Camps and Trails in China
Roy Chapman Andrews and Yvette Borup Andrews
Part 4 out of 6
of Mr. Hanna, we obtained a much better personnel for the trip to the Burma
frontier. The cook, who was one of Mr. Hanna's converts, was an especially
fine fellow and proved to be as energetic and competent as the other had
been lazy and helpless.
Our work in the north had brought us a collection of thirteen hundred
mammals, as well as several hundred birds, much material for habitat
groups, and a splendid series of photographic records in Paget color
plates, black and white negatives, and motion picture film. But what was of
first importance, we had covered an enormous extent of diverse country and
learned much about the distribution of the fauna of northern Yuen-nan. The
thirteen hundred mammals of our collection were taken in a more or less
continuous line across six tremendous mountain ranges, and furnish an
illuminating cross section of the entire region from Ta-li-Fu, north to
Chung-tien, and west to the Mekong River.
It is apparent that in this part of the province, which is all within one
"life zone," even the smallest mammals are widely spread and that the
principal factor in determining distribution is the flora. Neither the
highest mountain ridges nor such deep swift rivers as the Yangtze and the
Mekong appear to act as effective barriers to migration, and as long as the
vegetation remains constant, the fauna changes but little.
MISSIONARIES WE HAVE KNOWN
During our work in Fukien Province and in various parts of Yuen-nan we came
into intimate personal contact with a great many missionaries; indeed every
traveler in the interior of China will meet them unless he purposely avoids
doing so. But the average tourist seldom sees the missionary in his native
habitat because, for the most part, he lives and works where the tourist
does not go.
Nevertheless, that does not prevent the coastwise traveler from carrying
back with him from the East a very definite impression of the missionary,
which he has gained on board ships or in Oriental clubs where he hears him
"damned with faint praise." Almost unconsciously he adopts the popular
attitude just as he enlarges his vocabulary to include "pidgin English" and
such unfamiliar phrases as "tiffin," "bund" and "cumshaw."
This chapter is not a brief for the missionary, but simply a matter of fair
play. We feel that in justice we ought to present our observations upon
this subject, which is one of very general interest, as impartially as upon
any phase of our scientific work. But it should be distinctly understood
that we are writing _only_ of those persons whom we met and lived with, and
whose work we had an opportunity to know and to see; _we are not attempting
generalizations on the accomplishments of missionaries in any other part of
There are three charges which we have heard most frequently brought against
the missionary: that he comes to the East because he can live better and
more luxuriously than he can at home; that he often engages in lucrative
trade with the natives; and that he accomplishes little good, either
religious or otherwise. It is said that his converts are only "rice
Christians," and treaty-port foreigners have often warned us in this
manner, "Don't take Christian servants; they are more dishonest and
unreliable than any others."
It is often true that the finest house in a Chinese town will be that of
the resident missionary. In Yen-ping the mission buildings are imposing
structures, and are placed upon a hill above and away from the rest of the
city. Any white person who has traveled in the interior of China will
remember the airless, lightless, native houses, opening, as they all do, on
filthy streets and reeking sewers and he will understand that in order to
exist at all a foreigner must be somewhat isolated and live in a clean,
Every missionary in China employs servants--many more servants than he
could afford at home. So does every other foreigner, whatever his vocation.
There is no such thing in China as the democracy of the West, and the
missionary's status in the community demands that certain work in his house
be done by servants; otherwise he and his family would be placed on a level
with the coolie class and the value of his words and deeds be discounted.
But the chief reason is that the missionary's wife almost always has
definite duties to which she could not attend if she were not relieved from
some of the household cares. She leads in work among the women of the
community by organizing clubs and "Mutual Improvement Societies" and in
teaching in the schools or hospitals where young men and women are learning
English as an asset to medical work among their own people. Servants are
unbelievably cheap. While we were in Foochow a cook received $3.50 (gold)
per month, a laundryman $1.75 (gold) per month, and other wages were in
In Fukien Province the missionaries receive two months' vacation. Anyone
who has lived through a Fukien summer in the interior of the province will
know why the missionaries are given this vacation. If they were not able to
leave the deadly heat and filth and disease of the native cities for a few
weeks every year, there would be no missionaries to carry on the work. The
business man can surround himself with innumerable comforts both in his
home and in his office which the missionary cannot afford and, during the
summer, life is not only made possible thereby but even pleasant.
Yen-ping is eight days' travel from Foochow up the Min River and it is by
no means the most remote station in the province. Very few travelers reach
these places during the year and the white inhabitants are almost isolated.
Miss Mabel Hartford lives alone at Yuchi and at one time she saw only one
foreigner in eight months. Miss Cordelia Morgan is the sole foreign
resident of Chu-hsuing Fu, a large Chinese city six days from Yuen-nan Fu.
In Ta-li Fu, Reverend William J. Hanna, his wife and two other women, are
fourteen days' ride from the nearest foreign settlement. In Li-chiang,
Reverend and Mrs. A. Kok and their three small children live with two women
missionaries. They are twenty-one days' travel from a doctor, and for four
years previous to our visit they had not seen a white woman.
These are some instances of missionaries whom we met in China who have
voluntarily exiled themselves to remote places where they expect to spend
their entire lives surrounded by an indifferent if not hostile population.
Can anyone possibly believe that they have chosen this life because it is
easier or more luxurious than that at home?
Some of the men whom we met had left lucrative business positions to take
up medical or evangelistic work in China where their compensation is
pitifully small--not one-third of the salary they were commanding at home.
We did not meet any missionaries who were engaging in trade with the
natives even though in some places there were excellent business
Consider the doctors as examples of the civilizing influences which
missionaries bring with them. We saw them in various parts of China doing
a magnificent work. Dr. Bradley has established a great leper hospital at
Paik-hoi where these human outcasts are receiving the latest and most
scientific treatment and beginning to look at life with a new hope. In
Yen-ping, at the time of the rebellion, we saw Dr. Trimble working hour
after hour over wounded and broken men without a thought of rest. In
Yuen-nan Fu, Dr. Thompson's hospital was filled with patients suffering from
almost every known disease. In Ta-li Fu we saw Mr. Hanna and his wife
dispensing medicines and treating the minor ills of patients waiting by the
dozen, the fees received being not enough to pay for the cost of the
medicines. Why is it that every traveling foreigner in the interior of
China is supposed to be able to cure diseases? Certainly an important
reason is because of the work done by the medical missionaries who have
penetrated to the farthest corners of the most remote provinces.
Aside from their medical work, missionaries are in many instances the real
pioneers of western civilization. They bring to the people new standards of
living, both morally and physically. They open schools and emancipate the
Chinese children in mind and body. They fight the barbarous customs of foot
binding and the killing and selling of girl babies. Until recent years it
was not unusual to meet the village "baby peddler" with from two to six
tiny infants peddling his "goods" from village to village. Not many years
ago such a man appeared before the mission compound at Ngu-cheng (Fukien)
with four babies in his basket. Three of these had expired from exposure
and the kerosene oil which had been poured down their throats to stupefy
them and drown their cries. The fourth was purchased by the wife of the
native preacher for ten cents in order to save its life. This child was
reared and has since graduated from the mission schools with credit. In
Foochow a stone tablet bearing the following inscription stands beside a
stagnant pool: "Hereafter the throwing of babies into this pool will be
punished by law." This was a result of the work of the missionaries.
Their task is by no means easy and, as Mr. Hanna once remarked, "Yuen-nan
Province has broken the heart of more than one missionary." The Chinese do
not understand their point of view, and it is difficult to make them see
it. A Chinaman is a rank materialist and pure altruism does not enter into
his scheme of life. As a rule he has but two thoughts, his stomach and his
cash bag. It is well-nigh impossible to make him realize that the
missionary has not come with an ulterior motive--if not to engage in trade,
perhaps as a spy for his government. Others believe that it is because
China is so vastly superior to the rest of the world that the missionaries
wish to live there. Eventually the suspicions of the natives become quieted
and they accept the missionary at some part of his true worth.
At the time of the rebellion in Yen-ping we saw Harry Caldwell, Mr.
Bankhardt and Dr. Trimble save the lives of hundreds of people and the city
from partial destruction because the Chinese officers of the opposing
forces would trust the missionaries when they would not trust each other.
An excellent piece of practical missionary work was done in Fukien
Province, not long after our visit there. As we have related in Chapter
III, several large bands of brigands were established in the hills about
Yuchi. Brigandage began there in the following way. During a famine when
the people were on the verge of starvation, a wealthy farmer, Su Ek by
name, decided to do his share in relieving conditions by offering for sale
a quantity of rice which he had accumulated. He approached another man of
similar wealth who agreed with him to sell his grain at a reasonable price.
Su Ek accordingly disposed of his rice to the suffering people and, when he
had remaining only enough to sustain his own family until the following
harvest, he sent the peasants to the second man who had also agreed to
dispose of his grain.
This farmer refused to sell at the stipulated price, and the people,
angered at his treachery, looted his sheds. He immediately went to Foochow
and reported to the governor that there was a band of brigands abroad in
Yuchi County under the leadership of Su Ek, and that they had robbed and
plundered his property.
Without warning a company of soldiers swooped down upon the community and
arrested a number of men whose names the informer had given. Su Ek made his
escape to the hills but he was pursued as a brigand chief, and was later
joined by other farmers who had been similarly persecuted. Unable to return
to their homes on pain of death they were forced to rob in order to live.
Su Ek and others were finally decoyed to Foochow upon the promise that
their lives would be spared if they would induce their band to surrender.
They met the conditions but the government officials broke faith and the
men were executed. Similar attempts were made to enter into negotiations
with the brigands and in 1915 two hundred were trapped and beheaded after
pardons had been promised them. Naturally the robbers refused to trust the
government officials again.
The months which elapsed between this act of treachery and the spring of
1916, were filled with innumerable outrages. Many townships were completely
devastated, either by the bandits or the Chinese soldiers. Little will ever
be known of what actually took place under the guise of settling
brigandage, behind the mountains which separate Yuchi from the outer world.
It is well that it should not be known.
During the spring of 1916 a missionary visited Yuchi. Business called him
outside the city wall and just beyond the west gate he saw the bodies of
ten persons who had that day been executed. Among these were two children,
brothers, the sons of a man who was reported to have "sold rice to the
brigands." The smaller child had wept and pleaded to be permitted to kneel
beside his older brother further up in the row. He was too small to realize
what it all meant but he wanted to die beside his brother.
In the middle of the field lay a man whose head was partly severed from his
body and who had been shot through and through by the soldiers. He was
lying upon his back in the broiling sun pleading for a cup of tea or for
someone to put him out of his misery. The missionary learned the man's
story. It appeared that years ago a law suit in which his father had been
concerned had been decided in his favor. In order to square the score
between the clans, the son of the man who had lost the suit had reported
that he had seen this man carrying rice to the brigands. He had been
arrested by the soldiers, partially killed, and left to lie in the glaring
sun from nine o'clock in the morning until dark suffering the agonies of
crucifixion. Not one of those who heard his moans dared to moisten the
parched lips with tea lest he too be executed for having administered to a
The missionary returned to the city that night vowing that he would make a
recurrence of such a thing impossible or he would leave China. He took up
the matter with the authorities in Peking in a quiet way and later with the
military governor in Foochow. He was well known to the brigands by
reputation and visited several of the chiefs in their strongholds. They
declared that they had confidence in him but none in the government--or its
representatives. It was only after assuming full responsibility for any
treachery that the brigands agreed to discuss terms.
Upon invitation to accompany him to the 24th Township, the missionary was
escorted out to civilization by twenty-five picked men to whom the chief
had entrusted an important charge. As the group neared the township the
missionary sent word ahead to the commander of the northern soldiers to
prepare to receive the brigands.
