boats were easily secured and we dropped down- 
stream to Chiangkou, which we reached at 3 o'clock, just before 
a heavy thunderstorm broke. The day's journey was said to 
be 70 li, the road was easy, with flora and scenery identical 
with that of the preceding days. 

Chiangkou (alt. 1600 feet) is the second town in size and 
importance in the department of Pa Chou. It consists of 
about 500 houses, built on the fringe of a promontory between 
two rivers, backed by low, steep, well-wooded hills. The 
rivers unite at this point and are navigable downwards to 
Chungking. The more easterly stream descends from T'ung- 
chiang Hsien, the westerly stream from Pa Chou, each town 
distant from Chiangkou 180 li. Both streams are navigable 
for small boats up-stream to these towns. 

A Feng Chou (official next below a Chou in rank) resides 
at Chiangkou. From a distance the town looks well-built 
and prosperous, but it does not improve on closer inspection. 
The position is admirable and undoubtedly the town is of con- 
siderable commercial importance, yet we had great difficulty 
in exchanging twenty taels of silver. Like other towns we had 
passed through, Chiangkou was feeling the suppression of the 
opium traffic severely, and until new industries arise to take 
the place of the opium trade the resources of all these places 
will be crippled. 

We found accommodation in a poor but quiet inn, and, 
thanks to the thunderstorm, no curious crowd gathered to 
annoy us. My principal men spent several hours in finding 
out a cross-country road to Yilung Hsien, and eventually 
succeeded. 



94 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

On leaving Chiangkou we ferried across the Pa Chou River 
and then made a steep ascent of a few hundred feet. The 
rest of the day we meandered along the crest of a range of low 
mountains, following an undulating path. In parts the road 
was good, in others ankle deep in slippery mud. Thunder- 
showers fell at intervals and it was fairly cool. 

The country generally is similar to that traversed during 
previous days. Tobacco is a rather common crop hereabouts 
and we saw a little cotton. Maize is very rare, but rice is 
abundantly cultivated. Shrines and small temples continued 
common and in good repair. Kwanyin and Tuti are the 
common deities, the latter representing an old man and 
his wife, constituting the tutelary genii. Dignified, ornately 
carved tombstones and mausoleums were everywhere in 
evidence. 

Our intended destination for the day was Chen-lung 
ch'ang, 60 li from Chiangkou, but on reaching there we found 
market in full swing, and, to avoid the crowd, we journeyed on 
another 6 li. On market days these villages are impossible, 
from the foreigner's point of view. I rode through this village 
in my chair, and the crowd which gathered at the upper end 
of the place mustered several hundreds. Wine appears to flow 
freely on market days and many were under its exciting in- 
fluence. Prudence as well as comfort therefore demands that 
one avoid all crowds as much as possible when travelling in the 
interior regions of China. Women attend these markets in 
force and appear to be a power in this part of the Celestial 
Empire. Their bearing and manners generally are very free 
for Chinese women ; natural, unbound feet are the rule. 

Chen-lung ch'ang is clustered on the narrow neck of a 
sandstone ridge, and in common with all such villages boasts 
a fine village temple. We lodged for the night in a poor way- 
side inn at Hei-tou-k'an, alt. 3100 feet. 

The next day was cool, with showers at odd times, but of no 
consequence. With the exception of one steep descent and 
an ascent in the late afternoon, the road was more or less level 
all day, traversing the tops of the low mountains. These 
sandstone mountains are dissected by innumerable deep, 
narrow ravines, clothed with Pine, Cypress, and a dense j ungle 



THE ANCIENT KINGDOM OF PA 95 

of miscellaneous shrubs. Unlike limestone country no bottom- 
lands are formed, and cultivation is relegated to thehigher parts 
of the ranges. Farmhouses are scattered here, there, and 
everywhere, but the villages are all situated on the tops of the 
mountains, most frequently on the divide of a ridge. 

Fourteen li from Hei-tou-k'an we passed through the 
village of Tai-lu ch'ang, where market was in progress and 
many pigs on sale. Thirty li from this place we passed Ting- 
shan ch'ang, a village of considerable size, charmingly situated 
on the neck of a ridge, backed by a Chaitzu and a fine cypress 
grove. Chaitzu, of which frequent mention has been made, 
are a feature of these parts. They are old forts, said to have 
been mostly constructed during the great sectarian rebellion 
of A.D. 1796-1803. A small official (Hsao-shoa-tang) resides 
at Ting-shan ch'ang. In spite of its fine situation this village 
was unusually filthy and was dominated with the strong 
odours of a wine distillery. The usual crowd of loafers 
followed us for some distance on quitting this village. 

In the late afternoon we arrived at Lung-peh ch'ang, 
alt. 3000 feet, after travelling 74 li. We lodged in a rambling, 
dilapidated inn, fairly clean, with rooms removed some little 
distance from the street — the village sewer. Market not being 
in progress the crowd of inquisitive idlers was relatively small. 

The flora was not particularly interesting, but we passed a 
number of fine Camphor trees [Cinnamomum C amphora). The 
crops, however, were rich and varied. Rice and sweet 
potato preponderate, odd patches of cotton were noted 
and also others of Indigo {Strohilanthes flaccidifolius). In the 
afternoon coolies laden with salt passed us. This salt is pure 
white and granular and comes from Nanpu Hsien. From our 
lodging Ting-shan ch'ang was visible, 30 li distant and nearly 
due east. The map shows a river flowing past this village, 
but the only one we could get tidings of was 50 li from that 
place. 

After a comfortable night's rest we continued our journey 
through country similar to that of foregoing days, but less 
well-wooded and more inclined to be arid, with broader 
valleys more under cultivation. Our route followed the 
boundary between Pa Chou and Yilung Hsien. We passed 



96 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

through two market villages and stayed for the night in a 
farmhouse i li before reaching Fu-ling ch'ang, alt. 2800 feet. 
We purposely stopped at this place in order to escape market 
day at the village, but did not avoid a constant crowd until 
after dark, when the doors were closed. We found all these 
crowds quiet and orderly enough, but a continuous mass of 
faces, with wooden expression, blocking the doorway, obstruct- 
ing light and air, is very trying. Immensely useful as these 
markets are to the country-side, they have decided drawbacks 
from a traveller's point of view. A good police force is really 
more necessary in these villages than in the cities. The more 
lawless element fears a Hsien (Magistrate), but has little respect 
for a Ti-pao (Village Head-man) . Local produce is mostly in 
evidence in these markets ; a few needles, aniline dyes, 
trumpery odds and ends, chiefly of Japanese origin, are about 
the only foreign goods met with. 

We saw more cotton during the day than we had else- 
where observed on this journey, and the crop looked flourish- 
ing. Kao-liang [Sorghum vulgare) was a common crop, but 
rice and sweet potato again preponderated. The sorghum 
and rice were bursting into ear. Wood Oil trees occur, but 
are not plentiful, and commercially this crop is unimportant 
hereabouts. Mixed with the cotton were odd plants of the 
oil-seed yielding Sesamum indicum {" Hsiang-yu "). 

In the late afternoon we traversed country which somewhat 
resembled that around Tunghsiang Hsien — on all sides, as 
far as the eye could see, nothing but ridge upon ridge of low 
sandstone mountains. These ranges average about 3000 feet 
in altitude, those to the east and north being higher than 
those to the west and south. The map is all wrong for the 
region, so I could not definitely place our route. The river 
Sheng-to, so boldly indicated, escaped us, though we should have 
crossed it had the map been correct. The market villages 
passed were smaller than heretofore, very filthy and stinking, 
yet most charmingly situated on the neck of low ridges, and 
well shaded with trees. Camphor trees are very common, 
and "Pride of India" trees [Melia Azedarach) particularly 
abundant. The stage said to be 70 li proved very easy, the 
weather being dull and cool. 



THE ANCIENT KINGDOM OF PA 97 

Our stay over at the farmhouse was hardly a success ; 
we had a full crowd until bedtime, and in spite of fair promises 
four of my men who remained in the house with me had 
neither dinner nor bedding. As a punishment I paid only 
half our usual rate, much to the householder's chagrin. Fu- 
ling ch'ang was quite deserted when we passed through in the 
early morning. It occupies the narrow neck of a sandstone 
ridge, after the usual manner of these villages. The same is 
true of Shih-ya ch'ang, 30 li farther on. Ten li beyond this 
latter village we passed a nine-storied pagoda and sighted the 
town of Yilung Hsien, to the northwards, about a mile distant 
as the crow flies and at equal altitude (2500 feet). Yilung 
is a very small town, situated on the mountain-top, backed 
by a steep bluff and surrounded by a wall of dressed sandstone. 
Two-thirds of the land enclosed within the city wall is given 
over to cultivation. We passed to the south-west of the town 
by a road which makes a steep descent and ascent and then 
meanders along the tops of the mountains until Tu-men-pu 
is reached. The mountains are lower, more flat, the valleys 
wider, and the whole country more treeless. Cotton is abun- 
dantly cultivated throughout this region, and it is evident 
that the district of Yilung produces a very considerable quan- 
tity. Rice and sweet potato are the common crops, the 
latter thriving on the hot almost soilless rocks. The earth is 
drawn into ridges, often leaving bare rock between, and cuttings 
are inserted. These cuttings, leafy shoots about 6 inches long, 
quickly take root and form plants that produce an abundant 
crop. Sorghum is fairly common in places, but maize is very 
scarce. Stone monuments were less in evidence, but we passed 
a fine 0-mi-to Fu stone surmounted by a hideous T'eng-kou. 
Six old hats protected this stone from the rain and sun ; in 
front was a huge mass of ashes and the remains of many 
Joss sticks. We were informed that the tutelary genius of 
this spot is renowned for his benevolence, and that it was 
hoped shortly to erect a shrine over the spot. 

We had been unfortunate in the matter of market days all 

along, and found another in progress at Tu-men-pu. Seemingly 

having gained nothing by staying the night a httle beyond or 

before reaching these villages, we experimented and stayed at 

VOL. I. — 7 



98 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

one. It was not a success. A mob rushed our inn and bedlam 
reigned for a couple of hours. Eventually it thinned down, 
but many of the more insistent and curious remained until 
bedtime. There was much noise, but the crowd was friendly 
enough; nevertheless, I was glad it proved to be the last 
market village of its kind we encountered before reaching 
Chengtu. 

Tu-men-pu or ch'ang, alt. 1950 feet, 70 li from Fu-ling 
ch'ang, is a large and prosperous village boasting much trade 
on market-days. Something of everything in the way of native 
produce was on sale, and the narrow street was thronged to 
overflowing. Five li before reaching this place our road con- 
verged with one leading to Pa Chou city by way of Yilung 
Hsien. 

I had a poor night's sleep in consequence of loud talking 
being carried on far into the early hours, a woman (as usual) 
being the principal offender. This was an emphatic reminder 
of the hubbub of the crowd which besieged us on arrival, and 
I was really glad to quit Tu-men-pu. A few li beyond this 
village we branched off from the main road, which goes to 
Nanpu Hsien. Much salt comes from this township, and 
during the last two or three days we had met many carriers 
laden with this commodity. 

Forty li beyond Tu-men-pu we passed the poor village of 
Shui-kuan-ying, protected by dilapidated gates which denote 
its former military character. In years gone by it was a 
barrier of some considerable importance. Twenty li farther 
on we reached the village of Chin-ya ch'ang, alt. 2150 feet, 
which differs from all we had met with heretofore in having a 
broad main street fully exposed to the heavens. To our great 
joy market was not in progress. We found lodgings in a new 
and quiet inn, which proved a welcome change ; the people, 
too, were courteous and much less inquisitive. The day was 
exceptionally hot, and all were glad to reach the end of the 
allotted stage of 60 li. Twelve li before reaching Chin-ya 
ch'ang we struck a main road leading from Nanpu Hsien, 
and following it entered the village through an isolated ornate 
gateway. Beyond the village is a bluff of grey sandstone 
studded with square-mouthed caves. These caves are crude 



THE ANCIENT KINGDOM OF PA 99 

imitations of Mantzu caves, and are of recent origin, and 
purely Chinese. 

The day's journey was through less interesting country 
than usual. The broad valleys and nearly treeless mountains 
are all under cultivation. Cotton was again common in the 
forenoon, but much less so afterwards. This crop looked as 
flourishing as Chinese cotton usually does. Tobacco is spar- 
ingly cultivated. The tobacco leaves are merely sun-dried before 
using, and the quality is therefore poor. Sweet potato was 
more plentiful than ever ; the arid sandstone rocks evidently 
suit this crop. Rice was, of course, everywhere abundant, 
sorghum common, but maize was very scarce and suffering 
from drought. The Irish potato is very little cultivated in 
these parts. Around Tu-men-pu white-wax is produced in 
small quantities on the Privet {Ligustrum lucidum), but the 
cultivation is slovenly carried out, the trees being dwarf and 
ill-cared for. A few Cypress trees were noted, but Paulownia 
is a common tree, and Wood Oil trees rather plentiful. A little 
silk is raised, but the industry is unimportant hereabouts. 
Odd trees of the Banyan {Ficus infectoria) occur near houses 
and shrines. We passed a few fine tombs, but the average 
headstone is less ornate than those formerly met with. 

We experienced a brief but terrific thunderstorm during 
the early hours of the morning, and rain continued to fall 
slightly when we set out from Chin-ya ch'ang. For 20 li 
we followed an abominable road of mud. This was very 
greasy, and caused many of us to come " croppers." Ultim- 
ately, we reached a paved road, and, 6 li farther, a tributary 
stream of the Kialing River. This tributary is broad, broken 
by cataracts and rapids, and quite unnavigable at this point. 
It unites with the Kialing River, locally known as the " Paoning 
Ho," at Ho-che kuan. This is a small riverine port boasting a 
remarkably fine shop where coal, lime, and especially Chinese 
wine (sam-shu), were on sale. On the paved road we met 
several men carrying Bombay cotton yarn — the first example 
of foreign goods we had encountered on the whole journey ! 

At Ho-che kuan the Kialing River is smooth and placid, 
and when in flood is fully 400 yards broad. We ferried across 
the river to the right bank, and then traversed an alluvial flat 



100 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

of considerable size, highly cultivated with rice and sorghum, 
with here and there a little abutilon hemp. At the head of 
this fiat, some lo li from the river, we crossed over some 
levelled hillocks into a basin — evidently an old lake bed — 
surrounded by bare mountains 200 to 500 feet high. This 
depression was a lake of luxuriant padi (rice), with houses here 
and there, nestling in clumps of trees. From this basin we 
passed through a low, narrow gap between the hills, and came 
abruptly to the Paoning River a little below the city itself. We 
were ferried across and found lodgings in a large and fairly com- 
fortable inn. The flora of the day's journey was without special 
interest. Cypress being the only kind of tree really common. 
But shading some graves, opposite Ho-che kuan, occurs the 
largest specimen of the " Pride of India" [Melia Azedarach) I 
have met with. This tree is 70 feet tall, and 10 feet in girth. 

Paoning Fu is a city of past rather than of present great- 
ness. It is still a most important administrative centre, but its 
real interest lies in its great historic past. From the early days 
of Chinese conquest it has been a strategical point of vast 
importance. During the Ming dynasty (a.d. 1368-1644) a 
generalissimo of forces had a palace here. The terrible rebel, 
Chang Hien-tsung (a.d. 1630-46 circa), ravaged the country 
roundabout, but spared the city itself. The result is that 
many of the official residences and temples date back to 
ancient times. 

Formerly Paoning was the centre of a lucrative and thriving 
silk industry, but this has steadily declined during the last 
twenty years, and to-day it is a mere figment in comparison. 
Attempts are now being made by the officials to rejuvenate 
and foster this industry, which apparently failed more through 
lack of business ability and tenacit}/ than anything else. On 
the neighbouring hills I was told " wild silk " is produced, the 
" worms " feeding on the leaves of a scrub Oak, " Ching-kang " 
[Quercus serrata) . 

The city occupies an extensive alluvial fiat on the left bank 
of the river within an amphitheatre of low, bare, often pyra- 
midal, hills, 300 to 600 feet high. Viewed from the opposite 
bank there are no outstanding architectural features visible, 
save a pavilion, which is practically the only building breaking 



THE ANCIENT KINGDOM OF PA loi 

the monotony of level roofs. The area within the city walls 
is largely occupied by yamens, temples, and residences of the 
more wealthy. Business is mostly carried on outside the city 
proper, and is confined mainly to one street. Umbrellas were 
the most noticeable articles on sale, but the city is famous for 
its superior vinegar, great jars of which were on view. 

Hedges of the thorny shrub. Citrus trifoUata, are a 
prominent feature of this city and its suburbs, giving to the 
quieter streets a country-lane-like appearance. The water 
supply of the city is from wells, which are often very deep. 
This water is said to be good, but that supplied to our inn 
had a very " earthy " flavour. From what I saw of the 
city during a day's stay there, I received the impression of 
its being clean, its people very orderly and courteous, and the 
decline in its prosperity most marked. The Paoning Ho is 
a shallow river, and opposite the city about 500 yards broad 
when in flood. It is navigable for boats of considerable size 
downwards to Chungking. Up-stream small boats ascend 
to Kuangyuan Hsien. A certain amount of merchandise 
descends in small boats from Pikou, in Kansu, to Chaohua 
Hsien. These rivers are most important to Paoning Fu, for, 
in addition to export trade, the coal and wood used in the city 
itself are conveyed over these waterways. On the right bank 
facing the city is a ledge of cliff, on which nestle several 
temples and pavilions, sheltered by groves of Cypress. In a 
gap in this cliff is situated the busy little village of Nan-ching 
kuan. Timber is very scarce around Paoning. Cypress wood 
is commonly used in house-building ; Alder wood {Alnus 
cremastogync) occasionally being employed for window frames, 
etc., but its chief use is as fuel. Pine occurs, but, save as fuel, 
is worthless. Cunninghamia, that most useful of Chinese 
conifers, does not occur in this neighbourhood. The wood 
of the Hung-tou tree {Ormosia Hosiei), so highly esteemed for 
carpentry, was formerly fairly common and cheap. To-day, 
however, it has to be brought from a distance, and, in con- 
sequence, is expensive. Oak and "Huang-lien" [Pistacia 
chinensis) are the only other timber trees of note. Paoning is 
an important missionary centre, and the seat of a Protestant 
bishopric. During my brief visit I had the pleasure of 



102 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

spending a few hours with the kindly and energetic Bishop 
Cassels and certain of his coadjutors, who did all they could 
to render my stay pleasant. 

Leaving Paoning Fu and following the main road via 
Tungchuan Fu, by easy stages I entered the city of Chengtu Fu 
nine days later, having occupied fifty-four days on the journey 
from Ichang. 

The journey from Tunghsiang Hsien to Paoning Fu fully 
bore out my expectations. The crowds on market-days were a 
decided drawback, but not once was I insulted or called (in my 
hearing) uncomphmentary names. The avaricious greed and 
cunning of the inhabitants were most marked. They were 
constantly putting up the prices of food-stuffs on my followers, 
which led to much argument and high words, and several 
times I was called upon to settle such disputes. The greed 
of the Szechuanese peasant and small shopkeeper is a byword 
among the Chinese of other provinces. The term " Szechuan 
Lao-ssu " ("Szechuan Rat") is applied derisively to the 
whole population by the Chinese from other provinces. 
Niggardly and avaricious they undoubtedly are, but they 
are great agriculturists, and the question of the " mote 
and beam " may well be left open. As mentioned before, 
the province is largely peopled by descendants of immigrants, 
and these folk almost invariably style themselves men of the 
provinces their ancestors came from ! 

The outstanding features of this ancient part of Szechuan 
are : — 

1. The elaborate system of market villages situated at 
equal distances of 30 li apart, each with its nine market-days 
per month, and alternating with the markets of neighbouring 
villages. Each village is situated on the mountain-top and 
usually on the neck of a divide, with one central more or less 
covered street. 

2. The rice belt is confined to the mountain slopes and 
summits, the valleys being ravines, jungle-clad as a rule, with 
little or no cultivatable bottom-lands. The highly cultivated 
nature of the region and the presence of cotton in quantity 
around Yilung Hsien. 

3. The numerous fine mausoleums with remarkably good 



THE ANCIENT KINGDOM OF PA 103 

sculpturing ; the peculiar, dignified style of headstones and 
mural monuments generally. The number of wayside shrines 
and deities all in excellent repair. 

4. The independent bearing and buxom appearance of the 
women, and their evident influence in general market business. 
Throughout the whole region natural, unbound feet are the rule. 

5. The region is far from being thickly populated, and 
cannot be termed wealthy, but apparently it is largely self- 
contained and self-sufficient. 

6. The intense curiosity of the people due to the fact that 
few had ever seen a foreigner before. 



CHAPTER IX 

THE CHENGTU PLAIN 

" The Garden of Western China " 

THE plain of Chengtu is the only large expanse of level 
ground in the great province of Szechuan ; it is also 
one of the richest, most fertile, and thickly populated 
areas in the whole of China. Its extreme length from Chiang- 
kou in the south to Hsao-shui Ho beyond Mienchu Hsien in 
the north, is about 80 miles as the crow flies ; its extreme 
width from Chao-chia-tu in the east to Kuan Hsien in the 
west, about 65 miles, in a straight line. From Kiung Chou in 
the extreme south-west to its north-east limits beyond Teyang 
Hsien is about 80 miles. The circumferential boundaries are 
very irregular, the total area being under 3500 square miles. 
Chengtu Fu, the provincial capital, and seventeen other walled 
cities, are situated on this plain, together with very many un- 
walled towns of large size. Farmhouses dot the plain in 
every direction ; the total population probably exceeds 
6,000,000. 

This plain is really part basin part sloping alluvial delta, 
having an elevation ranging from about 1500 feet above sea- 
level in the south and east to 2300 feet in the north-west and 
west. It is bounded to the west and north-west by the steep 
descent of a high mountainous region, which at very little 
distance from it reaches above the snowline. In the extreme 
north-west the snowclad Chiuting shan actually overlooks the 
plain. On its other boundaries the sandstone hills of the 
Red Basin rise sharply in bluffs 1000 to 1500 feet above the 
level of the plain. The high barrier ranges protect the plain 
from the cold northerly and westerly winds, but to these 
must be ascribed the rapid changes in temperature, the fogs, 



THE CHENGTU PLAIN 105 

raw atmosphere, and the overcast skies so characteristic of 
Chengtu Fu. 

The plain owes its abundant fertihty to a complete and 
marvellous system of irrigation, inaugurated some 2100 years 
ago by a Chinese official named Li-ping and his son. The 
headquarters of this irrigation system is Kuan Hsien, a city 
situated on the extreme western edge of the plain, where the 
Min River debouches from the mountains. The principle on 
which the system is based is simple in conception, but very 
intricate in detail. An obstructing hill called Li-tiu shan 
was first cut through for the purpose of leading the waters 
through and distributing them over the plain. The passage 
having been excavated, the waters of the Min River were 
divided, by means of an inverted V-shaped dyke, a little dis- 
tance above the canal into two main streams, the " South " 
and " North " Rivers, as they are called. The waters of the 
" North " stream are carried through the Li-tiu shan cut, and 
after passing through the city of Kuan Hsien are divided into 
three principal streams. The most southerly of the three, 
called " The Walking Horse," flows directly east, and irrigates 
the districts of Pi Hsien and Chengtu. The central stream, 
called the " Cedar Stem River," flows north-east, and is 
utilized to irrigate the western and northern parts of the 
above-named districts. Branches of these two streams flow 
past the south and north walls of Chengtu, uniting near the 
east gate of the city. The third, or northern branch, known 
as the " South Rush River," flows north towards the city of 
Peng Hsien, and then south-eastwards past Han Chou. All 
the subdivisions of this branch and its anastomosing canals 
and ditches unite near Chao-chia-tu to form the head-waters of 
the To River, which flows due south past the famous salt- 
wells of Tzu-liu-ching, and finally enters the Yangtsze at 
Lu Chou. This " South Rush River " is fed by numerous 
torrents which descend from the ranges bounding the north- 
west edge of the plain. These streams — broad, stony, irre- 
sponsible things with no defined banks — exist only during 
rains or the melting of the snow in spring. In crossing the 
northern parts of the plain the traveller can form some estimate 
of what the whole was like before the irrigation canals were 



io6 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

dug and dikes erected. But to return to the system at Kuan 
Hsien. The " South " River, which occupies the original bed 
of the Min River, is divided into four principal streams almost 
immediately opposite the Li-tiu Hill. The most easterly 
branch, named the " Peaceful River," irrigates the districts 
of Kuan Hsien, Pi Hsien, and Shuangliu Hsien, The next 
branch, called the " Sheep Horse River," irrigates other parts 
of the above-named districts, uniting with the " Peaceful 
River," at Hsinhsin Hsien. The third stream, called " Black 
Stone River," irrigates the department of Chungching Chou, 
and unites with the other streams at Hsinhsin Hsien. The 
fourth stream, called " Sand Ditch," flows south-west through 
Tayi Hsien and Kiung Chou, joining the other streams at 
Hsinhsin Hsien. All the streams which intersect the Chengtu 
Plain, save those forming the upper waters of the To River, 
unite at Chiangkou, a village at the extreme south-eastern edge 
of the plain, some 45 English miles south of Chengtu city. 

This system of anastomosing canals, ditches, artificial and 
natural streams, forms a complex yet perfect network. The 
current in all is steady and swift, the bunding secure, and 
floods unknown. Not only are all these streams and canals 
available for irrigation, but they are also utilized to generate 
power required in various industries. Flour-mills abound, 
driven by vertical or horizontally fixed water-wheels. Similar 
mills are used for crushing Chinese rape-seed, preparatory to 
pressing for the extraction of the oil. 

It must not be supposed that Li-ping and his son completed 
the system which obtains to-day. They were the originators, 
and the lines they laid down have been followed and enlarged 
upon by succeeding generations. These famous irrigation 
works are perhaps the only public works in all China that are 
kept in constant and thorough repair. Every year the bunding 
is repaired and all silt removed from the bed of the channels. 
An official styled Shui-li Fu— " Prefect of Water- Ways "— 
residing at Chengtu, has charge of the system. In late winter 
the water is diverted at Kuan Hsien from the " North " River 
to admit of the removing of silt, etc. In the early spring, 
conducted with much pomp, there is an annual ceremony of 
turning on the waters. The motto of Li-ping, " Shen tao fan, 




THE DIVIDED WATERS AND BRIDGE (AN-LAN CHIAO) ^.".O YDS. LONG 




CHANNEL CUT THROUGH THE LI-TIU SHAN BY LI-PING 



THE CHENGTU PLAIN 107 

ti tso yen " (Dig the bed deep, keep the banks low), has become 
an estabhshed law in these parts, and is rigorously carried into 
effect. Amidst so much that is decaying and corrupt in China 
it is refreshing to find an old institution maintaining its 
standard of excellence and usefulness through century after 
century. The originators of this work have been deified, and two 
magnificent temples overlooking their work at Kuan Hsien bear 
witness to the gratitude of the millions who have enjoyed, and 
continue to enjoy, prosperity from the labours of the famous 
Li-ping and his son. The "hero-worship" here exemplified 
would do credit to the people of any land. 

The larger of the two temples merits some description. 
It is by far the finest example I have seen in my travels, and is 
probably not excelled by any temple in all China. It nestles 
midst a grove of fine trees, facing the river on the side of a hill, 
with broad flights of steps leading from terrace to terrace. The 
buildings are of wood, finely carved and lacquered. The court- 
yards of stone are broad and spacious, with ornaments in 
bronze and iron of old and unique workmanship. There are 
figures representing Li-ping, his wife and son, also many finely 
gilded and inscribed votive boards, gifts of a long line of 
succeeding emperors, viceroys, gentry, and guilds. Not a 
weed is allowed to grow, the whole place being kept scrupulously 
clean by the Taouist priests in charge. In the courtyards are 
many interesting trees and shrubs, trained in Chinese manner 
with consummate skill. Two magnificent specimens of the 
Crepe Myrtle {Lagerstrcemia indica), trained into the shape of 
a fan some 25 feet high by 12 feet wide, and said to be over 
200 years old, are finer than anything of the kind I have 
seen elsewhere. 

The whole of the plain is subdivided into small fields, every 
field or series of fields having its own level, differing (sometimes 
only by one or two inches) from that of its neighbours. This 
arrangement necessitates a complicated code of regulations, 
which, sanctioned by custom and usage, determines the pro- 
portions in which the water of any one canal is distributed into 
its branches, and the order of succession in which proprietors 
of different fields are allowed to make use of it. The system 
has been so far perfected that each rice field receives, exactly 



io8 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

at the right time, a sutficient supply of running water. So 
complete is the whole arrangement that scarcity, much less 
famine, is practically unknown on the Chengtu Plain. 

There are no extremes of climate in this region. In summer 
the temperature seldom reaches ioo° F., in the shade ; in winter 
it seldom falls below 35° F. It is humid at all times and 
essentially cloudy, more especially in winter, when the sun is 
rarely seen, owing to banks of mists. The land is always under 
cultivation, yielding two main crops that ripen in April or 
May, and August or September respectively. Catch crops are 
obtained between these two main harvests. Rice is the chief 
summer crop, but certain districts produce millet, sugar^ pulse. 
Indigo {Strohilanthes flaccidifolius) , and tobacco in quantity. 
Pi Hsien being noted in particular for the latter crop. Wheat 
and Chinese rape are the chief winter crops with Broadbeans 
{Vicia Faha), peas, barley, and Hemp {Cannabis sativa), 
common in certain districts. Wen-chiang Hsien is famous for 
its hemp, which is grown in quantity as a winter crop and 
exported largely to other parts of Szechuan and down river. 
This product, known colloquially as " Huo-ma," has been 
wrongly identified by many travellers. As summer crops. 
Ramie or " Hsien-ma " {Bcehmeria nivea) and Abutilon hemp 
or " Tuen-ma " [Ahutilon Avicennce) are both cultivated more 
or less in quantity. The only Jute or " Huang-ma " {Cor chorus 
capsularis) I ever saw was in July 1910, growing near Yao- 
chia-tu. In the northern parts of the plain, Mienchu and 
Teyang Hsiens, a little cotton is raised, but commercially the 
crop is unimportant. Opium was never cultivated in quantity 
on the plain. 

All the Chinese vegetables and culinary oil-producing plants 
are cultivated in quantity in the Chengtu Plain, and their 
general excellence is not excelled elsewhere. To enumerate 
them it would be necessary to give a complete list of such plants 
cultivated in all but the coldest parts of China. This enumera- 
tion is reserved for a subsequent chapter. 

A striking feature of the plain is the enormous number of 
large houses and farmsteads dotted here, there, and everywhere, 
and shaded by groves of Bamboo, Nanmu, and Cypress. The 
frequency of these houses, with their enveloping groves, gives a 



THE CHENGTU PLAIN 109 

well-wooded appearance to the entire region, and the general 
view is broken up in such a manner that from no point can 
many miles of the plain be seen at one time. 

The variety of trees is very great ; fully fifty species could 
easily be enumerated. Alongside the streams and ditches, 
Alder, "Ching-mu" {Alnus cremastogyne) abounds, and forms 
one of the principal sources of fuel. In the more northern parts 
of the plain the curious Camptotheca acuminata, with clean 
trunk, -grey bark, and globose heads of small white flowers, 
displaces the Alder. Around the houses Bamboo, Oak, "Pride of 
India," Soap trees [Gleditsia), Cypress, and Nanmu are the com- 
monest trees. The Nanmu is a special feature around temples. 
Several species of the genus Machilus are called Nanmu, all 
agreeing in being stately, tall, umbrageous evergreens. The 
wood they yield is highly valued, and the trees are particularly 
handsome. The Banyan tree, so abundant a little farther 
south, is very rare here, and neither Pine nor Chinese Fir 
(Cunninghamia) are common. Occasionally trees of the Red 
Bean {Ormosia Hosiei) occur, always, however, in temple-yards 
or shading wayside shrines. The great industry of Chengtu 
Fu is sericulture, consequently Mulberry trees abound, and 
Cudrania tricuspidata (Tsa shu), the leaves of which are also 
used for feeding silkworms, is likewise fairly common. 

In such a highly cultivated area the natural flora has, of 
course, been destroyed. The few indigenous shrubs and herbs 
that remain are relegated to the sides of streams and grave- 
yards. In places the Chinese Pampas Grass {Miscanthus 
sinensis and M. latifolius) is common ; in autumn the fawn- 
coloured plumes are most attractive. Occasionally thorny 
shrubs like Barberry, Christ's thorn, colloquially " Teh-li- 
pe kuo-tzu " [Paliurus ramosissimus), and " San-chia pi" 
[Acanthopanax aculeatum) are used as hedge plants. The 
commonest fence, however, is made by bending down and 
interlacing the bamboo-culms. 

Since the plain is strewn with cities, villages, and farm- 
steads, a network of roadways necessarily obtains. A main 
artery extends north-north-east, through the plain and beyond 
to Shensi province, and ultimately reaches far-distant Peking. 
This road was commenced from the Shensi end by the great 



no A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

Shih Hwang-ti (he who commenced building the Great Wall) 
about 220 B.C. It extends from Chengtu in a south-westerly 
direction to Kiung Chou, and thence to remote Lhassa. Other 
highways connect the provincial capital with Chungking, 
the great mart on the Yangtsze River to the south-east ; Kuan 
Hsien in the west, and the Marches of the Mantzu beyond. 
Roads of secondary importance link these highways with 
other roads and connect the capital with all the principal 
cities of the plain and regions beyond. Most of the roads were 
originally paved with one or two slabs of stone laid lengthwise 
down the middle, with bare earth on either side. The constant 
wheel-barrow traffic, a feature of the entire region, has worn 
deep grooves into these slabs. All too frequently the slabs 
have disappeared altogether, leaving unpaved long stretches 
of roadway. In dry weather these roads are dusty, but easy 
to travel ; in wet weather they are from ankle to knee-deep 
in sheer mud. Often they are practically impassable, and 
travelling over them in ordinary rainy weather is an experience 
beyond words to describe. They illustrate admirably the 
contrariety of things which obtain in China generally. Here 
in the wealthiest region of the west, if not of the whole of 
China, the average road is of the meanest width, and in an 
abominable state of repair. There is much talk of the need 
of railways in China, — true, they are needed badly, but good 
highways, roads, are an infinitely greater want. The highways 
and byways on the Chengtu Plain are a disgrace to the entire 
population of this fertile, wealthy region. " What is every- 
body's business is nobody's business " is a saying that is as 
applicable in China as in Western lands. The roads exist for 
the good and welfare of all, but it is nobody's real business to 
protect them ; they are, in consequence, neglected by aU — 
jieasants, farmers, officials, and gentry alike. 

Mean as these roadways are, they are spanned by hundreds 
of large honorary portals and memorial arches, mostly con- 
structed of red, or more rarely grey, sandstone, or occasionally 
of wood. In the vicinity of the more wealthy cities (Han 
Chou, for example) these portals and arches are extraordinarily 
abundant. Many are masterpieces of Chinese architecture. 
All are well built and covered with sculptures in relief, re- 




VIEW IN THE .MANCHU SECTION OF CHEN(;TU CITY 




THE VILLAGE TEMPLE, KUN(i-CHING CH'AN(; 



THE CHENGTU PLAIN iii 

presenting scenes of mythical or everyday life. The ends of 
the ridge pole and the gable eaves are usually long drawn out 
and revolutely upturned, adding additional lightness and 
beauty to the whole. These long, exaggerated, upturned 
eaves are a characteristic feature of the houses, temples, and 
shrines met with all over this region. 

The innumerable ditches, canals, and streams are all well 
bridged. The bridges are kept in good repair, and reflect the 
highest credit on the engineers who constructed them. They 
are built of red or grey sandstone, more rarely of wood, as near 
Han Chou. The stone bridges vary from one to a dozen or 
more arches, sometimes hog-backed, but more usually the 
" Roman Arch " is employed ; others are of causeway or 
trestle design, with or without balustrades, ranging from a 
single slab laid across a narrow ditch to many such laid on 
a series of piers built in the bed of the streams. Near Sintu 
Hsien there is an example of one of these trestle or pier- 
bridges 120 yards long. Outside the east gate of Chengtu is a 
red-sandstone bridge of nine arches, which is generally regarded 
as the bridge mentioned by Marco Polo. A similar bridge 
exists near Yao-chia-tu, but this has some twenty arches. Im- 
mediately outside Han Chou there is a covered wooden bridge, 
120 yards long, 6 yards broad, resting on eight stone piers. 
This bridge, known as the Chin-ying chiao (Bridge of the Golden 
Goose), is the handsomest, most ornate wooden structure of 
its kind I have met with in my travels. 

In reference to the bunding of the streams and canals it 
should be mentioned that cobble-stones enclosed within long 
sausage-shaped, bamboo-latticed crates are universally em- 
ployed for this purpose. This system is said to date back 
to the later times of the Ming dynasty only. Previous to that 
period the principal abutments and revetments were of iron, 
fashioned into the shape of gigantic oxen, turtles, pillars, etc. 
At the places where canals unite or divide, or where the water 
cascades to a lower level, the earthworks are protected by walls 
of stones firmly cemented together. 

Another item, and one which astonishes every traveller, 
is the enormous size of the blocks of stone used in the bridges, 
more especially those erected on piers. I have no exact 



112 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

measurements by me, but these slabs would average at least 
12 yards long by 20 inches square at the ends. Commonly 
the blocks are of hard limestone, occasionally of conglomerate. 
The slabs of sandstone when used are shorter. At Chao- 
chia-tu sandstone slabs are used as fencing. 

Any attempt to describe the cities on the Chengtu Plain 
would necessitate more space than is at my disposal. They 
differ, with the exception of the provincial capital, in no marked 
particular from other cities of Szechuan. In size they vary 
considerably, some of the large unwalled towns being com- 
mercially more important than the walled cities. Most of 
the cities and surrounding districts are noted for certain 
things ; for example, Mienchu Hsien for its wheat en flour and 
paper, P'i Hsien for tobacco, Wen-chiang Hsien for hemp, 
P'eng Hsien for indigo, Shuangliu Hsien for straw-braid, and so 
on. The majority of these cities are very ancient ; all contain 
fine temples, as becomes such centres of wealth. Chengtu 
(long. 104° 2' E., lat. 30° 38' N.) was described by Marco 
Polo, who visited it during the thirteenth century, as a " rich 
and noble city." Modern travellers, and their name is well- 
nigh legion, have all agreed with the great Venetian's dictum. 
In many respects Chengtu, with its population of 350,000 
people, is probably the finest city in the whole of China. It 
is built on a totally different plan from that of Peking, or 
even Canton, so that comparisons are difficult. The present 
city of Chengtu is comparatively modern, but occupies much 
the same site as the capital of the aboriginal kingdom of Shu. 
This kingdom was conquered by Shih Hwang-ti (the " First 
Emperor ") some time between 221-209 B.C., who nominally 
added it to his dominions. The succeeding dynasty of Han 
(206 B.C. to A.D. 25) incorporated it as an integral part of 
China. During the epoch of the Three Kingdoms the site (or 
thereabouts) of the city was occupied as the capital of the 
kingdom under Liu-pei. Succeeding dynasties have always 
made it a most important seat of administration, and princes 
of the imperial clan or viceroys have resided there. It is 
still the seat of a Viceroy who governs the province of Szechuan 
and nominally controls all Thibetan affairs. 

Great Britain, France, and Germany have each established 



THE CHENGTU PLAIN 113 

a Consulate-General there, but on the plea that the city is 
not an " open port," the Chinese have successfully resisted 
the purchase of land on which to erect suitable houses and 
offices for the staffs representing these Powers. The result is 
that these officers are housed in dilapidated Chinese quarters, 
insanitary, dangerous to health, and unbecoming the dignity 
of the Powers they represent. It is nothing short of a scandal 
to thrust men into such abominable quarters. Chengtu Fu is 
far removed from London, Paris, and Berlin, also from Peking, 
but is it fitting to make backwoodsmen of these repre- 
sentatives ? Missionaries of every denomination are firmly 
entrenched at Chengtu, and can acquire all the property 
their funds admit of either for residences, hospitals, schools, 
or churches. 

