1902 Encyclopedia > Manchuria


MANCHURIA is the name by which the territory in the east of Asia occupied by the Manchus is known in Europe. By the Chinese it is called the country of the Manchows, or, as it is pronounced by the natives, of the Manchus, an epithet meaning " Pure," chosen by the founder of the dynasty which now rules over Manchuria and China as an appropriate designation for his family. Manchuria as it has existed for upwards of two centuries, that is to say since it has had an historical existence, is a tract of country lying in a north-easterly and south-westerly direction between 38° 40' and 49° N. lat. and 120° and 133° E. long., and is wedged in between China and Mongolia on the west and north-west, and Corea and the Russian territory on the Amur on the east and north. Speaking more definitely, it is bounded on the N. by the Amur, on the E. by the Usnri, on the S. by the Gulf of Leaou-tung, the Yellow Sea, and Corea, and on the W. by the river Nonni and a line of palisades which stretch from Kwan-chung-tszo to the Great Wall of China. The territory thus defined is about 800 miles in length and 500 miles in width, and contains about 390,000 square miles. It is divided into three provinces, viz., Tsitsihar or North-ern Manchuria, Kirin or Central Manchuria, and Leaou-tung or Southern Manchuria. Physically the country is divided into two regions, the one a series of mountain ranges occupying the northern and eastern portions of the kingdom, and the other a plain which stretches southwards from Moukden, the capital, to the Gulf of Leaou-tung. Speaking generally, the mountains run in a direction parallel with the lie of the country, and are interspersed with numerous and fertile valleys, more especially on the southern and eastern slopes, where the summer sun brings to rich perfection the fruits of the soil fertilized by the showers of the south monsoon.

The principal range of mountains is the Shan-alin, the Chinese Chang pih Shan, "the long white mountains," which runs in a north-easterly direction from the shores of the Gulf of Leaou-tung to the mouth of the Amur river. In its course through Northern Manchuria it forms the watershed of the Sungari, Hurka, and Usuri rivers, and in the south that of the Ya-lu, Ta-yang, and many smaller streams. It also forms the eastern boundary of the great plain of Leaou-tung. The mountains of this range reach their greatest height on the south-east of Kirin, where their snow-capped peaks rise to the elevation of from 10,000 to 12,000 feet. The scenery among them is justly celebrated for the grandeur of its beauty, more especially in the neigh-bourhood of Haiching, Siu-yen, and the Corean Gate. Another range forms a parallel line to the Shan-a-lin mountains on their west, and runs from the neighbour-hood of the junction of the Hurka and Sungari rivers, passing Kirin, to the plain on the north side of Moukden.

The three principal rivers of Manchuria are the Sungari, Hurka, and Usuri already mentioned. Of these the Sun-gari, which is the largest, rises on the northern slopes of the Shan-a-lin range, and runs in a north-westerly direction to its junction with the Nonni, from which point it turns north-east until it empties itself into the Amur. It is navigable by native junks above Kirin, to which city also the Russians have succeeded in travelling on it by steamer. In its long course it varies greatly both in depth and width, in some parts being only a few feet deep and spreading out to a width of more than a mile, while in other and mountainous portions of its course its channel is narrowed to 300 or 400 feet, and its depth is increased in inverse ratio. The Usuri rises in about 44° N. lat. and 131° E. long., and, after running a north-easterly course for nearly 500 miles, it also loses itself in the Amur. The Hurka takes its rise, like the Sungari, on the northern slopes of the Shati-a-lin range, and not f ir form the sources of that river. It takes a north-easterly course as far as the city of Ninguta, at which point it turns northward, and so continues until it joins the S in-gari at San-sing. It is navigable by junks between that city and Ninguta, though the torrents in its course make the voyage backwards and forwards one of considerable difficulty. Nest in importance to these rivers are the Leaou and Ta-yang, the former of which rises in Mongolia, and after running in an easterly direction for about 4J0 miles enters Manchuria in about 43° N. lat., and turning southward empties itself into the Gulf of Leaou-tung. In bygone days large junks were able to sail up it as far as New-chwang, but owing to the silting up of the bed it is not now navigable for any but small boats beyond Ying-tszo, where the foreign settlement is situated. The Ta-yang rises on the southern slopes of the Shan-a-lin mountains, and flows southward into the Yellow Sea.