[Illustration: SEAL OF A PARDONED BRIGAND.]
As the twenty-five bandits appeared upon the summit of a hill overlooking
the city, soldiers could be seen forming into squads outside the barracks.
Instantly the brigands halted, snapped back the bolts of their rifles, and
threw in shells. The missionary realized that they suspected treachery and
turning about he said, "I am the guarantee for your lives. If a shot is
fired kill me first."
With two loaded guns at his back and accompanied by the brigands he marched
into the city, where they were received by the officials with all the
punctilious ceremony so dear to the heart of the Chinese. It had been a
dangerous half hour for the missionary. If a rifle had been fired by
mistake, and Chinese are always shooting when they themselves least expect
to, he would have been instantly killed.
This conference, and others which followed, resulted in several hundred
pardons being distributed to the brigands by the missionary himself. The
men then returned to their abandoned homes and again took up their lives as
respectable farmers. Thus the reign of terror in this portion of the
province was ended through the efforts of one courageous man. It is such
applied Christianity that has made us respect the missionary and admire his
CHINESE NEW YEAR AT YUNG-CHANG
The last half of the expedition began January 13 when we left Ta-li Fu with
a caravan of thirty miles for Yung-chang, eight days' travel to the south.
The _mafus_ although they had promised faithfully to come "at daylight" did
not arrive until nearly noon and in consequence it was necessary to camp at
Hsia-kuan at the foot of the lake.
We improved our time there in hunting about for skins and finally purchased
two fine leopards and a tiger. The latter had been brought from the Tonking
frontier. There were a number of Tibetans wandering about the market place
and in the morning a caravan of at least two hundred horses followed by
twenty or thirty Tibetans, passed into the city while it was yet gray dawn.
They were bringing tea from P'u-erh and S'su-mao in the south of the
province and although they had already been nearly a month upon their
journey there was still many long weeks of travel before them ere they
reached the wind-blown steppes of their native land.
The trip to Yung-chang proved uninteresting and uneventful. We crossed a
succession of dry, thinly forested mountains from 7,000 to 8,000 feet high
which near their summits were often clothed with a thick growth of
rhododendron trees. The beautiful red flowers flashed like fire balls among
the green leaves, peach trees were in full blossom and in some spots the
dry hills seemed about to break forth in the full glory of their spring
verdure. We crossed the Mekong near a village called Shia-chai on a
picturesque chain suspension bridge of a type which is not unusual in the
southern and western part of the province. Several heavy iron chains are
firmly fastened to huge rock piers on opposite sides of the river and the
roadway formed by planks laid upon them. Although the bridge shakes and
swings in a rather alarming manner when a caravan is crossing, it is
perfectly safe if not too heavily loaded.
In the afternoon of January 21, we rode down the mountain to the great
Yung-chang plain, and for two hours trotted over a hard dirt road. The
plain is eighteen miles long by six miles wide and except for its scattered
villages, is almost entirely devoted to paddy fields. The city itself
includes about five thousand houses. It is exceedingly picturesque and is
remarkable for its long, straight, and fairly clean streets which contrast
strongly with those of the usual Chinese town. At the west, but still
within the city walls, is a picturesque wooded hill occupied almost
exclusively by temples.
We ourselves camped between two ponds in the courtyard of a large and
exceptionally clean temple just outside the south gate of the city. It was
the Chinese New Year and Wu told us that for several days at least it would
be impossible to obtain another caravan or expect the natives to do any
work whatever. It was a very pleasant place in which to stay although we
chafed at the enforced delay, but we made good use of our time in
photographing and developing motion picture film, collecting birds and
making various excursions.
Chinese New Year is always interesting to a foreigner and at Yung-chang we
saw many of the customs attending its celebration. It is a time of feasting
and merry making and no native, if he can possibly avoid it, will work on
that day. Chinese families almost always live under one roof but should any
male member be absent at this season the circumstances must be exceptional
to prevent him from returning to his home.
It is customary, too, for brides to revisit their mother's house at New
Year's. On our way to Yung-chang and for several days after leaving the
city, we were continually passing young women mounted on mules or horses
and accompanied by servants returning to their homes. New clothes are a
leading feature of this season and the dresses of the brides and young
matrons were usually of the most unexpected hues for, according to our
conception of color, the Chinese can scarcely be counted conspicuous for
their good taste. Purple and blue, orange and red, pink and lavender clash
distressingly, but are worn with inordinate pride.
These visits are not an unalloyed pleasure to the bride's family. Dr. Smith
says in "Chinese Characteristics":
When she goes to her mother's home, she goes on a strictly business
basis. She takes with her it may be a quantity of sewing for her
husband's family, which the wife's family must help her get through
with. She is accompanied on each of these visits by as many of her
children as possible, both to have her take care of them and to have
them out of the way when she is not at hand to look after them, and
most especially to have them fed at the expense of the family of the
maternal grandmother for as long a time as possible. In regions where
visits of this sort are frequent, and where there are many daughters in
a family, their constant raids on the old home are a source of
perpetual terror to the whole family, and a serious tax on the common
resources. [Footnote: "Chinese Characteristics," by Arthur H. Smith, p.
Religious rites and ceremonies form a conspicuous part in the New Year's
celebration. At this time the "Kitchen God," according to current
superstition, returns to heaven to render an account of the household's
behavior. The wily Chinese, however, first rubs the lips of the departing
deity with candy in order to "sweeten" his report of any evil which he may
have witnessed during the year.
Usually all the members of the family gather before the ancestral tablets,
or should these be lacking as among many of the laboring classes, a scroll
with a part of the genealogy is displayed and the spirits of the departed
are appeased and honored by the burning of incense and the mumbling of
incantations. While strict attention is paid to the religious observance to
the dead, at New Year's the most punctilious ceremony is rendered to the
After the family have paid their respects to one another the younger male
members go from house to house "kowtowing" to the elders who are there to
receive them. The following days are devoted to visits to relatives living
in the neighboring towns and villages, and this continues, an endless
routine, until fourteen days later the Feast of the Lanterns puts an end to
the "epoch of national leisure."
The Chinese are inveterate gamblers and at New Year's they turn feverishly
to this form of amusement which is almost their only one. But they also
have to think seriously about paying their debts for it is absolutely
necessary for all classes and conditions of men to meet their obligations
at the end of the year.
Almost everyone owes money in China. According to the clan system an
individual having surplus cash is obliged to lend it (though at a high rate
of interest) to any members of his family in need of help. However, a
Chinaman never pays cash unless absolutely obliged to and almost never
settles a debt until he has been dunned repeatedly.
The activity displayed at New Year's is ludicrous.
Each separate individual [says Dr. Smith] is engaged in the task of
trying to chase down the men who owe money to him, and compel them to
pay up, and at the same time in trying to avoid the persons who are
struggling to track _him_ down and corkscrew from him the amount of his
indebtedness to them! The dodges and subterfuges to which each is
obliged to resort, increase in complexity and number with the advance
of the season, until at the close of the month, the national activity
is at fever heat. For if a debt is not secured then, it will go over
till a new year, and no one knows what will be the status of a claim
which has actually contrived to cheat the annual Day of Judgment. In
spite of the excellent Chinese habit of making the close of a year a
grand clearing-house for all debts, Chinese human nature is too much
for Chinese custom, and there are many of these postponed debts which
are a grief of mind to many a Chinese creditor.
The Chinese are at once the most practical and the most sentimental of
the human race. New Year _must not_ be violated by duns for debts, and
the debts _must_ be collected New Year though it be. For this reason
one sometimes sees an urgent creditor going about early on the first
day of the year carrying a lantern looking for his creditor [=debtor].
His artificial light shows that by a social fiction the sun has not yet
risen, it is still yesterday and the debt can still be claimed....
We have but to imagine the application of the principles which we have
named, to the whole Chinese Empire, and we get new light upon the
nature of the Chinese New Year festivities. They are a time of
rejoicing, but there is no rejoicing so keen as that of a ruined
debtor, who has succeeded by shrewd devices in avoiding the most
relentless of his creditors and has thus postponed his ruin for at
least another twelve months.
For, once past the narrow strait at the end of the year, the debtor
finds himself again in the broad and peaceful waters, where he cannot
be molested. Even should his creditors meet him on New Year's day,
there could be no possibility of mentioning the fact of the previous
day's disgraceful flight and concealment, or indeed of alluding to
business at all, for this would not be "good form" and to the Chinese
"Good Form" (otherwise known as custom), is the chief national
divinity. [Footnote: "Village Life in China," by Arthur H. Smith, 1907,
Yung-chang appears to be almost entirely inhabited by Chinese and in no
part of the province did we see foot-binding more in evidence. Practically
every woman and girl, young or old, regardless of her station in life was
crippled in this brutal way. The women wear long full coats with flaring
skirts which hang straight from their shoulders to their knees. When the
trousers are tightly wrapped about their shrunken ankles, they look in a
side view exactly like huge umbrellas.
One day we visited a cave thirty _li_ north of the city where we hoped to
find new bats. A beautiful little temple has been built over the entrance
to the cavern which does not extend more than forty or fifty feet into the
rock. But twenty _li_ south of Yung-chang, just beyond the village of
A-shih-wo, there is an enormous cave which is reported to extend entirely
through the hill. Whether or not this is true we can not say for although
we explored it in part we did not reach the end. The central corridor is
about thirty feet wide and at least sixty or seventy high. We followed the
main gallery for a long distance, and turned back at a branch which led off
at a sharp angle. We were not equipped with sufficient candles to pursue
the exploration more extensively and did not have time to visit it again.
The cave contained some beautiful stalactites of considerable size, but the
limestone was a dull lead color. We found only one bat and these animals
appear not to have used it extensively since there was little sign upon the
At Yuang-chang we saw water buffaloes for the first time in Yuen-nan but
found them to be in universal use farther to the south and west. The huge
brutes are as docile as a kitten in the hands of the smallest native child
but they do not like foreigners and discretion is the better part of valor
where they are concerned.
Water buffaloes are only employed for work in the rice fields but Chinese
cows are used as burden bearers in this part of the province. Such caravans
travel much more slowly than do mule trains although the animals are not
loaded as heavily. Two or three of the leading cows usually carry upon
their backs large bells hung in wooden frameworks and the music is by no
means unmelodious when heard at a distance. Marco Polo, the great Venetian
traveler, refers to Yung-chang as "Vochang." His account of a battle which
was fought in its vicinity in the year 1272 between the King of Burma and
Bengal and one of Kublai Khan's generals is so interesting that I am
quoting it below:
When the king of Mien [Burma] and Bangala [Bengal], in India, who
was powerful in the number of his subjects, in extent of territory,
and in wealth, heard that an army of Tartars had arrived at Vochang
[Yung-chang] he took the resolution of advancing immediately to attack
it, in order that by its destruction the grand khan should be deterred
from again attempting to station a force upon the borders of his
dominions. For this purpose he assembled a very large army, including
a multitude of elephants (an animal with which his country abounds),
upon whose backs were placed battlements or castles, of wood, capable
of containing to the number of twelve or sixteen in each. With these,
and a numerous army of horse and foot, he took the road to Vochang,
where the grand khan's army lay, and encamping at no great distance
from it, intended to give his troops a few days of rest.
As soon as the approach of the king of Mien, with so great a force, was
known to Nestardin, who commanded the troops of the grand khan,
although a brave and able officer, he felt much alarmed, not having
under his orders more than twelve thousand men (veterans, indeed, and
valiant soldiers); whereas the enemy had sixty thousand, besides the
elephants armed as has been described. He did not, however, betray any
sign of apprehension, but descending into the plain of Vochang, took a
position in which his flank was covered by a thick wood of large trees,
whither, in case of a furious charge by the elephants, which his troops
might not be able to sustain, they could retire, and from thence, in
security, annoy them with their arrows....