The city is surrounded by a magnificent wall, some 9 miles 
in circumference, with eight bastions, pierced by four fine gates. 
This wall is 66 feet broad at base, 35 feet high, and 40 feet broad 
at top, along which runs a crenulated balustrade. It is faced 
and paved with hard brick (the walls of all the other cities on 
the plain are of sandstone), and is kept in thorough repair. 
During Manchu times a Tartar garrison was stationed here, 
a large area on the south-west side of the city being walled off 
to form a Manchu city. Within the city walls are many fine 
residences, private and official, temples, a large parade ground, 
etc. The city is clean and orderly, with an efficient police. To 
wander through the streets noting the varied industries carried 
on is a liberal education in Chinese ways of doing things. 
The wares on sale are of infinite variety, and are themselves 
indicative of the wealth which is everywhere apparent. The 
shop-signs, lacquered and gilded, hang vertically downwards, 
and proclaim in their large artistic characters the titles of the 
shops and the wares on sale. The city is full of officials, both 
in and out of office, who move about the streets in sedan-chairs 
carried at a great speed. The chairs are peculiar in having 
the long poles curved, with the body of the chair resting on 
top of the curve. When carried, such a chair is well above 
the heads of the crowd. The streets are always crowded 
with pedestrians, chairs, and wheel-barrows. Different trades 
occupy their own particular quarter. Certain streets are 

VOL. I. — 8 



114 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

devoted to carpentry in all its branches, boot-shops, shops 
devoted to hornware, skins and furs, embroideries, second-hand 
clothes shops, silk goods, foreign goods, and so forth. Silk- 
weaving is the great industry in Chengtu, hundreds of looms 
being in use. 

Evidences of Occidental influence abound. A provincial 
university and many schools for imparting Western learning 
exist. Two agricultural experimental farms, an arsenal, mint, 
bazaar, and many buildings of semi-foreign design. The arsenal 
and farms are outside the city. An electric lighting plant was 
operating at the time of my last visit (1910), and the installation 
of a telephone service was in progress. The Imperial Post 
is strongly established here under control of Europeans, and 
this is the only Western innovation really accomplishing good 
work. The others (and I have not covered them all) are 
experiments pure and simple. These are controlled by 
officials among whom jealousy is rife and peculation not un- 
known. The good intentions of honest officials are easily 
nulhfied by jealous-minded sycophants and ultra-conserva- 
tives. The city exhibits numerous examples of blighted 
experiments, some of them mere follies, but the majority 
calculated to be beneficial if properly controlled and carried 
through. The city-fathers and officials have exhibited mad 
haste to acquire such Western knowledge as they deem useful. 
They have no real idea of what they want, and there is little 
co-ordination in any matter. The students rule the colleges ; 
their fathers, the gentry, rule the province. " China for the 
Chinese," and "away with all foreigners and foreign influence" 
is their slogan. This cry is perfectly legitimate, but they should 
move slowly. They think they are fully fledged men, whereas 
they are mere babes in the knowledge of the things they covet 
so much. The unfortunate Rebellion which has spread with 
such rapidity and brought about so much disaster to the nation, 
originated with the hot-heads of Chengtu. Primarily it was 
aimed not so much against the dynasty as against foreign capital. 
The Central Government had agreed to a foreign loan, which, 
amongst other things, had for its object the construction of a 
railway from Hankow to Chungking. It was this loan that was 
the fat in the fire which produced the conflagration— the last 




A MEMORIAL ARCH 



THE CHENGTU PLAIN 115 

straw, if you will, but the primary cause of the Rebellion. The 
dynasty has been dethroned (it was effete, anyway, and 
should have passed fifty years ago), a dictatorship under the 
guise of a republic cleverly formed by the only man who can 
save China from anarchy if not disruption — Yuan-shih-kai. 
But foreign loans have become more absolutely necessary than 
ever before. The present system of government can only be 
transient, another dynasty must arise. I mentioned above 
that the province was under a viceroy, and that the gentry 
ruled the province. This is the keynote to the whole difficulty. 
The Viceroy had to carry out the instructions of the Imperial 
Government at Peking ; he had also to please the gentry. The 
wishes of the two powers became diametrically opposed, and 
not all the tact of the cleverest diplomats could save the situa- 
tion. The Viceroy (Chao Erh-hsiin) was removed to Manchuria, 
and his brother (Chao Erh-feng), recalled from the Thibetan 
Marches (where China's new toy, in the shape of an army 
modelled on quasi-Western lines, had been indulging in an 
altogether uncalled-for war of aggression), appointed to the 
post. The new Viceroy arrived too late to check the revolt, 
and was ultimately murdered. The gentry have declared 
that no foreign capital, and the necessary foreign supervision 
of such capital, shall enter into the construction of a railway 
in Szechuan. With Chinese money and Chinese engineers the 
scheme shall be accomplished, say these autocrats. The Cen- 
tral Government thought otherwise and made other arrange- 
ments. Then came the revolt, fulminated by the gentry of 
the Chengtu Plain, which speedily got beyond their control, 
and where it will really end is beyond prophecy. The Manchu 
dynasty, when it ascended the Dragon throne in a.d. 1644, 
immediately set to work and rescued Szechuan from the bloody 
grip of the rebel and arch-destroyer, Chang Hien-tsung, and 
brought peace to the land. Two hundred and sixty-seven 
years later this dynasty has been dethroned by rebellion 
initiated by the gentry of the Chengtu Plain. Dynasties and 
republics may come and go, but in the future, as in the past, 
industry, combined with agricultural skill, will continue to win 
sustenance, derive wealth, influence, and power from this 
fertile and beautiful region — the Garden of Western China. 



CHAPTER X 

NORTH-WESTERN SZECHUAN 

Narrative of a Cross-Mountain Journey to 
SuNGPAN Ting 

A FEW days after our arrival at Chengtu in 1910 I deter- 
mined upon a journey to the border-town of Sungpan 
Ting, for the express purpose of securing seeds and 
herbarium specimens of certain new coniferous trees previously 
discovered by me in that region. During 1903 and again in 
1904 I had visited this interesting town. On the first occasion 
I travelled by the ordinary main road, via Kuan Hsien and the 
Min Valley. The next year I followed the great north road 
across the Plain of Chengtu to Mien Chou, then travelled via 
Chungpa and Lungan Fu, by another recognized highway. 
On these journeys I gleaned tidings of a by-road leading from 
Shihch'uan Hsien across the mountains, finally connecting 
with both the above routes. This route promised to be 
interesting as well as novel. Only Roman Catholic missionaries 
had previously traversed it, so far as I could learn. An Hsien 
was selected as the real starting-point for this trip. 

With this object in view we passed through the north gate 
of Chengtu city early on the morning of 8th August. Follow- 
ing the north road as far as the city of Han Chou, then branch- 
ing off and travelling via Shihfang Hsien and Mienchu Hsien, 
we reached the city of An Hsien, some 300 li from Chengtu, 
after three and a half days. The road led us right through 
the luxuriant Chengtu Plain to its extreme north-western limits 
near Hsao-shui Ho. Afterwards we crossed some low foot-hills 
to a small stream leading to An Hsien. The journey was very 
easy, though fatiguing owing to the extreme heat of the season. 

The city of An Hsien is small, of little importance, prettily 
•' 116 



NORTH-WESTERN SZECHUAN 117 

situated on the left bank of a stream backed by bare mountains 
which rear themselves some 2000 feet above the level of the 
river. Two streams uniting here form a river navigable during 
high-water season to Mien Chou, a city on the Fou Ho — the 
western branch of the Kialing River system. An Hsien is a 
Httle beyond the north-western limits of the Chengtu Plain, and 
its river gives it direct communication with Chungking, during 
the summer at least. 

Leaving by the north gate, we took a road that ascends 
the main branch of the river which is kept from flooding the 
city by a well-made low bund of stone slabs, firmly cemented 
together. After traversing a small cultivated valley we plunged 
into a rocky defile and crossed the river by an iron suspension 
bridge, no yards long. This bridge is old and in poor repair, 
and it swayed considerably as we walked singly across. A few 
miles farther on we recrossed the stream by a similar bridge, 
and reached Lei-ku-ping, our destination for the day, at 
6 p.m. A certain amount of rice is cultivated hereabouts, 
but maize is the staple crop. As an under-crop to maize, 
Amor pho phallus konjac (" Mo-yu ") is commonly cultivated, 
the tubers being used as food after their acrid properties have 
been removed by washing in water. We met considerable 
traffic, mostly coolies laden with sheep-skins and medicines 
from Sungpan, which they put on boats at An Hsien for con- 
veyance to Chungking ; much potash (lye) in small tubs, 
and oil-cakes consisting of the residue of Chinese rape-seed 
after the oil is expressed. Coal of very poor quality, mostly 
dust, is obtained in the surrounding mountains, and we met 
scores of mules, ponies, and coolies engaged in transporting it. 

Lei-ku-ping, alt. 2750 feet, is a large market village, pos- 
sessing one principal street with gates at each end, which are 
closed after sunset. The centre of a large and important 
industry in tea, Lei-ku-ping largely supplies Sungpan Ting 
and the country beyond. The tea is grown in the surrounding 
districts and brought to the village for sale. Later we shall 
have more to say concerning this industry. 

It rained heavily during the early hours of the morning, and 
though it was fair when we set out, showers fell the whole fore- 
noon. On leaving Lei-ku-ping we ascended a few hundred 



ii8 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

feet to the head of a low divide, and then descended to the 
village of Che-shan, situated on the right bank of a considerable 
stream. This village shares in the tea industry for the Sung- 
pan market, but is of less importance than Lei-ku-ping. 

From Che-shan to Shihch'uan Hsien the road ascends the 
right bank of the river, which flows between steep precipitous 
moimtains. The path is usually several hundred feet above 
the stream, broad and fairly easy for the most part, but con- 
stantly ascending and descending. The mountain-sides are 
steep but, where not absolutely vertical, are all under cultiva- 
tion, Maize being the staple crop. There is very little lime- 
stone, the rocks being chiefly loose sandstone and mud shales. 
These shales weather rapidly, and the steepest cultivated 
slopes are usually composed of these rocks. 

The river is broad, and could easily be made navigable 
for boats during the high-water season. Even in its present 
condition rafts could be floated down, but we saw no traffic 
whatsoever on its waters. The water was dirty, and much 
driftwood was strewn along the shores. This is collected, 
dried, and stacked, forming apparently the principal source of 
fuel. Trees are very scarce, but around houses occur Sophora, 
Pistacia, Pteroceltis, Sterculia platanifolia (Wu-tung), Kcelreu- 
tcria hipinnata, and Alder. The Koelreuteria was just coming 
into flower ; the flowers are golden yellow produced in large, 
much-branched, erect panicles ; the leaves are very large and 
much divided. Shrubs are not plentiful but, much to my 
surprise, the Tea Rose [Rosa indica) is quite common, and evi- 
dently spontaneous, by the wayside, on the cliffs, and by the 
side of the stream. 

A few li below the city of Shihch'uan Hsien the river is 
spanned by a bamboo suspension bridge, about 80 yards 
long, supported on cables made of split, bamboo culms plaited 
together. These cables, eight in number, are nearly i foot in 
diameter, and are fastened to stanchions fixed on either side of 
the river. Two similar cables on either side of the bridge are 
carried across at higher levels, and have attachments of 
bamboo rope supporting those which form the base of the 
structure. A capstan arrangement is used for making the 
cables taut, and the lower ones are covered with stout wicker- 



NORTH-WESTERN SZECHUAN 119 

work to form a footway. Like all such structures, this bridge 
is heavy, sags very much in the middle, and is very unsteady 
to walk across. The life of these bridges is only a few years, 
and strong winds often make them very unsafe. 

Shihch'uan Hsien is a small city charmingly situated at an 
altitude of 2800 feet, on the left bank immediately below the 
junction of two rivers. It is surrounded on all sides by steep, 
more or less cultivated mountains. Inside the city are many 
trees, which add considerably to the effect. A pavilion and a 
small pagoda crown two prominent hills, and assure the " luck " 
of the place. A narrow suburb runs ribbon-like between the 
river and the city wall. This wall is broken down in places, 
and the gates are low and small. We found accommodation in 
a large, curiously constructed inn remarkable for the strength 
of its stinks and the abundance of vermin and mosquitoes it 
sheltered. The day's journey was given as 65 li, but the li were 
long, consequently the coolies with their loads arrived late. 
Cash was needed, but on opening a box to obtain some silver 
for exchange we found that some one had stolen from it about 
30 taels and 5 dollars. The load belonged to a coolie we had 
engaged at Taning Hsien, and retained because he had given 
unusual satisfaction ! The previous day he had engaged a 
local coolie to carry his load, on the ground that he was feeling 
sick. He was last seen near Che-shan, still unable to carry 
his load. Evidently he was the culprit, but he was thoughtful 
enough to leave us about half the amount contained in the box. 
Since he had about three-quarters of a day's start I concluded 
it was best to quietly cut the loss, my first and last in China. 
The delays incident upon lodging a complaint with the official 
would have involved me in further expense and trouble, with 
but small chance of recovering the money lost. 

The main road to Sungpan continues to ascend the right 
bank of the river to its source, then crosses over a range and 
enters the upper Min Valley at Mao Chou. I had been over 
most of this route in 1908 when crossing the Chiuting range 
from near Mienchu Hsien to Tu-men, thence to Mao Chou. The 
route we had in view leads to the north-west from Shihch'uan 
Hsien. From Chengtu to this point we had travelled without 
escort, but with the difficulties of an unknown route before us 



120 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

I thought it best to secure such at this city. Sending my card 
to the Hsien's yamen, in the ordinary way, I informed this 
official of my project, and asked for the customary escort. Half 
an hour afterwards my card was returned with the information 
that there was trouble at Sungpan and no escort would be 
supplied ! The refusal was as curt as it was insolent, but 
whether the Hsien was actually responsible I never found out. 
In the whole of my eleven years' travel in China this was the 
first and last experience of official discourtesy. Thus two 
annoying experiences, both unique in their way, yet, happily, 
trivial and unimportant, marked my visit to Shihch'uan Hsien, 
a town which, from the commencement of my travels in the 
western Szechuan, I always had a keen desire to visit. 

The next day we left Shihch'uan Hsien at sunrise, glad to 
escape from the malodorous, vermin-infested inn. No one put 
in an appearance from the yamen, and no attempt to prevent 
our taking the route proposed was made. I had rather feared 
this might happen, but my fears were fortunately groundless. 
On leaving the city by the north gate we struck a stream nearly 
equal in volume to the main river. The road ascends the left 
bank, and almost immediately plunges into a narrow, wild 
ravine, through which we continued the whole day. Like all 
such roads it skirts the mountain-side, being usually several 
hundred feet above the river, but is constantly descending to 
the w'ater's edge, only to ascend again a few hundred yards 
farther on. It is in good repair, although the rocks are of 
soft mud shales, and signs of landslips were frequent. Wherever 
possible maize is cultivated, but houses are few and far between. 
The country strongly reminded me of that around Wench'uan 
Hsien in the upper Min Valley farther west. Trees are very 
scarce, the Wu-tung {Sterculia) being perhaps the most common. 
The shrubs denote a dry (xerophytic) climate, nearly all having 
small leaves, either thick or covered with a felt of hairs. Of 
these shrubs, Ahelia parvifolia, Lonicera pileata, Ligustrum 
strongylophylhim, and various kinds of Spiraea, are common. 
Bushes of the wild Tea Rose are not infrequent. Five li before 
reaching Kai-ping-tsen, our destination for the day, we crossed 
a clear-water tributary by a remarkably weU-built stone-arch 
bridge. During the day we passed several " rope " bridges, 



NORTH-WESTERN SZECHUAN 121 

made of a single thick cable of plaited bamboo culms — sure 
signs of difficult borderland country. Near Shihch'uan Hsien 
we passed a bamboo suspension bridge, similar to the one 
already described ; at Kai-ping-tsen there is another such 
bridge. There was a fair amount of traffic on the road. Potash 
salts (lye), shingles, and oil-cake were the principal loads 
encountered, all being carried on men's backs, the first-named 
being the most common. 

Kai-ping-tsen, alt. 3200 feet, is a small village of about 
fifty houses, situated on the left bank of a stream some 50 li 
north of Shihch'uan Hsien. A new, empty house afforded us 
comfortable lodgings ; the people were courteous, and made 
our brief stay with them very pleasant. A remarkably fine 
headstone, recently erected over the tomb of a much-respected 
widow, was the chief thing of interest in the village. 

On leaving Kai-ping-tsen we continued to ascend the left 
bank of the stream through country similar to that of the 
previous day, for 30 li to the market village of Hsao-pa-ti. 
This village, all things considered, is of considerable size (about 
one hundred houses) , with many farmhouses scattered around. 
The mountains are less rugged and steep, and are given over to 
the cultivation of maize. The houses are low, built of mud 
shales and roofed with slabs of slate. Market was in progress ; 
food-stuffs, fuel, and potash salts being the principal goods on 
sale. A bamboo suspension bridge spans the river and a road 
leads across country, ultimately joining with the main road 
between Shihch'uan Hsien and Mao Chou. On leaving Hsao- 
pa-ti the road deserts the river and ascends through rhaize 
fields over a rather low ridge. It then descends to a small 
tributary, after crossing which a steep climb of 1000 feet leads 
to the summit of another ridge. From this point we sighted 
the main stream again, flowing through a smiling valley, at the 
head of which nestles the village of Pien-kou, which was our 
destination for the day. This village proved a good 20 li from 
the ridge, though it looked close at hand. The road led through 
fields of maize to the valley, and finally across the river by an 
old, very shaky bamboo suspension bridge, which swayed 
tremendously and was really unsafe. 

Pien-kou (Yiian-kou of the maps), alt. 3800 feet, is a market 



122 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

village of some importance, but a fire had recently destroyed 
half the houses. We had some difficulty in obtaining lodgings, 
the only decent place being full and the occupants unwilling 
to move. After a little time persuasive insistence won, 
and we settled down comfortably, if crowded. One of the 
occupants was down with fever. I dosed him with quinine, 
and supplied him with enough to last several days, much to 
his appreciation. This act got noised abroad, with the result 
that applications for medicine quickly became too numerous. 
Quinine is a drug much appreciated by Chinese, being about 
the only foreign medicine they have real confidence in. 

The day's journey was said to be 70 li. It was long and 
uninteresting. The flora is miserably poor ; Alder being the 
only really common tree. 

The road we were following ultimately joined the Mao Chou- 
Sungpan main road near Chen-ping kuan, about 160 li below 
the town of Sungpan. We could get no tidings of a road 
crossing to the Lungan-Sungpan highway, but all the same we 
felt sure of finding one. Thus far the route indicated on my 
map was all wrong, and we were left very much in the dark 
as to our actual whereabouts. However, I was long since 
accustomed to this state of affairs. 

Leaving Pien-kou, a journey of 40 li brought us to Peh- 
yang ch'ang, a village of a dozen scattered, dilapidated houses. 
The road was distinctly bad in places owing to landslips. The 
rocks are mainly mud shales standing on edge. We followed 
the right bank of the river we had pursued from Shihch'uan 
Hsien for the first 22 li, then crossed over to the left bank 
by means of a shaky improvised bridge of two tree logs, the 
bamboo suspension bridge which formerly crossed the stream 
hereabouts having broken down. At this cross-over point 
resides a Chinese official, locally styled a Tu-ssu. This official 
was most courteous, helping us with advice and guidance to 
cross the stream. 

The journey generally was a repetition of the two former 
days, through a rocky but uninteresting gorge. Wherever 
possible, maize is cultivated, and we noted two odd patches 
of rice. Houses are few and far between, and we met only 
a few coolies laden with potash salts, charcoal, and shingles. 




VIEW FROM HOSTEL, LAO-TAN(;-FANG 



NORTH-WESTERN SZECHUAN 123 

The flora was not interesting, Alder, Pterocarya, and Cornns 
controversa are the only common trees. Buddleia Davidii 
is abundant by the stream side, and was in full flower. The 
Tea Rose also is fairly common. A Lily without bulbils, other- 
wise very like Lilium Sargentice, is plentiful in places. At 
Peh-yang ch'ang, alt. 4100 feet, we found a road leading off 
to the right, and connecting with the Lungan-Sungpan high- 
way at Shui-ching-pu ; this we decided to follow. 

Above our lodgings at Peh-yang ch'ang the river bifurcates, 
one branch, a clear-water stream, being locally adjudged the 
larger. It is up this stream the road connecting with the 
Mao Chou-Sungpan highway ascends. The people told us 
that this road was similar in character to the one we had 
followed thus far, but more difficult, especially since the proper 
bridges had nearly all been recently destroyed by floods. 
The cross-over to the Min Valley is near a place called Hwa-tsze- 
ling, where fine forests of Silver Fir and Spruce occur. Pien-kou 
is a considerable wine market, much of the product finding 
its way to Sungpan over this rough cross-country road. 

A fatiguing march marked our first day's journey towards 
the Lungan-Sungpan highway. We made two long ascents 
and descents, and commenced a third ascent, putting up for the 
night at Hsao-kou, after covering 55 li. The second ascent 
was fully 2000 feet, and very steep, through maize fields, 
culminating in abandoned herb-clad areas. The descent was 
mainly through coppice and brush. Houses occur scattered 
here and there, wherever cultivation is practicable, maize 
being the staple crop ; the Irish potato and peas are also 
grown. The road proved difficult, but I had traversed worse. 

The forests have been destroyed, brushwood now covering 
the uncultivated areas. Topping the loftier crags, and in 
inaccessible places generally, a sprinkling of conifer trees still 
exist, but we did not get near them. The vegetation generally 
is that common to the 5000 to 6000 feet belt in west Szechuan, 
but is less varied than in many parts I have visited. In the 
valleys Alder was common, and on the slopes the Varnish tree 
{Rhus verniciflua) and Walnut [Juglans regia) occur in quantity. 
In coppices the Davidia, both the hairy and glabrous varieties, 
is plentiful, but no large trees were noted. Throughout the 



124 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

bottom-lands and abandoned cultivated areas " Summer 
Lilac " {Buddleia Davidii) was a wonderful sight— thousands of 
bushes, each one with masses of violet-purple flowers, delighting 
the eye on all sides, the variety magnifica, with its reflexed 
petals and intense coloured flowers, being most in evidence. 
I gathered also an albino form, one small solitary bush, the 
only one I have ever met with. Forming a much-branched 
bush 4 to 8 feet tall, with rose-purple flowers. Hydrangea 
villosa was, next to the Buddleia, the most strikingly orna- 
mental shrub. On moist rocky slopes plants of Rodgersia 
cesculifolia occur in millions. It was in the fruiting stage, 
but when in flower the acres of snow-white panicles must have 
presented a bewitching sight. Nowhere else have I seen this 
plant so abundant or luxuriant. The slender arching plumes 
of white flowers, produced by Spircea Aruncus, covered acres of 
ground ; an apetalous Astilbe [A . rivularis) was also abundant, 
and worthy of note. 

The hamlet of Hsao-kou, alt. 5900 feet, consists of three 
scattered houses, surrounded by maize plats, with remains 
of other ruined houses near by. It is encompassed on all 
sides by steep mountains, some of them culminating in lofty 
limestone crags and rugged razor-like ridges with pinnacled 
peaks — all of them inaccessible. At the back of the inn are a 
few Larch trees, and near by several large trees of a flat-leaved 
Spruce. The Hou-p'o {Magnolia officinalis) is cultivated 
hereabouts, and also around all of the houses we passed dur- 
ing the day. The innkeeper likewise cultivates a medicinal 
Aconite {Aconitum Wilsonii), which is valued as a drug in 
Chinese pharmacy. 

We encountered only three men carrying goods during the 
whole day ; two were laden with potash salts, the third with 
the bark of a Linden (Tilia), used locally for making sandles. 
Evidences of forest fires were all too frequent during the 
day's march. 

The next day rain ruined what otherwise would have been 
a more than ordinarily interesting march. From 7 a.m. 
until 2 p.m. we struggled up some 4000 odd feet to the summit 
of the pass leading across the Tu-ti-liang shan ; then descended 
another 4000 feet to the hamlet of Hsueh-po, where we secured 



NORTH-WESTERN SZECHUAN 125 

lodgings in a large and good house. Rain commenced shortly 
before 11 a.m., and continued the rest of the day. Our 
perspective was limited to a few hundred feet ; now and again 
a strong gust of wind would scatter the mists, admitting 
momentary glimpses of cliffs and inaccessible peaks clothed 
with jungle and with occasional Conifer trees, but such 
views were rare. 

The hamlet of Hsao-kou is very scattered, and we passed 
two or three more houses soon after leaving our lodgings. 
But after about 3 li houses and cultivation vanished, as did 
also the Buddleia and Hydrangea previously so abundant. 
The ascent, at first gradual, soon becomes precipitous, through 
a jungle growth of shrubs and coarse herbs. The latter with 
the thin brushwood is cut periodically and burnt. The ashes 
so obtained are placed in wooden vats fitted with sieve bottoms, 
boiling water is poured over them, and the liquid drains into 
tubs, where it is evaporated and salts of potash (lye) left as a 
residue. This product is packed in flasks and carried to 
market towns for sale. We passed several rude huts where 
men were engaged in this occupation. The road ascends a 
small torrent and is nowhere easy. By throwing logs across 
the stream and boggy places, lumber-men have succeeded in 
making some sort of a path. But crossing these wet, slippery 
logs was difficult. At one such crossing I slipped, but by 
jumping into the rock-strewn torrent somehow managed to 
avoid a nasty accident. Near the summit, and for some 
distance down the Lungan side of the pass, are split pieces 
of wood, arranged to form a long flight of shallow steps that 
assist the roadway materially. The descent after a few hundred 
feet becomes gradual, leading through open, park-like slopes, 
quite unlike anything I have encountered elsewhere in China. 
Now largely denuded of trees these glades are covered with 
grass, and horses, goats, and pigs are raised here in some 
quantity. 

Formerly this range of mountains must have been covered 
with conifers, but the lumber-man's hands have been heavily 
laid on these forests. We passed none but small, decrepit 
specimens of no value. Hemlock, Spruce, and Silver Fir are 
all represented. The outstanding featui'e of the march was 



126 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

the abundance of Cercidiphyllum trees. Throughout the moist 
slopes and park-hke areas on both sides of the range this tree 
is common. Stumps of decaying giants abound, one of these, 
which I photographed, measured 55 feet in girth ! This 
specimen had been broken off some 30 feet above the ground, 
and was a mere hollow shell, but still supported many twiggy, 
leafy branches. These stumps are relics of the largest broad- 
leaved trees I have seen anywhere in China. Growing inter- 
spersed with these remains were many specimens of the same 
tree, 60 to 80 feet tall, 8 to 10 feet in girth, perfect in 
outline, with myriads of neat, nearly round, bright green 
leaves. One of these was in young fruit, and for the first 
time in my travels I secured specimens of the fruit of this 
beautiful and interesting tree, (Later I collected ripe seeds, 
and this tree is now growing in the Arnold Arboretum, where 
it promises to be quite hardy. It proved to be a variety 
distinct from the Japanese species.) 

This tree [Cercidiphyllum japonicum, var. sinensc) attains 
to greater size than any other broad-leaved tree known from 
the temperate zone of eastern Asia. In size it is only 
approached by its close ally, Tetracentron, which is also 
common in the woods on the Tu-ti-liang shan. A local 
name for the Cercidiphyllum is " Peh-k'o," a name strictly 
applied all over China to the Maidenhair tree {Ginkgo biloba). 

The summit of the range is composed of mud shales, which 
seem favourable to the growth of vegetation generally. Be- 
tween 8000 feet altitude and the summit Rhododendron 
calophytum is extraordinarily abundant, trees 40 to 50 feet tall 
and 5 to 7 feet in girth, with handsome cinnamon-brown bark, 
cover many acres. Euptelea pleiosperma and Pterocarya hupe- 
hensis are other interesting trees plentiful hereabouts. The 
bark of the last-mentioned tree is used locally for roofing 
purposes. Willows in many species are common ; the bark 
of certain of these and also that of Linden trees is used by 
the peasants for making sandals. Viburnum erubescens, var. 
Prattii, with pendulous panicles of white fragrant flowers, 
followed by fruit which is at first scarlet and then changes 
to black, is perhaps the commonest shrub. Various Araliads, 
Sorb us, etc., grow epiphytically on all the larger trees that 



NORTH-WESTERN SZECHUAN 127 

have a rough humus collecting bark. Maples in variety, 
Micromeles laden with fruit, and many other interesting 
trees were striking constituents of these woods. Tall growing 
herbs made a grand display, especially the apetalous Astilbe 
rivularis, Spircea Ar uncus, Anemone vitifolia with white and 
pink flowers like the Japanese Anemone, Artemisia lactiflora 
with large panicles of milk-white, fragrant flowers, Balsams 
[Impatiens) with yellow, pink, and purple flowers ; mixed with 
them also were Meadow Rue [Thalictrum), Aconites, many 
Senecios, and Meconopsis chelidonifolia growing about 3 feet 
tall with clear yellow flowers, saucer-shaped and 2-^ inches across. 
Acres of the country-side are covered by these various herbs. 

There was indeed plenty to interest one ; the flora of this 
region is undoubtedly rich, and it was most unfortunate that 
the rain prevented an exhaustive investigation. 

Hsueh-po, alt. 6000 feet, consists of a few houses sun'ounded 
by high mountains with a good-sized torrent, which rises near the 
head of the pass, and flows through the narrow valley. Maize 
is cultivated as the staple crop. The Hydrangea and Buddleia 
previously noted ascend to this altitude, and were a wealth of 
blossoms. Alder also extends to this point ; Poplar likewise. 
This latter tree has a very graceful port and the leaves have 
red petioles and veins when young. 

Our lodgings were good and weather-proof, which was for- 
tunate, since it rained heavily the night through, and until 
eleven o'clock in the forenoon of the next day. Afterwards it 
was fair, but threatening, heavy clouds and mists obscured the 
country-side from our view. Around the inn are several trees 
of a handsome, flat-leaved Spruce {Picea asccndcns) with 
pendulous branchlets. This tree, known locally as " Me-tiao 
sha or sung," is the most esteemed timber tree in these parts. 
The trees are felled, hewn into planks about 25 feet long, 
5 inches thick, and 12 inches broad, and carried on men's 
backs to a point on the river whence it is possible to float down 
rafts. Lumbering is a very considerable industry in these 
mountains, the timber finding its way to Chungpa. This fine 
Spruce w^as fruiting freely. (Later I secured plenty of seed, 
and successfully introduced it into Western gardens.) 

On leaving Hsueh-po, we crossed the torrent and descended 



128 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

the left bank. At K'ung chiao the torrent is joined by another 
of equal size, the united waters forming a fine clear-water 
stream. From this point downwards rice is cultivated. The 
stream continues to receive affluents, a very considerable one 
joining it at Tu-tien-tsze. At Peh-mu chiao, lo li above Tu- 
tien-tsze, the timber logged in the surrounding mountains is 
made into rafts and floated down. Just below Shui-ching-pu 
the stream unites with the main branch of the Lungan River 
(the Fou Ho), and the rafts are floated down past the city of 
Lungan to Chungpa, a large village of vast commercial im- 
portance, in direct water communication with distant Chung- 
king, it being within the Kialing River system. 

Tu-tien-tsze is a small market village and a Roman Catholic 
Mission centre. This Church has a strong following through- 
out the region we had traversed from An Hsien. The country 
folk everywhere in this part were most courteous and civil. 
This, I think, is probably due to the influence wielded by the 
self-sacrificing priests of the Roman Faith. But whatever the 
cause, I shall always retain pleasant memories of the people 
encountered everywhere in this little-known region. 

The road proved easy all day, usually skirting the moun- 
tains well above the stream. At Tu-tien-tsze a cross-country 
road leads to Lungan Fu, some 130 li distant. Ten li below 
Tu-tien-tsze we crossed to the left bank of the stream by a 
covered bridge. Descending a few miles and crossing a promon- 
tory we reached the main river (Fou Ho) opposite Shui-ching- 
pu. Ferrying across to this village, we found lodgings in a large 
house owned by a Shensi man of the Mohammedan persuasion. 

Shui-ching-pu, alt. 4200 feet, is a market village of about 200 
houses, situated on an alluvial flat, surrounded by mountains 
largely under cultivation. A river of considerable size, which 
brings down an unusual quantity of detritus, joins the main 
stream on the left bank immediately below the village. A 
road ascends this stream, leading to Wen Hsien in Kansu 
province. It was said to be difficult, traversing a mountainous 
region peopled with Sifan. Iron is a local product of some 
importance hereabouts. Gold is also mined in the neighbour- 
hood. The quartz, after it has been broken into small pieces, 
is pounded into dust in mills like those commonly used for 



NORTH-WESTERN SZECHUAN 129 

hulling rice. The dust is washed and the gold separated by 
means of quicksilver. Placer mining is carried out all along 
this Lungan River by unemployed peasants, but the yield is 
small. In 1904, when I first journeyed to Sungpan by way of 
Mien Chou, Chungpa, and Lungan, the officials were endeavour- 
ing to put a stop to placer mining. Placards were posted 
forbidding the people to wash for gold, on the ground that 
landslips were caused through the rerrioval of the rocks, etc., 
on the foreshore. 

From Hsueh-po to Shui-ching-pu is said to be 60 li. The 
valley which we traversed is all under cultivation ; farmsteads 
are general after Peh-mu chiao is reached. Alder, Walnut, and 
Poplar are the common trees, with Pear, Plum, and Peach 
trees around houses. In a garden I saw one magnificent speci- 
men of the Crepe Myrtle {Lagerstrcemia indica), 25 feet tall, 
2| feet girth, just one luxuriant mass of carmine-red flowers. 
Here and there the moist rocks are beautifully carpeted with 
ferns, Woodwardia radicans, Blechnum ehurneum, and Maiden- 
hair being particularly rampant. The Buddleia and Hydran- 
gea, previously mentioned, are abundantly present, and were a 
wealth of pleasing flowers. 

At Shui-ching-pu we joined the highway between Lungan 
Fu and Sungpan. The intrepid Captain W. J. Gill,i in June 
1877, was the first Occidental to traverse this route. Since 
that date several travellers and missionaries have been over 
this road, but the total is small. 

My first journey over this highway was, as mentioned 
above, in 1904. At that time I had no camera, and the 
recollection of the wonderful scenery had much to do with 
my second journey to these parts in 1910. I saw the country 
through the eyes of a botanist, and for this reason I hope a 
continuance of this narrative will prove justifiable. 

Leaving Shui-ching-pu about 7 a.m., we saunteringly 
covered the 50 H to Hsao-ho-ying by 4 p.m. The road ascends 
the left bank of the stream for some 20 odd li to a point just 
above the small village of Yeh-tang. At this place the river is 
joined by another of nearly equal size on its right bank. A 
by-road ascends this tributary and leads across the mountains 

1 River of Golden Sand. 
VOL. I, — 9 



130 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

through country sparsely peopled with Sifans, and connects with 
the Mao Chou — Sungpan highway a few miles below Sungpan 
Ting. The road we followed crosses the left affluent of the 
Fou River by means of an iron suspension bridge 24 yards long, 
erected immediately above the union of the two streams. A 
few li beyond this place the road plunges into a wild gorge. 
The scenery is wonderful. Limestone cliffs clad with vege- 
tation rear themselves 1000 to 2000 feet above the torrent 
which hereabouts rushes headlong over huge rocks. Wherever 
possible, maize is cultivated on the slopes and rice in the bottom- 
lands. We crossed to the right bank by a covered wooden 
bridge just below a place where landslips have produced a 
series of cataracts. About 3 li below Hsao-ho-ying the gorge 
suddenly opens out, leaving room for a small circular valley, in 
the middle of which the walled village above named is situated. 
Viewed from this point where there is an old gateway, the 
village presents a charming picture of peace and plenty 
locked in by precipitous mountains. On entering the village, 
however, one is quickly disillusioned. Abject poverty is only 
too apparent. The one main street is broad, flanked by more 
or less ruined houses, with much of the land within the walls 
given over to maize plats. The people are in keeping with 
their dilapidated smToundings. 

Hsao-ho-ying, alt. 5300 feet, signifies " Camp on the Small 
River." It is an ancient garrison village. Eighty years ago 
some 700 soldiers were quartered here. This number was 
speedily reduced as the surrounding country was conquered. 
To-day the garrison is put down at 40 men, but it is doubtful if 
even this number remains. Three yamens belonging to mihtary 
officials of low rank are the only respectable buildings in the 
place. 

At Shui-ching-pu we were assured we could exchange 
silver at Hsao-ho-ying. This proved a fable and landed us 
in an awkward dilemma. However, " Mo-li-to " {Fata viam 
invenient), as the locals have it ! 

The flora of the day's journey was not particularly rich, 
though we passed many plants of interest. Around Hsao- 
ho-ying, the Walnut {Juglans regia), Varnish {Rhus veYuiciflua) , 
Poplar, Apple, Pear, Plum, Peach, and Tu-chung {Eucommia 



NORTH-WESTERN S2ECHUAN 131 

ulmoides) are commonly cultivated. By the side of the torrent 
the Buddleia was again a wonderful sight. In a temple yard 
near Yeh-tang is a magnificent tree of Meliosma Beaniana, 
about 60 feet tall and 12 feet in girth, the head being fully 80 
feet in diameter. The pinnate leaves produce abundant shade. 
This tree was covered with small pea-like purple fruits which 
later afforded me a supply of ripe seeds. (The pinnate-leaved 
members of this small family are all handsome trees, and none 
was in cultivation previous to my explorations. I have 
succeeded in introducing three species, all of them promising 
to thrive under cultivation. One, M. Veitchioruni, is now 
flourishing just within the main entrance to Kew Gardens.) 

From Hsao-ho-ying to Shuh-chia-pu, 30 li, the road ascends 
a narrow valley which is without special interest, the bottom 
lands and lower slopes being cultivated with maize and buck- 
wheat. Houses occur at intervals. Just above Shuh-chia-pu, 
a poverty-stricken hamlet of about a score of houses, the 
river bifurcates. The road ascends the left and larger branch, 
plunging immediately into a narrow gorge. The track, all 
things considered, is good, though there is roomf or improvement. 
The scenery in this gorge, for magnificent, savage grandeur, 
would be hard to surpass. The cliffs, chiefly limestone, are 
mostly sheer, and 2000 to 3000 feet high. Wherever vegetation 
can find a foothold it is rampant, and a luxuriant jungle of 
shrubs clothes all but the most vertical walls of rock. By the 
side of the torrent coarse herbs, shrubs, and small trees abound. 
The mountain crests and ridges are covered with Spruce and 
Pine. Now and again glimpses of vicious-looking, desolate 
peaks, towering above the tree-line, were obtainable. The waters 
of the torrent roar and dash themselves into foam in their 
passionate endeavour to escape to more open country. In more 
peaceful stretches the river describes a series of S-curves with 
shingly areas covered with Myricaria germanica and Hippophae 
salicifolia (Sallowthorn) , jutting out into the current. In one 
place the cliffs recede somewhat, leaving room for a narrow 
valley, where three or four peasants' huts are pitched. Around 
these cabins forlorn patches of maize, buckwheat, cabbage. 
Rhubarb {Rheum palmatum, var. tanguticum), and Tang-kuei 
{Angelica polymorpha, var, sinensis) are cultivated. The 



132 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

abandoned clearings axe covered with coarse herbs, among which 
Senecio clivorum, growing 4 to 5 feet tall, with its golden yellow 
flowers, was prominent. AsHlbe Davidii also abounds ; like- 
wise the Buddleia. A sub-shrubby Elder, growing 3 to 5 feet 
tall, with masses of salmon-red fruits, was a pretty sight in 
all the more open moist places. (The species proved to be 
new and has been named Sambucus Schweriniana, Rehder, in 
PlantcB WilsoniancB, Part II. p. 306 (1912).) The vegetation 
indeed is rich and varied, and a large harvest of specimens 
rewarded the day's labours. After scrambling some 30 li 
along this gorge we reached the hostel of Lao-tang-fang just 
as night was closing in. We encountered considerable traffic 
on the road. Coming from Sungpan were coolies laden with 
medicines, sheep-skins, and wool. Journeying thither the coolies 
were laden chiefly with wine in specially constructed tubs, 
preserved pork and rice. Lao-tang-fang, alt. 7600 feet, consists 
of one large new hostel, not quite completed at the time of our 
visit ; a long row of "bunks" are built along one side, with 
benches for the accommodation of loads on the other. The 
whole structure is of wood, the roofing being of shingles badly 
laid. The mud floors were very damp, and vegetation was 
springing up in the corners and under the bunks. Skins of 
Serow and Budorcas served as mattress on the bunks, or 
settees, and no two of these skins exhibited the same coloration. 
Both animals are said to be common in the neighbourhood, 
more especially the Serow. The Parti-coloured Bear, or Giant 
Panda, also occurs here in the Bamboo jungles. 