Moukden, or as it is called by the Chinese Shing-yang, the capital city of Manchuria, is situated in the province of Leaou-tung, in 41° 40' N. lat. and 130° 30' E. long. It occupies a fine position on the river Shin, an affluent of the Leaou, and is a city with considerable pretensions to grandeur. The city wall presents a handsome appearance, and is pierced by eight gates. Like Peking, the town possesses a drum tower and a huge bell. The streets arc broad and well laid out, and the shops are well supplied with both native and foreign goods. The population is estimated at about 200,000, including that of the suburbs, the richest and most extensive of which are on the western and southern faces of the city. Leaou-yang, which was once the capital of the country, also stands in the province of Leaou-tung, but it is not now a place of much import-ance. Such trade as there is is carried on in the centre of the city, the remaining portions being open, having been turned into vegetable gardens. The other cities in the province are Kiug-chow-foo on the west of the Gulf of Leaou-tung ; Kin-chow, on the western extremity of the Leaou-tung peninsula; Kai-chow, on the north-western shore of the same peninsula; Hai-ching, on the road from Ying-tsze to Moukden ; Ki-yuen, a populous and prosperous city in the north of the province; and Hing-king, on the northern slope of the Shan-a-lin mountains, which is famous rather from the fact that it was the original seat of the founders of the present dynasty than for any pretensions to present importance. The most important commercial place, however, is the treaty port of Ying-tsze, which is situated at the head of the Gulf of Leaou-tung. The main street, which is lined with shops and warehouses, is 2 miles in length, and the trade there carried on is very considerable. According to the custom-house returns the value of the foreign imports and exports in the year 1880 was ¿£691,954 and ¿£1,117,790 respectively, besides a large native trade carried on in junks. The population of the whole province of Leaou-tung is estimated to be about 12,000,000.

The province of Kirin, or Central Manchuria, is bounded on the N. and N.W. by the Sungari, on the S. by Leaou-tung and Corea, on the W. by the line of palisades already spoken of, and on the E. by the Usuri and the maritime Russian provinces. It contains an area of about 135,000 square miles, and is entirely mountainous with the excep-tion of a stretch of plain country in its north-western corner. This plaiu produces large quantities of indigo and opium, and is physically remarkable for the number of isolated conical hills which dot its surface. These sometimes occur in a direct line at intervals of 15 or 20 miles, and elsewhere are scattered about " like dish-covers on a table." Kirin, the capital of the province, is situated in about 43° 40' N. lat. and 126° 50' E. long., and occupies a magnificent position, being surrounded on the north, west, and south by a semicircular range of mountains with the broad stream of the Sungari flowing across the front. The local trade is considerable, and is benefited by the presence of large junk-building yards, which, owing to the abundance and cheapness of wood, have been established there, and from which the place has derived its Chinese name of Chuen-chang or "shipyard." The town has a well-to-do appear-ance, and in summer time the houses and shops are gaily decorated with flowers brought from the sunny south. Ashehoh, on the Ashe, with its population of 40,000 ; Petum, Sinice Sing-chung, on the Sungari, population 30,000 ; San-sing, near the junction of the Sungari and Hurka ; La-lin, 120 miles to the north of Kirin, popula-tion 20,000 ; and Ninguta, are the other principal cities in the province.

Tsi-tsi-har, or Northern Manchuria, which contains about 195,000 square miles, is bounded on the N. and N.E. by the Amur, on the S. by the Sungari, and on the \V by the Nonni and Mongolia. This province is thinly populated, and is cultivated only along the lines of its rivers. The only towns of any importance are Tsitsihar and Mergen, both situated on the Nonni.
Four principal highways traverse Manchuria. The first runs from Peking to Kirin via Moukden, where it sends off a branch to Corea. At Kirin it bifurcates, one branch going to San-sing, the extreme north-eastern town of the province of Kirin, and the other to Poissiet on the coast via Ninguta. The second road runs from the treaty port of Ying-tsze through Moukden to Petuna in the north-western corner of the Kirin province and thence to Tsitsihar, Mergen, and the Amur. The third also starts from Ying-tsze, and strikes southward to Kin-chow at the extremity of the Leaou-tung peninsula. And the fourth connects Ying-tsze with the Gate of Corea.

The great plain in Leaou-tung is in many parts swampy, and in the neighbourhood of the sea, where the soil emits a saline exudation sucli as is also common in the north of China, it is perfectly sterile. In other parts fine crops of millet and various kinds of grain are grown, and on it trees flourish abundantly.

The climate over the greater part of the country varies between the two extremes of heat and cold, the thermometer ranging be-tween 90° in the summer and 10° below zero in the winter. As in the north of China, the rivers are frozen up during the four winter months. After a short spring the heat of summer succeeds, which in its turn is separated by an autumn of six weeks' duration from snow and ice. The trees and plants are much the same as those common in England, and severe as the weather is in winter the less elevated mountains are covered to their summits with trees. The wild animals also are those known in Europe, with the addition of tigers anil panthers. Bears, wild boars, hares, wolves, foxes, ami wild cats are very common, and, in the north, sables are found in great numbers. One of the most noticeable of the birds is the Mongolian lark (Melanocorypha mongolian), which is found in a wild state both in Manchuria and in the desert of Mongolia. This bird is exported in large numbers to northern China, where it is much prized on account of the extraordinary power it possesses of imitating the songs of other birds, the different tones of the barks of dogs, and the mews anel hisses of cats, as well as all the noises peculiar to the neighbourhood in which it lives. The Manchurian crane is common, as also are eagles, cuckoos, laughing doves, &c. Insects, of which there are, accord-ing to the Russians, one thousand different species, abound, owing to the swampy nature of much of the country. The rivers are well stocked with fish, especially with salmon, which forms a common article of food among the people. In such immense shoals do these fish appear in some of the smaller streams that numbers are squeezed out on to the banks and there perish. This fact possibly gave rise to the legend of a certain Prince whose royal mother became preg-nant by the influence of the rays of the sun, and who brought forth an egg from which the prince was sprung. His supernatural origin excited the alarm of the king's ministers, who advised that ho shoulel be put to death, but his mother, having warning of their intention, sent him away privately. This Manchurian Phaeton thereupon wandered forth, and in his travels came to a river having neither bridge nor ferry. In his difficulty he cried for help to his father the Sun, and instantly fishes rose to the surface of the water and formed themselves into such close array that the prince was able to walk to the opposite bank on their backs.