Upon the king of Mien's learning that the Tartars had descended into
the plain, he immediately put his army in motion, took up his ground at
the distance of about a mile from the enemy, and made a disposition of
his force, placing the elephants in the front, and the cavalry and
infantry, in two extended wings, in their rear, but leaving between
them a considerable interval. Here he took his own station, and
proceeded to animate his men and encourage them to fight valiantly,
assuring them of victory, as well from the superiority of their
numbers, being four to one, as from their formidable body of armed
elephants, whose shock the enemy, who had never before been engaged
with such combatants, could by no means resist. Then giving orders for
sounding a prodigious number of warlike instruments, he advanced boldly
with his whole army towards that of the Tartars, which remained firm,
making no movement, but suffering them to approach their entrenchments.
They then rushed out with great spirit and the utmost eagerness to
engage; but it was soon found that the Tartar horses, unused to the
sight of such huge animals, with their castles, were terrified, and by
wheeling about endeavored to fly; nor could their riders by any
exertions restrain them, whilst the king, with the whole of his forces,
was every moment gaining ground. As soon as the prudent commander
perceived this unexpected disorder, without losing his presence of
mind, he instantly adopted the measure of ordering his men to dismount
and their horses to be taken into the wood, where they were fastened to
When dismounted, the men without loss of time, advanced on foot towards
the line of elephants, and commenced a brisk discharge of arrows;
whilst, on the other side, those who were stationed in the castles, and
the rest of the king's army, shot volleys in return with great
activity; but their arrows did not make the same impression as those of
the Tartars, whose bows were drawn with a stronger arm. So incessant
were the discharges of the latter, and all their weapons (according to
the instructions of their commander) being directed against the
elephants, these were soon covered with arrows, and, suddenly giving
way, fell back upon their own people in the rear, who were thereby
thrown into confusion. It soon became impossible for their drivers to
manage them, either by force or address. Smarting under the pain of
their wounds, and terrified by the shouting of the assailants, they
were no longer governable, but without guidance or control ran about in
all directions, until at length, impelled by rage and fear, they rushed
into a part of the wood not occupied by the Tartars. The consequence of
this was, that from the closeness of the branches of large trees, they
broke, with loud crashes, the battlements or castles that were upon
their backs, and involved in the destruction those who sat upon them.
Upon seeing the rout of the elephants the Tartars acquired fresh
courage, and filing off by detachments, with perfect order and
regularity, they remounted their horses, and joined their several
divisions, when a sanguinary and dreadful combat was renewed. On the
part of the king's troops there was no want of valor, and he himself
went amongst the ranks entreating them to stand firm, and not to be
alarmed by the accident that had befallen the elephants. But the
Tartars by their consummate skill in archery, were too powerful for
them, and galled them the more exceedingly, from their not being
provided with such armor as was worn by the former.
The arrows having been expended on both sides, the men grasped their
swords and iron maces, and violently encountered each other. Then in an
instant were to be seen many horrible wounds, limbs dismembered, and
multitudes falling to the ground, maimed and dying; with such effusion
of blood as was dreadful to behold. So great also was the clangor of
arms, and such the shoutings and the shrieks, that the noise seemed to
ascend to the skies. The king of Mien, acting as became a valiant
chief, was present wherever the greatest danger appeared, animating his
soldiers, and beseeching them to maintain their ground with resolution.
He ordered fresh squadrons from the reserve to advance to the support
of those that were exhausted; but perceiving at length that it was
impossible any longer to sustain the conflict or to withstand the
impetuosity of the Tartars, the greater part of his troops being either
killed or wounded, and all the field covered with the carcasses of men
and horses, whilst those who survived were beginning to give way, he
also found himself compelled to take to flight with the wreck of his
army, numbers of whom were afterwards slain in the pursuit....
The Tartars having collected their force after the slaughter of the
enemy, returned towards the wood into which the elephants had fled for
shelter, in order to take possession of them, where they found that the
men who had escaped from the overthrow were employed in cutting down
trees and barricading the passages, with the intent of defending
themselves. But their ramparts were soon demolished by the Tartars, who
slew many of them, and with the assistance of the persons accustomed to
the management of the elephants, they possessed themselves of these to
the number of two hundred or more. From the period of this battle the
grand khan has always chosen to employ elephants in his armies, which
before that time he had not done. The consequences of the victory were,
that he acquired possession of the whole of the territories of the king
of Bangala and Mien, and annexed them to his dominions. [Footnote: "The
Travels of Marco Polo the Venetian." Everyman's Library. J.M. Dent &
Sons, Ltd., London; pp. 253-256.]
TRAVELING TOWARD THE TROPICS
We left Yung-chang with no regret on Monday, January 28. Our stay there
would have been exceedingly pleasant under ordinary conditions but it was
impossible not to chafe at the delay occasioned by the caravan. Traveling
southward for two days over bare brown mountain-sides, their monotony
unrelieved except by groves of planted pine and fir trees, we descended
abruptly into the great subtropical valley at Shih-tien.
Mile after mile this fertile plain stretches away in a succession of rice
paddys and fields of sugar cane interspersed with patches of graceful
bamboo, their summits drooping like enormous clusters of ostrich plumes;
the air is warm and fragrant and the change from the surrounding hills is
delightful. However, we were disappointed in the shooting for, although it
appeared to be an ideal place for ducks and other water birds, we killed
only five teal, and the great ponds were almost devoid of bird life. Even
herons, so abundant in the north, were conspicuous by their absence and we
saw no sheldrakes, geese, or mallards.
At Shih-tien we camped in a beautiful temple yard on the outskirts of the
town, and with Wu I returned to the village to inquire about shooting
places. We seated ourselves in the first open tea house and within ten
minutes more than a hundred natives had filled the room, overflowed through
the door and windows, and formed a mass of pushing, crowding bodies which
completely blocked the street outside. It was a simple way of getting all
the village together and Wu questioned everyone who looked intelligent.
We learned that shooting was to be found near Gen-kang, five days' travel
south, and we returned to the temple just in time to receive a visit from
the resident mandarin. He was a good-looking, intellectual man, with
charming manners and one of the most delightful gentlemen whom we met in
During his visit, and until dinner was over and we had retired to our
tents, hundreds of men, women and children crowded into the temple yard to
gaze curiously at us. After the gates had been closed they climbed the
walls and sat upon the tiles like a flock of crows. Their curiosity was
insatiable but not unfriendly and nowhere throughout our expedition did we
find such extraordinary interest in our affairs as was manifested by the
people in this immediate region. They were largely Chinese and most of them
must have met foreigners before, yet their curiosity was much greater than
that of any natives whom we knew were seeing white persons for the first
Just before camping the next day we passed through a large village where we
were given a most flattering reception. We had stopped to do some shooting
and were a considerable distance behind the caravan. The _mafus_ must have
announced our coming, for the populace was out _en masse_ to greet us and
lined the streets three deep. It was a veritable triumphal entry and crowds
of men and children followed us for half a mile outside the town, running
beside our horses and staring with saucer-like eyes.
On the second day from Shih-tien we climbed a high mountain and wound down
a sharp descent for about 4,000 feet into a valley only 2,300 feet above
sea level. We had been cold all day on the ridges exposed to a biting wind
and had bundled ourselves into sweaters and coats over flannel shirts.
After going down about 1,000 feet we tied our coats to the saddle pockets,
on the second thousand stripped off the sweaters, and for the remainder of
the descent rode with sleeves rolled up and shirts open at the throat. We
had come from mid-winter into summer in two hours and the change was most
startling. It was as though we had suddenly ridden into an artificially
heated building like the rooms for tropical plants at botanical gardens.
Our camp was on a flat plain just above the river where we had a splendid
view of the wide valley which was like the bottom of a well with high
mountains rising abruptly on all sides. It was a place of strange
contrasts. The bushes and trees were in full green foliage but the grass
and paddy fields were dry and brown as in mid-winter. The thick trees at
the base of the hills were literally alive with doves but there were few
mammal runways and our traps yielded no results. That night a muntjac, the
first we had heard, barked hoarsely behind the tents.
The _yamen_ "soldier" who accompanied us from Shih-tien delivered his
official dispatch at the village (Ma-po-lo) which lies farther down the
valley. The magistrate, who proved to be a Shan native, arrived soon after
with ten or twelve men and we discovered that there was but one man in the
village who spoke Chinese.
The magistrate at Ma-po-lo by no means wished to have the responsibility of
our safety thrust upon him and consequently assured us that there were
neither game nor hunters in this village. Although his anxiety to be rid of
us was apparent, he was probably telling the truth, for the valley is so
highly cultivated (rice), and the cover on the mountain-sides so limited,
that it is doubtful if much game remains.
In the morning the entire valley was filled with a dense white fog but we
climbed out of it almost immediately, and by noon were back again in winter
on the summits of the ridges. The country through which we passed _en
route_ to Gen-kang was similar to that which had oppressed us during the
preceding week--cultivated valleys between high barren mountains relieved
here and there by scattered groves of planted fir trees. It was a region
utterly hopeless from a naturalist's standpoint and when we arrived at a
large town near Gen-kang we were well-nigh discouraged.
During almost a month of travel we had been guided by native information
which without exception had proved worthless. It seemed useless to rely
upon it further, and yet there was no other alternative, for none of the
foreigners whom we had met in Yuen-nan knew anything about this part of the
province. We were certain to reach a tropical region farther south and the
fact that there were a few sambur skins for sale in the market offered
slight encouragement. These were said to come from a village called
Meng-ting, "a little more far," to the tune of four or five days' travel,
over on the Burma frontier.
With gloom in our hearts, which matched that of the weather, we left in a
pouring rain on February 5, to slip and splash southward through veritable
rivers of mud for two long marches. In the afternoon of the second day the
country suddenly changed. The trail led through a wide grassy valley,
bordered by heavily forested hills, into a deep ravine. Along the banks of
a clear stream the earth was soft and damp and the moss-covered logs and
dense vegetation made ideal conditions for small mammalian life.
We rode happily up the ravine and stood in a rocky gateway. At the right a
green-clothed mountain rose out of a tangle of luxuriant vegetation; to the
left wave after wave of magnificent forested ridges lost themselves in the
low hung clouds; at our feet lay a beautiful valley filled with stately
trees which spread into a thick green canopy overhead.
We camped in a clearing just at the edge of the forest. While the tents
were being pitched, I set a line of traps along the base of the opposite
mountain and found a "runway" under almost every log. About eight o'clock I
ran my traps and, with the aid of a lantern, stumbled about in the bushes
and high grass, over logs and into holes. When I emptied my pockets there
were fifteen mice, rats, shrews, and voles, representing seven species _and
all new to our collection_. Heller brought in eight specimens and added two
new species. We forthwith decided to stay right where we were until this
"gold mine" had been exhausted.
In the morning our traps were full of mammals and sixty-two were laid out
on the table ready for skinning. The length, tail, hind foot, and ear of
each specimen was first carefully measured in millimeters and recorded in
the field catalogue and upon a printed label bearing our serial number;
then an incision was made in the belly, the skin stripped off, poisoned
with arsenic, stuffed with cotton, and sewed up. The animal was then pinned
in position by the feet, nose, and tail in a shallow wooden tray which
fitted in the collecting trunk.
The specimens were put in the sun on every bright day until they were
thoroughly dry and could be wrapped in cotton and packed in water-tight
trunks or boxes. We have found that the regulation U.S. Army officer's
fiber trunk makes an ideal collecting case. It measures thirty inches long
by thirteen deep and sixteen inches wide and will remain quite dry in an
ordinary rain but, of course, must not be allowed to stand in water. The
skulls of all specimens, and the skeletons of some, are numbered like the
skin, strung upon a wire, and dried in the sun. Also individuals of every
species are injected and preserved in formalin for future anatomical study.
