Chinese and China 100 Years Ago (as perceived by Europeans)

| October 2nd, 2010

Encyclopedia_3

My boyfriend has an old encyclopedia consisting of 22 volumes. This is a Russian adaptation of the famous Meyer encyclopedia printed from 1900 to 1910.

I want to share an excerpt from the encyclopedia’s article “China”. Although the whole article itself can be characterized as objective – it seems that 100 years ago the term “politically correct” hasn’t existed yet. Thus its authors didn’t shy away from using the language which would hardly find its way into today’s academic literature.

This is a good opportunity to see how foreigners viewed Chinese people 100 years ago and how much has changed since then.

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China, almost without any external influence, has made many great discoveries creating a vast literature in various fields of knowledge. Success achieved by China in agriculture and crafts is truly amazing. Until the latest time the state institutions of China were the most advanced among Asian countries.

But its isolation and neighborhood of barbarians who acknowledged the undisputed superiority of China has produced in this nation self-adoration and contempt to anything foreign, destroyed self-criticism, stopped the progress and became lately the source of many disasters for the country and its people.

Judgment and preferences of Chinese are marked with strong realism. In philosophy he [Chinese] is interested in practical values, rules of behavior, and not in researching the meaning and nature of things. Poetry is also dominated by realism, his fantasy only creates exaggerated images of the real world. Art – being the real world’s reflection – reveals the developed skill of observation of [Chinese] artist and perfect technique; fantastic creations, however, are usually pretentious, lack sense of appropriateness, are weak in regards of general idea and together with that have a scrupulous depiction of little details.

Chinese is a good merchant, economical owner, exemplary farmer but also a strict adept of routine. He is mistrustful, reserved, although very sociable, likes shows and street processions. In spite of egotism, he has a developed sense of solidarity.

Most of trade companies are managed not by individuals but by groups of entrepreneurs.

Plots and secret societies flourish in China and are rarely discovered.

Chinese rarely forgive and forget offence. Like all nations afflicted with chauvinism, Chinese look upon foreigners thinking of them as lower than themselves.

In family father is head and god, the owner of life and death of his family members; but examples of cruelty or abuse of parental power are not that often. Chinese are very loving to their children; special tenderness is spared for sons.

The common traits for all Chinese are their sincere, instinctive attachment to motherland and respect for labor which almost transforms into the cult of labor. For Chinese there is no dirty work. Every craftsman aspires to be an artist in his profession. This respect to any worker results in disgust toward the military art. Chinese don’t distinguish between soldier and bandit. “X thousand of young villains have been recruited and sent to war” – often write Chinese chroniclers describing some military campaign. As the Chinese proverb says – “Good iron is not used for nails, good people – for soldiers”.

Below are some additional excerpts.

On Imperial Examination and its influence on contemporary education:

[Exams] require the knowledge of not only the classic books but also all of commentaries. Student must know the source of some quotation and develop it according to the rules of rhetoric; compose a poem using a given metrical foot with obligatory usage of certain words in specific places.

Nuances are purely technical but dealing with them is so difficult that some apply for exams five and six times and until the old age can’t overcome all scholastic and rhetoric difficulties purposively created by examiners.

General scientific achievements of even brightest Chinese scientists are very scarce. In modern times [reminder – 100 years ago] under the pressure of circumstances curriculum begins to include studying of some applied disciplines and young people are sent abroad for enrichment of their education.

On Industry:

Spirit of innovation, once so notable in China, lately has weakened and in some fields Chinese have been surpassed by their students – Koreans and Japanese.

On Chinese literature:

Chinese are conservative; this is expressed in their literature as well. Classics are eagerly read, re-printed and commented; studying them is the purpose and method of higher education. All new and original is hardly accepted, met with mistrust or self-satisfied indifference. Overcoming it requires either outstanding achievements or luck.

<…>

China has never come through real spiritual revolutions; however, it has never experienced any kind of spiritual restraints, demolition of which would require reformatory efforts.

The press is free, religious tolerance is widespread.

 

Crystal Tao is the author of LoveLoveChina,  blog about Chinese girls

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92 Comments | Leave a comment | Comment feed

  1. no name says:

    ha. i think less has changed that what the LZ thought did.

  2. nitro says:

    A few questions after reading this interesting entry:

    1) Why do you stress that the form of this article in the encyclopedia is not “politically correct”? According to my understanding of an encyclopedia it should just states facts and deductions based on these facts – therefore avoiding any bias. Though I am not specialist of Chinese history and even less of the state of China one hundred years ago. Probably the article about Russia has some “diplomatic” distortions to promote their own country versus China. It’s just I don’t see it in what you wrote / translated.

    2) Why do you think they use a linguistic style which is not appropriate? Is it clearly visible in the original Russian version? In your English translation I didn’t notice very rough formulations. It could be written in more “scientific” style but at the same time it was elaborated one hundred years ago and I am not sure they had as much resources as we have today. Also it’s not stated which sources this article is based on.