In minerals Manchuria is very rich: coal, gold, iron (as well as magnetic iron ore), and precious stones are found in quantities which suggest that if better appliances were employed than are now in use the returns might be very large.

Of the crops grown by the people indigo and opium are the most lucrative. The indigo plant is grown in large quantities in the plain country to the north of Moukden, and is transported thence to the coast in carts, each of which carries rather more than a ton weight of the dye. The poppy is cultivated wherever it will grow, the crop being far more profitable than that of any other product. Cotton, tobacco, pulse, millet, wheat, and barley are other crops grown by the Manchurian farmers.

History. —Manchow, or more correctly Manchu, is, as has been said, not the name of the country but of the people who inhabit it. The name is a modern one, having been attopted by a ruler who rose to power in the beginning of the 13th century. Before that time the Manchus were more or less a shifting population, with no fixed location, and, being broken up into a number of tribes, they went mainly under the distinctive name of those clans which at different periods exercised lordship over them. Thus under the Chowdynasty (1122-225 B.C.) we find them spoken of as Sewshin, and at subsequent periods they were known as Yih-low, Wuh-kcih, Moh-hoh, Pohai, Niichin, and according to the Chinese his-torians also as K'etan. Throughout their history they appear as a rude people, the tribute they brought to the Chinese court consisting of stone arrow-heads, hawks, gold, and latterly ginseng. Assum-ing that, as the Chinese say, the K'etans were Manchus, the first appearance of the Manchus, as a people, in China dates from the beginning of the 10th century, when K'etans having first conquered the kingdom of Pohai crossed the frontier into China and estab-lished the Leaou or Iron dynasty in the northern portion of the empire. These invaders were in their turn overthrown two cen-turies later by another invasion from Manchuria. These new conquerors were Niichins, and, therefore, direct ancestors of the Manchus. On assuming the imperial yellow in China, their chief adopted the title of Kin or " Golden " for his dynasty. " Iron " (Leaou), he said, " rusts, but gold always keeps its purity and colour, therefore my dynasty shall be called Kin." In a little more than a century, however, the Kins were driven out of China by the Mongols under Jenghiz Khan. But before the close of their rule a miraculous event occurred on the Shan-a-lin mountains which is popularly believed to have laid the seeds of the greatness of the present rulers of the empire. Three heaven-born maidens, so runs the legend, were bathing one day in a lake under the Shan-a-lin mountains when a passing magpie dropped a ripe red fruit into the lap of one of them. The maiden ate the fruit, and in due course a child was born to her, whom she named Aisin Gioro, or the Golden. When quite a lad Aisin Gioro was elected chief over throe contending clans, and established his capital at Otole near the Shan-a-lin mountains. His reign, however, was not of long dura-tion, for his subjects rose against him and murdered him, together with all his sons except the youngest, Fancha, who, like the infant Haitu in Mongolian history, was miraculously saved from bis pursuers. Nothing is recorded of the facts of Aisin Gioro's reign except that he named the people over whom he reigned Manchu, or "Pure." His descendants, through the rescued Fancha, fell into complete obscurity until about the middle of the 16th century, when one of them, Norhachi by name, a chieftain of a small tribe, rose to power. Taking advantage of the shifting scenes of Man-churian politics, Norhachi played with skill and daring the r61e which had been played by Jenghiz Khan more than three centuries before in Mongolia. With even greater success than his Mongolian counterpart, Norhachi drew tribe after tribe under his sway, and after numerous wars with Corea and Mongolia, he established his rule over the whole of Manchuria. Being thus the sovereign of an empire, he, again like Jenghiz Khan; adopted for himself the title of Ying-ming, " Brave and Illustrious," and took for his reign the title of T'een-ming. Thirtceen years later, in 1617, after numerous border fights witli the Chinese, Norhachi drew up a list of " seven hates," or indictments, against his southern neighbours, and, not getting the satisfaction ho demanded, declared war against them. The progress of this war. the hastily patched up peace, the equally hasty alliance and its consequences, being matters of Chinese history, have been treated of under the article CHINA.

At the present day the Manchus are rapidly dying out before the quietly advancing Chinese settlers. By far the greater number of the present inhabitants of Manchuria are Chinamen. The Chinese system of education is adopted everywhere throughout the country ; the Chinese language is taught in all the schools ; and Manchuria promises to become, before long as much a Chinese province as Chih-le or Shantung.

See Journeys in North China, Manchuria, and Eastern Mongolia, by the Rev. Alexander Williamson; The Manchus, by Rev. John Ross; Man-chow yuen lew leaou. (R. K. D.)

The above article was written by: Prof. R. K. Douglas.

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