DURING the dynasty of Leang, in the first half of the sixth century, the Chinese often heard of a land situated 5000 of their miles to the eastward of the Painted People, who dwelt in the Aleutian Islands, and named it Tahan, or Great China. The direction and distance indicate the great peninsula Aliaska. They probably named it Great China from their having heard of the continent which extends beyond. It was in a precisely similar manner, according to the legend, that the Irish, who in earlier ages, long before the time of Columbus, were cast away on the American shores, named the country Great Ireland. 1 They reported that the newly-discovered nation altogether resembled the Painted People, but spoke an entirely different language. The Tahan bore no weapons, and knew nothing of war and strife. 2
Beyond Aliaska the Chinese discovered, at the end of the fifth century, a land which Deguignes, in fact,
afterwards sought for on the north-west part of the American Continent. The conjecture of that keen-witted scholar was subsequently fully verified, and we are now able to determine those parts of America described by the Chinese. The zealous inquiries relating to a state of civilisation long passed away, and to such of its remains as yet exist in the New World, have led in our days to results of which the inquirer of the eighteenth century could have had no intimation. We will now give a literal translation of the Chinese report, and afterwards its explanation.
"During the reign of the dynasty Tsi, in the first year of the year-naming, 'Everlasting Origin' (A.D. 499), came a Buddhist priest from this kingdom, who bore the cloister-name of Hoei-schin, i.e., Universal Compassion, 1 to the present district of Hukuang, and those surrounding it, who narrated that Fusang is about twenty thousand Chinese miles in an easterly direction from Tahan, and east of the Middle Kingdom. Many Fusang trees grow there, whose leaves resemble the Dryanda cordifolia; 2 the sprouts, on the contrary,
resemble those of the bamboo-tree, 1 and are eaten by the inhabitants of the land. The fruit is like a pear in form, but is red. From the bark they prepare a sort of linen which they use for clothing, and also a sort of ornamented stuff." (With regard to this, the Year-Books of Leang have a variation: instead of the character KIN (11, 492 B.), meaning "embroidered stuff," or embroidered and ornamented stuff in general, we have MIEN, which signifies "fine silk.") "The houses are built of wooden beams; fortified and walled places are there unknown."
"They have written characters in this land, and prepare paper from the bark of the Fusang. The people have no weapons, and make no wars; but in the arrangements for the kingdom they have a northern and a southern prison. Trifling offenders were lodged in the southern prison, but those confined for greater offences in the northern; so that those who were about to receive grace could be placed in the southern prison, and those who were not, in the northern. Those men and women who were imprisoned for life were allowed to
marry. The boys resulting from these marriages were, at the age of eight years, sold as slaves; the girls not until their ninth year. If a man of any note was found guilty of crimes, an assembly was held; it must be in an excavated place." (Grube, Ger. "a pit;" possibly within an embankment or circle of earth.--C. G. L.) "There they strewed ashes over him, and bade him farewell. If the offender was one of a lower class, he alone was punished; but when of rank, the degradation was extended to his children and grandchildren. With those of the highest rank it attained to the seventh generation."
"The name of the king is pronounced Ichi. The nobles of the first-class are termed Tuilu; of the second, Little Tuilu; and of the third, Na-to-scha. When the prince goes forth, he is accompanied by horns and. trumpets. The colour of his clothes changes with the different years. In the two first of the ten-year cyclus they are blue; in the two next, red; in the two following, yellow; in the two next, red; and in the last two, black."
"The horns of the oxen are so large that they hold ten bushels. They use them to contain all manner of
things. Horses, oxen, and stags are harnessed to their waggons. Stags are used here as cattle are used in the Middle Kingdom, and. from the milk of the hind they make butter. The red pears of the Fusang-tree keep good throughout the year. Moreover, they have apples and reeds. From the latter they prepare mats. No iron is found in this land; but copper, gold, and silver are not prized, and do not serve as a medium of exchange in the market.
"Marriage is determined upon in the following manner:--The suitor builds himself a hut before the door of the house where the one longed for dwells, and waters and cleans the ground every morning and evening. When a year has passed by, if the maiden is not inclined to marry him, he departs; should she be willing, it is completed. When the parents die, they fast seven days. For the death of the paternal or maternal grandfather they lament five days; at the death of elder or younger sisters or brothers, uncles or aunts, three days. They then sit from morning to evening before an image of the ghost, absorbed in prayer, but wear no mourning-clothes. When the king dies, the son who succeeds him does not busy himself for three years with State affairs.
"In earlier times these people lived not according to the laws of Buddha. But it happened that in the second year-naming 'Great Light,' of Song (A.D. 458), five beggar-monks from the kingdom of Kipin went to
this land, extended over it the religion of Buddha, and with it his holy writings and images. They instructed the people in the principles of monastic life, and so changed their manners."
The same Buddhist monk who gives this account of the land Fusang, tells us of a country of women. "This land," he writes, "lies about a thousand Chinese miles in an easterly direction from Fusang, and is inhabited by white people with very hairy bodies." 1 The entire story is, however, intermixed with so much fabulous matter, that it is not worth translating. It is, however, worthy of remark, that since the earliest times every civilised race which has left us written records of its existence spoke of a land of women, which was always placed farther and farther to the north-east, until we find it ultimately placed in America. 2 It is hardly necessary to say that such a land of women could never have existed. It is, however, possible that among various tribes here and there the women may have had separate dwelling-places; perhaps apart upon an island, and held intercourse with the men only from time to time. The Arabs, particularly Edrisi, speak
of such an arrangement, but thought that this land of women lay in an altogether different direction. 1 The knowledge of the Arabs and Persians of the east and north-eastern parts of the world extended only to Japan and the eastern shores of China. "To the eastward of Japan," asserts Abulfeda distinctly, "the earth is uninhabited."
24:1 Münchener Gelehrte Anzeigen, viii. 636. This must have been the land extending from the two Carolinas to the southern point of Florida.
24:2 Leang-schu and Mantuanlin, a. a. o.
25:1 According to King-tschu it signifies "an old name." King-tschu is the sixth of the nine provinces which are described in the tax-roll of Ju, which contains the sixth of the included divisions of the Annual Book. It extended from the north side of the hill King. Compare Hongingta, the celebrated expounder of King in the times of Tang, with the already-mentioned extracts from the Annual or Year-Book.
25:2 In the Leang-schu we find an error in the writing (a very common p. 26 occurrence in Chinese transcriptions): instead of the character TONG; (4, 233 Bas.), we have Tang (11, 444 B.), which signifies copper, and according to which we must read, "Their leaves resemble copper," which is evidently an error.
26:1 This is the case also in China with the bamboo sprouts, on which account they are called sun (7, 449 B.); i.e., the buds of the first ten days, since they only keep for that time.
29:1 The reports are given in the Kansse, bk. 79, p. 6; Leang-schu, bk. 64, p. 49; and from these much more correctly in the Encyclopædia of Mantuanlin, bk. 327, a. A.
29:2 The Japanese have in their facetiæ an account of such a country.--C. G. L.
30:1 Edrisi, ii. 433, edition Jaubert.