    2) How do you compare these statements one hundred years ago with the Chinese society of today? That’s a great idea to extract this information but it would be even better to add your own perspective next to it (or some more recent encyclopedic information about China).

    Cheers.

    • nitro says:

      I misread the beginning. So it’s a Russian translation of an European encyclopedia.

      Well you could replace “Russian” by “European country X” in my comments above.

      • Crystal says:

        By the way, the encyclopedia’s entry contains description of China’s history.

        It was especially interesting taking in account that exactly at that time China suffered from weak political leadership and made all kinds of territorial and financial concessions to different European countries (including the same Russia).

        So it was curious to see the aggressor’s point of view on the topic. And – surprisingly enough – it was quite sympathizing to China !!

        • Al says:

          It’s hilarious that you say “foreigners” and not “Germans” or “Europeans”. It shows a lot about the Chinese mentality.

      • GuoBao says:

        Just want to point out (although I don’t doubt similar readings can be found in European literature) that many, many Europeans don’t see Russia as part of Europe but more like this giant on clay feet at that side of the map who you can’t really shake off but don’t mind giving the finger either every chance you got.

        • Crystal says:

          Maybe it wasn’t clearly stated but that encyclopedia was an adapted translation of original texts from Meyer Encyclopedia (German, and undoubtedly European :-) )

    • Crystal says:

      Well, I guess that in modern encyclopedia nobody would tag Chinese or any other nation as “mistrustful” – or for that case delve in any kind of national character’s analysis (“self-adoration” etc).

      • AlleyCat says:

        or any npd for that matter (narcistic personality disorder)

      • nitro says:

        One hundred years ago (1850-1900) was just the apogee of the missions driven by scientific explorers and the missionaries coming from Europe.

        According to wikipedia the encyclopedia Meyer has been edited first in 1839, then refreshed in 1857, 1861, 1885, 1893, 1902 after that there was the world wars. So depending on which edition they used to translate it in Russian it might be very easy to explain the tone of the article in the context of the European colonialism.

        Even though an encyclopedia’s publisher will try to keep all the articles up to date they all had huge pressure to release new edition fast and might not rework completely the articles. So that implies that some part of the article about China might have been older.

        As European were considering themselves the rulers of the world at that time it’s not really surprising they would write crudely about the manner and habits of the foreigners they came to meet. They would just seat on their throne, observe and write down what they see from their perspectives. Some have tried more than others to understand the other cultures. Then the goal was to generalize these observations into something anybody without prior knowledge could read and understand. Encyclopedia (most) are made mainly for standard people to extend their general knowledge.

        It’s quite different than today’s attitude: we try not to generalize too much – which can lead quickly to disastrous situations as history showed us. They might say today instead “the people buying artifacts in Chinese markets are usually mistrustful” ;)

        As for the nationalism I am sorry but it’s not something you can’t deny existing in China.

        I would still be interested to read a modern encyclopedia article about China.

        • nitro says:

          “As for the nationalism I am sorry but it’s not something you can’t deny existing in China.”

          I earned unconsciously some coins today ;) I would remove a negation.

        • AlleyCat says:

          I suppose the only europeans that were considered to be an authority in the far east – at least until the 20th century – were the dutch and the english. Much of their impressions and observations might have been taken into consideration. From the first edition on, readers were allowed to contact the editors and some of the correspondence would be attached to the original articles. I believe as rulers of the world they did not merely sit on their throne, since the relatively new science of anthropology was actually inspired by colonialism. Hence there was a sincere quest to move away from obvious cultural bias and study all aspects of humanity.

  3. voice of what? says:

    Come on, Voice of China. Come over and earn your five jiao. Earth is a boring place without you

    • Bob says:

      Voice of China might be a retard, but he is not a troll.

      +5c

      • Voice of China says:

        Hahahaha.. Have I owned you somewhere/sometime Bob? Truth be said guys, in reality you guys couldn’t afford to hire me :)

        • voice oh what? says:

          Oh yes, I can offer you a bottle of Erguotou and a pack of Zhongnanhai 10mg a day. Plus the usual 5 mao/post

          • Voice of China says:

            Yeah, I’ll take the Mao Tai, and Zhong Hua instead. By the way its usually 5 mao but due to inflation, make it 6. And I’ll take your sister as well, you mom was a little boring last night.

            • voice of what? says:

              this is the best you can do, offend other people’s mothers.

            • Bob the builder says:

              Open source list of the braggings of our favorite clown, Voice of China:
              - my IQ
              - my performance and precise ranking in school
              - my salary
              - you cannot afford to hire me
              *- my performance with multiple girls, with your mother
              - my very important and promising job
              - my extensive knowledge of law and politics in China and abroad
              - my contempt for Korean people, Taiwanese people, Jewish people, Macedonians
              - my superiority to pretty much everyone i come across
              - my excellent english skills
              - my merit in general
              - my being an alpha dominant male
              - my very cool brother on CNreviews

              BRAVO!