Larger specimens are always salted and dried. As soon as the skin has been
removed and cleaned of flesh and fat, salt is rubbed into every part of it
and the hide rolled up. In the morning it is unwrapped, the water which has
been extracted by the salt poured off, and the skin hung over a rope or a
tree branch to dry. If it is not too hot and the air is dry, the skin may
be kept in the shade to good advantage, but under ordinary field conditions
it should be placed in the sun. Before it becomes too hard, the hide is
rolled or folded into a convenient package hair side in, tied into shape
and allowed to become "bone dry." In this condition it will keep
indefinitely but requires constant watching, for the salt absorbs moisture
from the air and alternate wetting and drying is fatal.
We soon trained two of our Chinese boys to skin both large and small
animals and they became quite expert. They required constant watching,
however, and after each hide had been salted either Mr. Heller or I
examined it to make sure that it was properly treated.
On our first day in camp we sent for natives to the village of Mu-cheng ten
_li_ distant. The men assured us that there were sambur, serow, and muntjac
in the neighborhood, and they agreed to hunt. They had no dogs and were
armed with crossbows, antiquated guns, and bows and arrows, but they showed
us the skins of two sambur in proof of their ability to secure game.
Like most of the other natives, with the exception of the Mosos on the Snow
Mountain, these men had no definite plan in hunting. The first day I went
out with them they indicated that we were to drive a hill not far from
camp. Without giving me an opportunity to reach a position in front of
them, they began to work up the hill, and I had a fleeting glimpse of a
sambur silhouetted against the sky as it dashed over the summit.
Two days later while I was out with ten other men who had a fairly good
pack of dogs, the first party succeeded in killing a female sambur. The
animal weighed at least five hundred pounds but they brought it to our camp
and we purchased the skin for ten _rupees_. South of Gen-kang the money of
the region, like all of Yuen-nan for some distance from the Burma frontier,
is the Indian _rupee_ which equals thirty-three cents American gold; in
that part of the province adjoining Tonking, French Indo-China money is
My Journal of February 8 tells of our life at this camp, which we called
The weather is delightful for the sun is just warm enough for comfort
and the nights are clear and cold. How we do sleep! It seems hardly an
hour from the time we go to bed until we hear Wu rousing the servants,
and the crackle of the camp-fire outside the tent. We half dress in our
sleeping bags and with chattering teeth dash for the fire to lace our
high boots in its comfortable warmth.
After breakfast when it is full daylight, my wife and I inspect the
traps. The ground is white with frost and the trees and bushes are
dressed in silver. Every trap holds an individual interest and we
follow the line through the forest, resetting some, and finding new
mammals in others. Yvette has conquered her feminine repugnance far
enough to remove shrews or mice from the traps by releasing the spring
and dropping them on to a broad green leaf, but she never touches them.
We go back to meet the hunters and while I am away with the men, the
lady of the camp works at her photography. I return in the late
afternoon and after tea we wander through the woods together. It is the
most delightful part of the day when the sun goes down and the shadows
lengthen. We sit on a log in a small clearing where we can watch the
upper branches of a splendid tree. It is the home of a great colony of
red-bellied squirrels (_Callosciurus erythraeus_ subsp.) and after a
few moments of silence we see a flash of brown along a branch, my gun
roars out, and there is a thud upon the ground.
Yvette runs to find the animal and ere the echoes have died away in the
forest the gun bangs again. We have already shot a dozen squirrels from
this tree and yet more are there. Sometimes a tiny, striped chipmunk
(_Tamiops macclellandi_ subsp.) will appear on the lower branches,
searching the bark for grubs, and after he falls we have a long hunt to
find him in the brown leaves. When it is too dark to see the squirrels,
we wander slowly back to camp and eat a dinner of delicious broiled
deer steak in front of the fire; over the coffee we smoke and talk of
the day's hunting until it is time to "run the traps."
Of all the work we enjoy this most. With lanterns and a gun we pick our
way among the trees until we strike the trail along which the traps are
set. On the soft ground our feet are noiseless and, extinguishing the
lanterns, we sit on a log to listen to the night sounds. The woods are
full of life. Almost beside us there is a patter of tiny feet and a
scurry among the dry leaves; a muntjac barks hoarsely on the opposite
hillside, and a fox yelps behind us in the forest. Suddenly there is a
sharp snap, a muffled squeal, and a trap a few yards away has done its
work. Even in the tree tops the night life is active. Dead twigs drop
to the ground with an unnatural noise, and soft-winged owls show black
against the sky as they flit across an opening in the branches.
We light the lanterns again and pass down the trail into a cuplike
hollow. Here there are a dozen traps and already half of them are full.
In one is a tiny brown shrew caught by the tail as he ran across the
trap; another holds a veritable treasure, and at my exclamation of
delight Yvette runs up excitedly. It is a rare Insectivore of the genus
_Hylomys_ and possibly a species new to science. We examine it beside
the lantern, wrap it carefully in paper, and drop it into a pocket by
The next bit of cotton clings to a bush above a mossy log. The trap is
gone and for ten minutes we hunt carefully over every inch of ground.
Finally my wife discovers it fifteen feet away and stifles a scream for
in it, caught by the neck and still alive, is a huge rat nearly two
feet long; it too is a species which may prove new.
When the last trap has been examined, we follow the trail to the edge
of the forest and into the clearing where the tents glow in the
darkness like great yellow pumpkins. Ours is delightfully warmed by the
charcoal brazier and, stretched comfortably on the beds, we write our
daily records or read Dickens for half an hour. It is with a feeling of
great contentment that we slip down into the sleeping bags and blow out
the candles leaving the tent filled with the soft glow of the
MENG-TING: A VILLAGE OF MANY TONGUES
During the eight days in which we remained at the "Good Hope" camp, two
hundred specimens comprising twenty-one species were added to our
collection. Although the altitude was still 5,000 feet, the flora was quite
unlike that of any region in which we had previously collected, and that
undoubtedly was responsible for the complete change of fauna. We were on
the very edge of the tropical belt which stretches along the Tonking and
Burma frontiers in the extreme south and west of the province.
It was already mid-February and if we were to work in the fever-stricken
valleys below 2,000 feet, it was high time we were on the way southward.
The information which we had obtained near Gen-kang had been supplemented
by the natives of Mu-cheng, and we decided to go to Meng-ting as soon as
The first march was long and uneventful but at its end, from the summit of
a high ridge, we could see a wide valley which we reached in the early
morning of the second day. The narrow mountain trail abruptly left us on a
jutting promontory and wandered uncertainly down a steep ravine to lose
itself in a veritable forest of tree ferns and sword grass. The slanting
rays of the sun drew long golden paths into the mysterious depths of the
mist-filled valley. To the right a giant sentinel peak of granite rose
gaunt and naked from out the enveloping sea of green which swelled away to
the left in huge ascending billows.
We rested in our saddles until the faint tinkle of the bell on the leading
mule announced the approach of the caravan and then we picked our way
slowly down the steep trail between walls of tangled vegetation. In an hour
we were breathing the moist warm air of the tropics and riding across a
wide valley as level as a floor. The long stretches of rank grass, far
higher than our heads, were broken by groves of feathery bamboos, banana
palms, and splendid trees interlaced with tangled vines.
Near the base of the mountains a Shan village nestled into the grass. The
bamboo houses, sheltered by trees and bushes, were roofed in the shape of
an overturned boat with thatch and the single street was wide and clean.
Could this really be China? Verily, it was a different China from that we
had seen before! It might be Burma, India, Java, but never China!
Before the door of a tiny house sat a woman spinning. A real Priscilla,
somewhat strange in dress to be sure and with a mouth streaked with betel
nut, but Priscilla just the same. And in his proper place beside her stood
John Alden. A pair of loose, baggy trousers, hitched far up over one leg to
show the intricate tattoo designs beneath, a short coat, and a white turban
completed John's attire, but he grasped a gun almost as ancient in design
as that of his Pilgrim fathers. Priscilla kept her eyes upon the spinning
wheel, but John's gaze could by no stretch of imagination be called ardent
even before we appeared around a corner of the house and the pretty picture
resolved into its rightful components--a surprised, but not unlovely Shan
girl and a well-built, yellow-skinned native who stared with wide brown
eyes and open mouth at what must have seemed to him the fancy of a
For into his village, filled with immemorial peace and quiet, where every
day was exactly like the day before, had suddenly ridden two big men with
white skins and blue eyes, and a little one with lots of hair beneath a
broad sun helmet. And almost immediately the little one had jumped from the
horse and pointed a black box with a shiny front at him and his Priscilla.
At once, but without loss of dignity, Priscilla vanished into the house,
but John Alden stood his ground, for a beautiful new tin can had been
thrust into his hand and before he had really discovered what it was the
little person had smiled at him and turned her attention to the charming
street of his village. There the great water buffalos lazily chewed their
cuds standing guard over the tiny brown-skinned natives who played
trustingly with the calves almost beneath their feet.
Such was our invasion of the first Shan village we had ever seen, and
regretfully we rode away across the plain between the walls of waving grass
toward the Nam-ting River. Two canoes, each dug out of a single log, and
tightly bound together, formed the ferry, but the packs were soon across
the muddy stream and the mules were made to swim to the other bank. Shortly
after leaving the ferry we emerged from the vast stretches of rank grass on
to the open rice paddys which stretched away in a gently undulating plain
from the river to the mountains. Strangely enough we saw no ducks or geese,
but three great flocks of cranes (probably _Grus communis_) rose from the
fields and wheeled in ever-widening spirals above our heads until they were
lost in the blue depths of the sky.
Away in the distance we saw a wooded knoll with a few wisps of smoke
curling above its summit, but not until we were well-nigh there did we
realize that its beautiful trees sheltered the thatched roofs of Meng-ting.
But this was only the "residential section" of the village and below the
knoll on the opposite side of a shallow stream lay the shops and markets.
We camped on a dry rice dyke where a fringe of jungle separated us from the
nearest house. As soon as the tents were up I announced our coming to the
mandarin and requested an interview at five o'clock. Wu and I found the
_yamen_ to be a large well-built house, delightfully cool and exhibiting
several foreign articles which evinced its proximity to Burma.
We were received by a suave Chinese "secretary" who shortly introduced the
mandarin--a young Shan not more than twenty years old who only recently had
succeeded his late father as chief of the village. The boy was dressed in
an exceedingly long frock coat, rather green and frayed about the elbows,
which in combination with his otherwise typical native dress gave him a
most extraordinary appearance.
We soon discovered that the Chinese secretary who did all the talking was
the "power behind the throne." He accepted my gift of a package of tea with
great pleasure, but the information about hunting localities for which we
asked was not forthcoming. He first said that he knew of a place where
there were tiger and leopard, but that he did not dare to reveal it to us
for we might be killed by the wild animals and he would be responsible for
our deaths; bringing to his attention the fact that tigers had never been
recorded from the Meng-ting region did not impress him in the slightest.
It did tend to send him off on another track, however, and he next remarked
that if he sent us to a place where the hunting was disappointing we
probably would report him to the district mandarin. Assurances to the
contrary had no effect. It was perfectly evident that he wished only to get
us out of his district and thus relieve himself of the responsibility of
our safety. During the conversation, which lasted more than an hour, the
young Shan was not consulted and did not speak a word; he sat stolidly in
his chair, hardly winking, and except for the constant supply of cigarettes
which passed between his fingers there was no evidence that he even
The interview closed with assurances from the Chinaman that he would make
inquiries concerning hunting grounds and communicate with us in the
morning. We returned to camp and half an hour later a party of natives
arrived from the _yamen_ bearing about one hundred pounds of rice, a sack
of potatoes, two dozen eggs, three chickens, and a great bundle of fire
wood. These were deposited in front of our tent as gifts from the mandarin.
