LOLO AND NUOSU (YI)
In the old days the Yi were called the Lolo by the Chinese. Samuel R. Clarke wrote in “Among the Tribes of South-west China”: “The term Lolo is a name used for them by the Chinese, because they keep, or believe they keep, the souls of their parents in a miniature basket or hamper, just as the Chinese believe they have the souls of their ancestors in ancestral tablets. The Chinese word for such a basket is lolo, and hence the name by which these people are generally known to foreigners. This miniature Lolo is about four inches deep and six inches in circumference, made of spht bamboo, commonly wrapped round with a piece of calico, coarse as canvas, which is often the colour of a cocoanut from smoke and age. This Lolo contains one or two bamboo tubes two or three inches long, about as thick as a man's little finger, and in the tube are fastened a bit of grass and a piece of sheep's wool. There is also a piece of bamboo six or seven inches long, like a thick pointed skewer, which goes through the lolo, and is doubtless used to fix it in its place. This lolo is sometimes kept in the house, sometimes placed in a tree, and sometimes hidden in a rock. [Source: “Among the Tribes of South-west China” by Samuel R. Clarke (China Inland Mission, 1911). Clarke served as a missionary in China for 33 years, 20 of those in Guizhou]
The Chinese also call them I-chia and I-pien, and these are the names mostly used in Guizhou. The word, among many other things, means “remote,'' “foreign," and has the notion of barbarian in it. The word pi en means “side," “place," “boundary." They call themselves Nuosu (No'su), and by this name we shall hereafter mostly speak of them. What the two words mean we are not able to say. They are divided into two classes, the Black and the White. The Black are the patricians or landholders: the White are the plebeians, the tenants and serfs, often the slaves, of the patricians. In Sichuan they speak of them as “Black bones “ The term Lolo they themselves regard as derogatory, and it is to them offensive and “White bones," but we never heard those terms used in Guizhou.
Although the Black Nuosu own so much of the land in north-west Guizhou and northeast of Yunnan, the Nuosu are not numerous. They are evidently a vanishing race, at any rate in Guizhou and around Zhaotung. It is, we imagine, because of their diminishing numbers that they have taken so many of the Miao as tenants, who now greatly outnumber them.
The race to which the Nuosu belong is most intricate, and the many names by which they are known are very puzzling. In Sichuan Province, north of the Yangtze River, and west of Yibin and Kiatingfu, is a large tract of country occupied by independent Lolo. This is sometimes called the Pa-pu country. The Hsi-fan, who are found in so many parts of Sichuan and Yunnan, are evidently, from a comparison of their language, a branch of the Lolo or Nuosu race. In Wuting, north of Yunnanfu, and on to the River of Golden Sand, these people are to be found, and all over northern Yunnan. North of Wuting they are known as the Li-su, the La-ka, and the Kang-I. These are all Nuosu, though intermarriage with other races in various districts their dialects and their customs may be somewhat modified. Who the Man-tsi are, who are found in so many parts of Sichuan and Yunnan, we cannot say, as we never met any of them, but we should not be surprised to find they were allied to the Nuosu. Or are they akin to the Yao. The word Man means “ barbarian” and might be applied to any non-Chinese race. The Miao were once known as the Southern Man.
Plundering and Dangerous Lolo in the 1900s
Samuel R. Clarke wrote in “Among the Tribes of South-west China”: “ In 1878, Mr. Colbourne Baber, British Resident at Chungking, travelled on the borders of the independent Lolo territory, but was not able to enter it. All around the border are some “ tame “ Lolos dwelling among the Chinese, and Mr. Baber made the acquaintance of some of them. One of them gave him some pages of Lolo characters, but could not read or interpret them. They were evidently ideographs, and suggested a clumsy attempt to imitate Chinese characters. This Lolo writing, and an account of Mr. Baber's journey, were published by the Royal Geographical Society of London in the same or following year...There are chronic hostilities between them and the Chinese, from which the latter suffer most. They are constantly raiding Chinese territory and murdering as many as they can catch, or carrying them off to be held as slaves for ransom. They treat their captives most cruelly, and the Chinese show no mercy to them when they are able to retaliate.