              • Voice of China says:

                Don’t forget that I like pets, sound systems, music, badminton, squash and table tennis.

                Chop Chop… Get on to it, I want version 2.0 done by tomorrow got it Bob? Don’t make me repeat myself.

                • Bob the builder says:

                  The clown is back! BRAVO!

                  • Voice of Chinglish says:

                    Voice of China is Korean Guy. It is obvious.

                  • Voice of China says:

                    Good to see you too Wolves and Sheep.

                    1. There’s no point changing ID to seem independent. You’ll see that each I.P has a generated picture. So you should stop making yourself look like a fool by pretending to be someone else.

                    2. Don’t forget to update your open source. I’m expecting version 2.0 by noon tomorrow. Get onto it. Kapiche?

        • Wolves and sheeps says:

          Open source list of the braggings our favorite clown, Voice of China:
          - my IQ
          - my performance and precise ranking in school
          - my salary
          - you cannot afford to hire me
          - my performance with multiple girls
          - my very important and promising job
          - my extensive knowledge of law and politics in China and abroad
          - my contempt for Korean people, Taiwanese people, Jewish people, Macedonians
          - my superiority to pretty much everyone i come across
          - my excellent english skills
          - my merit in general
          - my being an alpha dominant male

          BRAVO!

    • Wolves and sheeps says:

      Hey guys i am started a list of the braggings of Voice of China about his personal qualities.

      I encourage this friendly community to augment the list and post it back in the comments when the clown aggravates his case.

      Here is version 1 of the list (yes that list comes from his comments from just one page!) of the braggings of Voice of China:
      - my IQ
      - my performance and precise ranking in school
      - my salary
      - my performance with multiple girls
      - my very important and promising job
      - my extensive knowledge of law and politics in China and abroad
      - my contempt for Korean people, Taiwanese people, Jewish people, Macedonians
      - my superiority to pretty much everyone i come across
      - my excellent english skills
      - my merit in general
      - my being an alpha dominant male

      BRAVO!

      Have fun with clown! Remember to say ‘BRAVO’ at the end of your list update: it is important for him.

      • Voice of China says:

        Wow!

        Maybe I should start a fanclub. So when is version 2 coming out? Will you be checking for updates regularly/hourly?

        If you do have a lot of spare time, don’t forget to visit CNreviews, my brother is getting bored with the lack of attention he is getting with his blog. He’ll be happy to educate you with daily lectures and he is a little more kind to your self esteem too.

        Oh and try and refrain from using words like ‘kiddie’, ‘naughty little brat’, or ‘goof ball’. It reveals how much of an idiot you are. Native English speakers will know what I’m talking about.

        But really… You should’ve just started off with the personal attacks. Your academic arguments were really just a waste of space as you didn’t know what you were talking about. Oh and if you want to know anymore about me, all you have to do is ask :)

        • AlleyCat says:

          A fanclub might not be such a bad idea. Since you yourself appear to be your biggest fan, I guess there won’t be any problems selecting a chairman. After all, who needs an appreciative audience, right? Instead we might just extend our tedious rants until kingdom come, and drown ourselves in delusions of grandeur and superiority, as will be demonstrated to us by our great leader.

          Bravo!

          • Voice of China says:

            You were always the stupidest of the bunch. While others were often stupid by trying to user metaphors, alliteration, etc, your posts never made much sense and thus were never deserving of a response.

      • voice of what? says:

        Open source list of the braggings our favorite clown, Voice of China:
        - my IQ
        - my performance and precise ranking in school
        - my salary
        - you cannot afford to hire me
        - my performance with multiple girls
        - my very important and promising job
        - my extensive knowledge of law and politics in China and abroad
        - my contempt for Korean people, Taiwanese people, Jewish people, Macedonians
        - my superiority to pretty much everyone i come across
        - my excellent english skills
        - my merit in general
        - my being an alpha dominant male
        - my very cool brother on CNreviews

        BRAVO!

        • Voice of China says:

          This is funny, a bunch of obsessed losers on Chinahush forming a little coup.

          Bravo?? LOL

          Keep it coming, I can’t wait until version 2.0: don’t forget to check previous comments on other posts. Hint: you may be able to find out more about me.

          • Bob the builder says:

            Congrats on the first chinese nobel prize. Bravo!

            • Voice of China says:

              Ok Bob, times up, now where is my version 2.0? :)

            • Crystal says:

              Small correction: there have been more than ten Nobel Prize winners who were either ethnic Chinese, or born in China, or living in China.

              • Voice of China says:

                Haha… Crystal, to actually entertain these trolls for anything more than entertainment is giving them too much credit.

