1902 Encyclopedia > Chinchew (Chinchu), China

Chinchew (Chinchu)
(currently known as: Quanzhou)




CHINCHEW, or CHINCHU, is the name usually given in English charts to an ancient and famous port of China in the province of Fuh-keen, of which the Chinese name is Chwanchow-foo, or Tswanchow-foo (by French scholars written Thsiouan-cheou-foii). It stands in 24° 57' N. lat. and 118° 35' E. long. It is described by Martini (in the 17th century) as pleasantly situated on a tongue of land between two branches of the river which forms the harbour, and these so deep that the largest (Chinese) ships could come up to the walls. The city, though now occasionally visited by missionaries and others, is not one of the treaty-ports, and modern information about it is not abundant. But large junks still come close to the city. The walls have a circuit of 7 or 8 miles, but embrace much vacant ground. The chief exports are tea and sugar, tobacco, china-ware, nankeens, &c. There are still to be seen the remains of a fine mosque, founded by the Arab traders who resorted thither. The English Presbyterian Mission has had a chapel in the city since about 1862. Beyond the northern branch of the river (which is several miles from the city) there is a suburb called Loyang, which is approached by the most celebrated bridge in China.

Chwanchow was in the Middle Ages the great port of Western trade with China, and was known to the Arabs and to Europeans as Za.iMn or Zayton, the name under which it appears in Abulfeda's Geography, and in the Mongol history of Rashiduddin, as well as in Ibn Batuta, Marco Polo, and other mediaeval travellers (see CHINA, p, 628).

Marco Polo calls it " one of the two greatest commercial havens in the world;" Ibn Batuta, " the greatest seaport in the world."

Some argument has of late been alleged against the identity of Zayton with Chwanchow, and in favour of its being rather Changchow (a great city 60 miles W.S.W. of Chwanchow), or a port on the river of Changchow near Amoy. It is possible that the name " Port of Zayton " covered a good deal, and may have embraced the great basin called Amoy Harbour, the chief part of which lies within the Foo or department of Chwanchow; but there is hardly room for doubt that the Zayton of Marco Polo and Abulfeda was the Chwanchow of the Chinese.
Ibn Batuta informs us that a rich silk texture made here was called ZaiMniya ; and there can be little doubt that this is the real origin of our word Satin,-—Zettani in mediaeval Italian, Aceytuni in Spanish.

With the question already indicated is connected a singular ambiguity. The name Chinchew is now applied as we have defined; but the Chincheo or Chinchew of old English books, and of the Spaniards and Portuguese to this day, is, as Mr G. Phillips has lately pointed out, not Chwanchow but Changchow. The province of Fuh-keen is often called Chincheo by the Jesuits of the 16th and 17th centuries. Changchow, and its dependencies seem to have constituted the port of Fuh-keen with which Macao and Manilla chiefly communicated at that period, and where the Portuguese had at one time a factory ; and hence they seem to have applied the same name to the port and the province, though Changchow has never been the official capital of Fuh-keen. How English mariners and maps came to transfer the name to Chwanchow is obscure. (See Journal R. Geog. Soc, vol. xliv.; Yule's Marco Polo, 2d ed., 1875, vol ii., &c.) (H. Y.)







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