We were at a loss to account for such generosity until Wu explained that
whenever a high official visited a village it was customary for the
mandarin to supply his entire party with food during their stay. It would
be quite polite to send back all except a few articles, however, for the
supplies were levied from the inhabitants of the town. We kept the eggs and
chickens, giving the _yamen_ "runners" considerably more than their value
in money, and they gratefully returned with the rice and potatoes.
On the hill high above our camp was a large Shan Buddhist monastery, bamboo
walled and thatched with straw, and at sunset and daybreak a musical chant
of childish voices floated down to us in the mist-filled valley. All day
long tiny yellow-robed figures squatted on the mud walls about the temple
like a flock of birds peering at us with bright round eyes. They were wild
as hawks, these little priests and, although they sometimes left the
shelter of their temple walls, they never ventured below the bushy hedge
about our rice field.
In the village we saw them often, wandering about the streets or sitting in
yellow groups beneath the giant trees which threw a welcome shade over
almost every house. They were not all children, and finely built youths or
men so old that they seemed like wrinkled bits of lemon peel, passed to and
fro to the temple on the hill.
There is no dearth of priests, for every family in the village with male
children is required to send at least one boy to live a part of his life
under the tutelage of the Church. He must remain three years, and longer,
if he wishes. The priests are fed by the monastery, and their clothing is
not an important item of expenditure as it consists merely of a straw hat
and a yellow robe. They lead a lazy, worthless life, and from their sojourn
in religious circles they learn only indolence and idleness.
The day following our arrival in Meng-ting the weekly market was held, and
when Wu and I crossed the little stream to the business part of the
village, we found ourselves in the midst of the most picturesque crowd of
natives it has ever been my fortune to see. It was a group flashing with
color, and every individual a study for an artist. There were blue-clad
Chinese, Shans with tattooed legs, turbans of pink or white, and Burmans
dressed in brilliant purple or green, Las, yellow-skinned Lisos, flat-faced
Palaungs, Was, and Kachins in black and red strung about with beads or
shells. Long swords hung from the shoulders of those who did not carry a
spear or gun, and the hilts of wicked looking daggers peeped from beneath
their sashes. Every man carried a weapon ready for instant use.
Nine tribes were present in the market that day and almost as many
languages were being spoken. It was a veritable Babel and half the trading
was done by signs. The narrow street was choked with goods of every kind
spread out upon the ground: fruit, rice, cloth, nails, knives, swords,
hats, sandals, skins, horns, baskets, mats, crossbows, arrows, pottery,
tea, opium, and scores of other articles for food or household use.
Dozens of natives were arriving and departing, bringing new goods or
packing up their purchases; under open, thatched pavilions were silent
groups of men gambling with cash or silver, and in the "tea houses"
white-faced natives lay stretched upon the couches rolling "pills" of
opium and oblivious to the constant stream of passers-by.
It was a picturesque, ever changing group, a kaleidoscopic mass of life and
color, where Chinese from civilized Canton drank, and gambled, and smoked
with wild natives from the hills or from the depths of fever-stricken
After one glimpse of the picture in the market I dashed back to camp to
bring the "Lady of the Camera." On the way I met her, hot and breathless,
half coaxing, half driving three bewildered young priests resplendent in
yellow robes. All the morning she had been trying vainly to photograph a
priest and had discovered these splendid fellows when all her color plates
had been exposed. She might have succeeded in bringing them to camp had I
not arrived, but they suddenly lost courage and rushed away with averted
When the plate holders were all reloaded we hurried back to the market
followed by two coolies with the cameras. Leaving Yvette to do her work
alone I set up the cinematograph. Wu was with me and in less than a minute
the narrow space in front of us was packed with a seething mass of natives.
It was impossible to take a "street scene" for the "street" had suddenly
disappeared. Making a virtue of necessity I focused the camera on the
irregular line of heads and swung it back and forth registering a variety
of facial expressions which it would be hard to duplicate. For some time it
was impossible to bribe the natives to stand even for a moment, but after
one or two had conquered their fear and been liberally rewarded, there was
a rush for places. Wu asked several of the natives who could speak Chinese
if they knew what we were doing but they all shook their heads. None of
them had ever seen a camera or a photograph.
The Kachin women were the most picturesque of all the tribes as well as the
most difficult to photograph. Yvette was not able to get them at all, and I
could do so only by strategy. When Wu discovered two or three squatting
near their baskets on the ground I moved slowly up behind them keeping in
the center of the crowd. After the "movie camera" was in position Wu
suddenly "shooed" back the spectators and before the women realized what
was happening they were registered on twenty-five or thirty feet of film.
One of the Kachin men, who had drunk too much, suddenly became belligerent
when I pointed the camera in his direction, and rushed at me with a drawn
knife. I swung for his jaw with my right fist and he went down in a heap.
He was more surprised than hurt, I imagine, but it took all of the fight
out of him for he received no sympathy from the spectators.
Poor Yvette had a difficult time with her camera operations and a less
determined person would have given up in despair. The natives were so shy
and suspicious that it was well-nigh impossible to bribe them to stand for
a second and it was only after three hours of aggravating work in the
stifling heat and dust that she at last succeeded in exposing all her
plates. Her patience and determination were really wonderful and I am quite
sure that I should not have obtained half her results.
The Kachin women were extraordinary looking individuals. They were short,
and strongly built, with a mop of coarse hair cut straight all around, and
thick lips stained with betel nut. Their dress consisted of a short black
jacket and skirt reaching to the knees, and ornamented with strings of
beads and pieces of brass or silver. This tribe forms the largest part of
the population in northern Burma and also extends into Assam. Yuen-nan is
fortunate in having comparatively few of them along its western frontier
for they are an uncivilized and quarrelsome race and frequently give the
British government considerable trouble.
There were only a few Burmans in the market although the border is hardly a
dozen miles to the west, but the girls were especially attractive. Their
bright pretty faces seemed always ready to break into a smile and their
graceful figures draped in brilliant _sarongs_ were in delightful contrast
to the other, not over-clean, natives.
The Burma girls were not chewing betel nut, which added to their
distinction. The lips of virtually every other woman and man were stained
from the red juice, which is in universal use throughout India, the Malay
Peninsula, and the Netherlands Indies. In Yuen-nan we first noted it at the
"Good Hope" camp, and the Shans are generally addicted to the practice.
The permanent population of Meng-ting is entirely Shan, but during the
winter a good many Cantonese Chinamen come to gamble and buy opium. The
drug is smuggled across the border very easily and a lucrative trade is
carried on. It can be purchased for seventy-five cents (Mexican) an ounce
in Burma and sold for two dollars (Mexican) an ounce in Yuen-nan Fu and for
ten dollars in Shanghai.
Opium is smoked publicly in all the tea houses. The drug is cooked over an
alcohol lamp and when the "pill" is properly prepared it is placed in the
tiny bowl of the pipe, held against the flame and the smoke inhaled. The
process is a rather complicated one and during it the natives always
recline. No visible effect is produced even after smoking several pipefuls,
but the deathly paleness and expressionless eye marks the inveterate opium
There can be no doubt that the Chinese government has been, and is,
genuinely anxious to suppress the use of opium and it has succeeded to a
remarkable degree. We heard of only one instance of poppy growing in
Yuen-nan and often met officials, accompanied by a guard of soldiers,
on inspection trips. Indeed, while we were in Meng-ting the district
mandarin arrived. We were sitting in our tents when the melodious notes of
deep-toned gongs floated in through the mist. They were like the chimes of
far away cathedral bells sounding nearer and louder, but losing none of the
sweetness. Soon a long line of soldiers appeared and passed the camp
bearing in their midst a covered chair. The mandarin established himself in
a spacious temple on the opposite side of the village, where I visited him
the following day and explained the difficulty we had had at the Meng-ting
_yamen_. He aided us so effectually that all opposition to our plans ended
and we obtained a guide to take us to a hunting place on the Nam-ting
River, three miles from the Burma border.
CAMPING ON THE NAM-TING RIVER
Every morning the valley at Meng-ting was filled with a thick white mist
and when we broke camp at daylight each mule was swallowed up in the fog as
soon as it left the rice field. We followed the sound of the leader's bell,
but not until ten o'clock was the entire caravan visible. For thirty _li_
the valley is broad and flat as at Meng-ting and filled with a luxuriant
growth of rank grass, but it narrows suddenly where the river has carved
its way through a range of hills.
The trail led uncertainly along a steep bank through a dense, tropical
jungle. Palms and huge ferns, broad-leaved bananas, and giant trees laced
and interlaced with thorny vines and hanging creepers formed a living wall
of green as impenetrable as though it were a net of steel. We followed the
trail all day, sometimes picking our way among the rocks high above the
river or padding along in the soft earth almost at the water's edge. At
night we camped in a little clearing where some adventurous native had
fought the jungle and been defeated; his bamboo hut was in ruins and the
fields were overgrown with a tangle of throttling vegetation.
We had seen no mammals, but the birds along the road were fascinating.
Brilliant green parrots screamed in the tree tops and tiny sun-birds
dressed in garments of red and gold and purple, flashed across the trail
like living jewels. Once we heard a strange whirr and saw a huge hornbill
flapping heavily over the river, every beat of his stiff wing feathers
sounding like the motor of an aeroplane. Bamboo partridges called from the
bushes and dozens of unfamiliar bird notes filled the air.
At eleven o'clock on the following morning we passed two thatched huts in a
little clearing beside the trail and the guide remarked that our camping
place was not far away. We reached it shortly and were delighted. Two
enormous trees, like great umbrellas, spread a cool, dark shade above a
sparkling stream on the edge of an abandoned rice field. From a patch of
ground as level as a floor, where our tents were pitched, we could look
across the brown rice dykes to the enclosing walls of jungle and up to the
green mountain beyond. A half mile farther down the trail, but hidden away
in the jungle, lay a picturesque Shan village of a dozen huts, where the
guide said we should be able to find hunters.
As soon as tiffin was over we went up the creek with a bag of steel traps
to set them on the tiny trails which wound through the jungle in every
direction. Selecting a well-beaten patch we buried the trap in the center,
covered it carefully with leaves, and suspended the body of a bird or a
chunk of meat by a wire over the pan about three feet from the ground. A
light branch was fastened to the chain as a "drag." When the trap is pulled
this invariably catches in the grass or vines and, while holding the animal
firmly, still gives enough "spring" to prevent its freeing itself.
Trapping is exceedingly interesting for it is a contest of wits between the
trapper and the animal with the odds by no means in favor of the former.
The trap may not be covered in a natural way; the surroundings may be
unduly disturbed; a scent of human hands may linger about the bait, or
there may be numberless other possibilities to frighten the suspicious
In the evening our guide brought a strange individual whom he introduced as
the best hunter in the village. He was a tall Mohammedan Chinese who
dressed like a Shan and was married to a Shan woman. He seemed to be
afflicted with mental and physical inertia, for when he spoke it was in
slow drawl hardly louder than a whisper, and every movement of his body was
correspondingly deliberate. We immediately named him the "Dying Rabbit" but
discovered very shortly that he really had boundless energy and was an
The next morning he collected a dozen Shans for beaters and we drove a
patch of jungle above camp but without success. There were many sambur
tracks in the clearings, but we realized at once that it was going to be
difficult to get deer because of the dense cover; the open places were so
few and small that a sambur had every chance to break through without
giving a shot.
Nearly all the beaters carried guns. The "Dying Rabbit" was armed with a
.45-caliber bolt action rifle into which he had managed to fit a .303 shell
and several of the men had Winchester carbines, model 1875. The guns had
all been brought from Burma and most were without ammunition, but each man
had an assortment of different cartridges and used whichever he could force
into his rifle.