                The fun is to just to point out the inadequacies of everything they say. I guess that is what you’re doing but… you forgot to add the mockery.

                So what is the tip? Denigrate and humiliate trolls by crushing their ego with your intelligence. Considering most of these guys are stupid, it shouldn’t be too hard. In fact, its a fun way to waste time after a hard day at work.

              • ektor says:

                He’s actualy the first with a chinese citizenship, hence Chinese citizen.

                The others either rejected their chinese(mainland) citizenship or where not recognized as chinese by the chinese(mainland again) government. Gao Xinjian and the Dalai Lama were born in China but for obvious reasons they had to leave at some point in their life

                • Voice of China says:

                  You couldn’t help yourself could you :P

                  Ektor, do you need help? Which country are you in, I’ll find you some mental counseling.

                  • ektor says:

                    South-West of China (mainland) at the moment. But I’m planning to move soon.
                    Where are you? I’d love to share a flat with the mighty Voice Of China. Or we can share our mothers if you like it

                    • Voice of China says:

                      No, unlike you, I don’t have a tendency to pimp out my family. I’d get a paternity test if I were you.

                • Crystal says:

                  Tsung-Dao Lee has the citizenship of China ;-)

                  • FOARP says:

                    Crystal, love the translation, but the article you link to clearly describes that he was an ROC citizen until naturalising as a US citizen in 1962. He therefore was never a citizen of the PRC, and cannot now be described as a “Chinese” citizen of any kind, since he relinquished his former citizenship.

                    • Voice of China says:

                      Sorry, so whats the test here again?

                      You need to be a Chinese person at the time of attaining the prize?

                      Or

                      does changing nationalities after attaining the prize invalidates the prize so that his new place of domicile applies retrospectively to the point in which he attains the prize.

                      Or

                      Are you applying a strict interpretation of China as PRC and conveniently ignoring that he holds dual citizenship?

                      Or

                      All of the above?

                    • Crystal says:

                      Well, I agree that it is possible to apply different criteria in order to arrive to desired conclusion.
                      In this case, however, it would be more fair to define the criteria BEFORE making the search.

                      Anyway, no matter what kind of SINGLE criterion (from the list below) you apply you will always find more than one Chinese Nobel prize winner:
                      - citizen of China
                      - ethnic Chinese
                      - born in China

                      But for more objective ruling why not to refer to the records of Nobel prize committee itself? It actually, relates every winner to a certain country (China has few).

                      It’s true that if you require the winner to be simultaneously ethnic Chinese, born in China, living in China and having Chinese nationality – then Liu Xiaobo is the first.

                      But according to such criteria the most famous winner, for example – Albert Einstein – has no country to be related to.

              • Mark says:

                I would be very embarrassed if my nation had a Nobel Prize winner in jail for the actions for which he attained the prize.

                Also embarrassed that an American Nobel winner was murdered.

                Free the guy alread

              • Mark says:

                I would be very embarrassed if my nation had a Nobel Prize winner in jail for the actions for which he attained the prize.

                Also embarrassed that an American Nobel winner was murdered.

                Free the guy already

          • ektor says:

            obsessed losers trolls with prostitutes mothers….yes, we all are
            物以类聚, right? that’s why you’re here

            BRAVO!!!

  4. meh says:

    Very interesting! If anyone else has historic vignettes like these, I would very much like to get a hold of them. Is it possible to publish the entire encyclopedia entry on China?

    I get the feeling that Chinese as a whole would never respect the observations of an outsider on their culture as, say, American’s have of de Tocqueville. I wonder how Chinese today would feel about this generalization of their culture in 1900. My experience is that Chinese quote the exact same reasons for the demise of Chinese innovation circa 1400-1950: inward-looking isolation. Would they accept a rehash of the same argument coming from a foreign source?

  5. It is interesting to note that Imperial China is only shown with Mongolia – and not Taiwan, Tibet, or XinJiang. Then again, borders – in the long view of human history – are rather fluid things.

    • Chunghwa says:

      Taiwan was Japanese after 1895. M, T and X aren’t shown in a different colour, so it’s quite ambiguous as to what the map is trying to say; I’m not sure sure on that myself. It’s quite common to have “TIBET” and “MANCHURIA” in big bold letters in maps of China even today, however.

  6. Bob the builder says:

    “Spirit of innovation, once so notable in China, lately has weakened ”

    Like a Chinese professor recently asked, what inventions has done China beside the 4 classic ones?

    Until recently, a reasonable reason was that China had to catch up but at this point i think its industries have pretty much grabbed every possible technology from the west and still nothing innovative has come out. Neither a ground breaking innovation, nor a Japan style (already mention in that encyclopedia) copy-then-improve-beyond-recognition.

    My guess is that the education system, the Confucius heritage and the fear of stepping out the rank are part of the explanation.