The hostel was full to overflowing and undoubtedly suppHes 
a much-needed want. For the sake of future travellers, if for 
no other reason, I heartily hope success attends the landlord's 
venture. Formerly a most miserable structure occupied this 
site, and I have unpleasant memories of a night spent there in 
1904. Except for a tiny cabbage-patch there was no sign 
of cultivation around the hostel, but clearings were being 
made for the purpose of cultivating Tang-kuei and other 
medicines. The view from this spot is savage and grand 
beyond power of words. On all sides are precipitous moun- 
tains, towering 3000 feet and more above the torrent, all more 
or less densely forested. Almost facing the river is a limestone 



'4 .'" « - -^ 



$ ' 



NORTH-WESTERN SZECHUAN 133 

cliff with upturned strata on edge, sheer and bare of vegetation. 
Behind this is another nearly vertical slope covered with stark, 
dead Conifer trees. In the distance, looking back on the 
road we had followed, bare, vicious -looking peaks, probably 
14,000 to 16,000 feet high, were visible. All around the hostel 
the lesser slopes are covered with impenetrable forest of broad- 
leaved deciduous trees. The higher parts and the crags are 
clothed with Conifers, tall, slightly branched trees of no great 
size — altogether a wonderful scene of natural beauty, at present 
undefiled by the hand of man. 

It was cold during the night ; the wind played freely 
through the unfinished structure, and the thickest of clothing 
was needed in order to keep warm. 

The next day we made a later start than usual, and travelling 
most leisurely covered the 40 li to San-tsze-yeh before 5 p.m. 
The journey was one long scramble through a continuation 
of the savage ravine. The chairs had to be carried piecemeal, 
and aU of us reached our destination very much fatigued. We 
enjoyed a gloriously fine, sunny day, the narrow streak of sky 
visible from the bed of the ravine being of the purest Thibetan- 
blue. The camera was kept busy and I secured a fine set of 
views, but so steep is the country and so dense the jungle that 
it was impossible to photograph trees. 

The rock-strewn torrent, with its thundering, seething 
waters, occupies practically the entire bed of the ravine, leaving 
scant room for the road which winds along its banks. We 
crossed this torrent many times, either by fording it or by 
means of half -rotten log bridges. Luckily the waters were 
low and caused us no trouble. In 1904 I ascended this ravine 
shortly after heavy rains, and have the liveliest recollections 
of the difficulties encountered. Much of the road and many of 
the bridges had been washed away, making it necessary to 
hew a pathway through the jungle and improvise bridges by 
felling trees in several places. 

No words of mine can adequately depict the savage, awe- 
inspiring scenery of this wild ravine. Stupendous limestone 
cliffs, 3000 to 4000 feet high, often too steep for the scantiest 
vegetation to find a foothold, but more generally sparsely 
or plentifully forested, wall in the torrent and its accompanying 



134 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

roadway. Waterfalls abound, but lateral torrents are few. 
The flora is very rich, but largely inaccessible. Practically 
all the trees, shrubs, and herbs common to the 7000 to 9000 
feet belt occur here. Conifers are the principal trees. Silver 
Fir, Spruce, Hemlock, Larch, White Pine, Juniper, and Yew 
are all represented. The Pine (P. Armandi) is the commonest 
tree up to 8500 feet, clinging to the sheer cliffs in a remark- 
able manner. With its stunted branches and short leaves it 
was hardly recognizable, suggesting a green Maypole rather 
than a Pine tree ! Many of the Spruce and Silver Fir were 
fruiting freely, the erect, violet-coloured symmetrical cones of 
the latter being very handsome. Larch (L. Potaninii) abounds, 
overtopping all the other Conifers, but the trees are small. All 
the Conifers are hereabouts designated " Sung-shu " (liter- 
ally Pine trees), but the timber of the Larch, flat-leaved Spruce, 
and White Pine, valued in the order given, are most prized for 
building purposes generally. Of the broad-leaved deciduous 
trees. Maple {Acer), Linden {Tilia), and Birch [Betula] are the 
most common. A few Poplar occur, but Oak is exceedingly 
rare, the few noted being scrubby evergreens of no great 
beauty. The variety of shrubs is very great, all the more 
woodland genera being rich in species. Sorbaria, with its large 
panicles of white flowers, was one of the most attractive. 
Spiraea, Viburnum Lonicera, Rubus, Philadelphus, Sorbus, and 
many other families, made a fine display either with their 
flowers or fruit. Strong-growing herbs, like the various species 
of Senecio, Astilbe, Aconitum, and Anemone, cover miles of the 
roadside. In shady places the handsome Maidenhair fern, 
Adiantum pedatum, was a charming picture ; in sunny spots 
the lovely Gentiana purpurata, with intense carmine-red flowers, 
was a sight never to be forgotten. 

About 10 li below San-tsze-yeh the ravine widens out into a 
narrow valley, with the mountain-slopes on the left bank of the 
torrent less precipitous and grass-clad. We passed the ruins of 
some old forts, and shortly afterwards a Sifan hamlet con- 
sisting of three or four farmsteads, with numerous prayer-flags 
fixed on the roofs. In the tiny vaUey wheat, barley, buck- 
wheat, oats, peas, and broadbeans are cultivated, and the 
crops were ready for harvesting. 



NORTH-WESTERN SZECHUAN 135 

San-tsze-yeh, alt. 9200 feet, consists of ruinous hovels built 
on a level with the infant stream which at this point breaks 
up into three equal branches, all of which have their source in 
the near neighbourhood. Looking back on the route we had 
traversed we saw that all the higher peaks are barren and 
desolate, the highest of all being flecked with snow. The whole 
plexus is made up of the spurs and buttresses of the mighty 
snow-clad Hsueh-po-ting. To the north-east from San-tsze- 
yeh are other tremendous peaks, bare, barren, and uninviting 
in appearance. The aspect of the country around this hamlet 
is purely Thibetan. The scant crops and abject poverty of the 
inhabitants speak plainly of a country where altitude and 
climate set agricultural skill and industry at defiance. Such 
regions the Chinese abhor and cannot colonize. The pastoral 
Sifan, with their herds of cattle and sheep, remain masters of 
the soil though politically subject to Chinese authority. The 
conquest of this wild region must have been a most difficult 
task and speaks volumes for the military genius which 
accomplished it. 

During the night at San-tsze-yeh I had a violent attack of 
ague, probably caused by a chill, which culminated in a fit of 
vomiting. This seizure and the howling of many dogs were 
against a good night's sleep. In consequence we took things 
very gently the next day, and I used my chair much more than 
usual. 

Twenty-five li above San-tsze-yeh, to the right of the stream 
which descends the narrow valley, there is a most interesting 
place. A torrent heavily surcharged with lime descends from 
the eternal snows of the Hsueh-po-ting, depositing along its 
course thick lime encrustations of creamy white. The place is 
considered holy by the Sifan, to whom any natural phenomenon 
strongly appeals. A temple has been erected here and a 
series of some fifty tarns constructed by leading the waters 
from the stream and making small semicircular dams. All 
are at slightly different levels, and the waters as they flow from 
one to another continue to build up the dams by leaving 
deposits of lime behind. The bed of each tarn is creamy white, 
but owing to the light being reflected in different colours, 
according to the varying depth of each, an attractive scene of 



136 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

many-coloured waters is presented. Some are clear azure blue, 
others creamy white, pink, green, purple, and so on. The temple 
is called " Wang Lung-ssu " (Temple of the Dragon Prince), 
and it is fitting that the Sifan, children of nature as they are, 
consider the place holy. Near the temple the waters have built 
up a wonderful series of waterfalls, and every fallen tree and 
bush obstructing the waters is speedily encrusted with lime. 
Above the temple the stream is fully 80 yards wide, and the 
bed is creamy white with soft encrustations of lime, the ripple 
marks being beautifully defined. These lime-deposits extend for 
a mile or two and present a most striking scene. 

From the bed of this stream, a short distance above the 
temple, a fine view of the snow-clad Hsueh-po-ting is obtain- 
able. The face visible carries but little snow, and immediately 
below the glaciers are wonderful cliffs of red-coloured rock. In 
contrast the colour-effects are most remarkable. There was 
said to be another temple some few li higher up towards the 
snows, but I was too fatigued to visit it. 

All around Wang Lung-ssu are fine forests of Spruce, Silver 
Fir, Birch, with miscellaneous trees and shrubs. In the 
vicinity of the lime -deposits the trees look very unhealthy, 
many are bleached and dead, others yellow and dying. From 
the vegetation it is evident that these lime-deposits are recent 
and spreading rapidly. A few Rhododendrons occur on the 
margins of the stream and in the woods, but are not happy. 
Right by the water's edge I gathered Arctous aipinus, var. ruber, 
a tiny alpine shrub with red fruit closely allied to the Blueberries, 
and found also near the glaciers in British Columbia ! This 
pretty little plant, only some 4 to 6 inches high, is quite common 
hereabouts, but had not before been recorded from China. 
Near the tarns Cypripedium luteum, a yellow-flowered counter- 
part of the North American Moccasin flower (C. spedaUle), 
is very abundant. (Later I succeeded in introducing live roots 
of this species to the Arnold Arboretum, where plants are now 
growing.) 

The forests of this immediate neighbourhood are rich in fine 
Spruce trees, 80 to 150 feet tall and 6 to 10 feet in girth, with 
short branches producing a spire-like effect, are characteris- 
tic of the region. The Silver Fir are less noteworthy, but, like 



NORTH-WESTERN SZECHUAN 137 

the Spruce, were fruiting freely. (Both were subsequently 
introduced to cultivation.) Larch overtops all other trees, 
reaching its limits at about 12,000 feet altitude. The vegetation 
of the ranges flanking the narrow valley, up which the main road 
ascends, presents a remarkable contrast. The range to the left 
of the stream, above 10,000 feet altitude, is covered only with 
scrub and grass ; whereas the range on the right bank is 
heavily forested up to altitude 12,000 feet. Early in the after- 
noon, after covering 40 li, we reached the lonely hostel of San- 
chia-tsze, alt. 12,800 feet, situate some 600 feet below the head 
of the pass. During the first 25 li of the day's march we passed 
several large farmhouses, but nearly all are deserted and falling 
into ruins. Around these houses a few plats of wheat, barley, 
flax, and Irish potato are cultivated ; also cabbage, garlic, 
and other vegetables in minute quantities. Tobacco (Nicotiana 
rustica) , in small quantities for household use, is grown around 
San-tsze-yeh, and the crop looked very happy. These sporadic 
attempts at cultivation represent the vain and futile efforts of 
the Chinese settlers to eke out an existence from the inhos- 
pitable soil. This side of the pass is evidently much colder 
than the Sungpan side, since there, at greater elevations, good 
crops of wheat, barley, and peas can be raised. 

Apart from the forests already mentioned, herbs dominate 
the flora. A great variety were still in flower, the various 
species of Senecio and Gentiana being most striking. Gentiana 
detonsa, a slender plant a foot and more tall, with numerous 
large deep blue flowers, looked particularly happy, flaunting 
its blossoms in the sun. On rocky screes the yellow-flowered 
Clematis tangutica is abundant and was covered with its 
top-shaped blossoms. The hedges bordering the fields are 
composed chiefly of Wild Gooseberry and Sorbaria arborea : 
the latter was in full flower. In copses by the stream, up to 
11,500 feet. Hornbeam, Cherry, Red Birch, Willow, Maple, and 
Hazel-nut are common. The Hazel-nut is mainly Corylus 
ferox, var. thibetica, a variety having a spiny fruit closely 
resembling that of the Sweet Chestnut [Castanea). 

The hostel of San-chia-tsze is maintained for the accommo- 
dation of travellers, and a posse of soldiers is stationed here to 
keep down banditti. The hostel is a roomy but miserable 



138 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

cabin, built of shales and roofed with shingles held down by 
stones. The floor is of mud and very uneven ; there is no outlet 
for smoke, save the doorway, and no windows. At midday 
a candle was necessary to avoid falling over things when moving 
about indoors. During different visits I have suffered many 
days and nights in this lonely spot, on one occasion being 
snowed in for three consecutive days. The cabin is situated 
on a narrow sloping valley running nearly east and west, a 
mile or so above the tree-limit, flanked on the northern side 
by a ridge of stark, crumbling rocks. To the south the range 
culminates in bare peaks and eternal snows of the Hsueh-po- 
ting. The moorland country all around is typical of Eastern 
Thibet, so perhaps a few details are permissible. The treeless 
spurs and valleys are covered with extensive heaths of scrub, 
made up of several species of Spirsea (including S. mollifolia, 
S. alpina, and 5. myrtilloides), Sihircea IcBvigata, Lonicera 
hispida, L. chcBtocarpa, L. prostrata, L. thihetica, and others, 
several Barberries, Currants, shrubby PotentiUas, Astrag- 
alus, Sallowthorn, small-leaved, twiggy Rhododendrons, and 
Juniper. As the altitude increases, one by one these shrubs 
give out until only the Juniper is left. This ceases about 15,000 
feet ; alpine herbs ascend another 1000 feet, and the limit of 
vegetation is roughly 16,000 feet. The Juniper scrub is from 
I to 2^ feet tall, very dense and difficult to traverse, but 
furnishes excellent fuel. Mixed with this scrub are herbs 
in great variety, the Poppyworts {Meconopsis) being par- 
ticularly abundant. Possibly the commonest herb between 
12,500 feet and 14,000 feet is Meconopsis punicea, a lovely 
species having large, dark-scarlet nodding flowers. (It was 
from near this vicinity that I succeeded in introducing this 
plant in 1903.) The violet-blue flowered M. Henrici is common 
between 13,000 feet to 14,000 feet, but much less so than around 
Tachienlu. The prickly M. racemosa, with blue flowers, is 
plentiful in rocky places between 13,000 feet to 14,500 feet. 
From 11,500 feet to 13,000 feet the gorgeous M. integrifolia, 
growing 3 feet tall, with its peony-like, clear yeUow flowers 
8 to II inches across, occurs, but is not plentiful. The intense 
colours among alpine flowers ever3rwhere is well known, and 
this region is no exception. The yellow is mostly supplied by 



NORTH-WESTERN SZECHUAN 139 

Senecio, Saussurea and other Comfositce, slender growing 
Saxifraga, etc. The blue and purple by various Aconites, 
Larkspurs, and Gentians ; among the latter Gentiana Veitchio- 
rum, with large erect flowers, covers large areas. The Lousewort 
{Pedicularis) and Fumewort [Corydalis) are represented by 
many species, having flowers embracing all the cardinal colours. 
Primulas occur, but not in many species. Androsace, Sedum, 
Cyananthus, and other alpine genera abound. 

Large flocks of sheep are pastured on these uplands, but 
yak are not kept in quantity hereabouts. There is not much 
variety of game. Blue sheep are common, Budorcas are found 
near the timber line ; on the higher crags occasional flocks of 
Goa, or Thibetan gazelle, occur. Snow-partridge, Thibetan 
Hazel-hen, Snow-cock and aflied game-birds, together with 
Thibetan Hares, are fairly numerous. The Wolf is the only 
carnivorous animal really common. 

The Hseuh-po-ting snows are visible on clear days from the 
wall of Chengtu city, and are accounted the " Luck of the 
Plain." The Chinese claim that so long as snow covers 
this peak the prosperity of Chengtu and its surrounding plain 
is assured. It was a perfect moonlight night on the occasion 
of my last sojourn at San-chia-tsze, and late in the evening I 
beheld the " Luck of Chengtu," with its crown of eternal 
snow lit by the radiant moonlight. The loneliness of the 
region, the intense stillness on all sides, and the wonderful peak 
with its snowy mantle, made a most impressive scene. 

A glorious morning followed a perfect night. From the 
head of the pass (alt. 13,400 feet) I obtained further good views 
of the Hsueh-po-ting, bearing west-south-west and secured 
some photographs. The peak is probably 22,000 feet high, in 
shape an irregular tetrahedron, the south-west slopes carrying 
enormous snow-fields. The north-east face is very steep 
and carries but little snow. The surrounding peaks are bare 
and desolate looking ; no vestige of life was discernible, and 
the whole scene was lonely, most forbidding, even awesome, 
though bathed in brilliant sunshine. 

Below San-chia-tsze are the stone ruins of an old fort and 
stockade, relics of ancient warring times, but now covered 
with various herbs, especially Saxifrages, which were masses 



140 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

of yellow, and other coloured flowers. The head of the pass 
is marked by a ruined tower and fort, from the summit of which 
Thibetan prayer-flags waved. That robbers still haunt these 
regions was brought home to us by the sight of a partially 
covered coffin near the head of the pass. A few weeks before, 
a poor coolie, bound towards Lungan Fu to purchase rice, was 
attacked here, robbed, and killed. The bandits got clear away. 
The coolie's " pai-tzu " (a framework for carrying loads on) 
and various appurtenances lay on top of the coffin and remain 
to tell the story of the crime. All around are grassy areas, 
covered at the season of our visit with blue and yeUow alpine 
flowers. 

At the head of the pass small boulders of sandstone, marble, 
granite, and other rocks lay scattered around. Just below are 
beds, which resemble coal-ashes, probably of volcanic origin. 

From the pass we dropped down into a valley which quickly 
led to fields of golden wheat and barley. The crops were 
ripening, and here and there the reapers were busy. Passing 
a ruined fort, several Sifan farmsteads, and a lamasery, the 
road led to the summit of a grassy ridge. Descending a few 
hundred feet we sighted the city of Sungpan nestling in a 
narrow, smiling valley, surrounded on all sides by fields of 
golden grain, with the infant Min, a clear, limpid stream, wind- 
ing its way through in a series of graceful curves. In the 
fields the harvesters were busy, men, women, and children, 
mostly tribesfolk, in quaint costume, all pictures of rude 
health, laughing and singing at their work. Under a clear 
Thibetan-blue sky, the whole country bathed in warm sun- 
light, this busy scene of agricultural prosperity gladdened the 
hearts of all of us, fatigued and exhausted as we were from the 
hardships of our j ourney through savage mountains with their 
sublime scenery and wonderful flora. 



CHAPTER XI 

SUNGPAN TING 

The Land of the Sifan 

THE city of Sungpan is situated on the extreme north- 
west corner of Szechuan, about long. 103° 21' E., lat. 
32° 41' N., at an altitude of 9200 feet, and is the farther- 
most outpost of Chinese civilization in this direction. The sur- 
rounding country, more especially to south-west, west, andnorth- 
west, is inhabited by Sifan, a people concerning which very little 
is known. Originally established as a military post after the 
conquest of the neighbouring regions by the Emperor Kienlung 
about A.D. 1775, Sungpan has developed into a most important 
trade entrepot. It is a city of the second class (styled " Ting "), 
but the head civil official has the local rank of prefect, his 
full title being " Fu-I-Li Min-Fu," which signifies " the Bar- 
barian-cherishing, Chinese-governing Prefect." This fanciful 
title has reference to the official's control over the neighbouring 
Sifan tribes — a control which is purely nominal. The military 
importance of this stronghold is still fully recognized, and its 
strategic value is beyond question. A Chinese general (Chen- 
tai), in command of ten regiments, has his headquarters here, 
with jurisdiction extending south to Kuan Hsien, east to 
Lungan Fu, and north-east to Nanping in Kansu province. 

The town is most picturesquely situated, occupying con- 
siderable space in a narrow, highly cultivated valley flanked 
by steep mountain-slopes 1000 to 1500 feet high. The Min (Fu) 
River, which takes its rise some 35 miles to the north, winds 
a circuitous course down the valley and flows through the 
town in an S-curve, entering and leaving through the city 
walls at unfordable points. On the western side the town is 
backed by a steep slope, up two sides of which a wall is carried. 



142 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

The west gate of the city is situated at the top of this slope, 
and is exactly looo feet above the river. Save for a yamen 
and a temple or two the whole of the mountain-slope within 
the walls is given over to terraced cultivation, the city proper 
being clustered in the valley alongside the river. The wall 
surrounding three sides of the city is very substantially built 
of brick, being fully 20 feet thick and more high, but that which 
ascends the mountain-sides is in places only 2 feet thick and 
4 feet high ; a steep ravine, however, immediately outside 
this wall, affords additional protection. Since the Chinese first 
established themselves here the town has undergone many 
vicissitudes. Time and again the Sifan have swept down 
upon it, captured it, and massacred all who fell into their hands. 
So frequent have been these attacks, and so great is the Chinese 
dread of treachery on the part of the Sifan, that it is only 
within the last few years that any of these people have been 
allowed to remain overnight within the city walls. 

In 1910 Sungpan had a resident civil population of about 
3000 people, and a floating population equalling, if not exceed- 
ing, this number. The houses are nearly all of wood, generally 
well built, with rather curiously-carved porticoes ; the timber 
employed for building is mostly Juniper, which is floated 
down the Min River from a point some 15 miles to the north- 
north-east. In October 1901 the city was two-thirds destroyed 
by fire, but on the occasion of my last visit in 1910 the de- 
vastated area had been practically rebuilt. The streets are 
badly paved, ill-kept, and the city possesses no buildings of 
architectural beauty. Near the south gate the military 
section of the town is situated, and a considerable amount of 
market-gardening is carried on there. The people are very 
fond of flowers, nearly every house boasting some in pots, 
on the walls, or in borders. Stately Hollyhocks, with multi- 
coloured flowers, are a feature. With these are generally 
planted Tiger Lilies, Chinese Asters, and small-flowered 
Poppies, the whole making a bright and pleasing effect. The 
Chinese Aster [Callistephus hortensis) is wild in the neigh- 
bourhood ; the Poppy is a species closely allied to Papaver 
alpinum. The population is mainly Mohammedan Chinese, 
who carry on a remunerative barter-trade with the surrounding 



SUNGPAN TING 143 

tribes. Tea is the all-important medium employed, this 
commodity and a few odd sundries being taken in exchange 
by the tribesmen for their medicines, skins, wool, musk, etc. 
During the month of July a fair is held annually for trade 
purposes. The people from far and near attend this fair, a 
vast amount of business being transacted. Trading caravans 
also make long journeys into the country north-west to the 
borders of the Kokonor regions. Wool, sheep-skins, and various 
medicines in great quantity are exported from Sungpan to 
different parts of China. 

The trade passing through Sungpan is, I am convinced, 
not only greater than has been estimated, but is increasing 
annually. In 1903, on the occasion of my first visit to this 
town, I enjoyed the companionship of W. C. Haines-Watson, 
Esq., then Commissioner of the Imperial Maritime Customs 
at Chungking. This gentleman investigated the trade of this 
region, estimating the exports to Thibet at Tls. 801,000, and 
those into China at Tls. 512,000 (" Journey to Sungp'an," 
Jour. China Branch Roy. Asiat. Soc, 1905, xxxvi). Our 
visit occurred before the city had recovered from the disastrous 
fire of 1901, and trade was suffering in consequence. In 1910 
trade was evidently booming. I have no figures to guide me, 
but comparing the two visits I would put the trade with China 
alone at a million taels. This trade has three outlets : one, 
east, via Lungan Fu to Chungpa ; another, south-east, via 
Mao Chou, Shihch'uan Hsien to An Hsien ; the third through 
Kuan Hsien to Chengtu. The iirst two routes afford water 
communication from Chungpa and An Hsien respectively, 
with Chungking on the Yangtsze River. By these routes 
most of the goods intended for Chungking and beyond are 
conveyed. The trade via Kuan Hsien is mainly with Chengtu 
and other cities on the plain. This latter trade route has been 
looked upon as the most important, whereas it is really less 
so than either of the other two outlets. 

The late Captain W. J. Gill in 1877 was the first Occidental 
to visit Sungpan. Since that date several foreigners have 
paid visits, and missionaries of Protestant denominations have 
made abortive attempts to establish stations there. I have 
visited this place three times, and on each occasion enjoyed 



144 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

the stay and departed with regret. Did the Fates ordain that 
I should hve in Western China I would ask for nothing better 
than to be domiciled in Sungpan. Though the altitude is 
considerable the climate is perfect, mild at all times, with, as a 
general rule, clear skies of Thibetan-blue. During the summer 
one can always sleep under a blanket, in winter a fire and extra 
clothing are all that is necessary. Excellent beef, mutton, 
milk, and butter are always obtainable at very cheap rates. 
The wheaten flour makes very fair bread, and in season there 
is a variety of game. Good vegetables axe produced, such as 
Irish potatoes, peas, cabbages, turnips, and carrots, and such 
fruits as peaches, pears, plums, apricots, apples, and Wild 
Raspberries {Rubus xanthocarpus) . Nowhere else in interior 
China can an Occidental fare better than at Sungpan Ting. 
With good riding and shooting, an interesting, bizarre people 
to study, to say nothing of the flora, this town possesses attrac- 
tions in advance of all the other towns of Western China. 

The vaUey, which varies from J to 1^ mile in width, and the 
mountain-slopes, rising from looo to 1500 feet above, are given 
over to wheat and barley cultivation, with occasional fields 
of peas and flax, the latter being valued for its seeds, which 
yield an oil used as an illuminant. In the latter half of August 
the whole country-side is one vast sheet of golden grain bending 
to the wind. This grain is reaped, leaving a generous stubble, 
which is immediately ploughed under. The ploughs are simple, 
consisting of an iron-shod shear, a straight handle of wood, and 
a long shaft, to which is harnessed a couple of oxen or half-bred 
yak. 

In harvesting the grain, tribesfolk (chiefly Po-lau-tzu), 
who come from the upper reaches of the Tachin Ho, many 
days' journey to the west-south-west, play an all-important 
part. Every year these people visit this region for the express 
purpose of this work, and are, in fact, indispensable. As the 
crop is reaped it is tied into little sheaves and stacked ears 
downwards on high hurdle-like frameworks (Kai-kos) to await 
threshing. The threshing is done by wooden flails, both men 
and women taking part in the work. The corn is ground in 
mills driven by water-power. 

The name " Sungpan " has reference to forests of Spruce 




TWO SI FAN 



SUNGPAN TING 145 

and Fir and the circuitous course of the river Min (Fu). The 
river still pursues its winding course, but the forests have long 
since disappeared. It is only in temple grounds and among 
tombs that any trees remain. The mountains are absolutely 
treeless, where not under cultivation they are covered with 
scrub and long grass. The outer crust of the mountains con- 
sists of a rich flaky loam, probably of glacial origin, rather heavy , 
but specially adapted for cereal cultivation. In the grass and 
scrub Pheasants are very plentiful in the neighbourhood of 
cultivation, so also is a long-eared, light-grey-coloured Hare. 
Musk Deer, Wapiti, and White Deer occur in the neighbour- 
hood. On the moorlands a Marmot, called " Hsueh-chu " 
(Snow-pig), burrows in large colonies. 

North-west of Sungpan is the Amdo country, a region of 
grasslands. The Chinese designate it " Tsaoti," which may be 
interpreted " Prairie." This region is made up of rolling 
country above 11,000 feet altitude, where vast herds of cattle, 
sheep, and many ponies are reared. A great part of this 
region is peopled with pastoral Sifan, but the more remote 
parts are in the hands of nomads belonging to Ngo-lok and 
Nga-ba tribes, of evil reputation as robbers and bandits, 
dreaded alike by Chinese and the more peaceably inclined 
Sifan. These robber tribes are of Tangut origin, having their 
headquarters around the Kokonor region. Being of nomadic 
habit they wander far afield, and rob caravans and kill the 
settlers weaker in numbers than themselves. When I arrived 
in Sungpan in 1910 I found there some 200 soldiers from 
Chengtu bent on a punitive expedition against these banditti. 
About a year previously a Chinese official had been murdered 
in the Amdo country, not many days' journey from Sungpan, 
and no redress had been obtained. Nine persons were held 
guilty for this crime, but in spite of demands on the part 
of the Chinese the clan would not give up these people. 
The affair ended in the Chinese killing as many members of 
this robber clan as the small army sent on the expedition 
could capture. It is from the Amdo region that Sungpan 
derives most of its wool, skins, and medicines, consequently 
the trade depends very largely upon peace obtaining there. 
The Sifan (Western people) are unquestionably of Thibetan 
VOL. I. — 10 



146 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

origin. They are not nomads, but essentially a pastoral and 
agricultural people. In dress, speech, and facial character- 
istics they agree closely with the inhabitants of anterior 
Thibet. Their houses are similarly constructed, and Lamaism 
dominates their lives. As a people the Sifan are divided 
into several tribal clans : those around Sungpan style them- 
selves Murookai ; those a little to the south-west of this town 
LappS,. Immediately around Sungpan the Chinese language 
is generally understood, but away from the town colloquial 
Thibetan only is spoken, each hamlet having an interpreter 
to conduct all affairs with the Chinese. These people are ruled 
by head-men who are held directly responsible for the proper 
maintenance of law and order. The Chinese policy is one of 
non-interference in so far as it is consistent with the status 
of China as the paramount power. 

The Sifan men as seen in the streets of Sungpan and 
the immediate neighbourhood are swarthy in appearance and 
average 5 feet 6 inches in height or rather more ; in walking 
they have a clumsy gait and are generally awkward and sullen 
when approached. Their dress is a sort of " cover-all " made 
of grey or claret-coloured serge, confined around the waist 
by a girdle ; the right shoulder is generally uncovered. This 
garment is often edged with fur ; sometimes it is made entirely 
of sheep-skins, with the wool worn inside. Short trousers and 
high felt boots cover the legs and feet, though in the streets 
they frequently go barefooted. The head-gear is either a low, 
stone-coloured, soft felt hat, with turned-up brim bordered 
with black, or a high, cone-shaped, light grey felt hat edged 
with white sheep-skin. Occasionally those living near Chinese 
settlements affect a dirty turban. The hair is worn long and 
gathered up inside the hat. The Lamas have their heads 
close-cropped or shaven, and when seen in the streets are 
usually hatless. In ceremonial dress they wear a sort of 
cocked hat made of grey serge covered with a mass of fluffy 
yellowish woollen stuff. Muleteers and men generally, when 
travelling, go armed with swords, knives, and long guns, the 
latter fitted with a fuse and a fork to rest the barrel on when 
taking aim. All wear charm-boxes on their chests, and carry 
a flint-box and tinder suspended from their girdle ; somewhere 



SUNGPAN TING 147 

about their person a wooden, often silver-lined, eating bowl 
is also carried. The wealthy prize a leopard skin garment 
most highly. 

The young girls are occasionally passing fair to look upon, 
but from hard work and exposure lose all charm of youth very 
early. The women are generally flat-faced, very dirty, and 
far from prepossessing. They have, however, considerable 
character and an important voice in household and all business 
matters. Toward foreigners they are timid, but amongst 
themselves their manners are playful, free and easy, and they 
laugh and sing at their work. Their outer dress consists of one 
shapeless piece of serge, which envelops them down to their 
ankles. Sometimes this is grey, more usually it is blue in 
colour, with a fancy bordering of dark red or yellow in front and 
around the bottom. High boots of untanned leather encase 
their feet and lower legs. Their hair is long and black, worn 
parted in the middle and collected into one large plait behind ; 
around the forehead it is worn in a series of tiny plaits orna- 
mented with coral-beads, amber-coloured stones, and small 
shells. The large plait is usually wound around the head, 
together with a piece of cloth to form a kind of padded turban, 
the whole being decorated with shells and beads. Occasionally 
saucer-shaped felt hats are worn. In holiday attire, silver rings 
and gaudy red and yellow tassels are added to their coiffure. 
They are very fond of silver rings, bracelets, and large ear-rings 
ornamented with beads of turquoise and coral. In gala costume 
the dress is decidedly picturesque. 

The men assist in tilling the soil, and in sowing and harvesting 
the crops, but the women do the bulk of the work around the 
homestead, the men being away her ding the flocks or on journeys. 
Though they lead hard hves they seem a happy and contented 
people in spite of the fact that they are almost without exception 
afflicted with goitre. Their houses are built of wood and shale- 
rocks, being either one-storied, flat-roofed, with or without a 
raised part behind, or, as is more usual, two-storied and 
similarly roofed. They count their wealth in head of cattle, 
horses, and sheep. Wheat, barley, and peas are the staple 
crops. Meat, butter, and milk enter very largely into their diet. 
Buttered tea is generally drunk, but they are very partial to 



148 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

a kind of small beer which they brew from barley ; they are also 
fond of Chinese wine. 

Monogamy is the rule, but polygamy is common, it being 
merely a question of wealth. Polyandry is not practised, but 
the morals are lax, as is the case everywhere else under Lamaism. 
Marriage is by consent on the part of the girl, presents of oxen 
and sheep being made on behalf of the bridegroom to the girl's 
parents ; children are appreciated, but the Sifan are not a 
prolific people. The second son generally enters a lamasery, 
as is customary throughout Thibet. Widows are permitted 
to remarry. The dead are disposed of by burial or by being 
thrown into the rivers. 

Abundant signs of Lamaism are everywhere apparent. 
Prayer-flags flutter from the housetops, mountain-peaks, 
across streams, and surmount cairns of rocks. Mani-stones are 
heaped by the wayside ; praying- wheels, turned either by hand, 
by the wind, or by the currents of streams, occur on all sides. 
From the people at their work, either in low crooning tones or 
in loud chorus, the mystic hymn, " Om mani padmi hom," is 
continually ascending to heaven. The chant of the Sifan is 
decidedly musical, rising and falling in soft rhythmic cadence. 
I have often listened to them with much pleasure, though from 
a distance, since if one tried to approach closely they ran helter- 
skelter away. They are naturally very superstitious, being 
fond of charms, afraid of evil spirits, and reverence unusual 
natm'al phenomena. Though my associations with the Sifan 
were brief I always received the utmost courtesy at their hands, 
and found much that was pleasing and interesting among these 
happy, unsophisticated children of Nature. 



CHAPTER XII 

THE CHINO-THIBETAN BORDERLAND 

" The Marches of the Mantzu " 

IT is impossible to define, with any approach to accuracy, the 
poHtical boundary between Szechuan and Thibet. Indeed, 
no actual frontier has ever been agreed upon, consequently 
it does not exist, except at one point, on the highway leading 
from Tachienlu, via Batang, to Lhassa. There, on the Ning- 
ching shan, three and a half days' journey west of Batang, stands 
a four-sided stone pillar, some 3 feet high, having been erected 
in A.D. 1728. The guide-book to Thibet says : " All to the east 
is under Peking ; the territory to the west is governed by 
Lhassa." As to the regions north and south of this stone, 
nothing is said. 

For all practical purposes the Min River, from Sungpan Ting 
in the north-west to Kuan Hsien, maybe regarded as the frontier 
thereabouts. From Kuan Hsien southwards an imaginary line 
drawn through Kiung Chou, Yachou, Fulin to Ningyuan Fu, 
and thence to the Yangtsze River, may be accepted as com- 
pleting the frontier line. This constitutes a well-defined 
ecclesiastical boundary between the peoples. Also it corre- 
sponds very closely with the western limits of the Red Basin, 
which constitutes an unmistakable physiographic al frontier. 
It is true that at certain points, such as Lifan Ting, Monkong 
Ting, Tientsuan Chou, and Tachienlu, the Chinese have suc- 
ceeded in establishing trading-centres and military depots. 
But in all these places the population is mixed and the centres 
themselves surrounded on two or more sides by non-Chinese 
people. West of the boundary here indicated the Chinese 
occupy a very limited aggregate area, being confined to the 

high roads and to a few valleys suitable for rice and maize culti- 

149 



150 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

vation. The largest of these areas is the region known as the 
Chiench'ang Valley, of which the city of Ningyuan Fu is the capi- 
tal. This narrow strip extends down to the Upper Yangtsze 
River, being bounded on the east by the independent kingdom 
of Lolo, which occupies the higher slopes of the Taliang shan 
and has never been conquered by the Chinese. Immediately 
to the west of the valley the country is peopled by semi-indepen- 
dent tribes akin to the Thibetans. Indeed, the Min River, with 
such land to the immediate west suited to rice-culture, may 
well be regarded as the real boundary of western Szechuan from 
Sui Fu on the Yangtsze River to Sungpan Ting, in the extreme 
north-west corner of the province. An arc-line, commencing 
at Sungpan Ting and connecting with the boundary stone 
west of Batang, thence southwards, skirting the right bank of 
the Drechu (Upper Yangtsze), would form roughly the boundary 
of Thibet proper. Nominally the whole of this region is con- 
sidered by the Chinese part of Szechuan province. In certain 
books and maps parts of this region are referred to as Eastern 
Thibet, and much confusion has arisen from this misnomer. 

The country included within the boundaries here given 
constitutes the hinterland between Szechuan and Thibet, and 
failing a more lucid term it may be designated the " Chino- 
Thibetan borderland," a title which, if clumsy, has the merit 
of being both descriptive and accurate. Several trade routes 
traverse this borderland, but with one exception these have 
been little travelled by foreigners — the exception being the 
great highway between Chengtu Fu and Lhassa De, which 
crosses this region from Yachou, via Tachienlu and Batang 
to the boundary, and is closely controlled by Chinese. Apart 
from this highway and the country in its immediate vicinity 
as far west as Tachienlu, the whole borderland is very much a 
terra incognita. It is made up of a series of stupendous moun- 
tain ranges, separated by narrow valleys, well forested in the 
lower parts with all the higher peaks extending above the 
snow-line. These ranges are comparable only with the Hima- 
layas, of which, indeed, they constitute a north-east extension. 
This rugged region is populated by many independent or quasi- 
independent tribes, more or less Thibetan in origin, with the 
exception of the Lolo. 




THE HIOHWAV TO TACHIKNI.U AND BEYOND, HERE BLASTED 
FROM SOLID ROCK 



THE CHINO-THIBETAN BORDERLAND 151 

It is a region where altitude and climate, rather than longi- 
tude and latitude, define the frontiers. In the north-west the 
highlands of Central Asia abut more closely on the Red Basin 
than they do in the south-west, and form uplands suitable as 
grazing-grounds for herds of yak, cattle, horses, and sheep. 
These areas are peopled by nomadic Thibetans, with whom 
agriculture is relatively unimportant. The broken country, 
made up of mountain-crag and valley, which forms the greater 
part of this hinterland, is occupied by various tribes, with 
whom agriculture is the paramount industry, and wheat, 
barley, and bucksvheat the staple food-stuffs. The forests of 
this region contain much game, of which these people are skilled 
hunters. Lastly, in the more fertile valleys, where rice and 
maize can be successfully grown, Chinese settlers are found, but, 
as mentioned earlier, away from trading-centres and the great 
highway between Chengtu and Tachienlu, they are not much 
in evidence 

In the first chapter brief reference to the mountain chains 
and rivers of this region has been made, but perhaps a few of 
the more striking features may be given in detail here. Unlike 
the mountains bordering the eastern limits of the Red Basin, 
which are mainly of hard Carboniferous and Ordovician lime- 
stones, those of the west are principally of mudshalesand granitic 
rocks. Here and there, for example Mount Omei and its sister 
mountains Wa and Wa-wu, hard limestones have been forced 
up through the older rocks and form bold peaks and stupendous 
precipices. There is indeed plenty of limestone throughout 
the hinterland, but Pre-Cambrian rocks preponderate enor- 
mously. These and the shales (probably Silurian) disinte- 
grate very readily in their exposed parts and erosion is rapid. 
In the deforested parts landslides are general. The region is 
fairly rich in gold, silver, copper, lead, iron, and other minerals, 
but very little mining is carried on. Coal is very rare, except 
in a few localities where limestone predominates, as near Mount 
Omei and the surrounding region. Salt is known from one 
locality only (Pai-yen-ching in the Chiench'ang Valley). Around 
Tachienlu hot springs of calcareous and chalybeate waters, 
more or less rich in sulphur, are common. These springs are 
usually found in close proximity to torrents, very often occur- 



152 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

ring in the actual bed of such streams. In many the waters 
are actually boiling, and I have several times cooked eggs in 
them. These hot springs are much resorted to by the people 
of the surrounding regions for bathing purposes, the waters 
being esteemed as a cure for rheumatism, skin affections, and 
other complaints. 