The men worked splendidly under the direction of the "Dying Rabbit." On the
second day they put up a sambur which ran within a hundred feet of us but
was absolutely invisible in the high grass. When we returned to camp we
found that a civet (_Viverra_) had walked past our tent and begun to eat
the scraps about the cook box, regardless of the shouts of the _mafus_ and
servants who were imploring Heller to bring his gun. After considerable
difficulty they persuaded him that there really was some cause for their
excitement and he shot the animal. It was probably ill, for its flesh was
dry and yellow, but the skin was in excellent condition.
Civets belong to the family _Viverridae_ and are found only in Asia and
Africa. Although they resemble cats superficially they are not directly
related to them and their claws are only partly retractile. They are very
beautiful animals with a grayish body spotted with black, a ringed tail,
and a black and white striped pointed head. A scent gland near the base of
the tail secretes a strong musk-like odor which, although penetrating, is
not particularly disagreeable. The animals move about chiefly in the early
morning and evening and at night and prey upon birds, eggs, small mammals,
fish, and frogs. One which we caught and photographed had a curious habit
of raising the hair on the middle of its back from the neck to the tail
whenever it was angry or frightened.
Although there were no houses within half a mile of camp we were surprised
on our first night to hear cocks crowing in the jungle. The note was like
that of the ordinary barnyard bird, except that it ended somewhat more
abruptly. The next morning we discovered Chanticleer and all his harem in a
deserted rice field, and he flew toward the jungle in a flash of red and
I dropped him and one of his hens with a right and left of "sixes" and
found that they were jungle fowl (_Gallus gallus_) in full plumage. The
cock was a splendid bird. The long neck feathers (hackles) spread over his
back and wings like a shimmering golden mantle, but it was hardly more
beautiful than the black of his underparts and green-glossed tail. Picture
to yourself a "black-breasted red" gamecock and you have him in all his
glory except that his tail is drooping and he is more pheasant-like in his
general bearing. The female was a trim little bird with a lilac sheen to
her brown feathers and looked much like a well-kept game bantam hen.
The jungle fowl is the direct ancestor of our barnyard hens and roosters
which were probably first domesticated in Burma and adjacent countries long
before the dawn of authentic history. According to tradition the Chinese
received their poultry from the West about 1400 B.C. and they are figured
in Babylonian cylinders between the sixth and seventh centuries B.C.;
although they were probably introduced in Greece through Persia there is no
direct evidence as to when and how they reached Europe.
The black-breasted jungle fowl (_Gallus gallus_) inhabit northern India,
Burma, Indo-Chinese countries, the Malay Peninsula, and the Philippine
Islands; a related species, _G. lafayetti_, is found in Ceylon; another,
_G. sonnerati_, in southern India, and a fourth, _G. varius_, in Java.
We found the jungle fowl wild and hard to kill even where they were seldom
hunted. During the heat of the day they remain in thick cover, but in
cloudy weather and in the early morning and evening they come out into
clearings to feed. At our camp on the Nam-ting River we could usually put
up a few birds on the edge of the deserted rice fields which stretched up
into the jungle, but they were never far away from the edge of the forest.
We sometimes saw single birds of either sex, but usually a cock had with
him six or eight hens. It was interesting to watch such a flock feeding in
the open. The male, resplendent in his vivid dress, shone like a piece of
gold against the dull brown of the dry grass and industriously ran about
among his trim little hens, rounding up the stragglers and directing his
harem with a few low-toned "clucks" whenever he found some unusually
It was his duty, too, to watch for danger and he usually would send the
flock whirring into the jungle while they were well beyond shotgun range.
When flushed from the open the birds nearly always would alight in the
first large tree and sit for a few moments before flying deeper into the
jungle. We caught several hens in our steel traps, and one morning at the
edge of a swamp I shot a jungle fowl and a woodcock with a "right and left"
as they flushed together.
We were at the Nam-ting camp at the beginning of the mating season for the
jungle fowl. It is said that they brood from January to April according to
locality, laying from eight to twelve creamy white eggs under a bamboo
clump or some dense thicket where a few leaves have been scratched together
for a nest. The hen announces the laying of an egg by means of a proud
cackle, and the chicks themselves have the characteristic "peep, peep,
peep" of the domestic birds. After the breeding season the beautiful red
and gold neck hackles of the male sometimes are molted and replaced by
short blackish feathers.
There seems to be some uncertainty as to whether the cocks are polygamous,
but our observations tend to show that they are. We never saw more than one
male in a flock and in only one or two instances were the birds in pairs.
The cocks are inveterate fighters like the domestic birds and their long
curved spurs are exceedingly effective weapons.
We set a trap for a leopard on a hill behind the Nam-ting River camp and on
the second afternoon it contained a splendid polecat. This animal is a
member of the family Mustelidae which includes mink, otter, weasels,
skunks, and ferrets, and with its brown body, deep yellow throat, and long
tail is really very handsome. Polecats inhabit the Northern Hemisphere and
are closely allied to the ferret which so often is domesticated and used in
hunting rats and rabbits. We found them to be abundant in the low valleys
along the Burma border and often saw them during the day running across
a jungle path or on the lower branches of a tree. The polecat is a
blood-thirsty little beast and kills everything that comes in its way for
the pure love of killing, even when its appetite has been satisfied.
On the third morning we found two civets in the traps. The cook told me
that some animal had stolen a chicken from one of his boxes during the
night and we set a trap only a few yards from our tent on a trail leading
into the grass. The civet was evidently the thief for the cook boxes were
not bothered again.
Inspecting the traps every morning and evening was a delightful part of our
camp life. It was like opening a Christmas package as we walked up the
trails, for each one held interesting possibilities and the mammals of the
region were so varied that surprises were always in store for us. Besides
civets and polecats, we caught mongooses, palm civets, and other
carnivores. The small traps yielded a new _Hylomys_, several new rats, and
an interesting shrew.
We saw a few huge squirrels (_Ratufa gigantea_) and shot one. It was
thirty-six inches long, coal black above and yellow below. The animals were
very shy and as they climbed about in the highest trees they were by no
means easy to see or shoot. They represent an interesting group confined to
India, Siam, the Malay Peninsula, the islands of the Dutch East Indies, and
Our most exciting sport at the Nam-ting camp was hunting monkeys. Every
morning we heard querulous notes which sounded much like the squealing of
very young puppies and which were followed by long, siren wails; when the
shrill notes had reached their highest pitch they would sink into low
mellow tones exceedingly musical.
The calls usually started shortly after daylight and continued until about
nine o'clock, or later if the day was dark or rainy. They would be answered
from different parts of the jungle and often sounded from half a dozen
places simultaneously. The natives assured us that the cries were made by
_hod-zu_ (monkeys) and several times we started in pursuit, but they always
ceased long before we had found a way through the jungle to the spot from
which they came. At last we succeeded in locating the animals.
We were inspecting a line of traps placed along a trail which led up a
valley to a wide plateau. Suddenly the puppy-like squealing began, followed
by a low tremulous wail. It seemed almost over our heads but the trees were
empty. We stole silently along the trail for a hundred yards and turned
into a dry creek bed which led up the bottom of the forested ravine. With
infinite caution, breathing hard from excitement, we slipped along,
scanning the top of every tree. A hornbill sitting on a dead branch caught
sight of us and flapped heavily away emitting horrid squawks. A flock of
parrots screamed overhead and a red-bellied squirrel followed persistently
scolding at the top of its voice, but the monkeys continued to call.
The querulous squealing abruptly ceased and we stood motionless beside a
tree. For an instant the countless jungle sounds were hushed in a
breathless stillness; then, low and sweet, sounded a moaning wail which
swelled into deep full tones. It vibrated an instant, filling all the
forest with its richness, and slowly died away. Again and again it floated
over the tree tops and we listened strangely moved, for it was like the
music of an exquisite contralto voice. At last it ceased but, ere the
echoes had reached the valley, the jungle was ringing with an unlovely
The spell was broken and we moved on, alert and tense. The trees stretched
upward full one hundred and fifty feet, their tops spread out in a leafy
roof. Long ropelike vines festooned the upper branches and a luxuriant
growth of parasitic vegetation clothed the giant trunks in a swaying mass
of living green. Far above the taller trees a gaunt gray monarch of the
forest towered in splendid isolation. In its topmost branches we could just
discern a dozen balls of yellow fur from which proceeded discordant
It was long range for a shotgun but the rifles were all in camp. I fired a
charge of B.B.'s at the lowest monkey and as the gun roared out the tree
tops suddenly sprang into life. They were filled with running, leaping,
hairy forms swinging at incredible speed from branch to branch; not a
dozen, but a score of monkeys, yellow, brown, and gray.
The one at which I had shot seemed unaffected and threw itself full twenty
feet to a horizontal limb, below and to the right. I fired again and he
stopped, ran a few steps forward and swung to the underside of the branch.
At the third charge he hung suspended by one arm and dropped heavily to the
ground stone dead.
We tossed him into the dry creek bed and dashed up the hill where the
branches were still swaying as the monkeys traveled through the tree tops.
They had a long start and it was a hopeless chase. At every step our
clothes were caught by the clinging thorns, our hands were torn, and our
faces scratched and bleeding. In ten minutes they had disappeared and we
turned about to find the dead animal. Suddenly Yvette saw a splash of
leaves in the top of a tree below us and a big brown monkey swung out on a
pendent vine. I fired instantly and the animal hung suspended, whirled
slowly around and dropped to the ground. Before I had reloaded my gun it
gathered itself together and dashed off through the woods on three legs
faster than a man could run. The animal had been hiding on a branch and
when we passed had tried to steal away undiscovered.
We found the dead monkey, a young male, in the creek bed and sat down to
examine it. It was evidently a gibbon (_Hylobates_), for its long arms,
round head, and tailless body were unmistakable, but in every species with
which I was familiar the male was black. This one was yellow and we knew it
to be a prize. That there were two other species in the herd was certain
for we had seen both brown and gray monkeys as they dashed away among the
trees, but the gibbons were far more interesting than the others.
Gibbons are probably the most primitive in skull and teeth of all the
anthropoid, or manlike, apes,--the group which also includes the gorilla,
chimpanzee, and orangutan. They are apparently an earlier offshoot of the
anthropoid stem, as held by most authorities, and the giant apes and man
are probably a later branch. Gibbons are essentially Oriental being found
in India, Burma, Siam, Tonking, Borneo, and the Islands of Hainan, Sulu,
Sumatra, and Java.
For the remainder of our stay at the Nam-ting River camp we devoted
ourselves to hunting monkeys and soon discovered that the three species we
had first seen were totally different. One was the yellow gibbon, another a
brown baboon (_Macacus_), and the third a huge gray ape with a long tail
(_Pygathrix_) known as the "langur." On the first day all three species
were together feeding upon some large green beans and this happened once
again, but usually they were in separate herds.
The gibbons soon became extremely wild. Although the same troop could
usually be found in the valley where we had first discovered them, they
chose hillsides where it was almost impossible to stalk them because of the
thorny jungle. Usually when they called, it was from the upper branches of
a dead tree where they could not only scan every inch of the ground below,
but were almost beyond the range of a shotgun. Sometimes we climbed upward
almost on our hands and knees, grasping vines and creepers, drawing
ourselves up by tree trunks, crawling under thorny shrubs and bushes,
slipping, falling, scrambling through the indescribable tangle. We went
forward only when the calls were echoing through the jungle, and stood
motionless as the wailing ceased. But in spite of all our care they would
see or hear us. Then in sudden silence there would be a tremor of the
branches, splash after splash of leaves, and the herd would swing away
through the trackless tree tops.