    “he has a developed sense of solidarity”

    Darn that one does not seem to apply at all these days.

    • ektor says:

      Well, they did invent something quite amazing 30 years ago: the so-called Socialism With Chinese Caratheristics. at least they invented the name, nevermind it is a mere copycat of western capitalism.

      • Bob the builder says:

        You got it wrong mate: it is a copycat the western capitalism from 150 years ago.

        But i forgot one in the bio-engineering poorly covered up discoveries category: SARS.

    • nitro says:

      I think in regard of creativity the problem lies in a simple concept: you have to think outside of the box.

      It requires you to open your mind to any possible solution to a given problematic. Therefore even considering alternatives that might go against your knowledge or principles just for the sake of finding the best approach. You can always analyze the feasibility of each later and probe the market to decide up to where you can innovate.

      In short you need to be wise, open-minded, curious, realistic and experienced at doing critical thinking. A master or PhD is definitely not the major requirement.

      Now we have to split the debate between innovation and invention. As in innovation we see a process of improving an existing solution against one or many optimization criteria (ie. the cost, the speed, the consumption, the size…).
      Invention is like discovering the wheel. That’s a completely new object which at the time of discovery applications have yet to be found (now we used it more or less in any imaginable situation but I still believe we can innovate on this object). This is the category were the Chinese great inventions lies: paper, compass, gunpowder and printing.

      I personally believe that inventions just require the proper environment and some curious people to be found. It’s only a matter of time in a given environment (ie. time, location) as we always try to make our lives better and sometimes we just discover new ideas to make it easier. You know it’s a bit like a 40 pieces puzzle half done: you imagine already the underlying picture but have yet to fill the gaps. Very quickly you have the revelation. That’s invention. I don’t know if today’s China is propitious to invention but my feeling is that the society is changing too fast for most of the people to grasp the meaning of their environment. I am open to discussion on this matter as well of course.

      Coming back to innovation. Let’s face it: today’s innovation is involving more knowledge, more specialists and more international cooperation. It rely on hundreds of year of science and massive R&D teams. The probability you can “innovate” by chance is very small as most of the palpable world is well understood and the initial solution is already quite complex. The true innovation now lies behind the “single human” comprehension if you see what I mean. But it will always be possible to achieve some smaller innovations as an individual with methodology and patience.

      I’ve been working closely with Chinese engineer for a few years in the past years and I can tell you the many I saw in interviews and at work all lacked these characteristics – even the ones coming out of the so-called “Chinese MIT”.

      Of course most of them are very knowledgeable (sometimes to a shocking extend of being a “human encyclopedia”) and intelligent but that’s not the only key to innovation.

      One last thing which might be also useful in the debate: the price of these “star” engineers has risen sharply in the past decade. It now cost more or less the same price to hire one in China’s tier-1 cities, in Canada or in France (for an output that I would definitely qualify as lower with weighted wage comparison). Of course there is other locations in China where you can have cheaper labor but the qualifications are not matching the requirement to create innovative products.

      The equilibrium for innovation in China is not yet quite achieved. They are boosting it artificially by hiring oversee Chinese or foreigners – to teach but also to work in big companies – but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

      Just my random thoughts about the comments above ;)

  7. Bob the builder says:

    Good points. I also think that creativity is not necessarily seen as a quality. I had very well (China-) educated people say in substance ‘i am definitely not a creative person’ in an almost positive way.

    While a westerner would probably limit themselves to ‘i am a great accountant’ or ‘i am successful corporate lawyer’.

    The other observation i made with chinese engineers is that they are not overly quality minded as opposed to the Japanese, with the US ones falling somewhere in between.

  8. Bob Smith says:

    Europeans? This was written by Russians- China’s next door neighbors. For decades or centuries, Westerners considered Russians as non Europeans and Asiatics. So, now they are suddenly Europeans? Hmm, maybe in the eyes of the Chinese.

  9. Crystal says:

    Bob, you should be more attentive when reading the article and comments of other readers.

  10. IC says:

    Well, the map does include Tibet, XinJiang, Mongolia in greater China border (more prominent border) if you look at it carefully.

  11. Al says:

    Russian literature and music is generally considered “Western” or “European” but the degree to which Russia is considered part of the “West” depends on the time period. Peter I consciously chose to make Russia a Western nation, and the aristocracy was heavily Europeanized by the end of the 19th century, but the Revolution drove a lot of them out.

    • AlleyCat says:

      To illustrate this, one only has to visit St Petersburg (Leningrad). The original name was meant to sound Dutch as a result of Peter’s appreciation of Dutch culture, and
      Amsterdam served as a model for its channels.

      • Bob the builder says:

        If you leave aside political system considerations, i would say that, nowadays, on average, europeans (as in ‘EU members’) feel culturally closer to russian people than to Americans.