Three large rivers, Tung, Yalung, and Dre, flow through 
this borderland, mainly from north to south, as necessitated by 
the direction of the mountain axes. These rivers have tribu- 
taries in abundance, and the majority of them, draining from 
eternal snows, carry down enormous quantities of water and 
detritus. None of these rivers is navigable save for rafts, 
specially constructed boats, or skin coracles, over very short 
and interrupted stretches. Bridges and ferries are few, never- 
theless the highways and by-ways of this region skirt the banks 
of these rivers and their main tributaries. 

The valleys of all these streams, and for the purpose of 
what follows the Min above Kuan Hsien may be included, are 
deeply eroded, the waters flowing between steep slopes or pre- 
cipices. These valleys are aU very similar, being narrow, shut 
in by lofty treeless mountains, and all enjoy a much hotter, 
drier climate than their altitude warrants. Long stretches 
are very barren and desert-like, more especially when the out- 
cropping rocks are solely granitic. Owing to this dry, hot 
climate, interesting anomalies obtain in these valleys. At 
Hokou, on the Yalung, maize can be cultivated up to nearly 
9500 feet altitude, whereas at Tachienlu, in the same latitude 
and 1000 feet less altitude, it is impossible to bring this cereal 
to maturity. Green parrots {Palceornis derbyana salvadori) 
occur as summer migrants in the valleys of the Yalung and 
Drechu up to 10,000 feet altitude. Rock pigeons occur in 
multitudes throughout all these valleys above 4000 feet altitude. 
Monkeys also are common. The flora generally is specially 
adapted to withstand drought, and is more closely allied to 
that of the Yunnan plateaux than to the contiguous country. 
Doubtless at one time the mountain-slopes flanking these 
valleys were wooded, though it is improbable that the lower 
slopes were ever heavily forested ; but such timber as grew 
there has long since disappeared, and to-day these slopes are 



THE CHINO-THIBETAN BORDERLAND 153 

clothed only with coarse grass and scrub. Landslides are a 
feature of these regions, especially during the melting of the 
snows or after heavy rains in the surrounding high mountains. 
At such times travelling hereabouts is highly dangerous, as 
nearly every traveller can testify from ocular proof. I have 
witnessed several disastrous landslides, involving loss of life 
and much destruction of property. In 1910, when descending 
the Min Valley, I unfortunately got involved in a minor one, 
and sustained a compound fracture of the right leg just 
above the ankle. In many places rockslides are constantly 
occurring, and warning notices to travellers not to tarry are 
frequently displayed throughout the Upper Min Valley and 
elsewhere. 

Small villages and farmsteads are scattered through these 
valleys where, goaded by stern necessity, the inhabitants 
maintain a grim struggle to win a sustenance from the in- 
hospitable soil. Where rice and maize can be cultivated 
Chinese settlers are found, but above the altitudes admitting 
of this the tribes are in full possession and cultivate crops of 
wheat, barley, buckwheat, peas, and linseed — the latter for 
its oil, which is used as an illuminant. Exceptionally good 
Chilli peppers [Capsicum) are grown in these vaUeys, and certain 
regions, for example Mao Chou, in the Min Valley, are renowned 
for this produce. Around habitations a few trees, chiefly 
Poplar, Alder, and Willow, are always present, affording a 
welcome shade. Cupressus torulosa, a handsome timber tree, 
often 80 to 100 feet tall, is very much at home in these valleys 
and probably at one time covered quite considerable areas 
hereabouts. This tree is well worth the attention of those en- 
gaged in reafforestation work in dry, warm-temperate regions. 
Other trees partial to these same conditions are Sophora 
japonica, Diospyros Lotus, Pistacia chinensis, Erythrina indica, 
Koelreuteria apiculata, Ailanthus Vilmoriniana, Celtis spp., and 
the Soap trees [Sapindus mukorossi, Gleditsia spp.). Many 
fruit trees occur, including the Pear, Apple, Peach, Apricot, 
and Walnut ; the latter {Juglans regia) is the commonest 
tree up to 8000 feet. The natives hack the lower trunk 
to make the tree fruitful, so they claim, showing that 
the old adage — "beating the Walnut tree" — is known out- 



154 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

side of Europe. Mulberry trees, the Cudrania tricuspidata, 
and tall-growing Bamboos are common up to 4500 feet 
altitude. 

Many of the shrubs found growing in these valleys are 
spinescent and nearly all are adapted to withstand drought. 
In the majority the leaves are very small or covered with a 
dense felt of hairs. These shrubs are usually scrubby in appear- 
ance yet many produce ornamental flowers or fruit. The 
" Southernwood " {Artemisia spp.), with silver-grey, elegantly 
dissected foliage and yellow flowers, are perhaps the commonest 
shrubs met with hereabouts. Barberries are another special 
feature, and when laden with masses of red fruit and autumn- 
tinted foliage present a most attractive picture. This same 
remark applies to various species of Cotoneaster, all having 
ornamental fruit. Many kinds of Rose occur, but often the 
species are local. Common to all these valleys, though most 
abundant in that of the Yalung, is Rosa Soulicana, with fragrant 
flowers, opening sulphur-yeUow and changing to white. So 
also is Miss Willmott's charming rose {R. Willmottice), with 
its abundant straw-yellow prickles, neat glaucescent leaves, 
rosy-pink flowers, and orange-red fruit. The beautiful R. 
Hugonis is confined to a narrow stretch of the Min Valley 
between 3000 to 5000 feet. This is the only rose with yellow 
flowers I have met with in China. The fruit is black 
and falls very early. R. muUihracteata, an odd-looking species 
having pretty pink flowers, is very common in the upper 
reaches of the Min Valley and less so in that of the Tung. 
Forms of the Musk Rose [R. moscJiata) and of R. sericea occur 
but are local. With the exception of the " Southernwood," 
all these shrubs confine themselves closely to water- 
courses. In more arid places Caryopteris incana and other 
species, with intense blue flowers opening in late July, are 
very abundant, so also are different species of Indigofera, 
with pink to red-purple flow^ers. Several species of Buddleia 
and two varieties of the lovely Clematis glauca, with glaucous 
foliage and top-shaped, yellow, passing to bronze-coloured 
flowers, ought not to be overlooked. The shingly and sandy 
foreshores are covered with Willow, Sallowthorn, and False 
Tamarisk [Myricaria germanica) . In the Tung Valley, between 




A PRICKLY PEAR (OPUNTIA DILLENII) NATURALIZED 



THE CHINO-THIBETAN BORDERLAND 155 

4000 and 5000 feet altitude, a " Prickly Pear " {Opuntia 
Dillcnii) has become naturalized. This American colonist 
has made itself very much at home, covering many miles of 
barren rocky slopes. It grows 6 to 10 feet tall, and when 
covered with its yellow or pale orange flowers is very orna- 
mental. The edible natiu-e of the fruit is well known to the 
natives but is little esteemed. An extract obtained by boiling 
the fleshy stems is locally employed as a supposed cure for 
haemorrhoids. 

Amongst the coarse grass and scrub, the dominant features 
of these regions, a variety of showy herbs occur, nearly all having 
bulbous or thickened rootstocks in some form or other. To 
garden lovers everywhere these valleys are of special interest, 
inasmuch as they are the home of many beautiful Lilies, 
Each of these valleys has species or varieties peculiarly its 
own, which range up to about 8000 feet altitude, yet whilst 
very local these Lilies are numerically extraordinarily abundant. 
In late June and July it is possible to walk for days through 
a veritable wild garden dominated by these beautiful flowers. 
In the Min Valley the charming Lilium regale luxuriates 
in rocky crevices, sun-baked throughout the greater part of 
the year. It grows 3 to 5 feet tall, and has slender leaves 
crowded on stems bearing several large funnel-shaped flowers, 
red-purple without, ivory-white suffused with canary-yellow 
within, often with the red-purple reflected through, and is 
deliciously fragrant. In the Tung Valley, Mrs. Sargent's 
Lily (L. SargenticB), a taller growing species than the foregoing, 
with broader leaves, having bulbils in the axils, equally hand- 
some flowers of similar shape, but varying from green to red- 
purple without and from pure white to yellow within, is very 
abundant in rocky places among grass and scrub. The 
flowers of this species are collected, boiled, and dried in the sun, 
then minced, fried with salt and oil, and eaten in the same 
way as preserved cabbage. The bulbs of the Tiger Lily 
(L. tigrinum) and its elegant ally, L. Thayerce, which are 
white, are cooked and eaten. Several other Lilies abound in 
these valleys, including the lovely L. Bakcrianum and other 
species not yet named. 

A herb very common in the Tung Valley is Thalictrum 



156 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

dipterocarpum. This Meadow-rue grows 6 to 8 feet tail, has 
elegant, much-dividedfoUage, and multitudinous, large, lavender- 
purple flowers — by common consent the handsomest member 
of its family. In the Min and Tung Valleys, but very local, 
Incarvillea Wilsonii, which grows nearly 6 feet tall and has 
handsome flowers very like those of I. Delavayi, occurs. This 
plant is monocarpic and has not yet flowered in cultivation, 
although I introduced it into the Veitchian nurseries as long 
ago as 1903. Salvia Przewalskii, with large purple flowers, 
is another striking herb common in the valleys above 8000 
feet altitude. This list of ornamental herbs could easily be 
extended if any useful service would be served thereby. On 
bare rocks various species of SelagineUa abound ; the Mullein 
[Verhascum Thapsus), Deadly Nightshade [Hyoscyamus niger), 
and Thornapple {Datura Stramonium) are common weeds by 
the wayside. The poisonous properties of the two last named 
are well known to the natives. From this brief sketch it will 
be seen that these narrow, dry, almost desert-like valleys, with 
their abnormally warm climate, possess a flora which, if limited 
in number of species, contains many plants of more than 
passing interest and horticultural value. 

As mentioned earher (p. 149), this hinterland is peopled 
by various independent and semi-independent tribes about 
which little is known. The whole region is analagous with 
that separating India and Thibet, and this statement of fact 
will perhaps convey a more intelligible idea than the most 
voluminous details. These tribes are divisible into four 
distinct groups, in accordance with their official status and 
form of government. 

1. States independent, non-tributary, hostile to both 
Chinese and Lama authority, as the Lolo kingdom. I have no 
intimate acquaintance with the Lolo — a people once spread 
over much of Yunnan, but now relegated to the region of the 
Taliang shan, where they have never been conquered by the 
Chinese. This race possesses a written language peculiar to 
itself and is probably indigenous. 

2. States reaUy independent and even hostile toward China, 
directly controlled by the Dalai Lama and Council, whose poUcy 
is supposed to be modified by High Commissioners appointed 



THE CHINO-THIBETAN BORDERLAND 157 

by China, as, for example, Chantui, Derge, and Sanai. The 
territory occupied by these tribes is west of the Yalung River 
and contiguous to that of Thibet proper ; the people are in- 
distinguishable from those inhabiting anterior Thibet generally. 
These more western regions have been styled the " Thibetan 
Marches." Some four years ago, an acting viceroy of Szechuan, 
one Chao Erh-feng, was appointed Warden of these Marches. 
With an army of Chinese soldiers he indulged in a most aggressive 
policy and speedily subjected the whole region to Chinese con- 
trol. He broke the Lama power, destroyed the principal 
lamaseries, and beheaded the abbots and other dignitaries. 
His task was rendered fairly easy owing to affairs in Lhassa, 
consequent upon the British expedition to that city, and the 
flight of the Dalai Lama, the whole making impossible any 
concerted action by Lhassa De in support of their adherents 
in the Marches. (In 191 1 Chao Erh-feng was appointed 
Viceroy of Szechuan and was subsequently murdered in 
Chengtu city by Chinese revolutionists.) 

3. States tributary-controlled, governed by hereditary 
native princes and subject to the Viceroy of Szechuan in 
temporal affairs, but more or less strongly influenced by the 
Dalai Lama, owing to Lamaism being the accepted religion. 
Of these the kingdom of Chiala, the Horba states, and the 
Chiarung tribes are the chief. They occupy most of the 
territory between the Min and Yalung Rivers north of a line 
connecting Yachou with Tachienlu and Hokou. The Chiala 
kingdom I shall deal with separately when describing Tachienlu, 
the capital city. The Chiarung are dealt with in the next 
chapter. 

4. A number of very small states, governed by quasi- 
independent chiefs, indirectly controlled by Chinese officials 
appointed for that purpose and by the surrounding tributary 
kingdoms. They are, in fact, tiny buffer areas very useful to 
the Chinese in maintaining the balance of power among the 
larger, more independent kingdoms. Many of these princi- 
palities are made up of people who may reasonably be looked 
upon as remains of the aboriginal population of parts of 
Szechuan and this hinterland. These petty states are 
scattered through the more easterly parts of this hinterland 



158 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

from Mao Chou in the north through the Chiench'ang Valley 
to borders of Yunnan province. The power exercised by 
the chiefs varies according to their proximity to thickly 
populated Chinese districts or otherwise. In the former it 
is almost nominal, whereas in the latter case it is very 
considerable. 

In addition to the above are certain feudal states whose 
overlord owes his office directly to Chinese influence, and who 
is bound, if called upon, to render military service to China. 
These feudal chieftainships are hereditary and were originally 
bestowed as rewards for assistance rendered to the Chinese in 
breaking up the Chiarung confederacy during the reign of the 
Emperor Kienlung. Many of these, for example the Tsa- 
ka-lao chief, have very considerable power and influence in 
the temporal affairs of the surrounding tributary-controlled 
kingdoms. The people are mainly of the same stock as 
the Chiarung tribes. All the chiefs of these feudatory 
states and tributary kingdoms are closely related by inter- 
marriage. 

The Chinese designate the inhabitants of this borderland 
" Mantzu," a contemptuous term signifying " Barbarian " and 
of no ethnological value whatever. But the policy they have 
pursued in dealing with these people has been shrewdly wise if 
unscrupulous. With arms and money the Chinese have dis- 
played their power and obtained what practically amounts to a 
suzerainty over the whole borderland. A former emperor 
said : " Wardens of the Marches should seek to checkmate the 
native tribes by becoming intimately acquainted with them and 
their customs and thus able to prevent any united action. In 
this way the tribes will remain weak and easy to manage. They 
should be encouraged to appeal to Chinese authorities for 
advice and protection in their disputes with one another. 
These authorities will, of course, be in no hurry to settle their 
cases. If the tribes are taught to fear the Chinese, and the 
officials act with energy, all trouble will be avoided." This 
crafty advice has long been acted upon by the Chinese, with 
much success from their own view-point. 

From this brief and very incomplete general account it 
may be gathered that this hinterland is a fascinating region. 



THE CHINO-THIBETAN BORDERLAND 159 

presenting ethnological and other problems of great interest, 
the solution of which is worthy of the attention of Western 
scientists. It is hoped that a properly equipped expedition 
will at no very distant date be organized and dispatched to 
survey and investigate fully this little-known Chino-Thibetan 
borderland. 



CHAPTER XIII 

THE CHIARUNG TRIBES 

Their History, Manners, and Customs 

WITHIN the limits of the Chino-Thibetan borderland, 
as defined in Chapter XII, from Simgpan Ting south- 
wards to Yachou Fu, and west to the valley of the 
Upper Tung or Tachin (Great Gold) River, the territory is divided 
amongst numerous cognate tribes collectively spoken of by 
Chinese as " Chiarung." These people are essentially agricul- 
turists, making their homes in the upland valleys. They are all, 
though tributaiy to China, ruled by their own hereditary 
chiefs ; each tribe occupies a properly defined area, with its 
own capital town, the political centre of the entire region being 
Monkong Ting. These tribes are non-Chinese and are not 
indigenous to this region. They are also distinct from the 
people found in anterior Thibet. They speak a difficult and 
at first sound unpronounceable jargon, which, if it be the mother 
of Thibetan dialects, is widely different from that spoken in 
Thibet to-day. But Thibetan letters have, without difficulty, 
been applied to it, and scholars, priests, officials, and merchants 
both read and speak the Lhassa-Thibetan language with greater 
or less fluency. 

The origin of these people is obscure, yet there is good reason 
to believe they come originally from the region around the 
head-waters of the Tsang-po (Upper Brahmaputra River), 
and probably have common origin with the people of Nepal 
and Bhutan. Personally, I am of the opinion that they came 
over with Genghis Khan, or his sonOk-Ko-Dai, at the commence- 
ment of the thirteenth century, and assisted in the conquest of 
western Szechuan. As a reward for military services rendered 




THE TACHIENLU KIVKR 



THE CHIARUNG TRIBES i6i 

they were given the territory they occupy to-day. During 
the course of time they waxed powerful, menacing the territory 
to the east of the Min River, and even taking possession of 
certain parts. In Ming times the Chinese made war with them 
on many occasions. They were a source of trouble to the 
Manchu dynasty until the famous Emperor Kienlung deter- 
mined upon crushing their power. After a very fierce struggle 
this was accomplished by a Chinese general named A-kuei. 
First he subjugated the region of the Hsaochin Ho (Little Gold 
River), then, after much difficulty, he captured Lo-wu-wei 
(modern Hsuching), the capital of the Tachin Ho (Great Gold 
River), took the king prisoner, and made a map of the entire 
region. The king, named Solomuh, was sent to Peking, where, 
after a grand court ceremony, he was sliced to pieces. The 
conquest was completed early in a.d. 1775. Military colonies 
were then estabhshed by the Chinese in strategic places, the 
more fertile regions were confiscated, and Chinese settlers 
induced to take possession. In crushing this confederacy 
the Chinese were assisted by the tribes, being to some extent 
divided amongst themselves. Some of them fought on the 
Chinese side, and as a reward certain areas situated at strategic 
points were fiefed out and established as feudal states for 
the benefit of these allies, an overlord with hereditary control 
being appointed to each. The Chinese handled this campaign 
with consummate skill, and the administrative system estab- 
lished has remained unchanged down to the present day. 
The power of the tribes was completely broken ; and the feudal 
states and the military colonies have safeguarded the Chinese 
from any concerted action on the part of these people ever 
since. It will, however, be readily understood that the tribes 
farthest removed from regions fully occupied by Chinese enjoy 
to-day greater independence than those in close contiguity. 

Originally these " Chiarung " had one common language, 
but time, isolation, and the dividing up into clans has produced 
many very dissimilar dialects. These people are now split 
up into eighteen tribes, occupying very unequal areas of terri- 
tory, and though all are interrelated by marriage they are by 
no means at peace with one another. Feuds are constant, 
and fighting among themselves is very much the rule. Since 

VOL. I. — II 



i62 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

this keeps them weak in power the Chinese pohcy is to 
intervene as seldom as possible. On the map are indi- 
cated as accurately as our knowledge admits the positions 
occupied by some of these tribes and feudal states. It is 
almost impossible to render into English the guttural sounds 
denoting the names of many of these tribes. But, fortunately, 
the more important, namely, Mupin, Wassu, Somo, Damba, 
Bati-Bawang, Wokje, are the least difficult to pronounce. 
The whole territory occupied by these people is about 250 
miles from north to south, and 200 miles east to west at broadest 
point. The population is about half a million. 

Two main roads, one from Kuan Hsien, the other from 
Lifan Ting, cross this region and unite near Monkong Ting. 
In addition, a network of cross-country by-ways connects 
the various villages and states. 

The Chiarung are essentially agriculturists, cultivating 
with much skill crops of wheat, barley, peas, buckwheat, 
maize, Irish potato, and miscellaneous vegetables. Sheep, 
cattle, ponies, and goats are kept by the more wealthy, often 
in quantity. The horses are sold to Chinese traders, but the 
wool is woven into cloth for their own use. Milk, butter, and 
meat enter largely into their diet. They are also skilled gun- 
and swordsmiths, more especially the Somo people, who manu- 
facture most of these weapons in use among the tribes them- 
selves and the people of eastern Thibet generally. Many are 
also highly skilled masons, builders, and weU-sinkers, and as 
such have a reputation even amongst the Chinese. During 
August many visit the upper reaches of the Min River every 
year to take part in harvesting the crops ; indeed, for this 
purpose they supply most of the labour in that region. Often 
they are in request in Chengtu and other cities for sinking wells 
and such-like work. 

The Chiarung live in settlements of from several to a 
hundred families or even more, always in positions admirably 
suited for defence. These settlements usually crown some 
bluff or eminence ; very often they are perched like an eagle's 
aerie high up on the steep mountain-side. The architecture 
which obtains throughout is characteristic and peculiar. Each 
settlement is dominated by one or more tall, chimney-like 



THE CHIARUNG TRIBES 163 

towers, either square, hexagonal, or octagonal in shape, 60 to 80 
feet high, and resembling from a distance the stack of some 
large factory in Western lands. The exact significance of these 
towers it is difficult to fathom, but it is evident that they can 
serve as storehouses, watch-towers, and harbours of refuge in 
times of stress and war. They have also some obscure con- 
nexion with religious matters, possibly in this they have some 
remote affinity with the pagodas of China and Burmah. The 
houses are more or less square, fiat roofed, solidly built of 
shale-rock and mud. Those belonging to the chiefs and men 
of property are three or four stories high. The walls are thick, 
pierced with loopholes and several narrow latticed windows. 
At all four corners of the roof turrets 3 to 4 feet high are built, 
sometimes there are more in different patterns. From these 
prayer-flags are displayed, often with the green branches of 
Juniper. On the roof also is fixed an incinerator for the sacri- 
ficial burning of fragrant juniper branches as incense. Part 
of the roof is frequently occupied by a hurdle-like framework 
called " Kai-kos," 10 to 15 feet high, which is employed for 
drying grain upon. The rest of the roof is used for religious 
exercise, eating, sleeping, and recreation ; in harvest-time it 
serves as a threshing-floor. The ground story is made up of 
a courtyard surrounded by sheep and cattle-pens, the kitchen, 
and usually a guest-room. 

The turrets, upper rim of the walls, edges of the window- 
spaces, base and base angles of the walls, are washed white, 
commonly white lines stretch diagonally up the walls, and the 
swastika cross, with other devices and symbols, are displayed 
in white on these walls. Crowning the edges of the roof, or 
arranged on separate structures, symbols denoting a globe, 
upturned crescent, and the swastika are commonly displayed. 
The lamaseries are similarly constructed, only larger, and 
usually with more stories. The houses of the peasants also are 
on the same plan, but of one or two stories only. All these 
structures are closely packed together with one to several 
towers reared above the whole assemblage. The different 
emblems and symbols of Nature worship may occur in the 
structure of Thibetan houses and lamaseries, but the tall 
tower is peculiar to the Chiarung. 



i64 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

Another interesting feature of these regions is the bridges. 
All these structures are of designs differing from those found 
throughout China proper, but agreeing closely with those in 
use throughout Sikhim, Bhutan, and Nepal, thus furnishing 
additional evidence of the affinity of these peoples. All 
the smaller streams and torrents are bridged by logs arranged 
on a semi-cantilever principle, and call for no special remark. 
But the larger streams are crossed by suspension bridges con- 
structed of split and plaited bamboo cables. These bridges 
are very similar to the cane bridges of Sikhim and Bhutan. 
They are found throughout the territory occupied by these 
tribes and the narrow strip of territory wedged in between the 
Min Valley and the western limits of the Red Basin. This 
latter strip was formerly occupied by these tribes, and is to-day 
largely peopled by their descendants or half-caste Chinese. As 
mentioned in Chapter X, pp. 117, 130, iron suspension bridges 
occur in one or two places in the north-west corner of Szechuan. 
This style of bridge is common from the valley of the Ya River, 
and the Tung at Luting chiao, southward to the frontier of 
Burmah, and is probably of Shan origin. Similar bridges of 
iron rods and chains are met with in Bhutan, where they are 
considered to be of Chinese origin (White, Sikhim and Bhutan, 
p. 191). Throughout the Chino-Thibetan Borderland iron and 
bamboo are equally common, yet it is a singular fact that their 
use in bridge-building is restricted to definite areas. 

Cable or rope bridges are abundant throughout the entire 
region, and extend much farther west and south than the Chia- 
rung territory. These simple but extremely useful structures 
consist of a bamboo hawser stretched across the stream usually 
from a higher to a lower point ; if the stream is moderately 
narrow the question of incline is of less importance. The 
hawser may be anything from 8 inches to i foot thick, and 
being heavy sags considerably in the middle, unless the stream 
is very narrow, as around Tachienlu, where a rather different 
method of crossing than that about to be explained is in vogue. 
To cross one of these cable bridges a person is supplied with 
a length of strong hempen rope hanging free from a saddle- 
shaped runner of oak or some other tough wood. The runner 
clips the cable, and the hempen rope is fastened under and 



THE CHIARUNG TRIBES 165 

around the legs and waist to form a " cradle." When ah is 
properly secured the person throws one arm over the top of 
the runner, gives a slight spring, and ghdes down the inclined 
cable at increasing speed. The impetus obtained in the down- 
ward rush carries the passenger over the central dip and more 
or less up the lesser incline on the opposite side. If the 
momentum is insufficient to land the person, the remaining 
distance has to be traversed by taking hold of the hawser and 
hauling hand over hand. Crossing these bridges is fearsome work 
until one is accustomed to it. It is speedily accomplished, and 
there is practically no danger so long as one keeps a cool head 
and the ropes do not break. It is a common sight to see men 
with loads and women with children on their backs cross these 
bridges. But heavy loads are usually fixed to the runners and 
hauled across by a rope attached to them. 

None of the rivers traversing Chiarung territory is navigable 
in the ordinary sense of the term, but skin coracles, broadly 
oval in shape, descend certain stretches of the Upper Tung 
River. These frail boats serve also to ferry over goods and 
passengers at certain necessary places. They are made of 
cattle hide stretched over ribs of tough, light wood. The whole 
coracle is very easily carried by one man, and closely resembles 
pictures of the boats used by ancient Britons prior to the 
Roman invasion. They are steered by a man seated in the 
stern operating a paddle, and accommodate about two 
passengers. A passage down or across stream in one of these 
coracles consists very largely in describing, more or less rapidly, 
a series of wide circles and half circles. As a novelty, pro- 
ductive of excitement, not unmixed with danger, these coracles 
and cable bridges can with confidence be recommended to 
" World's Fair " promoters and showmen generally. The skin 
coracle is in general use at ferries throughout Eastern Thibet 
and the Marches, and is not strictly a Chiarung specialty. 

In height the tribesmen average about 5 feet 7 inches or 
rather more ; the face is usually oval, with rather pointed 
chin, straight nose, sometimes inclining towards aquiline. 
They dress ordinarily in undyed serge cloth of local make, 
worn in the same manner as that of the Sifan. The legs 
are swathed in felt putties ; the head-gear is either a turban 



i66 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

or black pudding-basin-shaped felt hat. Those living near 
Chinese settlements and the highways have their head in part 
shaven, and wear their hair in a queue Chinese fashion. On 
holiday occasions their garments are brightened with red 
bordering, and high felt boots are worn. The women are 
short in stature (about 5 feet), sturdy and buxom, somewhat 
gipsylike, with dark olive complexions, and when young are 
often good looking. Their ordinary outer dress is a garment 
of grey native serge of no definite shape, reaching to just 
below the knee and bound around the waist with a scarf. 
The legs and feet are bare or encased in top-boots. Commonly 
they go bare-headed with their long black hair parted down 
the middle and hanging down the back in one large plait. 
They are fond of large bangles, ear-rings, etc., made of silver 
inlaid with turquoise and coral. On festive occasions 
garments edged with red and very often made of blue cloth 
are worn. The more wealthy dames decorate themselves very 
lavishly with silver ornaments, and wear covering their heads 
a piece of cloth held down by means of their large plait of hair, 
which is wound around and decorated with silver and beads 
of coral and tui-quoise ; the lower part of the piece of cloth 
hangs free over the back of the neck and shoulders. These 
dames are women of character, and have a ruling voice in 
household and family matters generally ; also, from what I 
saw of them, they appear to conduct most of the business. 
These women lead a strenuous life ; they cultivate the fields, 
tend the flocks, take the farm produce to market, hew wood, 
and carry water. The domestic duties of cooking, making 
and mending clothes and general household work devolve 
upon the men. Yet the women are not unkindly treated, 
and are far from being down-trodden. Being of cheerful 
disposition, they seem well suited to the free outdoor life they 
lead, and laugh and sing as they ply their task. Among 
themselves these people are frank and easy in manner, and the 
women enjoy a freedom of position unknown amongst the 
Chinese. A party of dames and men were fellow-travellers 
with me once for a couple of days. When the time came to 
separate they made merry over cups of wine ; the women 
officiated, and cordially invited me to join them. With their 



THE CHIARUNG TRIBES 167 

laughter and song they made cheery companions, and I was 
sorry to part from them. 

The families are small, but the children are usually strong 
and healthy. Girls marry between the ages of seventeen and 
twenty, polygamy is common, but polyandry is unknown except, 
perhaps, in the upland regions bordering Thibet proper. 
Temporary marriages, so general in Thibet, are also unknown 
amongst the Chiarung. Nevertheless, the standard of morals 
in vogue among these people is a very low one. In certain 
states hetairism precedes maternity. In Badi-Bawang the 
unmarried girls and childless women wear only two sporran-like 
fringes of woollen threads or pieces of fur, suspended from a 
girdle passed around the body above the hips. The legs are 
exposed, but the upper parts of the body are usually covered 
by a coarse serge garment. Only after their first child is born 
may they wear skirts, since the gods have then purified them. 
A pregnant damsel selects from among her lovers a husband, 
who thus becomes the accepted father of her child, her word 
in this matter being final. Maternity alone ratifies marriage, 
and indeed saves women from promiscuity. The defloration 
of virgins is the prerogative of chiefs and head-men, but is not 
always exacted. In many ways these people are apparently 
shameless, according to Chinese and Occidental ideas alike. 
It is no uncommon sight to see women of all ages, quite nude, 
bathing in streams by the wayside. This same custom is 
also common at Tachienlu, where the hot springs are favourite 
bathing-places for both sexes. But after maternity the women 
are said to remain constant ; divorce or legal separation after 
ratified marriage are not practised. 

The explanation of the above and other curious customs 
of these interesting people is found in their religious beliefs. 
Although orthodox Lamaism is more or less paramount the 
mysterious Bonpa religion, with its marked tendency toward 
phallic VN^orship, lurks throughout the lonely valleys of the 
Cliiarung tribes. In Badi-Bawang it is the recognized state 
religion. It should also be remembered that these regions 
constituted the famous matriarchal kingdoms of Chinese 
historians. Indeed, even to-day, certain states have queens 
holding nominal or actual authority, and in these in some 



i68 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

capacity a woman must always rule. Occasionally the 
difficulty is overcome by styling the ruling head a " Queen " 
quite irrespective of sex ! 

Lamaism appears in three forms, the Yellow, Red, andBlack, 
the latter representing the Bonpa cult. The religious centre 
is Tsong-hua on the Tachin River, about 60 miles west of 
Monking Ting. But lamaseries are scattered over the land, 
occurring separately by themselves or in association with the 
residences of the hereditary chiefs. The Yellow or orthodox 
sect is first in importance and numbers, and is controlled directly 
from Lhassa. The ritual differs in no way from that practised 
throughout the hierarchy of Lamaism. The same remark 
applies to the unorthodox Red sect, which is of much less 
importance, and whose priests are allowed to marry. 

The Black or Bonpa sect has a ritual bearing an outward 
resemblance to orthodox Lamaism, but apart from this there is 
little else in common. In many things the Bonpa are the avowed 
enemies of the orthodox. They turn their praying wheels 
from left to right instead of from right to left ; they pass 
sacred objects on the right instead of on the left ; also they 
refuse to repeat the mystic Mantra, " Om mani padmi hom," 
replacing it with one peculiarly their own. As to the origin of 
this Bonpa it is difficult to say. My friend, Mr. J. Hutson 
Edgar of the China Inland Mission, who has travelled among 
and studied these Chiarung tribes more closely than any one else 
living, inclines to regard it as the remains of the old Nature 
worship of Thibet, which probably underlies all the religious 
systems of Eastern Asia. 

In the state of Wassu are several temples belonging to this 
Bonpa sect. Through the courtesy of the chieftain I was 
allowed to inspect some of these temples, and succeeded 
in obtaining fair photographs of the idols. These latter, 
made of stone, wood, straw, and plaster, represent giants 
and demons with their female energies ; the walls are 
decorated with paintings depicting erotomania. Hideous and 
disgustingly obscene are the contents of these temples, where 
phallic worship holds unblushing sway. The Wassu chief 
informed me that the Mantra used by these Bonpa priests is 
" Hom ma-te ma-tsi ma-yoor tsa-lien doo." He kindly gave 



THE CHIARUNG TRIBES 169 

me a copy of this hymn, but I have not yet succeeded in getting 
it translated into intelligible English. The principal symbol 
in use is the Fylfot or swastika, which they call " Yungdrung." 
A mystical bird, " Chyong " or " Garuda," is also regarded 
with great favour as an emblem of fruitfulness. In the B5npa 
temples at Tung-ling shan, near the residence of the Wassu 
chief, I also recognized the image of Kwanyin (Goddess of 
Mercy), the God of Wealth, and many demons similar in 
appearance to those found in ordinary Buddhist temples 
tliroughout China proper. It would thus appear from the 
catholic nature of the contents of their temples that these 
people accept a measure of Buddhism, and Lamaism. both 
orthodox and unorthodox, and the Bonpa in its entirety. An 
atmosphere of secrecy and mystery enshrouds the Bonpa 
temples, which are frequently built in places difficult of access. 
The cult has been subjected to much persecution at the hands of 
Lamaists, yet, notwithstanding, it retains a firmer hold on the 
people of most of the Chiarung states than any other form of 
religion. In their hearts children of nature, their daily life 
one constant struggle against an inhospitable soil and climate 
to win a crop necessary for their sustenance, these people very 
naturally incline most toward the gods of Increase and 
Fecundity. 



CHAPTER XIV 

ACROSS THE CHINO-THIBETAN BORDERLAND 

Kuan Hsien to Romi Chango ; the Flora of the 
Pan-LAN Shan 

DURING the summer of 1908, when in Chengtu, I de- 
termined upon a journey to Tachienlu. Previously, in 
1903 and again in 1904, 1 had visited this town by three 
different routes. This time I decided upon following the road 
leading from Kuan Hsien via Monkong Ting and Romi Chango. 
The only published account of this route that I have knowledge 
of is in a Report by Mr. (now Sir) Alexander Hosie,^ erstwhile 
H.B.M.'s Consul-General at Chengtu, who returned from 
Tachienlu over this road in October 1904. What is written in 
this Report about the forests of that region created a desire 
within me which nothing short of actual experience could 
satisfy. Again, this route promised further acquaintance with 
the tribesfolk inhabiting the hinterland. Sir Alexander's 
description of the road portrayed a difficult journey, but I 
felt sure that by taking time and but lightly burdening my 
men I could get through all right. This confidence was fully 
justified, as events proved, and what I saw of the forests and 
mountain scenery, together with the quantity and variety of 
plants discovered and collected, abundantly repaid me for the 
hardships experienced. The journey is estimated at 1326 li, 
approximately 330 English miles, but, whilst mere mileage is 
of little moment in mountainous countries, I should consider 
250 miles a more accurate figure. 

With Tachienlu as my goal I left the city of Chengtu on 
the morning of 15th June, and at noon the next day reached 

^Journey to the Eastern Frontier of Thibet, presented to both Houses of 
Parliament, August 1905. 




A IIAMHUO SLM'K.NMiiN l;KI|i(,l'. 7n \|)^. | i i ,\ ( 



ACROSS THE CHINO-THIBETAN BORDERLAND 171 

the city of Kuan Hsien. An afternoon sufficed to complete 
my arrangements. Tfie caravan consisted of eigliteen carrying 
coolies and one head coolie, two chairs, two handy men, an 
escort of two soldiers, my Boy, and self, making a party of 
thirty all told. The journey occupied twenty-three days from 
Kuan Hsien. 

What follows is compiled from my diary : — 
The famous bamboo bridge, known as the An-lan chiao, 
over which the road to Monkong Ting passes, was having its 
annual overhauling; in consequence, on leaving Kuan Hsien we 
had to journey down stream some 5 li to a point where it was 
possible to cross the various arms of the Min River by im- 
provised bridges and ferry. In so doing we had an opportunity 
of realizing, somewhat hazily be it confessed, what this area 
must have been like before Li-ping's wonderful irrigation works 
came into existence. Without counting the streams flowing 
Chengtu-wards we crossed five distinct arms of the Min River 
proper scattered over an area a mile wide, covered with sand, 
shingle, and coarse grass {Miscanihus sinensis). The detour 
involved 15 li, and it was not until 9 o'clock that we were 
opposite the An-lan chiao. This most remarkable structure 
is about 250 yards long, 9 feet wide, built entirely of bamboo 
cables resting on seven supports fixed equidistant in the bed of 
the stream, the central one only being of stone. The floor of 
the bridge rests across ten bamboo cables, each 21 inches in 
circumference, made of bamboo culms, split and twisted 
together. Five similar cables on each side form the " rails." 
The cables are all fastened to huge capstans, embedded in 
masonry, which are revolved by means of spars and keep the 
cables taut. The floor of the bridge is of planking held down 
by a bamboo rope on either side. Lateral strands of bamboo 
keep the various cables in place, and wooden pegs driven 
through poles of hard wood assist in keeping the floor of the 
bridge in position. Not a single nail or piece of iron is used in 
the whole structure. Every year the cables supporting the 
floor of the bridge are replaced by new ones, they themselves 
replacing the " rails." This bridge is very picturesque in 
appearance, and a most ingenious engineering feat. 

From the An-lan chiao the road ascends the right bank 



172 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

of the Min River, and is broad, in good repair, but with many 
awkward gradients. We found lodgings for the night at 
Hsuan-kou, alt. 2640 feet, a market village of some 300 houses, 
situated on a tributary immediately above its union with the 
main stream, which describes a very sharp turn on leaving a 
narrow gorge. The Min River from the An-lan chiao to this 
point is full of minor rapids, and the current is very swift. 
Near Hsuan-kou timber is made into rafts and floated down to 
Kuan Hsien, thence to Chengtu and elsewhere. 

During the day's march we passed some good-sized trees of 
Black Birch, Nanmu {Machilus spp.). Hog-plum [Spondias 
axillaris), and small trees of Cryptomeria japonica, the latter 
obviously planted. A large trumpet - flowered Lily was 
abundant in rocky places by the wayside. Rice occurred 
sporadically, but the principal crop was maize. Around the 
inn Tea-bushes are abundantly planted. 

On leaving Hsuan-kou we crossed the tributary by a small 
bamboo suspension bridge, and ascended the left bank by an 
easy road for 30 li to Shui-mo-kou. Throughout this stretch 
Cryptomeria is common. All the trees are small and obviously 
planted, yet I cannot rid myself of the idea that it must be 
indigenous somewhere in this vicinity. It occurs scattered 
over a large area, always near habitations, yet it is scarcely 
feasible to suppose that this tree has been brought from Japan 
for the purpose of planting it hereabouts. 

Shui-mo-kou is an ordinary Chinese market village of some 
350 houses lining either side of the main street. It is interest- 
ing, however, as being the last purely Chinese village in this 
direction, also the last place wherein supplies can be purchased 
or silver exchanged until Monkong Ting is reached. I hired 
an extra man, and all my followers laid in a stock of rice and 
food-stuffs generally. At Kuan Hsien, appreciating fully the 
difficult road before us, I had reduced all loads to two-thirds 
the normal weight. In spite of this the carriers were heavily 
laden with extra supplies, and could hardly stagger along on 
leaving Shui-mo-kou. 

A short distance beyond the above village there is a steep 
ascent, but after a few li the road becomes easy and winds 
around the mountain-side. Scrub Oak and unhappy-looking 



ACROSS THE CHINO-THIBETAN BORDERLAND 173 

trees of Cunninghamia are abundant, but the flora generally 
is poor. Wild Strawberries cover the more grassy slopes, and 
were laden with white and red luscious fruit. We passed a few 
houses, and finally reached the top of the ridge, alt. 5600 feet, 
which is known as the Yao-tsze shan. Crossing over we entered 
the territory under the jurisdiction of the Wassu chieftain, 
who resides at Tung-ling shan, near Wench'uan Hsien in the 
Min Valley. 