The gibbons are well named _Hylobates_ or "tree-walkers" for they are
entirely arboreal and, although awkward and almost helpless on the ground,
once their long thin hands touch a branch they become transformed as by a
They launch themselves into space, catch a limb twenty feet away, swing for
an instant, and hurl themselves to another. It is possible for them to
travel through the trees faster than a man can run even on open ground, and
when one examines their limbs the reason is apparent. The fore arms are so
exceedingly long that the tips of the fingers can touch the ground when the
animal stands erect, and the slender hands are longer than the feet.
The gibbons were exceedingly difficult to kill and would never drop until
stone dead. Once I shot an old male with my 6-1/2 mm. Mannlicher rifle at
about one hundred yards and, even though the ball had gone clear through
his body, he hung for several minutes before he dropped into a tangle of
It was fifteen minutes before we were able to work our way through the
jungle to the spot where the animal had fallen, and we had been searching
for nearly half an hour when suddenly my wife shouted that a monkey was
running along a branch above our heads. I fired with the shotgun at a mass
of moving leaves and killed a second gibbon which had been hiding in the
thick foliage. Instead of running the animals would sometimes disappear as
completely as though they had vanished in the air. After being fooled
several times we learned to conceal ourselves in the bushes where we could
watch the trees, and sooner or later the monkeys would try to steal away.
The langurs and baboons were by no means as wild as the gibbons and were
found in larger herds. Some of the langurs were carrying babies which clung
to their mothers between the fore legs and did not seem to impede them in
the slightest on their leaps through the tree tops.
The young of this species are bright orange-red and strangely unlike the
gray adults. As they grow older the red hair is gradually replaced by gray,
but the tail is the last part of the body to change. Heller captured one of
the tiny red monkeys and brought it back to camp in his coat pocket. The
little fellow was only a few days old, and of course, absolutely helpless.
When it was wrapped in cotton with only its queer little wizened face and
blue eyes visible it had a startling resemblance to a human baby until its
long tail would suddenly flop into sight and dispel the illusion. It lived
only four days in spite of constant care.
There are fifty-five species of langurs (_Pygathrix_) all of which are
confined to the Orient. In some parts of India the animals are sacred and
climb about the houses or wander in the streets of villages quite without
fear. At times they do so much damage to crops that the natives who do not
dare to kill the animals themselves implore foreigners to do so. The
langurs are not confined to the tropics, but in the Tibetan mountains range
far up into the snow and enjoy the cold weather. In the market at Li-chiang
we saw several skins of these animals which had been brought down by the
Tibetans; the hair was long and silky and was used by the Chinese for rugs
The species which we killed at the Nam-ting River camp, like all others of
the genus _Pygathrix_, was interesting because of the long hairs of the
head which form a distinct ridge on the occiput. We never heard the animals
utter sounds, but it is said that the common Indian langur, _Pygathrix
entellus_, gives a loud whoop as it runs through the tree tops. Often when
a tiger is prowling about the jungle the Indian langurs will follow the
beast, keeping in the branches just above its head and scolding loudly.
The baboon, or macaque, which we killed on the Nam-ting was a close
relative of the species (_Macacus rhesus_) which one sees parading solemnly
about the streets of Calcutta, Bombay, and other Indian cities. In Agra,
the home of the beautiful Taj Mahal, the Monkey Temple is visited by every
tourist. A large herd of macaques lives in the grounds and at a few
chuckling calls from the native attendants will come trooping over the
walls for the food which is kept on sale at the gate. These animals are
surprisingly tame and make most amusing pets.
On one of our hunts my wife and I discovered a water hole in the midst of a
dense jungle where the mud was trodden hard by sambur, muntjac, wild boar,
and other animals. We decided to spend a night watching beside it, but the
"Dying Rabbit" who was enthusiastic in the day time lost his courage as the
sunlight waned. Very doubtfully he consented to go.
Although the trip netted us no tangible results it was an experience of
which we often think. We started just at dusk and installed ourselves in
the bushes a few yards from the water hole. In half an hour the forest was
enveloped in the velvety blackness of the tropic night. Not a star nor a
gleam of light was visible and I could not see my hand before my face.
We sat absolutely motionless and listened to the breath of the jungle,
which although without definite sound, was vibrant with life. Now and then
a muntjac barked hoarsely and the roar of a sambur stag thrilled us like an
electric shock. Once a wild boar grunted on the opposite bank of the river,
the sound coming to us clear and sharp through the stillness although the
animal was far away.
Tiny forest creatures rustled all about us in the leaves and a small animal
ran across my wife's lap, leaping frantically down the hill as it felt her
move. For five hours we sat there absolutely motionless. Although no
animals came to the water hole we were silent with a great happiness as we
groped our way back to camp, for we had been close to the heart of the
jungle and were thrilled with the mystery of the night.
THE SHANS OF THE BURMA BORDER
We saw many Shans at the Nam-ting River, for not only was there a village
half a mile beyond our camp, but natives were passing continually along the
trail on their way to and from the Burma frontier. The village was named
Nam-ka. Its chief was absent when we arrived, but the natives were cordial
and agreed to hunt with us; when the head man returned, however, he was
most unfriendly. He forbade the villagers from coming to our camp and
arguments were of no avail. It soon became evident that only force could
change his attitude, and one morning, with all our servants and _mafus_, we
visited his house. He was informed that unless he ceased his opposition and
ordered his men to assist us in hunting we would take him to Meng-ting for
trial before the mandarin. He grudgingly complied and we had no further
We found the Shans at Nam-ka to be simple and honest people but abnormally
lazy. During our three weeks' stay not a single trap was stolen, although
the natives prized them highly, and often brought to us those in which
animals had been caught. Shans were continually about our camp where boxes
were left unlocked, but not an article of our equipment was missed.
The Nam-ka Shans elevated their houses on six-foot poles and built an open
porch in front of the door, while the dwellings at Meng-ting and farther up
the valley were all placed upon the ground. The thatched roofs overhung
several feet and the sides of the houses were open so that the free passage
of air kept them delightfully cool. Moreover, they were surprisingly clean,
for the floors were of split bamboo, and the inmates, if they wore sandals,
left them at the door. In the center of the single room, on a large flat
stone, a small fire always burned, but much of the cooking was done on the
porch where a tiny pavilion had been erected over the hearth.
The Shans at Nam-ka had "no visible means of support." The extensive rice
paddys indicated that in the past there had been considerable cultivation
but the fields were weed-grown and abandoned. The villagers purchased all
their vegetables from the Mohammedan hunter and two other Chinese who lived
a mile up the trail, or from passing caravans whom they sometimes
entertained. In all probability they lived upon the sale of smuggled opium
for they were only a few miles from the Burma border.
Virtually every Shan we saw in the south was heavily tattooed. Usually the
right leg alone, but sometimes both, were completely covered from the hip
to the knee with intricate designs in black or red. The ornamentations
often extended entirely around the body over the abdomen and waist, but
less frequently on the breast and arms.
All the natives were inordinately proud of these decorations and usually
fastened their wide trousers in such a way as to display them to the best
advantage. We often could persuade a man to pose before the camera by
admiring his tattoo marks and it was most amusing to watch his childlike
The Shan tribe is a large one with many subdivisions, and it is probable
that at one time it inhabited a large part of China south of the Yangtze
River; indeed, there is reason to believe that the Cantonese Chinamen are
chiefly of Shan stock, and the facial resemblance between the two races
certainly is remarkable.
Although the Shans formerly ruled a vast territory in Yuen-nan before its
conquest by the Mongol emperors of China in the thirteenth century A.D.,
and at one time actually subdued Burma and established a dynasty of their
own, at present the only independent kingdom of the race is that of Siam.
By far the greatest number of Shans live in semi-independent states
tributary to Burma, China, and Siam, and in Yuen-nan inhabit almost all of
the southern valleys below an altitude of 4,000 feet.
The reason that the Chinese allow them to hold such an extent of fertile
land is because the low plains are considered unhealthy and the Chinese
cannot, or will not, live there. Whether or not the malarial fever of
the valleys is so exceedingly deadly remains to be proved, but the
Chinese believe it to be so and the result is the same. Where the
Shans are numerous enough to have a chief of their own they live in a
semi-independent state, for although their head man is subordinate to the
district Chinese official, the latter seldom interferes with the internal
affairs of the tribe.
The Shans are a short, strongly-built race with a distinct Mongolian type
of features and rather fair complexions. Their dress varies decidedly with
the region, but the men of the southern part of the province on the
Nam-ting River wear a pair of enormous trousers, so baggy that they are
almost skirtlike, a white jacket, and a large white or pink turban
surmounted by a huge straw hat. The women dress in a white jacket and skirt
of either striped or dark blue cloth; their turbans are of similar material
and may be worn in a high cylinder, a low oval, or many other shapes
according to the particular part of the province in which they live.
PRISONERS OF WAR IN BURMA
The camp at Nam-ka was a supremely happy one and we left it on March 7,
with much regret. Its resources seemed to be almost exhausted and the
Mohammedan hunter assured us that at a village called Ma-li-ling we would
find excellent shooting. We asked him the distance and he replied, "About a
long bamboo joint away." It required three days to get there!
Whether the man had ever been to Ma-li-ling we do not know but we
eventually found it to be a tiny village built into the side of a hill in
an absolutely barren country where there was not a vestige of cover. Our
journey there was not uneventful. We left Nam-ka with high hopes which were
somewhat dampened after a day's unsuccessful hunting at the spot where our
caravan crossed the Nam-ting River.
With a Shan guide we traveled due north along a good trail which led
through dense jungle where there was not a clearing or a sign of life. In
the afternoon we noted that the trail bore strongly to the west and
ascended rapidly. Soon we had left the jungle and emerged into an
absolutely treeless valley between high barren hills. We knew that the
Burma frontier could not be far away, and in a few moments we passed a
large square "boundary stone"; a hundred yards on the other side the hills
were covered with bright green stalks and here and there a field glistened
with white poppy blossoms. The guide insisted that we were on the direct
road to Ma-li-ling which for the first time he said was in Burma. On our
map it was marked well over the border in Chinese territory and we were
About six o'clock the brown huts of a village were silhouetted against the
sky on a tiny knoll in the midst of a grove of beautiful trees, and we
camped at the edge of a water hole. The pool was almost liquid mud, but we
were told that it was the only water supply of the village and its cattle.
As though to prove the statement a dozen buffalos ambled slowly down the
hill, and stood half submerged in the brown liquid, placidly chewing their
cuds; meanwhile blue-clad Shan women with buckets in their hands were
constantly arriving at the pond for their evening supply of water. We had
no filter and it was nauseating to think of drinking the filthy liquid but
there was no alternative and after repeated boiling and several strainings
we settled it with alum and disguised its taste in tea and soup.
After dinner we questioned the few natives who spoke Chinese, but we became
only more and more confused. They knew of no such place as Ma-li-ling and
our Shan guide had discreetly disappeared. But they were familiar with the
trail to Ma-li-pa, a village farther west in Burma and, moreover, they said
that two hundred foreign soldiers were stationed there. We were quite
certain that they must be native Indian troops but thought that a white
officer might perhaps be in command.
We did not wish to cross the frontier because of possible political
difficulties since we had no permits to shoot in Burma, but there seemed to
be no alternative, for we were hopelessly bewildered by the mythical
Ma-li-ling. We eventually discovered that there were two villages by that
name--one in Burma, and the other in China, where it was correctly placed
on the map which we were using.
While we were discussing the matter a tremendous altercation arose between
the Chinese _mafus_ and the servants. For some time Roy did not interfere,
supposing it to be a personal quarrel, but the disturbance at last became
unbearable. Calling Wu we learned that because we had been so careful to
avoid English territory the _mafus_ had conceived the idea that for some
reason we were afraid to meet other foreigners. Since we had inadvertently
crossed into Burma it appeared to them that it would be an opportune time
to extort an increase of wages. They announced, therefore, that unless
extra money was given them at once they would untie the loads and leave us.