        Of course 50 years of heavy handed politico-military controls has left some resentment and mistrust in the eastern EU countries (Poland being probably the chief example), but that’s more toward the russian government.

      • Al says:

        I thought it was meant to sound German?

        • AlleyCat says:

          Njet, although phonetically it wouldn’t make much difference.

          Originally, the name Sankt-Piter-Boerch (Санкт-Питер-Бурхъ), was an imitation of the Dutch ‘ Sint-Pietersburg “. This, however, was soon changed to the German Sankt-Peterburg, the name of the city during her period as the capital of the Russian Empire, and again after the fall of communism.

  12. Mark says:

    I avoided this article because I expected a yellow peril type racist rant about China, with imperialism and racism being so much in vogue around 1910 in Europe. I was surprised by the objective tone and lack of overt ethnocentrism when a very dynamic culture at its apogee viewed another culture that was stagnant and rotten to the core from centuries of corruption and misrule.

    The observation about the place of labor in China is interesting. The idea that Easterners are proud of doing menial labor would be the perspective an educated European would have who had armies of coolies and servants at his beck and call to build his railways etc, and to exploit. Many scholars believe Eastern cultures have a cultural disdain for labor, which stunted their technological rise, as the best engineering comes not from abstract theory but through a direct connection to work and labor, which Eastern elites did not consider honorable. The low political status and lack of clear rights for the business class in China currently,could be a manifestation of the earlier disdain for labor and the merchant classes.

    A hint of ethnocentrism appears when writer mentions Chinese supposed low regard for the military caste. If the Encyclopedia is German that would explain the twisted text as Germany was very militarized, and the ruling elite were the Junker military class, until their downfall with the fist world war.

    Note that Korea was officially annexed by Japan in the year 1910, and this volume seems to imply that Korea is separate country.

    • Crystal says:

      Not completely sure, but I think that the volume in question (No. 10) was published around 1903.
      1910 is the year when the last volume (No. 22) was published.

      • AlleyCat says:

        Being widely available and commonly praised, I suppose it must have been a translation of the 6th edition (1902-1908).

      • Mark says:

        Interesting. Doing a little connoisseurship the binding of the book looks exactly like an example of an existing verified 5th edition; Meyers Konversations-Lexikon 5.Auflage.

        What is interesting is the binding style of the Russian edition is like the style from 1870′s to the 5th edition in 1893-1897/1901. However the 5th edition had 17 base volumes and the last supplemental was volume 21 in 1900/1901.

        With the 6th Edition there was a break in style to a very different and clear Art Nouveau ornamentation, also the name was changed to Meyers Meyers (Large) conversational lexicon or in German; Meyers (Grosses) Konversations-Lexikon 6.Auflage. The first printing was in 1902 to 1908 with supplements until really 1920. In 1909/1910 supplemental volume 22 was released. Annual supplements continued until 1912 with volume 24. There was also war supplements from 1914 to 1920 which dealt specifically with the war. Perhaps because there was less demand for Russian edition the Russian edition of vol 6 was done in the previous dated edition style to save money, or because they figured the Russians would not know the difference.

        According to a book seller site this encyclopedia was for people of means or status. The provenance of the books would be interesting to know. Is the set from Shanghai or perhaps Manchuria?

        General info in German and pics

        http://www.lexikon-und-enzyklopaedie.de/meyerskonversationslexikon.php#

        Match for Russian addition to 5th edition set description and images

        http://www.lexikon-und-enzyklopaedie.de/jahrhundertwende18801930/einzelbaendejw/meyerskonversationslexikon5auflage/band2.php

        • Crystal says:

          I asked my bf (who knows Russian) to check the information.
          He gave me this link (http://bit.ly/9hS5Ax) and said that it states the Encyclopedia to be the translation of the Meyer’s 5th edition.

          Actually – as I wrote in the beginning of the article the 22 volumes of encyclopedia were printed in the run of 10 years (1900 –> 1910).
          So they started before the sixth edition and finished after it.

          Also it was more that direct translation – thus in the end more volumes were produced (cause they were adding and expanding entries related to Russia). Two volumes (21,22) were supplementary – that is running again from the first to the last letters of alphabet and adding the new information that appeared during the period of encyclopedia’s printing.

          • Mark says:

            Interesting, my gut feeling was it was 5th edition, mainly because the information on China was so sparse, like the kind of information you would get from a missionary in the mid 1800′s. I also wondered about an overlapping 5th edition in Russian with a German 6th ed. I should have judged the book based only on the cover, but i did raise the right questions.

            I would love to know who brought the set to China and where it rested. Was it the property of a wealthy Chinese person or a “barbarian”. The Russian penetration of China during the period 5th ed was published was extensive, including Manchurian war etc. so this set could be part of that legacy.