Descending by a path, which at first easy soon becomes 
very precipitous and difficult owing to the abundance of loose 
rocks, we reached Hei-shih ch'ang, our destination for the day, 
at 6 p.m. In this descent, near the head of the pass, the 
" Yang-tao " {Actinidia chinensis) is abimdant, and was laden 
with a wealth of large, white, fragrant flowers. By the wayside, 
Rosa microphylla is very plentiful, and bushes 2 to 4 feet tall 
were covered with large pink blossoms. One small tree of 
Canieria calycina, laden with curiously-shaped, waxy-white 
flowers borne in erect panicles, was also worthy of note. But 
the flora generally has been destroyed to make way for crops 
of maize, oats, and pulse. 

Hei-shih ch'ang, alt. 4000 feet, is considered to be 60 li 
from Hsuan-kou, and consists of three or four houses, situated 
in a ravine alongside a torrent, with wild mountains on every 
side. Our lodgings were roomy, and the people both courteous 
and attentive. 

Rain fell heavily next morning when we started out, but 
ceased about 9 a.m. ; the weather remained dull the rest of the 
day until 4 p.m., when rain recommenced to fall and con- 
tinued far into the following night. Crossing the torrent by 
means of a covered wood bridge the road immediately ascends 
a steep mountain called Che shan from the abundance of 
Varnish trees growing thereon. The ascent, though very steep, 
is short, and afterwards for the next 30 li the road skirts the 
mountain-sides until the summit of the Chiu-lung shan is 
reached. Descending this ridge it ultimately enters a narrow 
grassy valley. Here we found lodgings for the night in the 
solitary hostel of Hoa-tzu-ping, alt. 6100 feet, having covered 
50 li during the day. 

Until reaching the valley the country generally was either 



174 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

under maize or covered with a dense jungle. The flora was of 
passing interest only, being similar in character to that found 
everywhere in western Szechuan between 4000 and 6000 feet 
altitude. The more interesting shrubs collected were a yellow- 
flowered Schisandra, a white-flowered Clematoclethra, and the 
Yunnan Holly [Ilex yunnanensis) with small, neat leaves, 
clusters of purplish, fragrant flowers, and hairy shoots. 
Actinidia Kolomikta, a large climber with white, fragrant 
flowers and added beauty in the shape of a multitude of white 
leaves, is excessively common. Nearly all the species of 
Actinidia and the allied genus Clematoclethra, other than those 
clothed with rufous hairs, have these white leaves, which 
usually become pinkish as the season advances. All the species 
are handsome climbers, and the majority bear very palatable 
juicy edible fruit. 

The trees of this region, though not numerous or of any 
great 'size, include such remarkable subjects as Davidia, Ptero- 
styrax, Tapiscia, Tetracentron, Beech, and Horse Chestnut. 
Occasional trees of Cornus kousa occur, and were a wealth 
of white flower-heads enlivening the country-side. Walnut 
trees are common around houses and wild strawberries by 
the wayside. In the grassy valley the beautiful Ilex Pernyi 
occurs with Rodgersia cesculifoUa and Lilium giganteum in 
quantity. Around Hao-tzu-ping odd patches of maize are 
cultivated, but where clearings have been made the ground 
is mostly covered with grass and coarse herbs. 

During the day we met many men laden with huge logs 
of Teih-sha [Tsuga, Hemlock Spruce) and Hung-sha {Larix, 
Larch) timber. These logs were dressed, and carried on a 
wooden framework. I measured one with a tape ; it was 
18 feet 6 inches long, 7 inches thick, and 9 inches broad. It is 
astounding how such loads are carried over vile mountain 
roads. As fellow-travellers during the day we had some 
tribesmen in charge of a small mule caravan of tea, bound 
for the state of Wokje. 

After leaving Hoa-tzu-ping we soon reached the head of 
the valley which merges into a narrow jungle-clad ravine. 
After a precipitous climb of 30 li we reached the summit of 
the Niu-tou shan, alt. 10,000 feet, where dense mists blotted 



ACROSS THE CHINO-THIBETAN BORDERLAND 175 

out the landscape. A similarly precipitous descent of 20 li 
brought us to Chuan-ching-lou, where we put up for the night. 

The flora was very interesting, but owing to a thick pall of 
mist I was able to observe only the plants immediately along- 
side the pathway. Perhaps the commonest shrub of the day 
was Salix magnifica, which is abundant everywhere, but more 
especially near the watercourses. This extraordinary Willow 
has leaves up to 8 inches long and 5 inches wide, with 
catkins i foot or more long. It forms a straggling bush 5 to 
20 feet tall and, except when in flower or fruit, would scarcely 
be taken even by the closest observer for a Willow. (I first 
discovered this plant in 1903, and in 1908 succeeded in intro- 
ducing living plants into cultivation.) Many other kinds of 
SaHx, varying from prostrate shrubs to small trees, occur on 
the Niu-tou shan ; indeed, this mountain is remarkable for its 
wealth in Willows (subsequently I succeeded in introducing 
into cultivation about a dozen species from this locality). 
The Actinidia and Clematoclethra previously noted again 
very abundant. Clematis montana, var. grandiflora, with large 
white flowers, was a pleasing sight ; so also was a Deutzia 
{D. rubens) with pretty rose-tinted flowers. I saw no deciduous 
broad-leaved trees of any size, but herbs were luxuriant ever^^- 
where, especially the Rodgersia, which covers acres of the moun- 
tain-side. The Conifers were the most interesting plants of the 
day. In the ascent, save for odd trees of Silver Fir and 
Yew, I saw nothing but Hemlock Spruce. This tree delights 
in rocky country, clinging to the cliffs in a most remarkable 
manner. In the descent, however, Silver Fir, Spruce, Larch, 
Heinlock, and White Pine all occur, but the trees are being 
rapidly felled, and no large specimens were to be seen. From 
this place come the logs of timber noted yesterday. The 
Larch (L. Mastersiana) is first met with below T'ang-fang, 
alt, 9400 feet, where it is common more especially to the right 
of the road, and descends to 7200 feet altitude. 

Chuan-ching-lou, alt, 7000 feet, 50 li from Hoa-tzu-ping, 
consists of one large, dirty hostel, and three other houses, situ- 
ated in a narrow ravine, walled in by lofty mountains, A noisy 
torrent which descends from the Niu-tou shan flows past the 
inn, and vegetation is rampant on all sides. The road over 



176 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

the Niu-tou shan is difficult, and in many places dangerous. 
Here and there steps have been cut in the hard rock to assist 
the traveller, but in the main the road is strewn with loose 
stones and boulders — vile to walk on or over. 

We were unfortunate in the matter of weather, for it again 
rained as we continued our journey. Following the torrent 
through a narrow ravine for 5 li we reached Erh-tao chiao, 
where the torrent connects with a very considerable stream 
which flows from the Pan-Ian shan. The united waters form a 
river which, after traversing very wild country, joins with the 
Min near the foot of the Niangtsze-hng on the Wench'uan 
Hsien side of the pass. Turning sharply to the left at Erh- 
tao chiao we ascended the stream, which is called Pi-tao Ho, 
and soon crossed over by a wooden semi-cantilever bridge to 
the left bank. From this point the next 25 li to Wu-lung-kuan 
is easy, going through a narrow valley where occasional houses 
occur and a certain amount of cultivation obtains. Above 
Wu-lung-kuan the road becomes increasingly difficult, and in 
many places is execrable. The river is joined by numerous 
lateral torrents, some of large size, and as the valley narrows 
into a ravine becomes an untamable, roaring torrent. The 
scenery, such as the mists permitted of our seeing, is savage 
and grand. Here and there perpendicular cliffs of limestone 
cropped out through the mists, their summits covered with 
Pine trees. We crossed and re-crossed the torrent many times, 
and after covering 65 li reached Ta-ngai-tung, which was our 
destination for the day. This hamlet, alt. 7600 feet, consists 
of one large hostel, which was in moderately good repair, and is 
completely surrounded by steep mountains heavily clad with 
mixed shrubs and small trees, the upper parts being covered 
with forests of Conifers. The flora generally is very similar 
to that of the Niu-tou shan, though scarcely as rich. All the 
Conifers except Silver Fir are present, though Larch only puts 
in its first appearance near the hostel. At Erh-tao chiao 
I photographed a magnificent Juniper tree, 75 feet tall, 23 
feet in girth, with graceful pendent branches, and a Black 
Pine which retains its cones over many years. (It proved to 
be a new species, and has been named Pinus Wilsonii). This 
Pine is common on the cliffs, but White Pine (P. Armandi) 



ACROSS THE CHINO-THIBETAN BORDERLAND 177 

is rare, although we passed the largest specimens of this tree I 
have ever met with. Dcutzia longi folia with lovely rosy-hlac- 
coloured flowers, Spircea Hcnryi with yard long, flat sprays 
of pure white, and Neillia longeracemosa with rose-coloured 
flowers were perhaps the commonest shrubs in blossom. 
Poplar is the only large deciduous tree hereabouts. Maple 
is not uncommon, and near Ta-ngai-tung I gathered specimens 
of a Black Birch having short, stout erect catkins. 

Early next morning we continued oiu" journey, spending 
the whole day toiling up the ravine through wild and savage, 
yet wondrous, scenery, with a profusion of vegetation on all 
sides. Coniferous trees preponderate, the species being the 
same as those previously mentioned, with a couple of new 
Spruces added. Yew is less abundant, but Larch much more 
so, though large trees are very scarce. To my astonishment 
the Larch cones were ripe, and I collected a quantity of seed. 
A Poplar with large leaves, silver-grey on the under side, is 
very common, and we passed some very large specimens. A 
Rose with large bright red flowers made a fine display, so 
also did the pink-flowered Deutzia mentioned above. Two 
Lady-slipper orchids [Cypripedium Franchetii and C. lutcum), 
with rosy-purple and yellow flowers respectively, occur, but are 
rare. In the bed of the torrent Hippophae salicifolia (Sallow- 
thorn) is common, and varies from dwarf spiny bushes to 
trees 25 feet tall, the long slender foliage silvery-grey below 
forming a pleasing contrast to the brighter greens of surround- 
ing trees and shrubs. Many kinds of Maple [Acer], Linden 
{Tilia), and Mountain Ash {Sorbus) are plentiful, and Tetra- 
centron sincnse, an interesting tree exceeding in size all other 
deciduous trees of this particular region, occurs sparingly. 
Hydrangeas, Spiraeas, Honeysuckles, Mock-orange, Brambles, 
Roses, Actinidia, Clematoclethra, Viburnum, and other orna- 
mental shrubs struggle for possession of every available spot. 
The variety and wealth of bloom was truly astonishing, and 
I know of no region in Western China richer in woody plants 
than that traversed during the day's march. 

The weather continued exasperatingly showery, but luckily 
no great quantity of rain fell, otherwise the route would have 
been impassable. Heavy mists limited our view, but whenever 
VOL. I. — 12 



178 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

the clouds lifted we saw nothing but steep mountain-sides, 
beetling crags or cliffs, bare here and there but mostly clothed 
with mixed vegetation, giving place ultimately to forests 
of Conifers. The road is vile beyond the power of language 
to describe. In several places poles have been fixed hori- 
zontally into holes made in the face of the cliffs and half-rotten 
planks laid on these to form a roadway. Such bridges as 
exist are of logs, often rotten, and were always difficult to 
cross. The river is simply a roaring torrent, cascading over 
huge boulders and madly endeavouring to escape to less 
savage regions. At one point it receives a torrent, which, 
judging from the colour and temperature of the waters, evi- 
dently comes down from eternal snows. 

During the day we passed a few miserable hovels, but 
there is no room for cultivation, and the people are wretchedly 
poor. We stayed for the night at Yii-yii-tien, alt. 8800 feet, 
42 li from Ta-ngai-tung, where there are two poor hostels. 
These useful if squalid structures are all alike on this route, 
being one-storied, constructed of wood, and roofed with shingles 
held down by stones. A portion is sectioned off as private 
quarters for the family in charge, and near by the kitchen is 
located. A series of bunks is built around all sides of the 
place, the central part being occupied by benches for the 
accommodation of loads. Travellers furnish their own food- 
supplies, since nothing is obtainable at the hostel except, 
perhaps, some green vegetables in minute quantities. Shelter 
for the night and a fire to cook food and dry clothing are all 
these places afford. But the foreign traveller enjoys a welcome 
quietude and freedom from curious crowds. A sound night's 
sleep rewards the labours of the day, and he awakens refreshed, 
perfectly fit, and all eager to drink in more of the wondrous 
scenery, the charm of woodland, crag, and stream. 

At Teng-sheng-t'ang, 8 li beyond Yii-yii-tien, the ravine 
widens out into a shallow valley, and the road boldly ascends 
the grassy, scrub-clad mountains to the left of the stream. 
Hereabouts Barberries in great variety luxuriate. After a 
severe ascent we crossed over a shoulder, and for the rest of 
the day skirted the side of a grassy ridge carpeted with 
brilliantly coloured alpine flowers. 




PRIMULA VEITCHII 



ACROSS THE CHINO-THIBETAN BORDERLAND 179 

The main stream takes its rise in some snowclad peaks, 
of which we obtained a gHmpse and a photograph, but a 
considerable tributary flows down from the Pan-Ian shan 
Pass. The mountains to the right of this affluent, and also 
to the right of the main stream, are forested up to 11,500 
feet altitude with Spruce, Silver Fir, and Larch. The bed 
of the valley is covered with bushes of Willow, Hippophse, 
and Barberries. Up to 10,000 feet altitude Cypripedium 
luteum is not uncommon on humus-clad boulders and in 
the margins of woods. 

The flora of the grassy ridge leading up to the Pan-Ian shan 
Pass is strictly alpine in character, and the wealth of herbs 
was truly amazing. Most of the more vigorous growing had 
yellow flowers, and this colour predominated in consequence. 
Above 11,500 feet altitude, the gorgeous Meconopsis integrifolia, 
which has huge, globular, incurved, clear yellow flowers, 
covers miles of the mountain-side. Growing on plants from 
2 to 2^ feet tall the myriads of flowers of this wonderful Poppy- 
wort presented a magnificent spectacle. Nowhere else have I 
beheld this plant in such luxuriant profusion. The Sikhim cow- 
slip [Primula sikkimensis) , with deliciously fragrant pale yellow 
flowers, is rampant in moist places. Various kinds of Senecio, 
Trollius, Caltha, Pedicularis, and Corydalis added to the over- 
whelming display of yellow flowers. On boulders covered with 
grass and in moderately dry loamy places. Primula Veitchii 
was a pleasing sight with its bright rosy-pink flowers. All 
the moorland areas are covered so thickly with the Thibetan 
Lady-slipper Orchid [Cypripedium tiheticum) that it was 
impossible to step without treading on the huge dark red 
flowers reared on stems only a few inches tall. Yet the most 
fascinating herb of all was, perhaps, the extraordinary 
Primula vincceflora, with large, solitary, violet flowers, in 
shape strikingly resembling those of the common Periwinkle 
[Vinca major), produced on stalks 5 to 6 inches tall. This 
most unprimrose-like Primula is very abundant in grassy 
places. The variety of herbs is indeed legion, and the whole 
country-side was a feast of colour. Silence reigns in these 
lonely alpine regions, a silence so oppressive as to be almost 
felt and only broken on rare occasions by the song of some lark 



i8o A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

soaring skywards. We flushed an occasional Snow-partridge 
and saw one or two flocks of Snow-pigeons, but bird-life 
generally was extremely sparse. Save a few voles and mice we 
saw no animals, but Bharal and Wolves were said to occur 
here, the former in quantity. 

After travelling 38 li we reached the hostel at Hsiang- 
yang-ping, alt. 11,650 feet, and remained there for the night. 
This place is part temple, part inn, and is kept by a priest, to 
whose clothing and person water was evidently a stranger. The 
medicine Pei-mu {Fritillaria Roylci and other species) is 
common in this region, and as fellow-guests for the night we 
had a number of people engaged in digging up the tiny white 
corms of this plant. Some Chinese traders also were there 
buying up this medicine at 60 cash per ounce. In Chengtu 
it is worth, wholesale, 400 cash per ounce, so their profit is 
a handsome one. Among the medicine-gatherers were several 
Wokje tribesfolk, about 5 feet 8 inches tall, sturdily built, with 
straight noses and fearless expression. Two of their women 
were with them, and had they been clean and decently dressed 
they would have been decidedly handsome and attractive. 
We enjoyed during the day a certain amount of sunshine, in- 
terrupted by occasional showers, but soon after our arrival at 
Hsiang-yang-ping it commenced raining in torrents, and con- 
tinued to do so far into the night. 

It ceased raining before dayhght, to our great joy. Making 
an early start we toiled slowly over the dreaded Pan-Ian shan, 
crossing the pass in a dense, driving, bitterly cold mist. The 
ascent is nowhere difficult, and none of us suffered seriously 
from the effects of the rarefied atmosphere, in spite of the 
evil reputation this pass has for mountain-sickness. The 
ridge is narrow, razor-backed, the summit being composed of 
sandstone, with marble embedded, piled up at an acute angle 
and devoid of vegetation. Snow, unmelted from the winter, 
lay in odd patches immediately below the pass, and on all 
sides there was much fresh snow. The dense mists prevented 
any extended view, but what little of the region was visible 
was bare and desolate. Two or three of the lovely Snowbird, 
Grandala ccelicolor, were flitting around the snowy patches, 
their intense blue plumage contrasting remarkably with the 



ACROSS THE CHINO-THIBETAN BORDERLAND i8i 

white carpet around. I made the pass, 14,250 feet altitude, and 
the tree-Hmit about 11,800 feet. 

The flora above 12,000 feet altitude is purely alpine and 
similar in character to that of the region around Sungpan and 
elsewhere throughout the Chino-Thibetan Borderland at the 
same altitude. Mcconopsis integrifolia occurs in countless 
thousands ; also, to my pleasant surprise, the dark scarlet- 
flowered M. punicea. Although by no means so plentiful as 
around Sungpan, there were many thousands of this beauti- 
ful herb scattered around. Primroses are most abundant ; 
Primula vincce flora ascends to 13,000 feet, where its place is 
taken by the lovely P. nivalis and another closely allied species. 

On crossing over I photographed the pass and then 
descended with all possible speed to the miserable hostel of 
Wan-jen-fen, alt. 13,700 feet, where our lunch awaited us. 
A little below this hostel a few bushes of Willow, small-leaved 
Rhododendrons, and Caragana spp. first appeared and 
became abundant as we descended. Soon Larch and occa- 
sional Spruce appear, and at 11,300 feet altitude trees are 
fairly numerous. A shrubby, evergreen Prickly Oak is char- 
acteristic of these wind-swept mountain-sides, the golden- 
brown undersurface of its leaves rendering it most conspicuous. 
(This Oak is almost as beautiful as the Golden Chestnut of 
California {Castanopsis chrysophylla) , and I am very pleased to 
report its successful introduction to cultivation.) 

In addition to the shrubs mentioned above, dwarf Juniper, 
Spiraea, and Sallowthorn also abound. This moorland country 
is very interesting and shows unmistakable signs of a drier 
climate than that enjoyed by the regions on the opposite side 
of the pass. 

A torrent which rises near the head of the pass is soon 
augmented by tributaries and quickly becomes a roaring un- 
fordable stream. The mountain-slopes close in, and at the tiny 
hamlet of Kao-tien-tzu the road plunges into a ravine. The 
sides of this ravine are wooded, Larch and Spruce being abun- 
dant, with miscellaneous shrubby vegetation. The elegant 
Syringa tomcntclla, a Lilac with branching panicles of fragrant 
flowers, is very common. On issuing from this ravine we 
crossed a tributary torrent, more turbulent in character than 



i82 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

even the main stream, and found in front of us open country 
largely under cultivation. 

Our caravan was to have stopped for the night at the 
hamlet of Kao-tien-tzu, but with greater zeal than knowledge 
pushed on 20 li farther to Reh-lung-kuan. This blunder 
upset my plans and put all things awry. The collecting work 
had to be curtailed ; it was 10 p.m. before I got any supper, 
and much of our work had to remain over until the morrow. 

The Pan-Ian shan is the boundary between two Chiarung 
states. On crossing over we quitted the state of Wassu and 
entered that of Wokje. The Wassu territory is wildly moun- 
tainous, well forested, and but little suited to agriculture. In 
consequence it is sparsely populated, and we encountered 
very few of the inhabitants en route. The hostels and houses 
on the main road are in the hands of Chinese or half-castes. 
The men of Wassu are tall (5 feet 8 inches or thereabouts), 
with large, muscular frames, frank, open countenances, and 
are noted hunters of the beasts of forest and crag. The women 
are sturdy, buxom, and engagingly frank. Both men and 
women are darker complexioned than the Chinese, and, I am 
sorry to say, infinitely less cleanly in appearance. They are 
very fond of jewellery, both sexes wearing bangles of silver 
and copper, and silver rings studded with coral and turquoise. 
The women also wear large silver ear-rings, usually having 
insets of coral and turquoise. The men are addicted to opium- 
smoking, though possibly this is strictly true only of those 
engaged near the main roads as porters and muleteers who 
have come in close contact with the Chinese. 

Reh-lung-kuan, alt. 10,900 feet, is a Wokje village con- 
sisting of about a score of houses, a small lamasery, and a tall 
square tower. We found here a spacious and very fair inn, 
and the people were courteous and obliging. Our carrying 
coolies were able to purchase opium and a certain amount 
of food-stuffs. This explained their anxiety to cover 75 li, 
instead of stopping 20 li short at Kao-tien-tzu. 

On leaving Reh-lung-kuan we descended the right bank 
of the river, which rises near the Pan-Ian shan pass, for 33 li 
to the hamlet of Kuan-chin-pa, a short day's march being 
necessary in order to accomplish the work left over. The day 



ACROSS THE CHINO-THIBETAN BORDERLAND 183 

was fine and warm, with a strong, cool breeze. Looking back 
on our route the snows of the Pan-Ian shan were visible the 
whole day. The road was in good repair, and skirts the 
mountain-sides well above the stream. In ancient times this 
valley was filled with glacial detritus, through which the strong 
torrent has cut a deep, narrow bed. This stream, known 
locally as the Nei chu, is really the principal branch of the 
Hsaochin Ho (Little Gold River). Formerly gold in con- 
siderable quantities was mined in this valley, and we passed 
many old workings during the march. 

The country generally reminded me forcibly of the Upper 
Min Valley, near Sungpan, above 8000 feet altitude. On the 
left bank of the stream the mountain-sides are very steep and 
largely covered with woods composed of Spruce, Silver Fir, 
and a few Pine trees. On the right bank the mountains are 
more sloping and mainly under cultivation. Wheat is the 
staple crop and ripens in early August ; buckwheat ranks 
next in importance, followed at a respectable distance by peas, 
beans, and Irish potato. The Wokje people are evidently 
skilled agriculturists and in their own way fairly well-to-do. 
The prosperous condition of this state was evidenced by the 
plenitude of large houses, lamaseries, and by the relatively 
dense population. The hostels, however, are all in the hands 
of half-breeds, descended from early Chinese colonists. The 
larger houses and lamaseries are usually perched on some bluff 
composed of glacial mud, grits, and boulders. They are more 
or less square, two-storied, with flat mud roofs, having small 
turrets at each corner, from which prayer-flags flutter; a 
branch of some kind of Conifer is usually in evidence near 
these flags. Chortens and other Lamaist monuments occur 
here and there, while inscribed Mani-stones are common. 
The peasants' houses are low, one-storied, built of sandstone 
shales, the roof either flat or with very slight slope. 

That the climate of this valley is relatively dry and warm 
is clearly shown by the flora, which is markedly xerophytic. 
Two species of Cotoneaster, several Clematis, the Sallowthorn, 
Prickly Oak, Barberries, and Roses are the chief constituents. 
A curious Bush Honeysuckle, with small leaves and tubular, 
white, fragrant flowers borne in pairs, is locally abundant. 



i84 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

(This proved to be a new species and has been named Lonicera 
tuhuliflora.) Another common plant is the shrubby Clematis 
fruticosa, with simple oblong leaves and golden yellow, nodding 
flowers. A Lilac [Syringa Potaninii), with erect panicles of 
rose-purple flowers, is another interesting shrub, plentiful in 
this valley. Poplar, a Hard Pine [Pinus prominens), with 
almost prickly cones, and a White Birch, the bark of which is 
used for lining straw hats, are the more common trees by the 
wayside. I also gathered a few late flowers of Incarvillea 
Wilsonii. In a general way this Incarvillea resembles Delavay's 
species, but averages 4 to 6 feet in height. Another new plant 
collected was a Primrose akin to Primula sibirica, but with 
taller scapes and longer pedicels. 

Kuan-chin-pa, alt. 9500 feet, consists of two small and rather 
poor inns, with the ruins of a large square tower near-by. 

Twelve li below Kuan-chin-pa, and also on the right bank 
of the river, is the village of Ta-wei, a considerable place for 
this region, boasting a large lamasery. This place has an evil 
reputation, but no ill-will was displayed toward me. Many 
Lamas clad in claret-coloured serge crowded around and 
watched me as I photographed the village, and displayed 
much interest in my camera, dog, and gun. Nevertheless, 
the reputation of this village is well founded, and I would advise 
travellers to avoid staying overnight there. From Ta-wei a 
road leads across the river and over the mountains to Mupin. 

On continuing our journey we followed the right bank 
of the stream for a further 27 li to Mo-ya-ch'a, where, owing to 
an old landslide, it was necessary to cross over to the left bank. 
This was accomplished by means of a wooden semi-cantilever 
bridge. Such bridges have been fairly common en route, but 
this was the first our road had led over. From this bridge the 
road descends the left bank, keeping high up above the river to 
Kuan-chai, which was our destination for the day. The whole 
valley is very arid, though a considerable area was under 
wheat. A few Poplar and Willow trees occur near the river, 
otherwise only high up on the mountain-sides were any trees 
discernible. The flora is similar to that of all the principal 
river-valleys of this hinterland, as described in Chapter XII. 
Rosa Soulieana is very abundant. I gathered several new 



ACROSS THE CHINO-THIBETAN BORDERLAND 185 

plants, but the country is too arid to be of much interest 
botanically. 

Situated at an altitude of 8500 feet, Kuan-chai is a small 
village and the residence of the Wokje chieftain. The chief's 
house is very large, the upper structure, all of wood, is well 
built, and the whole is dominated by several tall towers, and 
fine Walnut trees occur scattered around. The prosperous 
condition of this little state was further evidenced during the 
day's march. Large houses are frequent, many being perched 
high up on the steep mountain-sides. Wheat is the principal 
crop grown, and at Kuan-chai was just bursting into ear. 
Maize and the Irish potato are likewise commonly cultivated. 
A little flax and Hemp [Cannabis) also occur, the oil expressed 
from the seeds of these plants being in general use as an illumi- 
nant. We passed odd fields of opium poppy, the plants being 
only a few inches tall. On the fan-shaped slope, at the head 
of which the village of Kuan-chai is situated, all the crops were 
remarkably luxuriant. 

At Ma-lun-chia a considerable torrent joins the Nei chu 
on the right bank. A by-road ascends this tributary, leading 
to Fupien and thence to Lifan Ting. Our road was for the 
greater part good and we easily covered the 67 li, enjoying 
bright sunshine the whole day. 

Immediately beyond the chief's residence the road mounts 
over a steep bluff, where is situated the hamlet of Hsao-kuan- 
chai. This place is reputed to have offered a stern resistance 
to the Chinese in their conquest of this valley a hundred odd 
years ago, and was only captured after a long siege. The 
remains of the sangars and old forts are still to be seen. From 
this point the road continues to wind along the left bank of 
the river for 40 li to the town of Monkong Ting. Both sides of 
the valley are very arid, and the flora poor and uninteresting. 
Very few houses occur in the valley, but high up on the moun- 
tain-sides we saw many scattered about and surrounded by 
wheat fields. At Laoyang the river is joined on the right bank 
by another of almost equal volume. The main road from 
Lifan Ting, via Fupien, descends this tributary stream and joins 
at this point the road we were following. From what little 
we could see of the valley of this Fupien stream it appeared 



i86 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

to be as arid and barren as the one we had descended from 
Reh-lung-kuan. Continuing our journey and on rounding a 
bend in the river, we suddenly sighted, perched on a rocky 
promontory, the town of Monkong Ting. After passing 
through a gateway we noticed a separate township, rather 
prosperous looking, situated in a lateral valley a little to the 
left of the main road. This is the official town of Monkong 
Ting, where reside the principal officials, civil and military. 
Crossing a torrent by a wooden bridge we entered the place 
first sighted from the bend in the river. This proved to be 
an old military camp of poverty-stricken, dilapidated houses, 
scattered alongside a street about lOO yards long. Two hun- 
dred yards beyond this camp we reached the thriving business 
town known as Hsin-kai-tsze. Monkong Ting, therefore, 
consists of three distinct towns or villages : (i) the official 
town, (2) an old military camp, (3) the business town. All 
three are unwalled, though a gateway has to be passed on 
entering each. The situation is most picturesque and strategi- 
cally very strong. Monkong Ting is the political capital of 
this region and a place of very considerable importance. The 
two Chiarung states of Wokje and Mupin have their boundaries 
at this point, and the rest of the valley to Romi Change is 
divided into feudal states. 

The streets of Hsin-kai-tsze were thronged with people, 
chiefly tribesfolk, selling medicines and buying various articles 
for their own use. They made a very picturesque crowd, the 
women being especially noticeable by reason of their display 
of silver dress-ornaments, bangles, and ear-rings. The inns were 
all crowded, but the head official obligingly secured a couple 
of rooms for us and treated us with much courtesy and good- 
will. The people were naturally curious and grouped them- 
selves around us, but their manners were deferential. 

Hsin-kai-tsze, alt. 8200 feet, is a most important medicine 
mart, being famous for its " Pei-mu " {Fritillana spp.), 
" Rhubarb," " Ch'ung-tsao " (a caterpillar infested with the 
fungus Cordyceps sinc7isis), and " Chung-hoa " (an Umbelliferous 
plant, possibly Lignsticum Thomsonii). All of these are 
collected and brought in for sale by the tribesfolk. Musk and 
deer-horns also figure in the trade. 



ACROSS THE CHINO-THIBETAN BORDERLAND 187 

Several roads radiate from this centre ; one of these leads 
from the official town to Mupin, over the pass of Chia-chin shan, 
which was said to be higher than that of the Pan-Ian shan and 
surrounded by snow-clad peaks. 

The Wokje state preserved its prosperous appearance to the 
end, and is evidently a thriving, happy little country. The 
people strongly resemble the Wassu folk, though possibly 
they are scarcely as tall and have slightly sharper features. 
The Chinese language is understood and in common use along 
the main road, where the people imitate the Chinese in shaving 
their heads and wearing a queue. Lamaism evidently has a 
strong hold on these people, judging by the number of lama- 
series we saw. 

I had intended remaining a day at Monkong Ting, but owing 
to the crowded condition of the town decided to defer this 
holiday until we reached Romi Chango. The inn in which 
rooms were provided for us was crowded with persons who 
were noisy over their cups and business dealings far into the 
night, rendering sleep well-nigh an impossibility. 

Just outside Hsin-kai-tsze the road crosses over by a log 
bridge to the right bank of the stream. This bridge was 
being repaired, and only two very uneven logs were in position. 
A thin rope was stretched across to serve as a hand-rail on 
the left side. Crossing was really dangerous, the waters 
below being deep and turbulent. The official kindly provided 
local experts to carry our gear over, and the way these men 
accomplished the task filled me with admiration. I rewarded 
them with 1000 cash, to their astonished delight. My dog 
was lashed firmly to a flat board and carried across on a man's 
back. He struggled violently, and the man only just managed 
to get him over before he got half loose. I walked over behind 
the dog and was relieved when the 30 yards across the yawning 
gulf were safely passed. Everything came over all right, but 
my followers clung to the local men like grim death, the 
majority shaking in their nervous fright. Such dangerous 
experiences are not desirable, and I heartily hoped that we 
had no more such bridges to cross. From this bridge we 
descended 60 li to the hamlet of Sheng-ko-chung, alt, 
7600 feet, through arid country and over a bad road. The 



i88 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

river is here a broad and turbulent stream, flowing between 
steep banks composed of loose rocks. A few Poplar, an 
occasional Cypress (C. torulosa), and the Koelreuteria (the latter 
was covered with masses of small yellow flowers) are the only 
trees of note. The region is very sparsely populated, but 
high up, on the left bank more especially, are a few houses of 
the same architecture as those of Wokje. 

As travelling companions during the day we had a party 
of tribesfolk, chiefly women in holiday attire. They were 
very cheerful, laughing and singing most of the time. On 
parting company at Sheng-ko-chung they made merry over cups 
of Chinese wine, the dames officiating as to the manner born. 

It rained heavily during the night, and it was cool and 
delightfully fresh in the morning when we recommenced our 
journey down the valley of the Hsaochin Ho. Thirty li below 
Sheng-ko-chung we passed the large lamasery of Gi-lung, 
coloured white and picturesquely situated on the right bank 
of the river. Over a hundred Lamas reside here and exercise 
considerable authority over the neighbourhood. About lo li 
beyond this lamasery the river suddenly develops into a series 
of boiling, roaring cataracts. The fury of the waters was most 
fearsome to behold, and a wilder stretch of river is scarcely 
imaginable. Earlier in the day we had crossed to the left 
bank, and just below the very worst bit of this savage waterway 
we recrossed to the right bank over a rotten and most unsafe 
wooden bridge. Some 7 li below this point we reached the 
hamlet of Pan-ku chiao, alt. 7100 feet, where we found 
accommodation for the night, having covered 70 li. Just 
above the hamlet a torrent joins the river on its left bank, 
and up this lateral valley mountains clad with snow were 
plainly visible. Bridges are scarce and the few that exist look 
as if they had not been renewed since this region was conquered, 
well over a hundred years ago. One thing is certain, they 
cannot possibly last much longer : the two we crossed during 
the day were all askew and decidedly dangerous. 

The district is rather less arid than that around Monkong 
Ting, yet the flora is very poor. Poplar is a common tree, 
so also is the Koelreuteria, which was a fine sight, with a wealth 
of flowers, and it evidently enjoys a dry, hot situation. The 



^sS?5^Tr^^^^T^^^ 




ACROSS THE CHINO-THIBETAN BORDERLAND 189 

sub-shrubby Incarvillea variabilis and Amphicome arguta, 
both with large, tubular, pink flowers, are very abundant by 
the roadside. Other common shrubs are Bauhinia, Sophora 
viciifolia, Ceratostigma, with lovely blue flowers, Ligustrum and 
Rosa Soulieana. On the cliffs Cupressus torulosa is dotted 
about. Maize is the principal crop, occupying in season almost 
every inch of available land. Houses are fairly numerous, 
but most of them are relegated to the higher slopes well above 
the valley. The scenery in places is rugged and grand. In 
front of the inn at Pan-ku chiao limestone cliffs rear themselves 
some 2000 feet, abutting on a cultivated slope where Walnut 
trees are scattered around. Crowning a bluff is a tall tower, 
and near-by another in ruins, telling of glories now departed. 

On leaving Pan-ku chiao we descended the right bank of 
the Hsaochin Ho, some 42 li to the point where it joins the 
Tachin Ho or Upper Tung River. This final stretch is little 
else but one long succession of cataracts and strong rapids, 
the turbulent waters being thick with brown mud. High 
bare cliffs predominate, but here and there occur more or less 
flat fan-shaped areas under cultivation, with houses shaded by 
Poplar, Willow, and Walnut trees. Diospyros Lotus, Hovenia 
dulcis, and the large-leaved Ligustrum lucidum are other 
trees common hereabouts. Maize is evidently the chief 
summer crop in these regions, but wheat is grown, a red, 
beardless variety, with stout ears, and harvesting was in 
progress. Rock-pigeons are very abundant, and were busily 
engaged in exacting their toll of the ripening grain. 

After passing the hamlet of Yo-tsa we sighted on the 
opposite (left) bank a large lamasery sequestered midst a fine 
grove of trees. A little beyond this is the village of Tsung-lu, 
a curious-looking place, boasting of a score or more tall towers. 
Skin coracles are employed to ferry over to these places. 

The Hsaochin Ho is prevented from joining the Tachin Ho 
at right angles by a rocky spit which at times is evidently 
flooded over. Marble and granite are common rocks hereabouts, 
the latter being full of mica flakes which glistened in the sun. 
Ascending the left bank of the Tachin Ho for a couple of li, then 
crossing over a bamboo suspension bridge go yards long, we 
soon reached the small town of Romi Chango. The whole day's 



190 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

journey was only 45 li, but owing to the heat and rough road we 
all arrived very much fatigued and in sore need of a day's rest. 
From all I could learn it would appear that the region in 
the vicinity of the river from Monkong Ting to Romi Change, 
after its conquest by the Chinese about a.d. 1775, was 
divided into feudal states, and certain chieftains installed in 
possession as rewards for services rendered during the struggle. 
The chiefs, styled Shao-pes, hold hereditary office and are 
directly responsible to Chinese authority for the good behaviour 
of the people under their rule, also, if necessity arises, they 
are bound to supply armed men to assist the Chifiese cause. 
Lamas alone are exempt from such military duties ; ordinarily 
the people of these feudal states are agriculturists. These 
Shao-pes are subordinate to the Chinese military commander 
stationed at Monkong Ting. The two chief Shao-pes reside, 
one at Monkong Ting, the other at Che-lung, a village in the 
mountains, 20 li removed from the left bank of the Hsaochin 
Ho and 60 li below Monkong Ting. Another Shao-pe resides 
at Ta-ching, 120 li to the north-east of Monkong Ting ; a 
fourth at A'n-niu, a place in the mountains to the south-west 
of the region controlled by the Che-lung Shao-pe. Beyond the 
original grant of territory these feudal chiefs receive no rewards, 
monetary or otherwise, from the Chinese. The system has 
much to recommend it and evidently works very well. It keeps 
the Chinese authority supreme, while it allows the native 
people to be governed by their own recognized chiefs. The 
difference between the chieftain of a semi-independent Chiarung 
state and a Shao-pe appears to be that, whereas the former 
is an absolute ruler over a territory long hereditary to his 
tribe, the latter is more in the nature of an alien ruling over a 
tract of country fiefed to his forbears by the Chinese, after they 
conquered this region and broke up the Chiarung confederacy. 
The territory occupied by these feudal states formerly belonged 
to the Chiarung tribes, and the people are principally derived 
from that stock. Chinese settlers have intermarried with 
the natives, and in the vicinity of the main road the population 
is mixed. The people living in the lower stretches of the 
Hsaochin Ho are an inferior race, of poor physique, and most 
abominably filthy. 



CHAPTER XV 

ACROSS THE CHINO-THIBETAN BORDERLAND 

RoMi Chango to Tachienlu ; the Forests of the Ta-p'ao 

Shan 

ROMI CHANGO, or Chango, as it is commonly called, is 
a poor, unwalled, straggling town of about 130 houses. 
It is without rank, but a magistrate, subordinate to the 
Tachienlu Fu, and a military official, controlled from Monkong 
Ting, reside there. The town is really a Chinese settlement, 
situated in the extreme north-east corner of the state of Chiala. 
It is built on the right bank of the Tachin Ho, at a point where 
the river, making a right-angled turn from the northward, is 
joined by a very considerable torrent from the west. The 
Tachin, a river 100 yards broad, with a steady current and 
muddy water, sweeps round majestically. High cliffs on the 
left bank, steep mountain-slopes on the right, lofty mountains 
to the east and west wall in the town, at the western entrance 
to which a massive square tower stands sentinel. Chango is a 
very poverty-stricken place, with a small trade in medicines 
and sundries. It draws its supplies of rice, paper, and Chinese 
commodities generally from Kuan Hsien, and everything is 
phenomenally dear. This is only natural when the distance and 
difficulties of the journey are duly considered. 