They were hardly prepared for what followed, however. Taking his Mannlicher
rifle, Roy called the _mafus_ together and told them that if any man
touched a load he would begin to shoot the mules and that if they made the
slightest resistance the gun would be turned on them. A _mafus_' mules
represent all his property and they did not relish the turn affairs had
taken. They subsided at once, but we had the loads guarded during the
night. In the morning the _mafus_ were exceedingly surprised when they
learned that we were going to Ma-li-pa and their change of front was
laughable; they were as humble and anxious to please as they had been
belligerent the night before.
The trail led over the same treeless rolling hills through which we had
passed on the previous afternoon. There was only one village, but it was
surrounded by poppy fields in full blossom. It must be a rather difficult
matter for a native living in China near the border to understand why he
should not be allowed to produce the lucrative opium while only a few yards
away, over an imaginary line, it can be planted without restriction.
Poppies seem to grow on hillsides better than on level ground. The plants
begin to blossom in late February and the petals, when about to fall, are
collected for the purpose of making "leaves" with which to cover the balls
of opium. The seed pods which are left after the petals drop off are
scarified vertically, at intervals of two or three days, by means of a
sharp cutting instrument. The operation is usually performed about four
o'clock in the afternoon, and the opium, in the form of dried juice, is
collected the next morning. When China, in 1906, forbade the consumption of
opium and the growing of poppies, it was estimated that there were from
twenty-five to thirty millions of smokers in the Empire.
We reached Ma-li-pa about one o'clock in the afternoon and found it to be a
straggling village built on two sides of a deep ravine, with a mixed
population of Shans and Chinese. It happened to be the weekly market day
and the "bazaar" was crowded. A number of Indian soldiers in khaki were
standing about, and I called out to Roy, "I wonder if any of them speak
English." Instantly a little fellow approached, with cap in hand, and said,
"Yes, Madame, I speak English."
One cannot realize how strange it seemed to hear our own language from a
native in this out-of-the-way spot! He was the "compounder," or medical
assistant, and told us that the hundred native troops were in charge of a
white officer whose house was on the opposite side of the river gorge. He
guided us to a temple and, while the mules were being unloaded, in walked a
tall, handsome young British officer who introduced himself as Captain
Clive. He was almost speechless with surprise at seeing me, for he had not
spoken a sentence in English or seen a white person since his arrival at
this lonely post five months before.
He asked us at once to come to his quarters for tiffin and we accepted
gladly. On the way he gave us our first news of the outside world, for we
had been beyond communication of any sort for months, and we learned that
the United States had severed diplomatic relations with Germany.
Captain Clive's bungalow was a two-room bamboo house with a broad veranda
and thatched with straw. It was delightfully cool and dark after the glare
of the yellow sun-baked plains about us, and in perfect order. The care
which Britishers take to keep from "letting down" while guarding the
frontiers of their vast empire is proverbial, and Captain Clive was a
splendid example of the Indian officer. He was as clean-shaved and
well-groomed as though he had been expecting us for days and the tiffin to
which we sat down was as dainty and well served as it could have been in
the midst of civilization.
The great Lord Clive of India was an ancestor of our young officer who had
been temporarily detached from his regiment, the 129th Baluchis, and sent
on border duty. He was very unhappy, for his brother officers were in
active service in East Africa, and he had cried to resign several times,
but the Indian government would not release him. When we reached Rangoon
some months later we were glad to learn that he had rejoined his regiment
and was at the front. Ma-li-pa was a recently established "winter station"
and in May would be abandoned when the troop returned to Lashio, ten days'
journey away. Comfortable barracks, cook houses, and a hospital had been
erected beside a large space which had been cleaned of turf for a parade
Captain Clive was in communication by heliograph with Lashio, at the end of
the railroad, and received a _resume_ of world news two or three times a
week. With mirrors during the day and lanterns at night messages were
flashed from one mountain top to another and, under favorable conditions,
reached Lashio in seven or eight hours.
We pitched our tents a short distance from the barracks in an open field,
for there was no available shade. Although Captain Clive was perfectly
satisfied with our passports and credentials he could not let us proceed
until he had communicated with the Indian government by heliograph. The
border was being guarded very closely to prevent German sympathizers from
crossing into Burma from China and inciting the native tribes to rebellion.
In December, 1915, a rather serious uprising among the Kachins in the
Myitkyina district on the upper waters of the Irawadi River had been
incited by a foreigner, I believe, and Clive had assisted in suppressing
it. The Indian government was taking no further chances and had given
strict orders to arrest and hold anyone, other than a native, who crossed
the border from China.
Very fortunately H.B.M. Consul-General Goffe at Yuen-nan Fu had communicated
with the Lieutenant-Governor of Burma concerning our Expedition and we
consequently expected no trouble, but Captain Clive could not let us
proceed until he had orders to do so from the Superintendent of the
Northern Shan States. Through a delayed message this permission did not
reach him for five days and in the meantime we made the most of the limited
collecting resources which Ma-li-pa afforded.
Clive ordered his day like all the residents of Burma. He rose at six
o'clock and after coffee and rolls had drill for two hours. At half past
ten a heavy meal took the place of breakfast and tiffin; tea, with
sandwiches and toast, was served at three o'clock, and dinner at eight. His
company was composed of several different native tribes, and each religious
caste had its own cook and water carrier, for a man of one caste could not
prepare meals for men of another. It is an extraordinary system but one
which appears to operate perfectly well under the adaptable English
government. Certainly one of the great elements in the success of the
British as colonizers is their respect for native customs and
The company drilled splendidly and we were surprised to hear all commands
given in English although none of the men could understand that language.
This is done to enable British and Indian troops to maneuver together.
Captain Clive, himself, spoke Hindustani to his officers. In the evening
the men played football on the parade ground and it seemed as though we had
suddenly been transported into civilization on the magic carpet of the
Every morning we went shooting at daylight and returned about nine o'clock.
Conditions were not favorable for small mammals and although we could
undoubtedly have caught a few civets, mongooses, and cats we did not set a
line of steel traps for we expected to leave at any time. Our attention was
mostly devoted to bird collecting and we obtained about two hundred
We had our mid-morning meal each day with Captain Clive and he dined with
us in the evening. He had brought with him from Lashio a large quantity of
supplies and lived almost as well as he could have done at home. Although
the days were very warm, the nights were cold and a camp fire was most
Captain Clive was on excellent terms with the Chinese authorities and,
while we were there, a very old mandarin, blind and infirm, called to
present his compliments. He had been an ardent sportsman and was especially
interested in our guns; had we been willing to accept the commission he
would have paid us the money then and there to purchase for him a Savage
.250-.300 rifle like the one we were carrying. The old gentleman always had
been very loyal to the British and had received several decorations for his
A few days after our arrival a half dead Chinaman crawled into camp with
his throat terribly cut. He had been attacked by brigands only a few miles
over the border and had just been able to reach Ma-li-pa. The company
"compounder" took him in charge and, when Clive asked him about the
patient, his evasive answers were most amusing; like all Orientals he would
not commit himself to any definite statement because he might "lose face"
if his opinion proved to be wrong.
Captain Clive said to him, "Do you think the Chinaman will die?" Looking
very judicial the native replied, "Sir, he _may_ die, and yet, he may
live." "But," said Clive, "he will probably die, won't he?" "Yes," was the
answer, "and yet perhaps he will live." That was all the satisfaction he
was able to get.
Clive told us of another native who formerly had been in his company. He
had been transferred and one day the Captain met him in Rangoon. When asked
if his pay was satisfactory the answer was typical, "Sir, it is good, but
not _s-o-o_ good!"
On the afternoon of our fourth day in Ma-li-pa a heliograph from Rangoon
announced that "The Asiatic Zooelogical Expedition of the American Museum of
Natural History is especially commended to His Majesty's Indian Government
and permission is hereby granted to carry on its work in Burma wherever it
may desire." This was only one of the many courtesies which we received
from the British.
The morning following the receipt of the heliogram we broke camp at
daylight. When the last mule of the caravan had disappeared over the brown
hills toward China we regretfully said farewell and rode away. If we are
ever again made "prisoners of war" we hope our captor will be as delightful
a gentleman as Captain Clive.
HUNTING PEACOCKS ON THE SALWEEN RIVER
From Ma-li-pa we traveled almost due north to the Salween River. The
country through which we passed was a succession of dry treeless hills,
brown and barren and devoid of animal life. On the evening of the third day
we reached the Salween at a ferry a few miles from the village of Changlung
where the river begins its great bend to the eastward and sweeps across the
border from China into Burma.
The stream has cut a tremendous gorge for itself through the mountains and
the sides are so precipitous that the trail doubles back upon itself a
dozen times before it reaches the river 3,500 feet below. The upper half of
the gorge is bare or thinly patched with trees, but in the lower part the
grass is long and rank and a thin dry jungle straggles along the water's
edge. The Salween at this point is about two hundred yards wide, but
narrows to half that distance below the ferry and flows in a series of
rapids between rocky shores.
The valley is devoid of human life except for three boatmen who tend the
ferry, but the deserted rice fields along a narrow shelf showed evidence of
former cultivation. On the slopes far up the side of the canon is a Miao
village, a tribe which we had not seen before. Probably the valley is too
unhealthy for any natives to live close to the water's edge and, even at
the time of our visit in early March, the heated air was laden with
The ferrymen were stupid fellows, half drugged with opium, and assured us
that there were no mammals near the river. They admitted that they
sometimes heard peacocks and, while our tents were being pitched on a steep
sand bank beneath a giant tree, the weird catlike call of a peacock echoed
up the valley. It was answered by another farther down the river, and the
report of my gun when I fired at a bat brought forth a wild "pe-haun,"
"pe-haun," "pe-haun" from half a dozen places.
The ferry was a raft built of long bamboo poles lashed together with vines
and creepers. It floated just above the surface and was half submerged when
loaded. The natives used a most extraordinary contrivance in place of oars.
It consisted of a piece of tightly woven bamboo matting three feet long and
two feet wide at right angles to which was fastened a six-foot handle. With
these the men nonchalantly raked the water toward them from the bow and
stern when they had poled the raft well into the current. The invested
capital was not extensive, for when the ferry or "propellers" needed
repairs a few hours' work in the jungle sufficed to build an entirely new
All of the peacocks were on the opposite side of the river from our camp
where the jungle was thickest. On the first morning my wife and I floated
down the river on the raft for half a mile and landed to stalk a peacock
which had called frequently from a rocky point near the water's edge. We
picked our way through the jungle with the utmost caution but the wary old
cock either saw or heard us before we were within range, and I caught just
a glimpse of a brilliant green neck as he disappeared into the bushes. A
second bird called on a point a half mile farther on, but it refused to
come into the open and as we started to stalk it in the jungle we heard a
patter of feet among the dry leaves followed by a roar of wings, and saw
the bird sail over the tree tops and alight on the summit of a bush-clad
This was the only peacock which we were ever able to flush when it had
already gained cover. Usually the birds depend entirely upon their ability
to hide or run through the bushes. After several attempts we learned that
it was impossible to stalk the peacocks successfully. The jungle was so
crisp and parched that the dry leaves crackled at every step and even small
birds made a loud noise while scratching on the ground.
The only way to get the peacocks was to watch for them at the river when
they came to drink in the early morning and evening. Between two rocky
points where we had first seen the birds there was a long curved beach of
fine white sand. One morning Heller waited on the point nearest camp while
my wife and I posted ourselves under a bush farther down the river. We had
been sitting quietly for half an hour when we heard a scratching in the
jungle. Thinking it was a peacock feeding we turned our backs to the water
and sat motionless peering beneath the bushes. Meanwhile, Heller witnessed
an interesting little drama enacted behind us.
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