          • Mark says:

            On the topic of literature. Free Liu Xiaobo

            His most recent arrest in December 2008 came a day before a reformist manifesto he helped craft began circulating on the Internet. The petition, Charter ’08, demanded that China’s rulers guarantee civil liberties, judicial independence and the kind of political reform that would ultimately end the Communist Party’s monopoly on power.

  13. Huzhang says:

    This is actually pretty accurate, and cuts right through the political correctness you’d see these days.

  14. hushashi says:

    So where is the Chinese encyclopedia of 100 years ago, talking about the west?

  15. Jack says:

    Couldn’t have put it better myself. The only thing that has changed is the attitude to soldiery, and that’s a foreign import. A hundred years ago most parents would prefer their child to be a farmer than a soldier – the worst thing for a Chinese mother is for her son to leave home.

    Chinese encyclopedia, circa 1800: Outside China (国外). Home to foreign devils who speak a single language, use chunks of metal to eat with and don’t use gunpowder for its correct purpose – fireworks. Avoid and they’ll go away on their own.

  16. Jack says:

    Also, Russians aren’t Europeans. Does your boyfriend have an atlas he can lend you?

    • Crystal says:

      Wow! In such short comment you did two mistakes :-) :
      1) First – you seem to rush into commenting without reading the post itself very carefully. Otherwise you would notice that the quoted volume is an adapted version of German encyclopedia (and Germans are Europeans, aren’t they?)
      2) I wouldn’t argue with someone who would point out that Russians are more of Asian culture or Asian mentality because I am definitely not a specialist in this field.
      But if someone suggests me to look into map to learn the location of Russia – LOL – well, Jack, you definitely didn’t learn geography well in school.
      So, take a look at how Europe’s borders are defined in Wikipedia for example (if you need my help in finding Ural mountains – let me know).

  17. kratzbäume says:

    danke fur die Infos, aber weib jemand ob es noch aktuell ist ?

  18. MAO ZEDONG says:

    1.. This article really tells the truth.. it the arrogance, backward-looking. closed-minded nature of china that lead her to 300 years of decay, decline, poverty, famines and civil war.

    2. Look to future… Not to the past.. china has been looking to the past.. past is gone forever…. China needs to bury her past… dig a big Hole / Bury the Dead past../

    Invent the future.. All the obsession with past is waste of time… We need to be concered with future..

    3. china did Not have a Science -age.. or Industrial-age or Invent the Internet CPU Fiber Optics. First flight at Kitty Hawk 1969 or Moon landing 1969… what happened.

    4. Look to Future Not past… Look to get rich Not poor and be the sick man of asia…

    5. Look to the truth.. truth and Not some cherished fantasy…. true Not false.

    FUTURE NOT PAST. BURY THE PAST….

    RICH NOT POOR. POVERTY FAMINES

    TRUE NOT FALSE…

  19. maosuckedass says:

    dear crystal (meth),
    hate to disappoint you but what was written 100 years ago …uh…pretty much sums up what most foreigners still think of china. the world is not as impressed with china as chinese are. i have noticed this cultural phenomenom in china. chinese people act like modern china is some futuristic planet that other humans have never experienced before. well the world is not impressed and this is something that chinese simply cannot comprehend. chinese people to me were like “wait until you get there…you’re going to be surprised!”. i got there and was like “okaaaaay”. if i could speak to all the “china is awesome” crowd i’d bullhorn this out them at volume 10: 1) i’ve seen a lot of REALLY tall buildings next to each other…it’s called MANHATTAN where it was invented…100 YEARS AGO! the entire developed world TAUGHT you all this modern stuff…for free…30 YEARS AGO!! any 12 year old could have been a modern culture with that help. they don’t cover that in your history lessons at all? 2) your food is the best? most modern nations…EXCEPT CHINA…has every food possibility in the world since they have people from all over the world and it all mixes together to create mind-blowing cuisines called “CAN”T GET THIS IN CHINA”. you don’t have awesome food. we do. 22 ancient recipes with 100 different uses of spices of chinese ain’t enough to move you past romania on the “good food here” list. you have awesome chinese food…duh…you’re chinese. but you got lots of “i got to get to the toilet bowl noooOOOW!!” chinese food. 3) don’t spit, snot, cut to the front of any line people are patiently waiting in, talk loud for completely unnecessary reasons, or freak out like a gangsta rapper over small things. do those those five small things and it will instantly change how foreigners will view ya. it’s understandable that all countries have a few gross people. it’s beyond comprehension how A BILLION PEOPLE ACT LIKE THIS ALL THE TIME. i feel sorry for the few hundred million chinese surrounded by ONE BILLION GROSS PEOPLE!!! public toilets in japan are spotless. i’d eat sushi off their public toilet bowls. clean your shit…your piss…hit the bowl..aim straight…just stop with the bathroom nightmares for crying out loud!!!! 4) harmonious society? are you people friggin’ zombie aliens sent from terra cotta caves? you really believe all this “brother” stuff, don’t you? wow. okaaaay. sure. i saw more arguments, shoving, rudeness, fighting, riots, on one slow chengdu tuesday then i’ve seen my whole life…and i was born in new york city. my dear chinese friends, run for the hills and deserts if what i think is going to happen in china, does happen…MEGA RIOT TO END ALL MEGA RIOTS!! too bad you don’t treat each other as you do tourists. you were so nice to me. i love you for it. but you suck to each other. you are so mean, heartless, hard, depressing on each other. brothers don’t treat brothers like that. sisters don’t treat sisters like that. you’re not helping each other and you sort of resent each other down deep. i hate you for that. you want to see harmonious society? ask your relatives living in new york or toronto how EVERY ETHNICITY ON THE PLANET LIVES IN THE SAME NEIGHBORHOOD WHILE BEING MORE CIVILIZED THAN CHINESE ARE TO CHINESE “BROTHERS”!! 35,000 riots or more in china last year…what fuck are you talking “harmony” and “brother” for? 35 riots in england would send their people into terrified frenzy. you got 1,000 more riots!!! you’re NOT harmonious!! you’re not “brother”!!! 5) we got these things back home that we call tv, movies, music, fashion, modern art forms…uh…our older relatives invented it all… last century…so i’m real sorry if i don’t flip out when you discover the chinese version of them and want to share. no…it’s NOT cool just because it’s new in china. don’t you EVER get that perspective????