A small road descends the right bank of the Tachin Ho, by 
means of which Luting chiao may, with great difficulty, be 
reached. A road ascends the right bank of the Tachin Ho 
and leads to the interesting Chiarung states of Badi and 
Bawang, where the Bonpa religion holds full sway. Badi, the 
capital of these now united principalities, is only 60 li from 
Romi Chango. The chieftain is dead, but his widow, assisted 
by a steward, acts as regent for her infant son. Badi-Bawang is 



192 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

one of the ancient matriarchal kingdoms of Chinese historians, 
and at all times a woman holds an important place in its 
government. Badi, the larger of the two states, is very rich 
in gold, which, though un worked during recent years, is 
jealously guarded. Chinese visitors, rich or poor, are cross- 
questioned as to their business and closely watched during 
their sojourn in this state. The Badi-Bawang folk often visit 
Chango on business, and during our stay there we saw several. 
Most of them were peasant girls and women, dressed so scantily 
as to scarcely hide their nakedness. They were short in 
stature, and apparently unwashed from birth ! However, 
since these were " hewers of wood and drawers of water " of 
the poorest class, it would be unfair to judge the whole race 
by them. 

In Chango we lodged at a comfortable inn, having a clean 
room, well removed from the street and overlooking the river. 
We spent a quiet day resting and refitting for the final stage 
of our journey to Tachienlu. The people were not over- 
inquisitive and those in charge of the inn were exceedingly 
obliging. Soon after our arrival the magistrate sent me word 
that he was suffering from pains in the stomach and vomiting, 
and would be grateful for some medicine to relieve his suffering. 
I sent him some Epsom-salt and an opiate. The next day 
word came that he was much better, only too tired to leave 
his room. A traveller gets many such requests for medicine, 
and I have generally found quinine, Epsom-salt, and opium pills 
most useful cures, for which the people were always grateful. 
On leaving this lonely town of Chango, which I made 
6700 feet altitude, the road to Tachienlu ascends the right 
bank of the tributary torrent. We were warned that the road 
was very difficult, leading through forests and over high moun- 
tains. It was not long before these statements were verified. 
The torrent quickly develops into an angry, irresponsible 
stream ; the road in many places had been washed away and 
much wading was necessary. Our carriers had great diffi- 
culty in getting along, and had the waters of the torrent been 
a few feet higher the road would have been quite impassable. 
AU the bridges were rotten and most insecure. High up on the 
moimtain-sides we saw several large hamlets, but there are very 



ACROSS THE CHINO-THIBETAN BORDERLAND 193 

few houses in the valley — quite sufficient, however, for when- 
ever the road led past a house we had to traverse an open 
sewer, often a foot deep in dung and refuse. Such filthy 
surroundings are characteristic of Thibetan houses. The 
Chinese would collect all this sewage for their fields, but the 
Thibetans, who are but poor agriculturists at best, have not 
yet learned the value of manure. At such places I usually 
climbed over the fences and walked through the crops, but my 
men waded through the filth and gave vent to their wrath in 
loud, angry imprecations. The people of Chiala are typical 
Thibetans and use the lower stories of their fiat-roofed houses 
as pens for horses and cattle. A few li above Chango the flora 
begins to lose its purely xerophytic character, and becomes 
more and more luxuriant as the ascent proceeds. The higher 
slopes are well forested with mixed trees, but near-by the road 
trees are scarce. The mountain-sides flanking the stream 
are very steep, being often sheer cliffs. Such places are 
dotted with Cypress [Cupressus torulosa) and prickly leaved 
Evergreen Oak. 

After journeying 60 li we reached the village of Tung-ku, 
alt. 7800 feet, where there are several large Thibetan houses, 
decorated with prayer-flags, but only two or three hostels, and 
these very poor in character. The owner of the one we stayed 
in is a noted hunter, and many pelts of the Budorcas, Serow, 
and Black Bear were in use as bed-mattresses. His family 
told us the hunter was away after Musk-deer ; they also 
informed us that both the Thibetan-eared and Lady Amherst 
Pheasants are common hereabouts. Around the village 
Walnut trees are most abundant. Wheat is a common crop 
and was just ripening. Maize too was plentiful and is evidently 
the staple summer crop everywhere in these regions. 

The next day we covered another 60 li, putting up for the 
night at the poor hamlet of T'ung-lu-fang. We crossed the 
river four times by wooden bridges, each more rotten than the 
other. The river was in partial flood, and a goodly portion of 
the road was either washed away, obliterated by landslides, 
or under water. Often we had to make a path for ourselves 
up the mountain-side. The under-water portions of the road 
I traversed on the back of one of the soldiers we had with us 
VOL. I. — 13 



194 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

from Chango, until he stumbled and gave me a ducking. After 
this I waded. There was no traffic on the road so called, and 
I marvelled how my coolies managed to get their loads along. 
Our chairs were carried piecemeal and even then with difficulty 
over the worst places. The river was a roaring torrent through- 
out the whole day's journey, in places really awesome to be- 
hold, dashing itself headlong over enormous boulders, or boiling 
as if forced up by some malignant spirit. In many places our 
path actually overhung this torrent, and one false step meant 
death. 

About 10 li above Tung-ku the river makes a right-angled 
turn and is joined at this point by another stream of almost 
equal volume from the westward. From this place the road 
skirts the river through a narrow, savage, magnificently 
wooded ravine. Maple, Ash, Hornbeam, Birch, Poplar, 
Hemlock Spruce, and Prickly Oak are the chief constituents 
of these woods, followed by Evodia, Rhus, Cypress, Willow, 
Elm, Sallowthorn, Bamboo, and miscellaneous shrubs. The 
Maples {Acer Davidii and A. pictum, var. parviflorum) are 
larger trees than I have seen elsewhere. The Ash and Horn- 
beam are all fine trees, and the Hemlock Spruce in many cases 
over 100 feet tall, with a girth of 12 to 15 feet. 

On leaving this magnificent fragment of virgin forest the 
country became less interesting. Where the cliffs are not sheer 
and bare the mountain-slopes have been cleared to a very 
large extent. The ravine widens into a narrow valley which is 
covered with scrub. The cliffs and mountain-slopes high up 
are sparsely clad with Cypress, White and Hard Pine, Spruce, 
Silver Fir, and Hemlock. The scenery is subhme. 

We passed very few houses and these of the meanest 
description. Very little land is under cultivation ; Maize 
is the chief crop, with patches of wheat and oats here and 
there. The country is not suited to cultivation, and one mar- 
vels how the few people living there manage to find even the 
most miserable subsistence. Yesterday we noticed herds of a 
small breed of cattle. The people are shorter in stature than the 
average, and perfectly proportioned dwarfs are fairly common. 
Since leaving Monkong Ting, goitre has been manifest among 
the inhabitants, and in this river-valley it is very prevalent. 




'^^^^. 



1..*.' ,^-,- :■_ . ; - .-.--'- 

FORESTS WEST OF CHAN(;0, A POPLAR TREK IN 1( )KK( IROUM) 



ACROSS THE CHINO-THIBETAN BORDERLAND 195 

T'ung-lu-fang, alt. 8800 feet, consists of about half a dozen 
scattered houses. The one we stayed in is of Thibetan archi- 
tecture, fairly clean, and owned by a Chinese settler. None of 
these houses affords any bedding for the coolies, and of course 
nothing is purchasable — all food-stuffs have to be carried by the 
travellers themselves. 

The people at T'ung-lu-fang informed us that we should not 
be able to reach ]\Iao-niu, as the road had been badly washed 
away in several places, and under the lee of some cliffs was 
flooded to a depth of 4 feet or more. This gratuitous and 
discouraging information proved, luckily for us, to be scarcely 
accurate, since, after a struggle, we managed to get through. 
My head coolie declared it was the very worst road we had ever 
traversed, and I was inclined to agree with him. Worse it 
could not have been and constitute a roadway at all ! For 
fully half the distance the track was under water or washed 
completely away, and we were forced to wade or make a new 
path over the mountain-side. Just how we got over the 30 li 
I cannot describe, but we all came through with nothing worse 
than a severe wetting. 

Mao-niu is a fair-sized village for the country, and is mainly 
perched on a flat 200 feet above the torrent, and surrounded by 
a considerable area under wheat — a veritable oasis, in fact, 
surrounded by high mountains. Formerly it was the principal 
village of a petty state to which it gave its name. It now 
belongs to the state of Chiala. As far as Mao-niu the scenery 
and flora is similar to that around Tung-ku and calls for no 
special remark. The outstanding feature is the woods of Hard 
Pine {Pinus prominens). The steeper the country the happier 
this Pine appeared to be. The bark of the trunk is deeply 
furrowed, often red in the upper parts of the tree ; the cones are 
quite prickly, and are retained for many years. The wood is 
very resinous, and is evidently much esteemed for building 
purposes. The Hemlock Spruce is common, and all the trees 
are of great size. 

At Mao-niu the main stream leads off in a westerly direction 
to Th'ai-ling, a large village of over 100 houses and several 
lamaseries. It is also the centre of a considerable gold-mining 
industry, and has the reputation of being a lawless district. 



196 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

We were informed that the road thither was in a dreadful state 
of disrepair, and that most of the bridges had been washed away 
by recent floods. 

On clearing the cultivated area around Mao-niu we plunged 
immediately into a narrow, heavily forested ravine, down which 
a considerable torrent thundered. Conifers preponderate in 
these forests, Spruce being particularly abundant. We noticed 
some huge trees, but the average was about 80 to 100 feet tall. 
White and Red Birch are common, and I was fortunate enough 
to secure seeds of the latter. The Sallowthorn {Hippophce 
salicifolia) is exceedingly common, forming trees 30 to 50 feet 
tall with a girth of 4 to 10 feet. The size of these trees very 
much surprised me. Willows, Cherries, and different species of 
Pyrus are also plentiful. Deutzia, Hydrangea, Philadelphus, 
Rosa, and Clematis are the principal shrubs, and many were 
in flower. Primula Cockhurniana, which has orange-scarlet 
flowers, is the most noteworthy herb hereabouts. 

After wandering several miles through the forests we 
reached the hamlet of Kuei-yung, alt. 10,100 feet, and 60 li 
from T'ung-lu-fang. This place consists of half a dozen houses, 
purely Thibetan in character, built on a slope and surrounded by 
a considerable area under wheat, barley, and oats. The moun- 
tains all around are heavily forested with coniferous trees, and in 
the far distance a snow-capped peak glittered on the horizon. 

The house we lodged in is three-storied with the usual flat 
mud roof. The walls built of shale-rock are most substantial. 
Entering through a low doorway we had first to traverse a yard 
filled with cattle dung, then a piggery where a steep ladder led 
upwards to a couple of dark empty rooms in which we installed 
ourselves. A ladder from these rooms led to the roof, where 
I should have preferred to sleep had it not been raining. The 
house boasts neither table, stool, nor chair, and we had to 
improvise as best we could. The Thibetans squat on the 
floor for their meals, and therefore have no use for tables or 
chairs. The housewife, a most cheery if dirty person, had a 
very musical laugh. Things generally appeared a joke to her, 
and incited her to frequent laughter, which it was pleasant to 
hear. My followers were oddly amused at the strangeness of 
things, and appeared to enjoy the novelty. 



ACROSS THE CHINO-THIBETAN BORDERLAND 197 

Yet it was not out of love for our quarters that I stayed 
over a day at Kuei-yung, but to photograph various trees and 
investigate the Conifers. Photography in the forests is no 
mere pastime. It took over an hour on three occasions clearing 
away brushwood and branches so as to admit of a clear view 
of the trunk of the subject. I secured a dozen photographs, 
which entailed a hard day's work. The trees of Larch and 
other Conifers, Birch, and Poplar are very fine. The Larch 
(L. Potaninii), though not plentiful, is of great size, and trees 
100 feet by 12 feet in girth occur. But the most astonishing 
feature of these forests is the large trees of Sallowthorn 
{HippophS salicifolia). I had never imagined it could attain 
to the size of specimens I saw during the day. I photographed 
two old trees 50 feet tall, 12 and 15 feet in girth respectively. 
I saw others taller but less in girth. Another interesting tree 
hereabouts is a Cherry {Prunus serrula, var. tihetica), which 
has a short, very thick trunk, and wide-spreading head. The 
leaves are willow-like, 3 to 4 inches long ; the fruit is red, 
ovoid, on pendulous stalks. The tree averages about 30 feet 
in height, the head being 60 feet and more through. 

The next morning we bade farewell to our cheery hostess 
at Kuei-yung, and continued our journey. The road immedi- 
ately plunges into the forest, and winds through and among 
magnificent timber. The forests are very fine, and coniferous 
trees 100 to 150 feet tall, with a girth of 12 to 18 feet, are quite 
common. The latter consist of four species of Spruce, three 
of Silver Fir and one of Larch. The handsomest of the Silver 
Firs is Ahies squamata, which has purplish-brown bark, ex- 
fohating like the bark of the River Birch. The Larch becomes 
general in the ascent, and ultimately overtops all other trees 
and extends to the tree-limit. White and Red Birch, Poplar 
and Sallowthorn are the only broad-leaved deciduous trees 
really common. An Evergreen Oak {Quercus Ilex, var. rufescens) , 
with prickly leaves like a Holly, is abundant. In the shelter 
of the forests this Oak makes a good-sized tree, but in the 
more exposed places it is reduced to a small shrub. The wood 
is very hard and makes the finest of charcoal. Shrubs are not 
rich in variety, but Bush Honeysuckles, Barberries, Spiraeas, 
and Clematis are plentiful. Herbs, especially the Sikhim 



198 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

cowslip {Primula sikkimensis) , P. involucrata, Anemone, Caltha, 
Trollius, and various Compositce luxuriate on all sides, and the 
glades and marshy places were nothing but masses of colour. 
The men who were in front of me saw several troupes of 
monkeys and some Eared-pheasants, but I saw no animals and 
very few birds. 

We camped near the tree-limit, at about 12,000 feet altitude, 
and erected a small hut of spruce boughs under a large Silver 
Fir tree. My Boy preferred to pass the night in his chair, 
and the men arranged themselves around a log fire. The 
neighbourhood has an evil reputation for highway robbers, 
but we felt sure there was smaU possibility of any attack on 
us being made. It rained a little during the day, and a sharp 
shower fell in the early evening, but the night proved fine. 
The altitude, however, affected our sleep ; it was also very 
cold, and we were all glad when morning broke. My dog 
suffered as much as any of us ; he refused to eat his supper, 
and I never saw him so utterly miserable. The coolies looked 
a most woebegone crowd, shivering with cold and generally 
wretched. They seemed to have no idea of making themselves 
comfortable ; it would have been a simple matter for them to 
have rigged up a shelter of spruce boughs, but they were too 
indifferent to do this or even to collect firewood. We brought 
with us from Kuei-yung, as guide, a Thibetan, and it was he 
who got together all the wood required for a fire. 

There was a slight frost and a heavy dew, but the sun, 
which rose like a ball of fire, soon warmed us and dispersed the 
dew. The road is of the easiest, winding through timber and 
brush alongside a small stream, up to within 1000 yards of the 
head of the Ta-p'ao shan Pass, where the ascent becomes 
steeper. It is, however, only the last 500 feet that make 
any pretence of being difficult. Above the place where we 
camped the Conifer trees rapidly decrease in size. Larch 
becomes more and more abundant, and ultimately forms pure 
woods. It overtops every other kind of tree, and extends up 
to 13,500 feet altitude. Just below the limits of the Larch a 
dwarf Juniper appears and ascends to near the head of the 
pass. The scaly-barked Silver Fir [Alies squamata) ascends 
to 12,500 feet and two species of Spruce to 13,000 feet. This 



ACROSS THE CHINO-THIBETAN BORDERLAND 199 

side of the pass enjoys a moist climate, and the tree-Hne 
(13,500 feet approximately) is remarkably high. Above the 
tree-line the mountain-sides, to within a few hundred feet 
of the pass, are covered with scrub composed, as usual in 
these regions, of Willow, Berberis, small-leaved species of 
Rhododendron, Spiraea, Juniper, Potentilla Veitchii, P.fndicosa, 
and Rhododendron Przewalskii, the latter being the most 
alpine of all the large-leaved members of its family. Herbs, 
of course, made a wonderful display of colour. In addition 
to those previously mentioned, other species of Primula, the 
yellow and violet-blue Poppyworts {Meconopsis integrifoUa 
and M. Henrici), various Stone-crops [Sedum spp.), and Saxi- 
frages are abundant. But the most striking of all the herbs 
is a Rhubarb {Rheum AlexandrcB), an extraordinary plant, 
with a pyramidal inflorescence 3 to 4 feet tall, arising from 
a mass of relatively small, ovate, shining, sorrel-like leaves, 
and composed of broad, rounded, decurved, pale yellow bracts 
overlapping one another like tiles on a house-roof. The local 
name of this plant is "Ma Huang" (Horse Rhubarb); it 
prefers rich boggy ground where verdure is luxuriant and 
yak delight to feed. Such places were studded with its most 
conspicuous tower-like spikes of flowers. The Rhubarb and 
yellow Poppywort {Meconopsis integrifoUa) are always most 
rampant around places where yak have been herded. 

Unmelted snow of the preceding winter was lying in 
patches just below the summit of the pass, a bare, narrow ridge 
crowned by a cairn of stones surmounted with many prayer- 
flags, and 14,600 feet above sea-level. This narrow neck is 
composed of slate and sandstone, with a certain amount of 
marble rock scattered about, and connects two massive ranges 
clad with eternal snows. The day was gloriously sunny, and 
we had a rare opportunity of enjoying and appreciating the 
delights of this alpine region. Except for a feeling of giddi- 
ness when stooping, and a general shortness of breath, I 
suffered no inconvenience from the altitude. In spite of their 
loads only two or three of my men were seriously affected ; 
the gradual ascent was, I think, responsible for our good 
fortune in this matter. From past experience I had rather 
dreaded the effects this pass might have on my followers, and 



200 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

was pleasantly surprised at the ease with which they negoti- 
ated it. 

With the weather conditions so favourable the view from 
the summit of the pass far surpassed my wildest dreams. It 
greatly exceeded anything of its kind that I have seen, and 
would require a far abler pen than mine to describe it ade- 
quately. Straight before us, but a little to the right of our 
viewpoint, was an enormous mass of dazzling eternal snow, 
supposed to be, and I can well believe it, over 22,000 feet high. 
Beneath the snow and attendant glaciers was a sinister-looking 
mass of boulders and screes. In the far distance were visible 
the enormous masses of perpetual snow around Tachienlu. 
In the near distance, to the west-north-west of the pass, 
another block of eternal snow reared itself. Looking back 
on the route we had traversed we saw that the narrow valley 
is flanked by steep ranges, the highest peaks clad with snow, 
but in the main, though bare and savage-looking, they scarcely 
attain to the snowline. On all sides the scenery is wild, 
rugged, and severely alpine. A cold wind blew in strong 
gusts across the pass, and we were glad when our photographic 
work was finished, and we could hurry down. Several fine 
Eagles and Lammergeiers were soaring aloft, but we saw no 
animals, though Wild sheep and Thibetan gazelle were said to 
frequent this region. 

Descending by a precipitous, break-neck path, over loose 
slate, sandstone shales and greasy clayey-marls for 15 li, we 
reached the head of a broad valley. The pass on this side 
offers a far more severe climb than the side we had ascended. 
On reaching the valley the track we followed connects with 
the main road to Th'ai-ling, Chantui, and Chamdo. Com- 
mercially speaking this is the highway into Thibet from 
Tachienlu. It leads through grasslands, affording good pastur- 
age for animals, and though the mean elevation is very con- 
siderable the passes are less steep than those on the political 
highway via Litang and Batang. This Ta-p'ao shan region is 
notorious for its highway robberies. We met five tribesmen 
who told us that in the previous night their camp had been 
rushed by an armed band and everything they possessed 
carried off. Every Thibetan is by nature a robber, and 



ACROSS THE CHINO-THIBETAN BORDERLAND 201 

behaves as such when he fancies he can do so with impunity. 
They rob one another freely, but the tribesmen are their 
favourite victims. 

From the head of the valley to Hsin-tientsze, the first 
habitation, is reckoned as 30 li. The road is broad but uneven, 
winding through a valley, and keeping close to a torrent which 
descends from the Ta-p'ao shan snows. The mountains on 
either side of the valley in all their higher parts range above 
the snowline ; their lower slopes are covered with grass, 
small Conifer trees, and brushwood. In the valley itself shrubs 
of large size, chiefly Willows, Honeysuckles, Barberries, and 
Sallowthorn abound. Odd trees of Larch and Spruce occur, 
all of small size. Flocks of Snow-pigeons were plentiful, and 
I shot several of these birds for our larder. 

From Kuei-yung, 120 li, there is no house of any descrip- 
tion save Hsin-tientsze, alt. 10,800 feet, a filthy and miserable 
hostel. Near Kuei-yung we passed a charcoal-burning camp 
where a few men were engaged, otherwise we did not meet a 
living soul, until we had crossed the pass. It is indeed a 
most lonely region, but of great interest to a Nature lover. I 
count myself particularly fortunate in being favoured by per- 
fect weather for crossing the pass, more especially as it was the 
first day without any sign of rain since leaving Kuan Hsien. 

The thermometer registered 36° F. when we turned out 
next morning, and our ears and fingers tingled with cold, even 
though it was 8th July. The smoke inside the inn was too 
much for my eyes, so I breakfasted out in the middle of the 
roadway. I think everybody was glad to quit Hsin-tientsze 
with its vermin and stinks. There was an odd patch of wheat 
around the hostel, but it looked miserable ; the season is too 
short and the climate too severe for cultivation hereabouts at 
this altitude. 

We followed a broad, uneven road, which had suffered 
much from animal traffic, for 60 li to Je-shui-t'ang (Hot-water 
pond), alt. 9800 feet. The descent is gradual, and the day's 
journey proved a delightful loiter through a shrub-clad valley. 
We met several hundreds of yak and ponies, all laden with 
brick tea encased in raw hides and bound for interior Thibet. 
The Thibetans in charge were an unkempt, wild-looking lot 



202 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

of men, with long guns, swords, and conspicuous charm-boxes. 
Many of them wore their hair in a long plait with a sort of black 
yarn braided in, the whole being wrapt around their heads to 
form a turban ; a few wore felt hats with high conical crowns. 
One or two women were with these caravans tending the 
animals exactly in the same way as the men. Ability to 
whistle and heave rocks with sure aim seemed to be the essential 
parts of a yak-muleteer's profession. Yak are slow, phlegmatic 
animals, and on sighting any unusual object they stand stock- 
still for a little time, and then make a mad rush forward. They 
appeared to be docile enough, but their long horns looked 
dangerously ugly, and we got out of their way as much as was 
possible. Each caravan was accompanied by one or more 
large dogs. These animals trot alongside the caravan and take 
no notice of any one, but when tethered and on guard in camp 
will allow no stranger to approach. They are massively-built 
dogs, and their savage appearance is heightened by a huge 
red-coloured collar of woollen fringe, with which they are 
commonly decorated. 

The flora was merely a repetition of that of the previous 
afternoon's journey. The valley and contiguous hill-sides are 
covered with scrub, except for clearings here and there which 
serve as yak-camps. In addition to the shrubs mentioned as 
occurring around Hsin-tientsze, Prickly Oak, Juniper, several 
kinds of Rose, and the Thibetan Honeysuckle {Lonicera 
thihetica) are common ; Barberries in variety are a special 
feature. Conifers are scarce and all of small size ; all the 
larger timber has been felled and removed long ago At the 
hamlet of Lung-pu, reckoned 40 li from Hsin-tientsze, crops 
of wheat, barley, oats, and peas put in an appearance, and 
became more general as we descended the valley. Around 
Je-shui-t'ang the cereals were just coming into ear. 

During the day, which was beautifully fine, we had grand 
views of the snowclad peaks around Tachienlu and the steep 
ranges with pinnacled peaks to the east-south-east of that 
town. Around Je-shui-t'ang there are several hot springs, in 
some of which the water was actually boihng. These springs 
are rich in iron, but in those I examined no sulphur was evident. 

Our quarters at Je-shui-t'ang were a considerable improve- 



ACROSS THE CHINO-THIBETAN BORDERLAND 203 

menton those of Hsin-tientsze, but we were, nevertheless, glad to 
leave very soon after day dawned. It is considered to be 90 li 
from this place to Tachienlu, but I should say 60 li is a nearer 
estimate. We enjoyed another sunny day. The road is 
easy and leads through a continuation of the valley that we 
entered on descending from the Ta-p'ao shan Pass. The valley 
and mountain-sides for some 300 to 500 feet above it become 
more and more under cultivation. Cereals, peas, and Irish 
potato are the principal crops. The potatoes were being 
harvested, and I noticed that red ones predominated. The 
region generally has been denuded of its trees, and where not 
under crops is covered with scrub and coarse herbs. In rocky 
places small trees of White and Hard Pine {Pinus Armandi, 
P. prominens) occur, also a few comparatively large trees of a 
very distinct-looking Peach having narrow, lance-shaped, long 
pointed leaves, rather small fruits, downy on the outside. -"^ 

Around habitations tall trees of Poplar are common, and 
an occasional Spruce and White Birch occur. The Spruce 
[Picea aiirantiaca) is a particularly handsome species, Mdth 
square, dark green needles on spreading branches and red- 
brown pendulous cones clustered near the top of the tree. 
The Apple, Apricot, Peach, Plum, and a few Walnut trees are 
cultivated. The fields are fenced with hedges of Wild Goose- 
berry {Ribes alpestre, var. giganteum) and the handsome Sorbaria 
arborea, which has large erect masses of snow-white flowers. 
Over these and other shrubs various species of Clematis trail, 
the most common being C. nutans, var. thyrsoidca, which was 
laden with a multitude of creamy-yellow nodding flowers. 
The most beautiful shrub, however, was a Lilac growing 12 to 
15 feet tall, and covered with huge panicles of pink or white 
fragrant flowers. (It proved a new species, and has been named 
Syringa Wilsonii.) 

^ At the time I paid no further attention to this Peach, but in 1910 I 
secured ripe fruit, and found to my astonishment that the stones were per- 
fectly smooth, free, and relatively very small — characters denoting a distinct 
species of Peach. It proved to be new, and has since been named Prunus 
mira. I regard this as among the most remarkable of the discoveries I have 
been privileged to make. This new Peach is now in cultivation, and by cross- 
breeding with the old varieties of the garden Peach (P. Persica) may result in 
the production of entirely new and improved races of this favourite fruit. 



204 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

We crossed the stream by a wooden cantilever bridge and, 
on rounding a bend, the goal of our long journey came into view. 
We were all well-nigh dead beat, and it was with thankful and 
joyous hearts that we greeted the cluster of closely packed 
houses, which, nestling in a narrow valley, constitute the 
important border town of Tachienlu. 



CHAPTER XVI 

TACHIENLU, THE GATE OF THIBET 

The Kingdom of Chiala, its People, their Manners and 

Customs 

THE town of Tachienlu is situated in long. 102° 13' E., 
lat. 30° 3' N. circa, at an altitude of about 8400 feet. 
By the most direct route it is twelve days' journey from 
Chengtu Fu, the provincial capital, on the great highway which 
extends westwards to Lhassa. It is the Ultima Thule of China 
and Thibet, where a large and thriving trade is done in the wares 
of both countries. It is also the residence of the King of Chiala, 
who governs a very considerable tract of country and exercises 
a strong influence over conterminous states peopled with 
Thibetans. The first Occidental other than Roman Catholic 
priests to visit Tachienlu was the late Mr. T. T. Cooper in 1868. 
Since that date it has been visited by many scores of travellers, 
and has become fairly well known to the outside world. It is a 
more than ordinarily interesting place, and though muchhasbeen 
written concerning it the subject is far from being exhausted. 

The present town is built in the narrowest of valleys at the 
head of a gorge, down which the river Lu cascades, falling some 
4000 feet before it joins the river Tung, 18 miles distant. A 
branch of the Lu River bisects the town, being crossed by means 
of three wooden bridges, and is joined immediately below the 
north gate by another stream, which flows from the Ta-p'ao 
shan snows. The town is hemmed in on all sides by steep, 
treeless mountains whose grassy slopes and bare cliffs lead up 
to peaks culminating in eternal snow. On the whole, the 
situation is about the last in the world in which one would 
expect to find a thriving trade entrepot. Formerly, Tachienlu 
occupied a site about half a mile above the present town, but 



2o6 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

about 100 years ago it was totally destroyed by a landslip, 
due to a moving glacier. Some day a similar fate will 
doubtless overtake the existing town. 

Notwithstanding its great political and commercial im- 
portance Tachienlu is a meanly built and filthy city. It is 
without a surrounding wall, save for a fragment which runs 
across near the south gate, and it has no west gate. The 
narrow, uneven streets are paved with stone in which pure 
marble largely figures, though this is only evident after some 
heavy downpour has washed away the usual covering of mud 
and filth. The houses are low, built of wood resting on founda- 
tions of shale rocks. The principal shops are by no means 
of imposing appearance, and, indeed, the only places note- 
worthy are two Chinese temples and the palace of the local 
king. The latter consists of several lofty semi-Chinese build- 
ings of wood with sloping roofs and curved eaves surmounted 
by gilded pinnacles, the whole structure being situated in a 
large compound and surrounded by a high stone wall. The 
residences of the Chinese officials are poor, ramshackle places, 
and the same is true of the various inns. In the latter most of 
the business is transacted. Some inns that I visited contained 
valuable collections of porcelain and bronze-ware, and an 
extraordinary number of old French clocks. Very few of the 
clocks were in working order, but many were of large size, and 
how they all reached this remote place is a mystery to me. 

The population of Tachienlu consists of about 700 Thibetan 
and 400 Chinese families and, with its floating members, is 
reckoned at 9000 people. In and near the town are eight 
lamaseries boasting 800 lamas and acolytes. The population 
is very mixed, consisting of pure Thibetans, pure Chinese, 
and half-breeds. Very few purely Chinese women are to be 
found in Tachienlu. 

As seen in and around Tachienlu the Thibetans are a 
picturesque people. Of medium height and lithely but muscu- 
larly built, they have an easy carriage and independent mien. 
The young women are usually sprightly in manner, always 
cheery, with dark-brown eyes and finely cut features. Both 
sexes are fond of jewellery ornamented with turquoise and 
coral, but they are strangers to soap and water, and personal 



TACHIENLU, THE GATE OF THIBET 207 

cleanliness is neither appreciated nor practised. Meat, milk, 
butter, barley-meal, and tea constitute the favourite food of 
these people ; they are also fond of Chinese wine. Everybody 
carries on his or her person a private eating-bowl, and the 
average Thibetan disseminates an odour strongly suggestive 
of a keg of rancid butter ! The everyday dress of these people 
is a loose, shapeless garment of dull red or grey woollen serge, 
sometimes sheep-skins are substituted in part. Top-boots 
of soft hide with the hair inside usually encase the feet and 
lower legs of both sexes. The men wear their hair in a queue 
wound round the head and ornamented with beads and rings 
of silver, coral, and glass. A large silver ear-ring with a long 
silver and coral pendant usually decorates the left ear. The 
women wear their hair parted down the middle and made up 
into a number of small plaits, which are gathered into a queue, 
bound at the end by a bright red cord, and wound around the 
head. Silver and coral are lavishly used in their coiffure and 
about their persons generally. When in holiday attire these 
people are more gaily dressed, red-coloured trimmings to their 
garments being then much in evidence, whilst the wealthy 
affect silk and fur robes. Ornaments of silver and gold, inset 
with coral and turquoise, are most profusely worn. The lamas 
shave their heads and wear a raiment of coarse serge of a dull 
red or brownish colour. This has no shape, being simply a 
large piece of cloth thrown over the right shoulder, leaving the 
left bare. A similar piece of cloth is wound two or three times 
round the waist and reaches down to the ankle, forming a kind 
of pleated skirt. They are usually bareheaded and bare- 
footed, and each lama carries in his hand a rosary and a small 
praying-cylinder. They swagger through the streets with an 
insolent mien, and lack the good manners so delightful in 
the ordinary unsophisticated Thibetan. The lamaseries are 
usually very richly endowed with land, and most charmingly 
situated midst groves of Poplar and other trees. Nearly all 
Thibetan families of affluence maintain a lama on the premises 
to perform by proxy their religious duties. Many other 
lamas find employment as temporary chaplains to less wealthy 
families on occasion of marriage, illness, or death. 

Commercially, Tachienlu is a most important centre. 



2o8 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

enjoying a monopoly of the trade between this part of China 
and Thibet. The value of the trade is estimated at about one 
and three-quarter million taels. The Thibetans bring in musk, 
wool, deer horns, skins, gold-dust, and various medicines, and 
take in exchange brick tea and miscellaneous sundries. The 
trade is largely one of barter, but much less so than that of 
Sungpan Ting. Sycee and Indian rupees were formerly the 
only coinage current, but the Chinese during the last few years 
have been minting in Chengtu a rupee of their own for the 
special purposes of this trade-centre. Its use has been insisted 
upon, and, in consequence, the Indian coin has been ousted from 
the field. Most of the " bigger " trade is in the hands of the 
lamaseries on the one hand, and Chinese from the province of 
Shensi on the other. About 30 li to the north-east of Tachienlu 
gold is found at an altitude of about 11,000 feet, and placer- 
mining is carried on there. The gold-washing is done in exactly 
the same way as elsewhere in Western China, but the method 
of paying the miners is peculiar, — the arrangement being six 
baskets for the owner of the mine and a seventh for the miners. 
Silver also occurs at this same place. The Thibetans hold the 
view that gold and other precious metals grow, and that their 
death may result if too much is removed at any one time. 
How far they actually believe in this superstition is a moot 
point, but at times it serves as an unanswerable argument. 
Nine years ago a difference of opinion in the matter of assessing 
the profits arose between the Chief of Chiala, owner of the 
mine, and the head Chinese official at Tachienlu, who was 
apparently over-avaricious in the matter. The Chief very 
quietly advanced the above theory, and closed down the mines 
for an indefinite period ! Gold in great quantity occurs in 
the state of Litang, west of Tachienlu ; much also is mined 
around Th'ai-ling to the north of this town. 

Being on the great highway from Peking via Chengtu to 
Lhassa, officials are constantly passing through Tachienlu, and 
the political importance of the town is very great. Although 
only a city of the second class the head Chinese official has the 
local rank of Prefect (Chiung-Liang Fu), and holds the post of 
commissary for the Chinese troops stationed in Thibet. Al- 
though Batang, 18 days' journey westwards, is more accurately 



TACHIENLU, THE GATE OF THIBET 209 

the frontier town, Tachienlu is actually the " Gate of Thibet." 
The country around and beyond is physically purely Thibetan 
in character, and is ruled by native chieftains. Garrisons of 
soldiers and a few resident Chinese officials protect the interests 
of the Celestial empire and keep a sharp eye on the actions of 
the local rulers. 

It was stated at the commencement of this chapter that the 
King of Chiala resides at Tachienlu, and perhaps a few details 
concerning this kingdom and its people may be of interest. 
According to the Guide Book of Thibet this State came under 
Chinese influence during the Ming Dynasty, about a.d. 1403, 
and its Chief was given the rank of a second-class native official, 
with control over the tribes west of the river Tung and south- 
wards to Ningyuan Fu. " The Manchu Dynasty, in considera- 
tion of the above, made the then Chief a third-class native 
official, with power over three trading companies. New chiefs, 
chiliarchs, and centurions to the extent of fifty-six were created. 
This illustrious Chief now controls six subsidiary chiefs, one 
chiliarch, and forty-eight centurions." Since the date of this 
appointment the Chinese have increased their grip over these 
regions, to the curtailment of the Chief's power and authority. 
Nevertheless, the Thibetans of this region acknowledge this 
Chief as their supreme ruler, and in domestic affairs his authority 
is absolute. His native title is "Chiala Djie-po " (King of 
Chiala) ; his Chinese title, " Ming-ching Ssu," which may be 
translated " Bright-ruling official." The King and Chinese 
Prefect (Fu) are supposed to be colleagues, but in reality the 
King is subordinate, and when paying official visits must make 
obeisance before the Fu. In what little dealings I had with 
them I found both to be courteous and obliging, but suspicious 
and jealous of one another. 

The present King is a slimly built, intelligent man, about 
forty odd years of age. He took considerable interest in our 
collecting work around Tachienlu, and with his brother, who is a 
hunter of much renown, paid us many unofficial visits. He was 
never tired of watching my companion, Mr. Zappey, fixing up 
his birds' skins. My own work amongst flowers interested him 
but little. As a parting gift Mr. Zappey stuffed and mounted 
a Hoopoe for the King, who evinced almost childlike pleasure 
VOL. I. — 14 



210 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

on receiving it. In return, he made Mr. Zappey and myself 
several presents, and urged us to visit his country on a future 
occasion. We found that these Thibetans possessed keen and 
accurate knowledge of the birds and animals of their country, 
which made them enthusiastic hunting companions. During 
the reign of the former king, his brother, the present Ruler, 
was banished, and suffered dire hardships during his exile, 
and often wanted for food. The missionaries stationed in this 
neighbourhood on more than one occasion assisted him, and I 
understood from them that he had not forgotten their kindly 
help. The history of the family is a tragic one. The present 
King's brother was supposed to have been poisoned, and two 
sisters died early deaths, the result, it is said, of immoral 
associations with lamas. 

The state of Chiala is of considerable size, comprising 
practically the whole of the territory lying between the 
Tung River, Chiench'iang Valley, and the Yalung River 
from lat. 28° to 32° N. The five Horba states in a measure 
also come under the influence of the King of Chiala. From 
all I can learn this region has the best right to be considered 
the kingdom of Menia, or " Miniak," of European maps. 
The whereabouts of " Miniak " has considerably puzzled 
geographers, but the evidence seems to point to the kingdom 
of Chiala as representing it in the greater part. North-east of 
Chiala is the large and prosperous state of Derge, famed for 
its copper, silver, and swordsmiths. Monsieur Bons d'Anty, 
French Consul-General at Chengtu, visited Derge in the 
autumn of 1910, and on his return gave me a most interesting 
account of this region. He informed me that Derge is a region 
of much cultivation, surrounded on three sides by snowclad 
ranges. The various industries for which the state is famous 
are not carried on in towns, but by the peasants individually 
in their homes, and from thence carried to towns for sale. 
In the valley of the Upper Yalung, abutting on the north-west 
frontier of Chiala and the south-east frontier of Derge, is a 
wedge of coimtry known as Chantui, peopled by a race of 
Ishmaels, whose hands are ever turned in conflict against their 
neighbours. A similar people occupy a wedge of country in 
the Drechu valley north of Batang, where they are known as 



TACHIENLU, THE GATE OF THIBET 211 

the Sanai tribe. Monsieur Bons d'Anty considers that these 
people are of Shan origin, and remnants of an aboriginal popula- 
tion of this region. This authority has spent many years 
in studying the ethnological problems of this borderland, and 
is most competent to express an opinion. It is well known that 
the Shans formerly ruled in western Yunnan, and there is 
no reason why they should not, in the distant past, have 
ascended the valleys of the Yalung and Drechu and established 
themselves there. But whatever the origin of these people 
of Chantui and Sanai, they are dreaded by their neighbours, 
who regard them all as robbers and murderers (Ja-ba) quite 
beyond the pale. 

The religion of the people of Chiala is Lamaism, both ihe 
orthodox "yellow" and unorthodox "red" sects being re- 
presented, but the former are the more numerous and powerful. 
Some one has described Lamaism as " mechanical," a most 
descriptive term, since the religion consists in the main of 
tiu^ning praying-wheels by hand, water, or wind, counting 
beads, and the continual muttering or chanting of the mystic 
hymn, " Om mani padmi hum." Lamaism draws its inspira- 
tion from Lhassa, where all the priests repair for study, the 
head of the sect being the Dalai Lama. Aided and abetted by 
Chinese authority, the King of Chiala has never submitted 
to the Dalai Lama in temporal affairs ; he has maintained his 
freedom and right to govern his own people untrammelled by 
Lhassa interference, in spite of the dire threats and treachery 
on the part of lamaseries within his jurisdiction. In 1903 the 
Dalai Lama issued an ultimatum to the King of Chiala threaten- 
ing to take from him and the Chinese by conquest all the 
territory west of the Tung Valley. The British Expedition 
prevented the carrying out of this threat. The Dalai Lama 
undoubtedly had designs of territorial expansion at the expense 
of China's vassal states. The Chinese knew this, and it was 
fortunate for them that Great Britain stepped in and broke 
the power of Lhassa De. I was in Tachienlu during 1903 and 
1904, and from what I saw and heard there it was plain that 
the British were unwittingly pulling China's " chestnuts from 
the fire." The Chinese were not slow to perceive the advan- 
tageous position they were in after the power of the Dalai 



212 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

Lama was dissipated. Almost immediately a " Wardenship of 
the Thibetan Marches " was established, and a war of conquest 
engaged upon against certain wealthy lamaseries in Litang 
and other states, who owned direct allegiance to Lhassa, and 
heretofore had boasted their independence of China. This 
war was relentlessly and victoriously pursued under the 
leadership of Chao Erh-feng, and resulted in the extension of 
Chinese authority over a very considerable tract of country. 
Indirectly the King of Chiala's position has been very much 
weakened as the outcome of these conquests. 

