Art. I. Sir G. Staunton's Account of the Embassy of China. (osia)

The Monthly Review, November 1797


(s. 126-127)

Several circumstances, independently of the arrival of strangers, contributed to throng so wide a street. A procession was moving towards the gate, in which the white or bridal colour, according to European ideas, of the persons who formed it, seemed at first to announce a marriage ceremony; but the appearance of young men over-whelmed with grief shewed it to be a funeral, much more indeed than the corse itself, which was contained in a handsome square case, shaded with a canopy, painted with gay and lively colours, and preceded by standards of variegated silks. Behind it were sedan chairs covered with white cloth, containing the female relations of the deceased; the white colour, denoting in China the affliction of those who wear it, is sedulously avoided by such as wish to manifest sentiments of a contrary kind: it is therefore never seen in the ceremony of nuptials (met soon afterwards), where the lady (as yet unseen by the bridgegroom) is carried with a gilt and gaudy chair, hung round with festoons of artificial flowers, and followed by relations, attendants, and servants, bearing the paraphernalia, being the only portion given with a daughter, in marriage, by her parents.


(s. 246)

The white colour in Europe is the emblem of joy and festivity, of youth and innocence: in China, the same colour betokens lamentation and sorrow: - it is rigorously proscribed in scenes of gaiety, and exclusively employed in funeral processions.


(s. 248)

The Chinese manufacture cloth from the fibres of the dead nettle, and make paper from those of hemp and from the straw of rice; vol. ii. p. 170. The momordica serves for cucumber; a carduus is eaten as a relish with rice; the carthamus affords their finest red: they dye black with the cup of the acorn; and the leaves of the ash are substituted for those of mulberry in feeding silk worms.

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