    oh and one more thing. taiwan is a tiny piece of shit rock, in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by water, and a place the entire world doesn’t even think much about. we’re busy with our own lives. why the FUCK do you idiots care so much that is HAS TO BE A PART OF MAINLAND? it’s such a small, out of the way, rock, with some nice people on it doing better things than you are doing in your dreams. does it…ever…occur to you that not only should you not want to throw bombs and missiles on that rock some day but that maybe…just maybe…you would fight your own government so you could be more like FUCKING TAIWAN?!! are you that fucking stupid?! had your grandparents had the same balls as corrupt but wise chiang kai-shek, then you wouldn’t be jealous of your little brother, taiwan, now would you!? don’t blame taiwan because your grandparents were cowards and stupid and chose mao over chiang. punch yourself in the face for having stupid cowardly grandparents and then just shut the fuck up about taiwan once and for all. you have social problem on mainland that will take 100 YEARS TO FIX and you’re worried about some cock rock island the size of by balls that has more cool shit that you can dream of in your fucking mao brains?!! what the fuck is the matter with you chinese people?!! who fucking cares about taiwan, you fucking dick fucks??!!! you got MAJOR FUCKING PROBLEMS to worry about on the mainland. go get your own shit fully together and 100 years from now re-visit the “taiwan is OURS!” moronic bullshit.

    whew. i feel SO much better now. l.o.chiang.fucking.l

    • eurocentric says:

      Totally agree with you! Chinese people are a bunch of savage, barbaric, monkeys. They have NOTHING to be proud of.

      They didn’t invent ANYTHING. If it weren’t for the White man, they’d still be living in mud huts. Those Chinks need to learn some gratitude and bow down before us! CHINKS ARE SO DISRESPECTFUL TO WHITES.

      Don’t worry, we got secret bases in Taiwan, Korea, Philipines, and Japan that will BOMB TO FUCK OUT OF THOSE CHINKS!

      SERIOUSLY, I HOPE THEY ALL DIE AND GET AIDS FROM NIGGERS. I HATE CHINESE SO MUCH I WANT TO PUNCH THEIR FLAT MONKEY FACES.

      I’m just so sick of China acting like it’s so great. Why can’t the West get a little gratitude?

      And all these Chinks in Taiwan, HK, and Mainland – Get a life! You are NOT all that! You’re wearing jeans, watching TV, and living in Skyscrapers thanks to WHITE PEOPLE! You guys are better off being Slaves.

      • personal trainer says:

        Eurocentric, I sympathize with parts of your spitting rant as obviously you’re having a bad time in China, stage 2 or 3 of culture shock.

        However, I disagree with your lumping ALL Chinese as being the same as Chinese mainlanders – completely poles apart. It’s the same as lumping Irish with the English (a generation ago or even later white, yes white, Irish were hated in the States) or US blacks with African blacks.

        Anyway, you sound as though you have “Joo” blood in you – do you?

  20. Kratzbaum says:

    Seriously, I cannot believe why “Eurocentric” makes such abusive comments. Relax, dude, and think about what you’re saying!
    Peace to everybody!

  21. Johnny Pe says:

    Whether 100% accurate or not, I am still very impressed by the balanced account of Chinese traits that the encylopedia makes.

    It is also a great example of how trying to be “politically correct” is just another way of becoming a fake.

    One can see that the writer of the article is neither seeking to offend nor praise Chinese falsely, they are just recording what they believe are their honest impressions.

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