The state of Chiala is made up of mountain, dale, and 
plateau, being essentially a highland country affording good 
pasturage for yak, sheep, and horses. A chain of snowclad 
peaks traverses it near its eastern boundaries. It is a region 
where altitude regulates the mode of life, the wealth, and 
marriage customs of its people. The inhabitants are less 
nomadic than the people to the north and west, but, in common 
with all other Thibetans, their wealth is represented by herds 
of yak, horses, and cattle, and flocks of sheep and goats. They 
are great hunters of Musk-deer, Wapiti, Bear, and other animals, 
the commercial products of which they trade to the Chinese. 
The same is true of the medicinal roots and herbs, which 
grow abundantly in these uplands. Where altitudes admit, 
agriculture is practised, but is supplementary to grazing 
and relatively unimportant. Wheat, barley, oats, buckwheat, 
peas, and Irish potato are the chief crops. During the winter 
months these Thibetans live in well-built houses situated 
in the valleys, and in the spring they migrate to the uplands. 
The nomads do not move about aimlessly, but have clearly 
defined regions and are subject to responsible head-men. 
Where agriculture is carried on the womenfolk mostly remain 
to look after the crops and to do other work pertaining to the 
farmstead. 

Wealth and convenience decide which form the matri- 
monial alliance shall assume among these people, and polyg- 
amy, monogamy, and polyandry obtain. Above 12,000 feet 
altitude polyandry is the rule, and in many places women 
so united wear distinguishing and honorary badges. Such 
women are usually the business and ruling heads of their 



TACHIENLU, THE GATE OF THIBET 213 

establishments. This custom of polyandry is characteristic 
of Thibet, and the following note on the subject, written by a 
friend who has spent many years of his life among these people, 
is worthy of much thoughtful study : — 

" So many able men have written about polyandry that 
what follows will be without interest to those who have studied 
the system ; but to the great mass who are comparatively 
unacquainted with Thibet and her customs these notes may be 
of some value. The writer has spent several years among 
Thibetans and cognate tribes, and has lived for months alone 
on the wild steppes as well as in the more civilized and well- 
cultivated valleys. 

" The term ' polyandry ' is here applied {a) to women living 
permanently, and cohabiting legally, with more than one man ; 
(5) to those who have been, or are, married temporarily to more 
than one man or companies of men. 

" The former, true polyandry, is confined to the pastoral 
nomads of the grassy plateaux ; the latter, quasi-polyandry, 
is rampant in all the commercial and political centres on the 
border and throughout Thibet. In both cases a low con- 
ception of the relation of the sexes has made it possible ; and 
climate and political conditions have made it desirable. 

" The past hints, and the present proves, that indifference 
to female virtue connotes the people known as Thibetans 
and tribes of common origin, and I understand it to be 
the indirect cause of polyandry. From time immemorial the 
Thibetan has been taught that the female is a kind of Pan- 
dora's box, in which are all the evils that have cursed mankind. 
AU down the ages woman seems to have been the slave of man : 
dangerous because of latent evil, but also valuable on account 
of her ability to render him service. In the old barbaric days, 
when prowess was the prime virtue and a thoroughgoing 
communism the rule, woman was only a tribal asset, like the 
animals she tended. Then came religion, a deification of all 
that rude minds could not explain. It was probably the 
mysterious Bonpa of to-day which lingers in the lonely valleys 
where nations meet, and which could have been no friend of 
virtue if the accounts of orgies in its temples before indecent 
idols are true, and the unseemly dress of young women and 



214 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

barren wives either demanded or sanctioned by it. Explain it 
as we may, the fact remains that Thibetan women are to-day, 
as they seem to have been in the time of Marco Polo, the most 
immodest of their sex, and the Thibetan men strangely in- 
different about matters which other races demand as essentials. 

" All outside work is done by the women, who represent the 
coarser element of Thibetan society, and their language is often 
filthy in the extreme. The domestic arrangements make no 
provision for privacy. Men and women must eat, live, and sleep 
perforce in the same apartment, and there is no effort on the 
part of the male to shield the female from conditions which are 
inimical to virtue. 

" The morality of the Thibetans has made such a system 
possible. This will not be denied by any one who knows them 
even slightly ; but it will sound strange to many when I say 
that the climatic and political conditions arc such that the 
reformer is puzzled to think of anything to offer as a sub- 
stitute ! To the untutored Thibetan mind it must seem 
absolutely necessary. Undoubtedly the high altitudes are 
unfavourable to women. The Thibetan views woman very 
much as he does an animal, i.e. she can do so much work. 
Living and working at 12,000 feet altitude and upwards requires 
the strongest material. Woman very imperfectly fulfils these 
requirements, and maternity and nursing, apart from unfitting 
her for work, would be well-nigh useless, since infant mortality 
would be abnormally high. On the relatively thinly populated 
plateaux the conditions obtaining are emphatically against 
woman being wanted in numbers. Here robbing and escaping 
from robbers is the normal condition. It will be evident 
at once that family duties are not only inconvenient, but 
interfere with the woman's efficiency personally, and at the 
same time misdirect the energies of the male portion of the 
community. 

" The nomad is a herdsman, continually moving to and fro 
with his flocks and belongings. The woman, and the centre 
she forms, would impair the necessary freedom of movement ; 
it would also follow that she and her belongings would often be 
unprotected for long periods. Polyandry, by not encouraging 
permanent settlements and at the same time being the best 



TACHIENLU, THE GATE OF THIBET 215 

security against marauding bands, must seem eminently 
rational to the nomad. 

" Polyandry also entails the family property. This is very 
important, as division of the flocks or grazing-grounds v/ould 
soon ruin every one. Whatever the ideal system for these 
Thibetans may be, the one which provides one wife, one family, 
and one flock for all the male members of the family is the most 
convenient. Anything else would be suicidal. Both polygamy 
and monogamy presuppose racial increase and the formation 
of new and independent centres, but polyandry promises the 
great desideratum of the Thibetan — an almost stationary 
community and an intact patrimony. 

" In a land of polyandry, priestly celibacy, and nondescript 
roving, the number of unmarried women must be large. This 
class, with the Chinese, Lamas, and Thibetan merchants, is 
responsible for the quasi-polyandry of the plain, which only 
differs from prostitution inasmuch as it has the sanction of the 
country and carries with it no odium. The priest is a celibate, 
as a rule, by profession, but an inveterate roue in practice. 
Quite a large number of women are required wherever lamaseries 
exist. In Lhassa, where thousands of students from all parts 
of the country study for years, the number of women married 
temporarily, openly, or in secret, to individuals or small com- 
munities is very great. The wandering Thibetan merchants 
form another class who demand a supply of temporary wives for 
longer or shorter periods. These may often be men who have 
formed polyandrous unions in the mountains, but the exigencies 
of circumstances demand their presence on the plain. In other 
words, there is no reason why a man may not be a polyandrian 
legally, and in practice a polygamist. 

" But the most interesting phase of this system arises from 
peculiarities of Chinese domination. Chinese soldiers, officials, 
and merchants residing temporarily in Thibet form a very 
large body. These victims of circumstances leave their wives 
in far-away China. There is a legend that the Lamas have put 
an embargo on the dainty Chinese woman : but, more prob- 
ably, her lord and owner has neither the mind nor the money 
to introduce her to the dangers and hardships of a Thibetan 
journey. But he rarely, if ever, pines for the wife of his 



2i6 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

youth. Polyandry and polygamy meet, and temporary 
marriages, for one month to three years, are the rule. The 
highest official and the meanest soldier take advantage of the 
system. With the former it is temporary monogamy or polyg- 
amy, but with the latter, owing to pecuniary limitations, one 
woman often becomes, pro tempore, the wife of a small com- 
munity of soldiers. These wives or their children, for obvious 
reasons, are seldom, if ever, brought out from Thibet ; the 
former make new alliances and the children are claimed by the 
Lamas. 

" The question of Thibetan morality is a very complex 
one, and it is almost impossible to disentangle the cause 
from the effect. True polyandry is owing, indirectly, to a 
low moral perception ; but it might be correct to blame 
it, in a measure, for the more degenerate quasi-polyandry. 
Whatever we may think of the former, from the standpoint 
of absolute morality, it is relatively a moral system and solves 
many problems. To change it without changing the conditions 
would be tantamount to driving the brave nomad women 
into the towns to become the temporary wives of Chinese 
rabble, priestly roues, and peripatetic Thibetans. Perhaps my 
hinting that polyandry as a system is in many ways well suited 
to the plateaux will evoke much unfavourable comment, but 
there are good men, Roman Catholic and Protestant, priest and 
layman, who have noticed the same difficulty. 

" The effect of the system on the women is another ques- 
tion about which we cannot afford to be dogmatic. When 
young the Thibetan women are often very pretty, but they 
age quickly and become as weirdly ugly as the mediaeval 
witches. To say that polyandry is alone responsible for this 
change would be sentiment unsupported by facts ; but un- 
doubtedly this system, combined with hard work, loathsome 
uncleanliness, and often grotesque head-dress tends to give a 
great many women an inhumanly vile expression. 

" The families on the plateaux are very small and many 
women are barren. This is a blessing in disguise, owing to 
the impossibility of the nomad country supporting more than a 
very limited population, and the small amount of arable land 
capable of relieving the congested centres. Polyandry is both 




THE LAMASERIES JUST OUT.SIUE TACHIENLU 



TACHIENLU, THE GATE OF THIBET 217 

directly and indirectly the cause of this limitation of offspring. 
A glance at the system will show how these uncultured Mal- 
thusians obtain their end : Three men, for instance, centre 
their affections on one woman, who in her lifetime rears two 
or three children. As monogamists each of these men would 
have had his own wife and probably a total of fifteen 
children. But another factor has to be taken into con- 
sideration : polyandry not only limits a woman's natural 
fecundity, but in a great number of cases is the direct cause 
of barrenness. 

" About the domestic arrangements I cannot speak 
authoritatively, but I have never heard internal discord used 
as an argument against polyandry. It must often happen 
that one or two husbands are away tending flocks, worshipping 
at holy mountams, or robbing travellers. But this is an 
accident ; the domestic equilibrium is rarely disturbed by 
petty jealousies. The defloration of the bride or brides — 
for there is no reason why two or more sisters should not 
come into the community — is the right of the elder brother, 
and the first child is, by courtesy, assigned to him ; but the 
child or children of the union are, in reality, a joint possession. 
The girls in the community either follow their mother's 
example, or go into the towns and become the temporary 
wives of Chinese, Lamas, or wandering merchants. In the 
former case a dowry is given to the parents, but in the latter 
the ' fair one ' makes the most of her time and the simplicity 
of her husband or husbands. 

" Polyandry in one form or other is probably practised 
whenever Thibetan communities are found. Its existence 
may be denied emphaticaUy, but closer investigation will 
only prove the wide distribution of the ' Munchausen ' 
family. However, an exception may be allowed in the deep, 
populous valleys of Eastern Thibet. Here individualism is 
the rule, and new centres are formed and thrive without the 
shadow of a grim Frankenstein disturbing them. So com- 
pletely has the old dread of offspring been effaced that 
marriage is always preceded by a tentative period, and 
maternity alone establishes a girl's right to be admitted 
into her husband's family. Here the quondam upholder of 



2i8 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

polyandry, realizing that the fruitful earth and the fruitful 
woman bring wealth and strength respectively, becomes a 
confirmed polygamist. To the student of ethnology this 
metamorphosis suggests the permanency of the valley Thibetan 
and the gradual absorption or total extinction of his mountain 
brother." 



CHAPTER XVII 
SACRED OMEI SHAN 

Its Temples and its Flora 

THE lofty and sacred eminence known as Mount Omei, 
or Omei shan, is situated about long. 103° 41' E., lat. 
29°32' N., one day's journey from the city of Kiating. A 
gigantic upthrust of hard limestone, it rises sheer from the plain 
(alt. 1300 feet) to a height of nearly 11,000 above sea-level. 
From the city of Kiating a fine view of this remarkable moun- 
tain is obtainable during clear weather, the mirage of the 
plain seemingly lending it additional height. Viewed from 
a distance it has been aptly likened to a couchant lion de- 
capitated close to the shoulders, the fore-feet remaining in 
position. The down-cleft surface forms a fearful, well-nigh 
vertical precipice, considerably over a mile in height ! It is 
one of the five ultra-sacred mountains of China, but the origin 
of its holy character is lost in antiquity. We are told that 
in a monastery here the patriarch P'u (an historical personage) 
served Buddha during the Western Ts'in Dynasty (a.d, 265- 
317). P'u-hsien Pu'ssa (Samantabhadra Bodhisattva), Mount 
Omei's patron saint, descended upon the mountain from the 
back of a gigantic elephant possessed of six tusks. In one 
of the temples (Wan-nien-ssu) there is a life-sized elephant 
cast in bronze of splendid workmanship which commemorates 
this manifestation. Upwards of seventy Buddhist temples 
or monasteries (either word is applicable, since the buildings 
are really a combination of both) are to be found on this 
mountain. On the main road to the summit there is a temple 
every 5 li, and they become even more numerous as the ascent 
finally nears the end. These temples are controlled by abbots 
and contain upwards of 2000 priests and acolytes. The 



220 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

whole of the mountain is, or rather was, church property, 
much of the land on the lower slopes suitable for cultivation 
having from time to time been sold away from the church. 
Voluntary subscriptions are now the chief sources of revenue 
of the religious houses, though many of the temples have 
money as well as land endowments. 

Many thousands of pilgrims, coming from all parts of the 
Chinese Empire, visit this mountain annually. At the time of 
my visit there were several pilgrims who had walked all the 
way from Shanghai, some 2000 miles distant, for the express 
purpose of doing homage before the shrines of Mount Omei. 
Thibetans and even Nepalese make pilgrimages here. The 
images and sacred objects are numberless, many of them being 
of pure bronze or copper. Three mummified holy men, 
lacquered, gilded, and deified, the elephant above mentioned, 
and a tooth of Buddha are among the more interesting objects. 
The tooth is about a foot long and weighs 18 English lb., and 
is in all probability a fossil-elephant's molar. On the extreme 
summit of the mountain, the Golden Summit, as it is called, 
are the ruins of an ancient temple which was built of pure 
bronze. It is said to have been erected by the Emperor Wan-li 
(a.d. 1573-1620), and was destroyed by lightning in 1819. 
Since this catastrophe nine or ten abbots have come and 
gone, but none has been able to collect enough money to 
rebuild it. The mass of metal at present heaped around, 
consisting of pillars, beams, panels, and tiles, is all of bronze. 
The panels are particularly fine pieces of work. I measured 
one panel which had dimensions as follows : 76 inches high, 
20 inches wide, i^ inches thick ; some of the panels are slightly 
smaller than this. All are ornamented with figures repre- 
senting seated Buddhas, flowers, and scroll-work, and on the 
reverse with hexagonal arabesques. Many of the panels have 
been incorporated in one of the two small temples which now 
stand on the crest of the precipice. Wan-li's tablet, which 
was contained in the ancient bronze temple, is to-day accommo- 
dated in an outhouse along with fuel. The crown-piece is 
detached and lies outside. This tablet is of bronze, but is 
hollow. With crown-piece and pedestal it measures 90 inches 
high, 32 inches wide, and 7 inches thick. Another grand relic 



SACRED OMEI SHAN 221 

left to the tender mercies of the elements is a huge bell which 
stands 54 inches high and is 120 inches round the middle. 
On the edge of the cliff are two bronze pagodas, each about 
12 feet high, and the remains of a third, which formed 
part of the ancient temple. It is a saddening sight to gaze 
around on these most interesting relics so ignominiously 
neglected. 

From the summit of Mount Omei, when the sky is clear and 
clouds of mist float in the abyss below, a natural phenomenon 
similar to that of the Spectre of the Brocken is observable. I 
have never seen it myself, since rain fell almost continuously 
during the week I spent on the summit, but it has been described 
as a " golden ball surrounded by a rainbow floating on the 
surface of the mists." This phenomenon is known as the 
" Fo-kuang " ( = " Glory of Buddha ") . Devotees assert that it 
is an emanation from the aureole of Buddha and an outward 
and visible sign of the holiness of Mount Omei. The edge of the 
precipice is guarded by chains and wooden posts, but pilgrims 
in a state of religious fervour have been known to throw 
themselves over on beholding the Fo-kuang. From this cause 
the point is called the " Suicide's Chff." It is the highest and 
most vertical part of the precipice, which extends in a nearly 
southerly direction for a couple of miles. 

The first foreigner to ascend this famous mountain was 
the late E. Colborne Baber, who visited it in July 1877, ^^^ 
whose incomparable and accurate account of this region has 
never been equalled.^ Unfortunately Baber paid little or 
no attention to the flora, nor did the equally distinguished 
traveller and writer Hosie,* who ascended Omei shan in 1884. 
It was not until 1887 that any plants were collected on this 
mountain. In that year it was visited by a Rhenish missionary, 
who was also an industrious botanical collector — the late Dr. 
Ernst Faber. During a fortnight's stay this enthusiast made 
a most interesting collection; which was found on critical 
examination to contain no fewer than seventy novelties. In 
1890 an English naturalist, Mr. A. E. Pratt, visited the moun- 
tain and collected a few plants. Since Baber's visit many 

^ Royal Geographical Society, Supplementary Papers, vol. i. 

* Sir Alexander Hosie, K.C.M.G., H.B.M.'s Consular Service in China. 



222 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

hundreds of foreigners have ascended Mount Omei, but with the 
exception of those of Faber and Pratt, there is no record of 
any one having collected plants during their visits. For this 
reason alone I hope this chapter will find justification. The 
mountain and its temples have been well described by Baber 
and others, and I have no desire to attempt to repeat 
descriptions which have been made by abler pens than 
mine. With this prelude I append the following record of 
my visit : — 

It was on the morning of 13th October 1903 that I set 
out from the city of Kiating intent on investigating the flora 
of this famous mountain. Traversing the highly cultivated 
plain, which is intersected here and there by low hills, charmingly 
wooded, the little town of Omei Hsien (alt. 1270 feet) was 
reached at the close of the day. The next morning, after 
journeying 10 li across the plain along a road shaded with trees 
of Alder and Nanmu, we reached the village of Liang-ho-kou, 
situated at the foot of the sacred mountain. Here the road 
bifurcates and both paths lead by different routes to the 
summit. They are paved with blocks of stone throughout, an 
undertaking that must have entailed a vast expenditure in 
labour and money, but it would be impossible to traverse 
certain of the steeper parts unless paving existed. I ascended 
by one of the routes and returned by the other, so that I saw 
as much as was possible of the mountain and its rich flora. 

Between Omei Hsien and Liang-ho-kou are a number of 
truly magnificent Banyan trees {Ficus infectoria), known 
locally as Huang-kou-shu. These trees shelter some old 
temples and are of enormous size. I measured one, which 
appeared to be the largest specimen ; it was about 80 feet 
tall, and had a girth of 48 feet at 5 feet from the ground. We 
also passed some fine trees of Oak {Quercus serrata) and Sweet 
Gum [Liquidambar formosana) . The sides of the rice fields are 
studded with thousands of pollarded trees of the Chinese 
Ash {Fraxinus chinensis) on which an insect deposits a valuable 
white wax. The ditches were gay with the spikes of cream- 
coloured, fragrant flowers of a species of Hedychium, the 
golden-flowered Senecio clivorum, flowers of many kinds of 
Impatiens, and other moisture-loving herbs. 



SACRED OMEI SHAN 223 

On leaving Liang-ho-kou the ascent began, and journeying 
slowly three days' hard climbing brought us to the " Golden 
Summit." 

For the purpose of grouping the flora it is convenient to 
divide the mountain into two regions — (i) from the base to 
6000 feet, and (2) 6000 feet to the summit (10,800 feet). Thus 
divided the flora falls into two well-defined altitudinal zones. 
The lower zone is made up of such plants as enjoy a warm- 
temperate climate. Evergreen trees and shrubs predominate, 
and in the shady glens and ravines SelagineUas and Ferns 
luxuriate. Of these latter I, in one day, collected over sixty 
species ! The upper zone consists entirely of plants requiring 
a cool-temperate climate. With the exception of Rhododendron 
and Silver Fir it is composed almost entirely of deciduous 
trees and shrubs and herbaceous plants. The belt between 
4500 feet and 5500 feet may be termed the Hinterland. 
Here the struggle for supremacy is most keen and the fusion 
of the zones most marked. At 6000 feet the boundary line 
is unusually well defined. 

Cultivation extends up to 4000 feet, maize and pulse 
being the principal crops, with rice relegated to the valleys 
and bottom-lands. Plantations of Ash trees for the culture of 
insect-wax extend up to 2600 feet. The foot-hills around the 
base of the mountain are covered with Pine [Pimis Massoniana), 
Cypress (Cupressus funebris), and Oak {Quercus serrata). The 
sides of the streams which meander among these hills are 
clothed with Alder [Alnus cremastogyne) , Pterocarya stenoptera, 
and the curious Camptotheca acuminata. Around the temples 
and farmsteads Nanmu and tall-growing Bamboos abound ; 
on the more exposed hillsides the climbing fern Gleichenia lin- 
earis forms impenetrable thickets, and Onychium japonicum, 
Melastoma Candida, Musscendra pubescens, are common road- 
side plants. At 3000 feet all these plants drop out and give 
place toothers. Cunninghamialanceolata, which, occurs sparingly 
in the valleys, gradually increases in number, and between 
2500 and 4500 feet large areas are covered solely with this 
invaluable Conifer. Apart from the Cunninghamia, the family 
of Laurinece forms, between 2000 and 5000 feet, fully 75 per 
cent, of the arborescent vegetation. This " Laurel zone," 



224 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

as it may be termed, is composed chiefly of evergreen trees 
and shrubs, the genera Machilus, Lindera, and Litsea being 
exceptionally rich in species. Within this zone also occur 
the following interesting monotypic trees : Tapiscia, Carrieria, 
Itoa, Emmenopterys, and Idesia. The evergreen Viburnum 
coriaceum, with blue-black fruits, and five species of evergreen 
Barberries are also met with found here. 

In ascending any high mountain, more especially in these 
latitudes, it is most instructive and interesting to note the 
aggressiveness of the temperate flora. Mount Omei offers special 
facilities for studying this phenomenon. Everything around 
us looks so smiling that all nature seems to be at peace. 
In these days, however, every one is alive to the fact that a 
stern and relentless war of conquest is being continually waged 
on all sides, and that every inch of ground is contested. It 
is well that plants cannot speak, or the exultations of the victors 
and the groans of the vanquished would be too much for human- 
ity to bear ! But to note the struggle : The large-leaved 
Cornel {Cornus macrophylla) manages to extend its area nearly 
to the base of the mountain, being closely attended by several 
species of Maple, among which Acer Davidii, with white- 
striped bark, is particrJarly prominent. A Black Birch 
{Betula luminifera), several species of Viburnum, Pyrus, 
Malus, Rubus, and Prunus are also w^ell to the fore ; but it is in 
the Hinterland (4500 to 5500 feet) that the main battle between 
the zones is fought. This narrow belt is extraordinarily rich 
in woody plants. Of those peculiar to it I may mention 
Pterostyrax hispidus, Pterocarya Delavayi, Euptelea pleiosperma, 
Decaisnea Fargesii, Horse Chestnut {Msculus Wilsonii), 
and the monotypic genera Tetracentron, Emmenopterys, and 
Davidia. At least five species of Maple occur with many fine 
specimens of each. Several species of Evonymus, Holboellia, 
Actinidia, and Holly [Ilex) are also common. The bulk of the 
LaurinecB have given up the struggle, their place being taken 
by Evergreen Oak and Castanopsis. In this belt monkeys are 
common, and are fond of the blue pod-like fruit of the 
Decaisnea, the shining black, flattened seeds of which, however, 
I noticed they cannot digest. 

On clearing a dense thicket and emerging on to a narrow 




HYDRANGEA XANTHONEURA VAR. WILSONII, 15 FT. TALL 



SACRED OMEI SHAN 225 

ridge, 6100 feet above sea-level, a magnificent view presented 
itself. Above towered gigantic limestone cliffs nearly a mile 
high ; below spread valleys and plains filled with a dense, 
fleecy cumulus, through which the peaks of mountains peered 
like rocky islands from the ocean's bed ; to the westward 
the mighty snowclad ranges of the Thibetan border, 80 miles 
distant as the crow flies, presented a magnificent panorama 
stretching northward and southward as far as the eye could 
range. The contrast between the floral zones was equally 
startling and impressive. Below, until lost in the clouds, was a 
mass of rich, sombre, green vegetation ; above were autumnal 
tints of every hue, from pale yellow to the richest shades of 
crimson, relieved by clumps of dark green Silver Fir. The 
whole scene was bathed in sunlight, a gentle zephyr stirred the 
air, and gorgeous butterflies flitted here and there seemingly 
unconscious of winter's near approach. The stillness and quiet 
was most solemn, and was broken only by the warbling of an 
occasional songster in some adjacent tree or bush. It was 
indeed a never-to-be-forgotten scene ! 

At 6200 feet the Cunninghamia gives up the fight, having 
struggled nobly until reduced to the dimensions of an insignifi- 
cant shrub. A Silver Fir {Abies Delavayi) next assumes the 
sway, and right royally does it deserve the sceptre, for no more 
handsome Conifer exists in all the Far East ; its large, erect, 
symmetrical cones are violet-black in colour and are usually 
borne in greatest profusion on the topmost branches. The 
temples on the higher parts of the mountain are constructed 
almost entirely of the timber of this tree. It is first met 
with on Mount Omei, at 6000 feet, at which altitude it is of no 
great size and unattractive in appearance ; at 6500 feet it is a 
handsome tree. It is, however, between 8500 and 10,000 feet 
that this Silver Fir reaches its maximum size. In this belt 
hundreds of trees 80 to 100 feet tall, with a girth of 10 to 13 
feet, are to be found. Hemlock Spruce {Tsuga yunnanensis) 
occurs sparingly, but always in the form of large and shapely 
trees. An occasional Yew tree {Taxus cuspidata, var. chinensis) 
and, on the summit, dwarf Juniper (/. squamata) complete 
the list of Conifers growing on the higher parts of this moun- 
tain. The unspeakably magnificent autumnal tints already 
VOL. I. — 15 



226 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

referred to are principally due to numerous species of 
Viburnum, Vitis, Malus, Sorbus, Pyrus, and Acer, together 
with Enkianthus deflexus, which surpasses all in the richness 
of its autumn tints of orange and crimson. 

At 6200 feet the ascent becomes increasingly difficult, 
and having surmounted a formidable flight of steps, 800 feet 
high, we were glad to rest at the temple of Hsih-hsiang-chiih. 
All the temples on Mount Omei occupy lovely and romantic 
situations, but none more so than this, which has one side 
flush with the edge of a precipice, and the others sheltered by a 
grove of Silver Fir. The hospitable priests regaled us with tea 
and sweetmeats and entertained us with much that was curious 
and amusing. They claimed that it was at this particular 
place that P'u-hsien Pu'ssa alighted from his elephant to allow 
the footsore animal to bathe in a near-by pool ; the spot 
to-day is marked by a cistern. 

Immediately on leaving this temple two steep flights of steps, 
followed by a slight descent, led us to a small wooded plateau 
which shelves away from a vertical precipice. Hereabouts 
Sorbus munda, with white fruits, was a most conspicuous 
shrub. A climbing Hydrangea [H. anomala) reaches to the top 
of the tallest trees. Several other species of Hydrangea grow 
epiphytically on the larger trees and so also do two or three 
species of Sorbus. Rhododendrons are fairly abundant, 
more especially near the edge of the precipice. The first few 
Rhododendron bushes were noted growing at 4800 feet, and 
altogether I gathered thirteen species on this mountain. 
But as compared with the region to the westward Mount Omei 
is poor in Rhododendrons. The same is true of Primulas, 
of which four species only were met with. 

At 9000 feet the most difficult stairway of all occurs, and 
I was fairly exhausted when the top of it was reached at 
10,100 feet. Winter had laid his stern hand heavily here, 
and most of the woody plants were leafless. At 10,000 feet 
Bamboo-scrub puts in an appearance and increases as the 
summit is neared until finally it crowds out nearly everything 
else and forms an impenetrable jungle about 4 to 6 feet high. 

From the top of the last stairway an easy pathway of 
planking leads to the summit, which we reached just as the 



SACRED OMEI SHAN 227 

sun was setting behind the snowclad ranges of the Thibetan 
border. 

A perfect night succeeded the day, and our hopes were 
high for the morrow. Alas ! a thick fog and a drizzle of rain 
was what we awoke to find. A terrible precipice in front and 
a more or less shelving away behind was all we could make 
out of the lay of the land. To find out what the summit is 
really like, a long walk was undertaken, but resulted in little 
beyond a thorough drenching. The mountain-top is somewhat 
uneven, sloping away from the cliffs by a fairly easy gradient. 
It is everywhere covered with a dense scrub, composed mainly 
of dwarf Bamboo, with bushes of Willow, Birch, Sorbus, Bar- 
berry, Rhododendron, Spiraea, and Rosa omeiensis interspersed. 
Near the watercourses these shrubs are more particularly 
abundant. Trailing over the scrub Clematis montana, var. 
Wilsonii, is very common. At least five species of Rhododendron 
grow on the summit, but, judging from the paucity of fruits, 
they flower but sparingly. In places sheltered from the winds 
fine groves of Silver Fir remain, but in the more fully exposed 
sites these trees are very stunted and weather-beaten. The 
dwarf Juniper, with twisted, gnarled stems, is also plentiful in 
rocky places. 

Around the temples small patches of cabbage, turnips, and 
Irish potato are cultivated, and several favourite medicines 
are grown in quantity, such as Rhubarb, "Huang-lien" 
{Coptis chinensis), " Tang-shen," and " Tang-kuei." 

Here and there on the mountain we passed hucksters' 
stalls, on which various local products were exposed for sale. 
These consist chiefly of medicines, porcupine quills, crystals 
of felspar, sweet tea, and pilgrim staves. The latter, made 
from the wood of an Alder [Alnus cremastogyne), are carved 
in representation of fantastic dragons and Buddhas. The 
sweet tea is a peculiarity of Mount Omei, being prepared from 
the leaves of Viburnum theiferum. 



CHAPTER XVIII 

THROUGH THE LAOLIN (WILDERNESS) 

Narrative of a Journey from Kiating to Malie, 
VIA Wa-wu Shan 

LEAVING the city of Kiating on 4th September 1908, we 
followed the main road to Yachou Fu and stayed for the 
night at Kiakiang Hsien, a small city, altitude 1200 
feet, 70 li from our starting-place. It had rained heavily in 
the early morning, but cleared just before we set out, and was 
cool and fine, although dull the whole day. The road is broad, 
mostly well paved, and leads through a rich and highly cultivated 
region. Around Kiating the rice had been harvested, much 
of the land reploughed, and another crop, chiefly buckwheat 
and turnips, planted. A few miles beyond this city, however, 
the rice crop was not so forward, and though a portion was 
being reaped the bulk would not be ripe for some weeks. 

Around the margins of rice fields trees for the culture 
of insect white-wax are abundantly planted. Pollarded Ash 
{Fraxinus chinensis) were chiefly noticeable, but in places trees 
of Privet [Ligustrmn lucidum) are used for this industry. 
Much of the wax had been collected, but in one place we were 
fortunate enough to witness the process and obtain photo- 
graphs. (In Vol. II., Chapter X., this interesting industry is 
fully described.) Sericulture was very much in evidence, and all 
the alluvial flats are planted with Mulberry trees, but trees of 
Cudrania are not common. In this region in particular the 
silkworms are fed on the leaves of both these trees ; the people 
claim that this mixed diet results in a stronger kind of silk. 

The Szechuan Banyan [Ficus infectoria) is the most striking 
tree hereabouts ; its widespreading umbrageous head usually 
shelters some wayside shrine. Venders of cakes, pea-nuts, 

388 



THROUGH THE LAOLIN (WILDERNESS) 229 

and fruit are also to be found occupying some temporary 
stall under these beautiful trees. The road skirts the sides of 
low hills of red sandstone for considerable distances, and is 
mainly parallel with, and in full view of, the Ya River. The 
hills are clad with common Pine {Pinus Massoniana), Cypress 
(Cupressus funebris) , a jungle-growth of low shrubs, and the 
scandent Gleichenia linearis. Small trees of Oak and Sweet 
Chestnut and larger ones of Alder are also common. Groves 
of tall-growing Bamboos, of course, are everywhere abundant. 
In the sandstone chffs are very many square-mouthed Mantzu 
caves ; the scenery is distinctly pretty and pleasing. 

We left Kiakiang at 6.30 a.m. the following day, and 
quickly reached a ferry, where we crossed over the Ya River, 
a broad, stony, shallow stream. Quite near this place are 
two really fine and very large old temples known as Ping- 
ling-ssu and Kuei-ling-ssu. The first named, in particular, 
contains some very fine idols ; both, however, have a very 
deserted and neglected appearance, and give the impression of 
"glories departed." The sandstone cliffs at the ferry are 
highly sculptured, but are rapidly weathering away, much 
of the work being undecipherable and hidden by vegetation. 

The li proved very long, and we did not reach Che-ho-kai 
until 7 p.m., going steadily the whole day. The distance is 
80 li, and three ferries, which hinder considerably, have to be 
crossed. Near the city of Hungya Hsien, which we sighted 
in the late afternoon, large plantations of Ash trees for the 
culture of insect white-wax abound. Rice is everywhere 
the great crop ; the yield was heavier than usual, and the 
people were busy reaping and threshing it. Fine Banyan 
trees are plentiful. Alder is abundant, and handsome Nanmu 
trees are not infrequent around temples and houses. We 
also noted a small tree of the Hog-plum {Spondias axillaris) 
bearing quantities of its oblong, yellow, edible fruits. The 
vegetation generally is similar to that around Kiating, but 
the Chinese Fir {Cunninghamia lanceolata) is more common 
and Pine and Cypress less so. 

Che-ho-kai, alt. 1400 feet, is a large and important 
market village, situated on the right bank of the Ya River. 
The inn is very fair. I occupied a large room overlooking 



230 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

the river, but, as I discovered later, with a piggery and 
latrine below. 

The next day we began our real journey. Instead of 
following the main route to Yachou Fu by crossing over the 
river, we ascended the right bank for a couple of li beyond 
Che-ho-kai, and then crossed a considerable affluent of the 
main stream. Rafts of good-sized poles of Chinese Fir 
descend this tributary from Liu ch'ang, a market village, and 
ordinary bamboo-rafts ascend to this place. After climbing 
to the tops of some low hills the road zigzags around con- 
siderably through fields of rice and wooded knolls, and 
affords an unusually fine view of the Ya Valley. Passing 
the tiny market village of Tung-to ch'ang we reached Kuang- 
yin pu (or ch'ang) at 10.45 a.m., having covered 30 li. 

From Kuang-yin pu we engaged in a steep ascent over a 
well-paved if narrow road, and after four hours' climbing 
reached the summit of the Fung-hoa-tsze, alt. 4100 feet. 
This ridge is of red sandstone throughout, and is well timbered 
with small trees of the Chinese Fir. This conifer abounds 
on the slopes flanking the roadway to the top of the pass and 
forms pure woods. Though the timber is of no great size, 
the area covered with this tree compares most favourably 
with any other I have seen. Where timber is scarce the 
jungle growth is very thick, warm-temperate in character, 
and of little interest. 

Descending, at first steadily, through knoUs covered with 
Chinese Fir and the densest fern jungle composed of 
Gleichenia linearis I have ever seen, we soon reached an area 
under maize. From this point a steep descent led to a 
cultivated flat, then, after winding through rice fields with 
tiny wooded hillocks on all sides, we crossed a neck and 
entered the hamlet of Liang-ch'a Ho, alt. 2350 feet, and 
65 long li from our starting-point. We found very decent 
accommodation, all things considered, but mosquitoes were 
most unpleasantly numerous and hungry. 

It rained very heavily during the early morning of the 
next day, so we delayed our starting until eleven o'clock. 
We found all the streams in flood, and to cross one larger 
than the ordinary we had to engage local assistance. After a 



THROUGH THE LAOLIN (WILDERNESS) 231 

rather steep ascent of 500 feet from Liang-ch'a Ho we crossed 
a narrow ridge and descended to the market village of N'gan 
ch'ang. This is a poor place, partly in ruins, situated on 
the right bank of the stream which unites with the Ya Ho, 
2 li above Che-ho-kai. On leaving N'gan ch'ang we ascended 
the right bank of the stream to Pao-tien-pa, alt. 2600 feet. 
This scattered hamlet possesses no inn, but we found quarters 
in a schoolhouse devoted to the " New Learning " {i.e. 
Western Knowledge). A scholar from this place had recently 
gone to Japan to increase his store of knowledge, and the 
dominie was very proud of this success. This hamlet boasts 
a ruined pavilion, a temple, and a stone gateway, evident 
signs of former prosperity. 

During the short journey of 25 li the road led through 
fields of rice, bounded by wooded knolls and sandstone 
bluffs. The flora was of little interest ; Idesia polycarpa and 
Kalopanax ricinifolium are fairly common in places, but the 
trees are of small size. Alongside the ditches and roadway 
the handsome Lycoris aurea abounds, and the golden-yellow 
flowers with recurved, wrinkled, perianth-segments made 
a gay display. Its red-flowered counterpart, L. radiata, also 
occurs, but is much less frequent. The local name for this 
plant is " Lao-wa-suan," which signifies " Crow's foot Onion," 
a very apt term in so far as the shape of the flower is con- 
cerned. 

The following day was fine but hot, and more or less 
cloudy. With only 35 li to cover, we journeyed slowly after 
making an early morning start. A moderately steep ascent 
of 15 li brought us to the summit of the Tsao shan, alt. 
4100 feet. This ridge is covered with an uninteresting jungle 
of coarse grass and scrub, with odd trees of Chinese Fir, but 
in the ascent I gathered specimens of a fine new species of 
Castanopsis. 

From the summit of Tsao shan we obtained our first view 
of theWa-wu shan, an extraordinary-looking massive mountain, 
singularly like Wa shan in contour, resembling a huge ark 
floating above clouds of mist. Following an easy path which 
led through fine woods of Evergreen Oak, Nanmu, and 
Castanopsis we descended to Ma-chiao-kou, where there is an 



232 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

iron suspension bridge over a wide torrent. This hamlet 
consists of one large house and a mill, where a specially good 
and tough bamboo paper is made, which is used at Yachou 
Fu for wrapping up brick tea. The bamboo is obtained 
from the surrounding mountains, and is a species with dull 
green culms about the thickness of a man's thumb, growing 
12 to 15 feet tall. On crossing over the bridge, I photographed 
a fine specimen of Alniphyllum Fortunei, one of the rarest of 
Chinese trees. A short steep ascent, then a rather drawn- 
out descent, ultimately brought us to the banks of a clear- 
water stream of considerable size, which we crossed by an 
iron suspension bridge 50 yards long, and soon reached the 
market village of Ping-ling-shih, alt. 2900 feet. This is 
a small and dirty place of about 50 houses, situated on the 
left bank of a stream which joins the Ya Ho, some 10 li below 
Yachou Fu. It is in Hung-ya Hsien, in full view of Mount 
Wa-wu, and the most important place in the Laolin 
(Wilderness), as this region is denominated. 

The flora of the day's journey was rather more interesting 
than heretofore. Wooded knolls are the rule. Evergreen 
trees, more especially Oak and Castanopsis, are very general, 
and of large size. I gathered four species belonging to the 
latter genus, all handsome umbrageous trees. A fine specimen 
of the curious Hazel-nut {Corylus heterophylla, var. crista-galli) , 
60 feet tall, 5 feet in girth, was one of the most interesting trees 
noted. The nut in this variety is hidden in a crested cup. 
The Chinese Fir is most abundant, being the only Conifer met 
with. The absence of Pine and Cypress since leaving the 
valley of the Ya River has been a most remarkable feature. 
The country generally is very broken, the sandstone bluffs 
bold, and clad with the usual jungle growth wherever trees 
are sparse. 

In order to ascend Mount Wa-wu from Ping-ling-shih it was 
necessary for us to make a detour from our intended route. 
The summit was said to be 70 li distant, but, owing to the steep 
and difficult road, two days are required to cover this. We 
left behind all our spare gear and arranged what it was necessary 
to take into light loads. The road on clearing Ping-ling-shih 
ascends a rock-strewn tributary of the main stream, through a 



THROUGH THE LAOLIN (WILDERNESS) 233 

region given over to rice fields and cultivation generally. At 
eleven o'clock in the forenoon after traversing 30 li we reached 
the large temple of Tsung-tung-che, alt. 4000 feet, situated 
at the foot of the real ascent of Mount Wa-wu. This temple is 
built of wood, very old, and in poor repair. A priest and one 
attendant were in charge ; the rooms, though dingy and damp, 
were alive with fleas. But since there is no other accom- 
modation between this place and the summit it was necessary 
to make the best of things. I had my bed arranged in a large 
hall where three huge images of Buddha looked down benignly 
upon me. During the morning occasional showers fell, but 
m the afternoon a steady downpour set in, which added to the 
cheerlessness of our roomy but dilapidated quarters. 

Just before reaching the temple we passed through the 
hamlet of Tung-ch'ang Ho, where there is a very large iron 
foundry employing a considerable number of men. Iron ore 
is common in the surrounding mountains, and costs 12,000 to 
13,000 cash per 10,000 catties. Every 10,000 catties of ore 
yields about 4000 catties of pig iron, which was said to be of 
good quality, and sells for 2500 to 3000 cash per picul of 100 
catties. The smelting is done in furnaces heated by charcoal, 
which costs at the foundry 12 to 13 cash per catty. Most of 
the smelting is done during the winter, the summer months 
being given to the collecting of charcoal and iron ore. Large 
iron cooking-pans are also made here in considerable quantities. 

Copper is also found in the same range as the iron ore, but 
on the opposite side. Formerly it was worked and smelted 
here, the name Tung-ch'ang signifying " copper-shop " or 
factory. From what I could learn the industry was abandoned 
some ten years or more ago when copper mining became a 
Government monopoly controlled by the officials. The people 
told me that they could not produce copper on paying lines 
under Tls. 35 'oo to Tls. 36*00 per picul. The officials would 
only pay Tls. 28 00, consequently copper smelting was given 
up and replaced by that of iron. A hard, smokeless coal occurs 
in the neighbourhood, but is not much used. Altogether, this 
Tung-ch'angHowith its iron foundry, coal mines, andabandoned 
copper workings constitutes an interesting mining centre. 

Around the temple are many fine trees of Castanopsis, 



234 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

and the finest specimen of the interesting monotypic Tapiscia 
sinensis I have seen. This tree is fully 80 feet tall, with a girth 
of 12 feet. Many fine trees of the Kuei-hwa {Osmanthus 
fragrans) are planted in the temple grounds, and were in full 
flower, scenting the atmosphere all around. Near streams 
Alder {Alnus cremastogyne) is abundant, and on the hills the 
Chinese Fir is common. 

It rained heavily all night, and a drizzle fell when we set 
out next morning at 6.30 a.m. This drizzle developed into 
a steady downpour as we advanced, and continued with in- 
creased violence the whole day. The road is atrocious from 
the very beginning. For the first 2500 feet there is a semblance 
of a track, some of it being made by laying pieces of split 
timber crosswise. The next 2500 feet is a rough scramble 
upwards through cane-brake and brushwood until the summit 
is reached. The ascent is up the north-north-east angle of the 
mountain, and though never really dangerous is always very 
difficult. We dragged ourselves upward by grasping shrubs, 
and it was a marvel to me how the coolies with their loads 
managed to overcome the ascent. The foothold was pre- 
carious, and it was often a case of one foot forward and two 
backward ! 

On reaching the summit we followed a winding path 
for 12 li to the temple of Kwanyin-ping, alt. 9100 feet. The 
mountain-top is undulating, park-like, and covered with an 
impenetrable jungle of Bamboo-scrub about 6 feet tall, arising 
from a floor of Sphagnum moss. Silver Fir [Abies Ddavayi), 
called Lien sha, i.e. Cold Fir (signifying that it is only found in 
cold regions), is scattered through in quantity, but I saw no 
really handsome trees, all of them showing the effects of wind- 
storms, age, and decay. The pathway across the summit is 
about 2^ feet wide, paved throughout with split timbers, though 
here and there fallen Silver Fir trees, slightly notched and 
flattened, have been utflized in making this roadway. We 
passed three temples in absolute ruins, but saw no signs of 
life of any description. The heavy rain and dense mists 
obscured all views, and I saw nothing of the country^or 
scenery except what was encompassed in a perspective of 30 
yards. Drenched to the skin but mildly describes the plight 




VILLAGE OF PING-LINC.-SHIH, MT. WA-WU IN DISTANCE 



THROUGH THE LAOLIN (WILDERNESS) 235 

in which we reached the temple. Our gear arrived equally 
wet some two hours afterwards, and we were some time getting 
things dry and shipshape. 

The temple of Kwanyin-ping is very large, with many 
outhouses, and is built entirely of wood. It contains many 
scores of idols, but is in a poor state of repair. The main road 
hither is from Yungching Hsien, distant 120 li. During the 
Chinese fifth and sixth moons (June, July) some two to three 
thousand pilgrims visit this temple, but for the rest of the year 
it has scarcely a visitant. The priests reside at Yungching 
Hsien except at the pilgrim season, a novice being left in charge. 
This novice lives all alone, without even a dog for a com- 
panion. As a reward he receives i| catties of rice per diem 
as rations and 2000 cash (say, half a crown) per annum 
salary ! In spite of his lonely life, and he has been in charge 
for three years, this novice was a very cheery person. He 
moved around quickly, had a ready smile, and chanted hymns 
and prayers wherever he went. He speedily made a fire for 
us to dry ourselves and clothing, and made himself generally 
useful. His cheery influence made itself felt, and my men soon 
ceased their grumbling over the vileness of the road and my 
madness in wanting to visit such a place. The novice told us 
that -the first temple was built on this mountain during the 
Eastern Han Dynasty (a.d. 25-87). At one time there were as 
many as 40 temples here, but during Ming times the majority 
were destroyed, and the temple ornaments melted down. To- 
day there are only two in any sense habitable, and in one 
only is a man kept the year round. This same authority vouch- 
safed the information that the heavy rains were due to the fell- 
ing of timber ; the country folk holding this view were opposed 
to further cutting, but the Magistrate at Yungching Hsien 
pooh-poohed the idea, and insisted on the slaughter being 
continued, with the result that torrential rains fell every day 
except in winter, when snow took their place. 

The next morning opened dull and threatening, but eventu- 
ally the sun came out and we enjoyed a fine day. The temple 
stands in Hungya Hsien, and is situated on the edge of a 
precipice. The views looking north-east over the Ya Valley 
and west to the Thibetan alps are very fine ; some almost 



236 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

vertical limestone cliffs near by the temple are covered in a 
remarkable manner with Silver Fir. The whole surroundings 
are wildly romantic, and it is small wonder that the place is 
deemed sacred and holy. 

Wa-wu shan or Wa shan, as it is much more frequently but 
erroneously called, is one of three sacred mountains, forming 
the three corners of and enclosing a triangular tract of wild, 
sparsely inhabited country known as the Laolin (Wilderness). 
On even the most recent maps the term Lolo is written across 
this region, but as a matter of fact no Lolos live here. The few 
people found here are Chinese — peasants, charcoal-burners, 
miners, and medicine-gatherers. The other two mountains, 
Omei shan and Wa shan, have been described by former 
travellers, but, with the possible exception of some Roman 
Catholic priest, my visit was the first undertaken by any 
foreigner to the summit of Wa-wu shan. 

Like its sister mountains, Wa-wu is a gigantic upthrust of 
hard limestone, but of lesser altitude than they, being only 
9200 feet above sea-level. It is a huge oblong mass, composed 
of a series of vertical cliffs 2000 feet and more sheer, reared on a 
base of red sandstone rocks. The summit is flat with sand and 
mudstone shales scattered about, and is said to be 60 li long by 
40 li wide, but this is an exaggeration — 30 li by 15 li being, 
probably, nearer the truth. Its appearance from a distance 
has already been given, and the nearer the approach the more 
impressive become the perpendicular walls of rock. The 
similarity in appearance between this mountain and the real 
Wa shan has also been alluded to, and I strongly suspect that 
the mountain seen from the summit of Omei shan and called 
Wa shan is really this Wa-wu shan. Their extraordinary 
vertical sides and flat summits make these two peaks unique 
among the mountains of Western China. 

From a botanical standpoint Mount Wa-wu proved dis- 
appointing. In the first place, its altitude was some 1500 less 
than I had hoped for. Secondly, all the mixed timber has been 
felled for making charcoal and other purposes, leaving only a 
dense shrubbery in which variety is not great. Thirdly, the 
paucity of Coniferce on the summit other than Silver Fir and 
the impenetrable thickets of slender Bamboos which render any 



THROUGH THE LAOLIN (WILDERNESS) 237 

extended exploration impossible. The flora generally is that 
common to every mountain in this region of similar altitude, 
but, of course, it has a certain number of species peculiarly its 
own in the same way as every other mountain in China has. 
The outstanding feature is its wealth of Bamboo-scrub ; its 
speciality, the abundant carpet of Sphagnum moss on the 
summit. This moss occurs on Wa shan and virtually on all 
the other mountains of this region, between 8000 and 11,500 
feet, but nowhere have I seen it so luxuriantly plentiful as on 
Wa-wu shan. 

The day being fine and clear I obtained good views of every- 
thing. The summit is made up of low, wooded hillocks, tiny 
dales, and glades. Here and there it is a morass, and on one 
occasion from such a place we flushed a Solitary Snipe. The 
feathery Bamboo-culms are very beautiful, and the scattered, 
often sentinel-like, old trees of Silver Fir quite picturesque. A 
few trees of Hemlock Spruce occur, but their number is in- 
finitesimal. Some of the Silver Fir were 100 feet tall, and 10 
to 12 feet in girth, but all such trees contain much dead wood. 
Here and there saplings are common, but they can scarcely 
compete with the Bamboo in the struggle for possession. 
At one time Davidia (both hairy and glabrous-leaved forms), 
Tetracentron, Magnolia, various species of Acer, Pyrus, Cas- 
tanopsis, Evergreen Oak, and Laurinece covered the lesser 
slopes, but, to-day, these are all represented only by bushes 
which have sprung up from the felled trees. Rhododendrons 
are fairly numerous, and I noted about ten species. One of 
these forms a tree 25 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet in girth. (It 
proved to be new, and has been named in honour of the 
Rev. Harry Openshaw, of Yachou Fu.) Various Araliads are 
plentiful, and were mostly in ripe fruit. The Chinese Fir 
ascends to 4500 feet altitude, and very few of the evergreens 
other than Rhododendron extend above 6000 feet. Herbs, 
of course, occur, but none of any great value or interest. 

A local industry of considerable importance at the season 
of the year my visit occurred, and for six weeks previously, is 
the collecting and preparing of young Bamboo shoots for 
culinary purposes. The species in request is one having 
culms the thickness of a man's thumb, and growing 10 feet tall. 



238 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

The young shoots are culled when 8 to 12 inches above the 
ground, stripped of their sheaths and apices, leaving only the 
white, brittle succulent central part. These are boiled in 
water, then removed, suspended from rafters in a close chamber 
and dried by means of heat from steady-burning fires fed 
from locally made briquettes. When thoroughly dry they are 
packed in bales and carried to Chengtu and other cities, where 
they are esteemed a great delicacy. We saw fully a score of 
rude shanties where this industry was in full swing. On the 
spot the raw shoots are bought for 6 cash per i6-oz. catty, 
the collecting being done by contract. The prepared article, 
known as " Tsin-tzu," sells at Ping-ling-shih for 8 to 9 Tls. per 
100 catties of 20 oz. each. This region is famed far and wide 
for its product of dried Bamboo shoots, and the industry affords 
employment for a large number of people. 

Many wild animals, including Budorcas, Serow, Goral, 
Leopard, and Bear were said to occur on Wa-wu, but hunting 
them would be almost an impossibility. We saw no animals 
of any kind, but I do not doubt the reports given as to their 
presence on this jungle-clad mountain. 

A day sufficed for our investigations, and leaving the next 
morning about nine o'clock, a hard day's march brought us 
back to Ping-ling-shih at 5.45 p.m. 

Our object being to traverse this Laolin country through 
its greatest width to some point in the valley of the Tung 
River, we readjusted our loads, and the following day continued 
our march. Crossing the tributary stream by a rickety iron 
suspension bridge, we soon left Ping-ling-shih behind. The 
path ascends the right bank of the main stream frequently 
high above its waters, and at times some little distance removed. 
As soon as it enters limestone country the river becomes 
gorged. The li were long, the road rough, and it took us five 
hours to cover 30 li to Yiieh-ch'a-ping. This place consists of 
a single house, situated near where the stream bifurcates. 
One branch and a companion roadway leads off in a south- 
easterly direction, and by this track it is possible to reach 
Huang-mu ch'ang. The path we followed ascends the branch 
which swings round from the south-west, skirting the base of 
Wa-wu shan. After crossing a cultivated shoulder we plunged 




^ E 



THROUGH THE LAOLIN (WILDERNESS) 239 

into a deep, narrow gorge, traversing a difficult roadway usually 
high up above the stream. The scenery is very fine — steep 
cliffs, either bare or clothed with shrubs, on every side. 
Journeying slowly we reached the solitary house at Chang-ho- 
pa, alt. 4000 feet, about 5 p.m., having covered 50 li. 

During the day's march we saw a number of interesting 
trees, and obtained specimens and photographs. Carrieria 
calycina, a widespreading flat-topped tree, is very common in 
rocky places by the stream-side, and was laden with its torpedo- 
shaped, velvety-grey fruit which was not ripe. The Tapiscia 
is fairly numerous, but the trees are of no great size. Perhaps 
the most noteworthy tree of this region is Meliosma Kirkii, 
which has a shapely port, rigid branches, and handsome pinnate 
leaves, 2 feet long. Evergreen Oak, various Laurinece, tall- 
growing Bamboos, and a Fan Palm [Trachycarpus excelsus) 
are abundant, denoting a mild, moist climate. The Chinese 
Fir is the only Conifer. The quantity of this useful tree and 
the many fine and shapely specimens were among the leading 
features of this trip. We had left rice behind at last, and 
entered a region where only maize is grown. Every available 
bit of land is under cultivation, but the district is very sparsely 
populated. A certain amount of tea is grown around Ping- 
ling-shih, but the industry is of little importance commercially. 

The people at Chang-ho-pa informed us that the road before 
us was much worse than that which we had traversed. For 
the first 10 li after leaving our lodgings I thought they had 
dissembled, but afterwards the truth of their statement was 
only too evident The stream flows through a narrow, wild 
gorge or succession of gorges ; the road is either some hundreds 
of feet above the stream, or down by the water's edge. The 
" ups and downs " repeat themselves with monotonous and 
irritating frequency. The path is very much overgrown with 
weeds and brush, always very narrow, the ascents and descents 
precipitous and difficult. It is misleading and foolish to term 
it a " road." Goats would make a better pathway, did they 
travel it frequently ! 

The scenery is grand, though mists and a drizzle of rain 
did their best to rob us of its enjoyment. The cliffs are in 
the main clothed with shrubby vegetation, but alongside the 



240 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

stream large trees are common. The climate is evidently 
very moist and warm, since broad-leaved evergreens abound. 
Perhaps the most common shrub or small tree is a Walnut 
or Chinese Butternut {Juglans cathayensis) , which has six to 
twelve fruits arranged in a raceme, and leaves up to a yard 
in length. The Horse Chestnut {Msculus Wilsonii), Yellow- 
wood {Cladrastis sinensis), Hornbeam, and various Maples 
are among the more interesting trees hereabouts. Clearings 
and abandoned cultivated areas are overgrown with the 
handsome Anemone vitifolia, var. alha, which was 4 to 5 feet 
tall, and bore myriads of large attractive flowers. This herb 
made a wonderful display, and I do not remember having seen 
it so luxuriant elsewhere in my travels. Beneath cliffs drip- 
ping with moisture, Begonias, Impatiens, Ferns, and various 
Cyrtandrece in masses made pretty effects. The Chinese Fir 
ceases at 4800 feet altitude, but limestone country is not to 
its liking, and the trees quickly become scarce on quitting the 
red sandstone. 

Houses and patches of cultivation are few and far between, 
but it is surprising that any should be found in such a pre- 
cipitous country. We put up for the night at one of the three 
small houses which collectively form the hamlet of Peh-sha Ho, 
altitude 5000 feet, 40 li from Chang-ho-pa. The house is built 
on a steep bank, overlooking a point where the stream divides, 
the larger branch flowing from a southerly direction. 

On leaving Peh-sha Ho we headed for the source of the 
lesser of the two streams — a mere mountain torrent. Our 
difficulty all day was in discerning the track and keeping to it. 
I lost it early in the morning, and wasted two hours in a jungle 
of Bamboo ; my Boy had the same misfortune in the afternoon. 
The collecting of Bamboo shoots is an industry here as on the 
other side of Wa-wu, and the tracks made by men engaged 
in this are many. The path we endeavoured to foUow was 
frequently less well-defined than these tracks and, moreover, 
was overgrown with vegetation. It crossed the torrent many 
times, but the fords were difficult to discover. We passed 
neither house nor person, and perforce had to explore our own 
route. It rained heavily the whole day, increasing our diffi- 
culties and discomforts. 



THROUGH THE LAOLIN (WILDERNESS) 241 

Our objective for the day was some lead mines, but early 
in the afternoon it became evident that we could not reach 
them before night was well advanced. Darkness overtook us, 
and we had visions of spending the night in the woods, which 
bound the torrent ; suddenly, however, the welcome glare 
from a charcoal-burner's hut gladdened our hearts. Scrambling 
somehow down the steep slope, and across the torrent, we 
quickly reached this haven of shelter. It proved a wretched 
hovel, but the warmth from the charcoal pit was comforting 
since we, and all our belongings, were wet through. My bed 
was fixed up in a shed where prepared charcoal was stored, 
the men taking possession of the hut, thankful that a refuge 
of some sort had been found. 

Much of the day's journey had consisted in struggling 
through brush and Bamboo, and by way of variety wading 
the torrent was thrown in. Whenever the mists lifted, cliffs 
and crags, densely covered with vegetation, were to be seen 
on all sides. The flora is apparently rich, but it was impossible 
for us to investigate it. All the larger trees have been cut 
down and converted into charcoal. Davidia, Tetracentron, 
Cercidiphyllum, and Cornus sinensis are common as bushy 
trees by the wayside ; Maples are plentiful, and stout climbers, 
such as Actinidia, Clematoclethra, and Holboellia are rampant. 

Two men were in charge of the charcoal pits. They told us 
the place is called Tan-yao-tzu, and that we had only covered 
30 li ! All the hardwood trees having been felled they are 
now forced to use the softwood of Silver Fir and Hemlock 
Spruce, which, they said, grow in quantity on the higher crags. 
The charcoal is all used for smelting lead at the mines. 

The roof of the shed leaked freely, but an arrangement of 
oil-sheets kept my bed fairly dry, and I enjoyed a good night's 
sleep. Awaking soon after daybreak we found it was still 
raining. Leaving the hut (alt. 7250 feet), we crossed two 
branches of the stream and scrambled up the mountain-side 
to rejoin the track. Soon afterwards we entered a narrow 
scrub-clad valley, at the head of which a precipitous, circuitous 
ascent brought us to the top of a ridge where the lead mines 
are situated. In the ascent. Rhododendron Hanceanum and 
two other species are particularly abundant, forming thickets ; 
VOL. I. — 16 



242 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

Lonicera deflexicalyx is also plentiful, and was a wealth of 
orange-coloured fruit. On humus-clad rocks a pretty little 
prostrate Gaultheria with snow-white fruits is common. The 
hovels at the lead mines are miserable structures, but we were 
glad of their shelter from the rain and cold. The whole moun- 
tain appears to be full of lead, the ore (galena) being very rich. 
Well-shored adits are carried for considerable distances into 
the mountain-side, and the ore is brought out in baskets fitted 
on runners. The galena is pounded by hand labour into small 
particles ; the lead is obtained by levigation and stored in 
large wooden vats. Subsequently it is melted into large 
oblong ingots, in which form it is carried to Chengtu 
and Sui Fu. The freight down to the nearest waterway is 
very considerable. Lead has been worked in this neighbour- 
hood for many years, and the mines are owned by a man who 
resides at Kiating. The labourers are paid 1800 cash per 
month. We were told that the previous year's output was 
10,000 catties, but little reliance can be placed on this state- 
ment. Such an output is very small, but the primitive methods 
employed are slow and expensive. For smelting and other pur- 
poses the mountain has been denuded of its timber, and is now 
in its upper parts a grassy, scrub-clad wilderness. I made the 
altitude of the mines 9400 feet, that is to say, 2000 feet above 
the charcoal pits whence the fuel necessary to melt down the 
lead is drawn. The sides of the workings are bare and gravelly, 
and were covered with rich yellow flowers of a Sedum-like 
plant, which was new and is unknown to me. 

On leaving the lead mines and crossing a slight dip we 
reached a babbling brook which forms the roadway for the 
next few li. On deserting this we made a very steep ascent to 
the top of a grassy ridge, alt. 10,400 feet, only to find that a 
deep ravine separated us from the watershed proper. After a 
most precipitous descent of 1600 feet over a rocky and difficult 
path, we reached the bed of a torrent, which I take to be the 
stream we noted at Peh-sha Ho flowing from a southerly 
direction. 

On reaching this stream the rain ceased, the mists cleared 
away rapidly, and the sun showed itself for the first time in four 
days. The surrounding country is savage, and is made up of 



THROUGH THE LAOLIN (WILDERNESS) 243 

a magnificent series of limestone cliffs, their steepest crags 
clothed with weather-worn trees of Silver Fir. Everywhere 
else the trees have been cut down. 

From the torrent we struggled up a severe ascent of 1000 
feet, and reached the summit of the watershed, alt. 10,100 feet. 
Here we got a very fine view of the country, which is simply 
a succession of cliffs and crags capped by rugged trees of Silver 
Fir, and with a dense growth of broad-leaved trees in the more 
inaccessible pockets. 

The rest of the day's journey was all downhill over a vile 
pathway. We reached the tiny hamlet of Yang-tientsze, 
alt. 7600 feet, at 6 p.m., having occupied eleven hours in cover- 
ing 30 li. Two men who carried our food-stuffs arrived just as 
darkness closed in, and reported the rest of our gear far behind. 
Our lodgings were poor enough in all conscience, but most 
acceptable after such a fatiguing tramp. After dinner I tried 
to sleep on an oil-sheet spread over one of the native beds, but 
was soon discovered by hungry, tormenting fleas, and, tired 
as I was, sleep proved impossible. About one o'clock my bed 
and some other gear arrived. The carriers had been forced 
to wait after darkness fell until the moon was up in order to see 
the path. I could not complain ; they had done their best over 
a most heart-breaking road. The rest of our loads turned up 
soon after daybreak, and we left Yang-tientsze at 7.30 a.m. 
Descending by a comparatively easy road for 30 li we reached 
before noon the village of Malie, alt. 5300 feet, a very poor 
place, situated on the main road between Omei Hsien and 
Fulin via Wa shan. 

Thus had the Laolin been crossed from north-east to 
south-west, and, personally, I have no desire to repeat the 
journey. The continued rains increased considerably the 
difficulties of the bad roads and made what, under the most 
favourable weather conditions, must always be a fatiguing 
journey, an exceedingly arduous and miserable one. The 
rain and dense mists robbed the trip of its greatest charm, 
namely, the scenery. Except on odd occasions I saw nothing 
outside a radius of 50 yards. The unpropitious weather also 
prevented any investigation of the flora other than that along- 
side the pathway. In so far as it came under my observation 



244 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

this region possesses very little in the way of woody plants 
beyond what are common to the same altitude everywhere in 
western Szechuan. For richness in species it does not compare 
favourably with Mount Omei or Mount Wa. However, there are 
some points of interest. The region evidently enjoys a warm, 
wet climate, and the belt of broad-leaved evergreens, especially 
Oak and LaurinecB, extends to a greater altitude than usual. 
The abundance of Chinese Fir and such interesting trees as 
Davidia, Tetracentron, Cladrastis, Magnolia, iEsculus, Cercidi- 
phyllum,and Chinese Butternut {Juglans cathayensis) is perhaps 
the outstanding feature. Strong-growing climbers such as Hol- 
boellia, Actinidia, and Clematoclethra abound, and I obtained 
seeds of several species. Many kinds of Sorbus with white, 
red, and purple fruits occur, and seeds of these were also secured. 
Honeysuckles, Brambles, and Rhododendrons are also abundant. 
The scarcity of Birch, Beech, deciduous Oak, and Sweet Chest- 
nut, and the entire absence of Pine, Cypress, and Poplar are 
marked features of the region. Throughout the higher altitudes 
Silver Fir and Hemlock Spruce are the only Conifers, although 
in one place I thought I detected some Spruce trees high up 
on the cliffs. I saw no fine trees of either of these Conifers ; 
all that now remain grow on the crags and other equally 
inaccessible places, and have suffered much from the winds and 
weather generally. The jungle growth of Gleichenia on the 
sandstone, and the impenetrable Bamboo thickets everjAvhere 
between 6000 and 10,000 feet altitude, are the most striking 
floral characteristics of the entire region. The mining in- 
dustries have been the cause of the wholesale feUing of the 
timber. 

The entire absence of decent roads, the sparse population, 
wretchedly poor accommodation, the savage cliffs, and jungle- 
clad mountain-sides sufficiently entitle this region to be termed 
" Laolin," i.e. a " Wilderness." 



CHAPTER XIX 
WA SHAN AND ITS FLORA 

THE sister mountain to the sacred Omei is Wa shan, 
situated about long. 103° 14' E., lat. 29° 21' N., six days' 
journey (roughly 80 miles) from the city of Kiating. The 
intervening country is very rough, wild, and mountainous. 
The road is execrable. Baber, the first foreigner to visit and 
ascend this mountain, as well as Mount Omei, gives its altitude 
as 10,545 feet above the sea-level, 4560 feet above the neigh- 
bouring valleys. My readings were 11,250 feet above the sea, 
5150 feet above the surrounding country. Allowing for error 
in the barometer, I think the mountain cannot be less than 
11,000 feet. The flora — always a fair guide as to altitude — 
proves it to be higher than Mount Omei (10,800 feet) ; and this 
agrees with the opinion of the natives, who assert that it is the 
higher of the two mountains. 

As seen from the top of Mount Omei it resembles a huge 
Noah's Ark, broadside on, perched high up amongst the clouds. 
Viewed from a near distance it is seen to consist of a succession 
of tiers of vertical limestone cliffs, only seriously broken at one 
point, with a peculiarly fiat summit. From the hamlet of 
Ta-t'ien-ch'ih (6100 feet), which is situated in a depression at 
its base, the mountain is remarkably square looking, its four 
sides being more or less perpendicular. It appears to be no 
more than 2000 feet above the hamlet, and yet it is really 5000 
feet higher. When it was first pointed out to me, 20 miles or 
so distant, I could not believe it was Wa shan — it looked so like 
a huge precipice, its massiveness belittling its height. 

As already stated, the first foreigner to visit Wa shan was the 
late E. Colborne Baber, who made the ascent on 5th June 1878. 
The description of this mountain, given by him, is so accurate 
and beautiful that I cannot do better than quote it : " The 

845 



246 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

upper storey of this most imposing mountain is a series of twelve 
or fourteen precipices, rising one above another, each not much 
less than 200 feet high, and receding very slightly on all four 
sides from the one next below it. Every individual precipice 
is regularly continued all round the four sides. Or it may be 
considered as a flight of thirteen steps, each 180 feet high and 
30 feet broad. Or, again, it may be described as thirteen layers 
of square, or slightly oblong, limestone slabs, each 180 feet thick 
and about a mile on each side, piled with careful regularity 
and exact levelling upon a base 8000 feet high. Or, perhaps, it 
may be compared to a cubic crystal, stuck amid a row of 
irregular gems. Or, perhaps, it is beyond compare. Some day 
the tourist will go there and compose ' fine EngHsh ' ; he could 
not choose a better place for a bad purpose ; but if he is wiser 
than his kind he will look and wonder, say very little, and 
pass on." 

It was on the afternoon of 30th June 1903 that I arrived 
at the scattered hamlet of Ta-t'ien-ch'ih, from whence the 
ascent can be made. This tiny hamlet is situated in an oval 
depression, locked in by high mountains on all sides. The 
depression is about a mile long and rather less than half a mile 
broad at its widest point, a small lake surrounded by a luxuriant 
greensward occupies the lower end. A species of Delphinium, 
with lovely blue flowers, is very abundant. The Chinese call it 
" Wu-tzu," and say that it is poisonous to man and cattle alike. 
Around the farmhouses, maize, peas, beans, buckwheat, and 
Irish potato are cultivated. The people here mostly profess 
Christianity, and a Roman Catholic mission-house is the only 
decent building in the hamlet. 

Having procured a guide, I left the inn at 5.45 a.m. on ist 
July, to ascend the mountain. Mists obscured everything as 
we set out, and it felt very raw and cold. The path is the merest 
track — very sinuous, steep, and difficult. Rain commenced at 
2.30 p.m., and continued dming the whole of the descent. 
We reached our inn at 6.30 p.m., drenched through and through. 

At one time a dense forest of Silver Fir covered the mountain, 
but this has long since been felled, and the majority of the trees 
still lie rotting where they fell. It is a common sight to see 
bushes of Rhododendrons, 20 feet or more tall, growing on the 



WA SHAN AND ITS FLORA 247 

rotting trunks. Some of these Firs could not have been less 
than 150 feet in height and 20 feet in girth. On the summit 
there are still a number of trees left, but none of great size, and 
nearly all have their tops broken off, either by the wind or by 
the snow. This mountain, in common with others I have visited, 
shows only too plainly the destructive nature of the Chinese. 
Fifty years more, under the present regime, and there will not 
be an acre of accessible forest left in all central, southern, and 
Western China. The making of charcoal alone imposes a very 
heavy toll on hardwood trees and shrubs. The preparing of 
potash salts is a common industry on the mountains west, and 
is another means of clearing away the vegetation in a ruthless 
manner. It is to the charcoal-burning industry that I attribute 
the marked absence of Oak, Beech, and Hornbeam. 

Besides the Silver Fir {Abies Delavayi), the only other 
Conifers are Tsuga yunnanensis, Juniperus formosana, and 
Picea complanata. Rhododendrons constitute the conspicuous 
feature of the vegetation, and their wood is, luckily, not 
esteemed for making charcoal. They begin at 7500 feet, but are 
most abundant at 10,000 feet and upwards. In the ascent I 
collected 16 species. They vary from diminutive plants 4 to 6 
inches high, to giants 30 feet or more tall. Their flowers, 
also, are of all sizes and colours, including pale yellow. It was 
most interesting to watch the displacement of one species by 
another as we ascended. One of the commonest species is 
R. yanthinum, which has flowers of various shades of purple. 

The ascent of the mountain commences 100 yards or so 
from the inn ; cultivation ceases at 6200 feet. Above this, 
for 1000 feet, is a belt, which has at some time been cleared 
for cultivation, but is now densely clad with coarse weeds. 
Among these occur quantities of Rodgersia pinnata, var. alha, 
Spircea Aruncus, Astilbe, and Pedicularis, with a few bushes 
of Deutzia longifolia, Philadelphus Wilsonii, and Poison Ivy 
[Rhus orientalis) interspersed. Above this, for 500 feet, 
comes a wellnigh impenetrable thicket of Bamboo scrub. 
The species (Arundinana nitida) is of remarkably dense growth, 
with thin culms, averaging 6 feet in height. Next above this, 
till the plateau is reached, is a belt of mixed shrubs and herbs, 
conspicuous amongst which are Syringa Sargentiana, Hy- 



248 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

drangea anomala, H. villosa, Neillia affinis, Dipelta ventricosa, 
Ribes longer acemosum, var. Davidii, Enkianthus deflexus, 
Styrax roseus, Deutzia (2 spp.), Rubus (5 spp.), Viburnum 
(4 spp.), Spiraea (4 spp.), Acer spp., Malus spp., Sorbus spp., 
Meconopsis chelidonifolia, Fragaria filipendula, Lilium gigan- 
teum, and the herbs of the lower belt. A few Rhododendrons 
occur chiefly on the cliffs. 

The plateau (8500 feet) is about half a mile across, marshy 
in places, and densely clad with shrubby vegetation andBamboo 
scrub. In addition to those already noted as occurring in 
the belt below, we here found Hydrangea xanthoncura, Rosa 
sericea, and Aralia chinensis, also a species of Caltha and a 
few Conifers. Rhododendrons become more abundant as we 
advanced. Crossing this plateau we reached the north-west 
angle of the upper storey, and scrambled upwards by a narrow, 
rocky, tortuous path through dense thickets of mixed shrubs, 
which gradually give place to Rhododendrons as the narrow 
ledge at 10,000 feet is reached. Rosa sericea, which was past 
flowering below, was here a mass of lovely white. Two or 
three species of Lonicera and various Lahiatce occur within 
this belt, and on shady rocks at least three species of Primula, 
including P. ovali folia. 

From 10,000 feet to the summit of the mountain Rhodo- 
dendron accounts for fully 99 per cent, of the ligneous vegeta- 
tion. A few Conifers, Lonicera, Rosa sericea, Clematis montana, 
var. Wilsonii, Pieris, and Gaultheria make up the remaining 
one per cent. Of the herbs. Primula is the most noteworthy. 
Five fresh species of this genus occur, and amongst them, though 
uncommon, the lovely yellow-flowered P. Prattii. A blue- 
flowered Corj'dalis, Cypripedium luteum, with large yellow 
flowers ; Rubus Fockeanus and another herbaceous species 
are other pleasing plants. On shady rocks the curious Ber- 
neuxia thibetica abounds. This interesting plant was first 
referred to the genus Shortia by Franchet, and was later made 
the type of a new genus by Decaisne. The flowers are small 
and insignificant, white or pale pink in colour. On bare 
rocks I gathered the pretty white-belled Cassiope selaginoides. 

My attention and interest, however, were chiefly taken 
up with the Rhododendrons. The gorgeous beauty of their 



WA SHAN AND ITS FLORA 249 

flowers defies description. They were there in thousands 
and hundreds of thousands. Bushes of all sizes, many fully 
30 feet tall and more in diameter, all clad with a wealth of 
blossoms that almost hid the foliage. Some flowers were 
crimson, some bright red, some flesh-coloured, some silvery- 
pink, some yellow, and others pure white. The huge rugged 
stems, gnarled and twisted into every conceivable shape, are 
draped with pendant Mosses and Lichens, prominent among 
the latter being Usnea longissima. How the Rhododendrons 
find roothold on these wild crags and cliffs is a marvel. Many 
grow on the fallen trunks of the Silver Fir and some are 
epiphytic. Beneath them Sphagnum moss luxuriates and 
makes a pretty but treacherous carpet. On bare exposed 
cliffs I gathered two diminutive species of Rhododendron, 
each only a few inches tall, one with deep purple and the 
other with pale yellow flowers. 

Dense mists obscured our view, though about ten o'clock 
the sun broke through and made a temporary rift in the clouds 
of mist, disclosing a scene which made us hunger for more. 
In one place we leant over a precipice and could hear the roar 
of a torrent some 2000 or 3000 feet below. Near the summit 
three precipices, each 40 or 50 feet in height, have to be 
ascended by means of wooden ladders. Up these I carried 
my dog, never thinking of the descent. On returning he got 
frightened, and though we blindfolded him, he struggled 
hard, and on one occasion his struggles all but upset my 
balance. I was heartily thankful when safe ground was 
reached. It requires all one's nerve to mount a ladder with 
no balustrade, fixed to a vertical cliff 40 feet high, and on either 
side a yawning abyss lost in the clouds. It is at 10,700 feet — 
a narrow ridge not 8 feet broad — that the first ladder is en- 
countered. From here to within a few feet of the summit 
the path is terribly steep, difficult, and dangerous. On clearing 
the topmost ladder and the remains of another, we unexpectedly 
reached the summit by the easiest path imaginable — for all 
the world like a woodland path at home. 

The summit is a slightly undulating plateau, many acres 
in extent, with thickets of tall Rliododendrons festooned with 
Clematis montana, var. Wilsonii, and clumps of Silver Fir, 



250 A NATURALIST IN WESTERN CHINA 

the remnant and offspring of giants which once clothed this 
magnificent mountain alternating with glades carpeted with 
Anemones and Primulas and tiny streamlets meandering 
hither and thither. Baber aptly describes it as " the most 
charming natural park in the world." 

In times past several temples existed on the summit, 
of which ruins only now remain. At present there is but 
one temple, which contains an image of P'u-hsien Pu'ssa 
seated on a plaster elephant. It is built of the timber of the 
Silver Fir {A hies Delavayi) and was in excellent repair. Near 
the temple a small patch of medicinal Rhubarb, a few 
cabbages, and Irish potatoes are cultivated. 

The partly shrubby Sambucus adnata and several herbs, 
including Pedicularis, Microula, Fragaria fiUpendula, and F. 
elatior, range from base to summit. Fragaria fiUpendula is a 
new Strawberry worthy of note ; the fruit is red, more or 
less cylindrical in shape, often an inch in length, and of very 
good flavour. It is widely distributed in Western China, and 
at Tachienlu I have enjoyed many a dish of this fruit with 
cream from yak's milk. 

Two days later I ascended a lofty spur (10,000 feet) of this 
mountain and added several new plants to my collection. 
Of these I may mention Pceonia Veitchii, Rubus tricolor, 
Clematis Faherii, Ribes laurifolium, Potentilla Veitchii, Pyrola 
rotundifolia, Styrax PerkinsicB, Aristolochia moufinensis, Acer, 
Anemone, Pyrus, Sorbus, Berberis, and Primula. High up 
on the cliff Leontopodium aipinum and several species of 
Anaphalis abound. Amongst the Sphagnum at least three 
species of Lycopodium occur. On dripping, shady rocks and 
trunks of the Rhododendrons, a filmy Fern {Hymenophyllum 
omeiense) is abundant. 

During the four days I botanized on this mountain I added 
some 220 odd species to my collection. On each of these 
days the work was excessively hard, and " drenched to the 
skin " but mildly describes our condition each evening as we 
reached our inn. On one occasion, through treading on some 
loose debris, I was only saved from being precipitated over 
a steep cliff by the presence of mind of a coolie who happened 
to be near me at the moment. 



WA SHAN AND ITS FLORA 251 

Zoologically, Mount Wa and the surrounding wilderness 
is particularly interesting as being one of the places where 
wild cattle {Budorcas tibetanus) are found. I saw their foot- 
prints only ; they were nearly as large as those of a cow. 
Ornithologically, it is interesting as being the home of at 
least five species of Pheasant, including the " Blood " and 
" Amherst " varieties. 

I have climbed and botanized on many mountains in 
different parts of China, some much higher than this, but 
none have I found richer in cool-temperate plants, and more 
especially flowering shrubs. Altogether, with its rich flora, 
peculiar fauna, its singular geological formation, and its 
magnificent natural park on the summit, Wa shan has many 
claims on the attention of the naturalist. 



END OF VOLUME I 



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