Mr. Baber used to tell one story of his journey in that region which is amusing and worth repeating. He had put up one night in a Chinese stockaded village of between one and two hundred families, close to the border of the Lolo territory. He was lodged in a loft where he noticed a large heap of stone in one corner. A few days previously the village had been entered by a party of about thirty Lolo and the customhouse pillaged. Mr. Baber asked his host why the stones were placed on the loft, and the man explained they were there ready to be thrown at the Lolo if they should come: but he added, ''The Lolo can throw farther and aim better than we can.'' ''Do you not think,'' said Mr. Baber, “it was a shameful thing for thirty Lolo to enter a place like this, where there are so many men, and pillage the custom-house? “” Of course," replied his host, “it was a shameful thing, but you can't expect a Lolo to have any sense of shame! *'
Two years after Mr. Baber's journey my colleague (Mr. J. H. Riley) and I travelled in that region, but were not able to get into the independent territory. If we had insisted on going in, the Chinese authorities would either have prevented us by force, or sent such a large escort with us that we should have appeared as a military expedition. I remember one day going three days west of Pingshan, along the left bank of the Yangtze River, past the last navigable point: I got ahead of our party and came to a house by the wayside, and after talking to the man, who was Chinese, for a while, I asked him if there were any Lolo about, but he did not know what I meant. Then I used every term I could think of, “barbarians," “ savages,'' “ wild men," to try and convey my meaning, but he could not understand what I was trying to ei at. At length our Lolo companion, who could talk Chinese, came up, and I set him to inquire if there were any Lolo in the neighbourhood. He also for a time tried in vain to make the man understand, using all sorts of terms. At last he used a term which probably he knew from the first would be best understood, and said, “Are there any sons of dogs about here? “ At once the man understood, and replied, “Oh yes! there are some: you will see them when you get to Huang-lan-so”
Even to the present time these independent Lolo are still plundering the Chinese, and carrying them away to be used as slaves. Two or three years ago a British photographer eluded the watchfulness of the Chinese and got into that region. He was murdered, and only one of his coolies, who had been left for dead, came back to tell the story.
Nuosu Society and Life in the 1900s
On the Nuosu around Zhaotung in Yunnan and in the Weining district of Guizhou, Clarke wrote in “Among the Tribes of South-west China”: “ The first Nuosu chieftain to arrive about Zhaotung was Yen Tsang-fu. He was a very cruel tyrant, punishing offences in a most rigorous manner. It was a common practice with him to gouge out the eyes of those who disobeyed his commands, and no matter how nearly related to himself the offender might be, there was no mitigation of the punishment. These chieftains, or territorial magnates, are called T'u-mu by the Chinese and Tusi in parts farther west. Their own designation for themselves is a term equivalent to the Chinese Kuan yuen, which means “magistrate “ or “officer.'' These T'u-mu, or perhaps lairds would be the best term to use for them, have in many cases enriched themselves by claiming to be the owners of land occupied by weaker men, and by appropriating the estates of families which have become extinct.
Perhaps the saddest fact about the Nuosu is the rapidity with which they are dying out at the present time in the north-west of Guizhou and north-east of Yunnan. The unsanitary conditions in which they have — the water they drink is often drawn from stagnant pools fouled by sheep and cattle — and their riotous indulgence in whisky, opium, and other vices, sufficiently account for this. Such decadence of the race has given the strong an opportunity of enriching themselves at the expense of the weak, so that quarrelling and fighting about the division of land is always going on. They are burdened with the thought that their doom as a race is sealed.
When the Manchus came to China the Nuosu were practically independent, and the city of Zhaotung did not then exist. The Manchus brought Yunnan and Guizhou under effective Imperial control. The campaign against the Nuosu of Zhaotung and Weining was successful, and these were brought under Chinese rule.
Nuosu Feudalism in the 1900s
Clarke wrote: “The Chinese, however, did not interfere between the lairds and their tenants, and left things very much as they were. As long as the lairds pay taxes, recognise the sovereignty of China, and make no serious trouble, they are let alone. When the laird is a strong, just man, the present system works well; but when he is a cruel tyrant, as many of them are, holding practically the power of life and death over his retainers and tenants, cruel things are very often done in those regions.
It is seldom that the tenants of these lairds are engaged in litigation before the Chinese magistrates, as their landlords settle all disputes for them which they cannot settle among themselves. This is doubtless a very good thing for the tenants, even though the laird may often be unjust in his decisions.
The lairds themselves, however, are constantly at law with one another in the Chinese courts, and this is an opportunity for the magistrates to enrich themselves. The lairds are generally represented in these actions by their Chinese agents. It is said that very few of them dare enter a Chinese city because of the many serious and even capital charges laid against them in the Yamens. If they did enter the city of their district, they might be apprehended, and in that case mercilessly squeezed. Last year a laird was executed at Suei-ts*en in Guizhou, but he must have been a small one.
Thus there exists in north-western Guizhou and north-eastern Yunnan what is actually the feudal system. Many of the lairds own vast estates, as large as an English county, and all the people on the estate are their tenants. The lairds are all of them Black Nuosu, and the White Nuosu are their serfs or slaves. These lairds are nearly all related to one another, as they constantly intermarry for the sake of joining and enlarging their estates. A Nuosu heiress is always pestered and sometimes actually besieged by suitors. A laird always marries the daughter of some other laird, and as there is but a limited number of them, this constant intermarriage has doubtless contributed to the decadence of the race and to the frequency of lunacy among them. They may, and often do, have Chinese and Miao women as concubines.
Poor Tenants on Nuosu Fiefs in the 1900s
Clarke wrote: “The Miao tenants, who greatly outnumber the Nuosu tenants, are not slaves, but practically serfs. The soil is very poor, and any Miao, if he fancied a piece of unoccupied land, might build his hovel there and cultivate some of it. The lairds are glad to have them as tenants: the rent they pay is mostly in kind, and not by any means high. As a matter of fact, the tenants for the sake of mutual protection, group themselves in hamlets and villages. Besides the nominal rent they pay, the laird has the right to make levies on them on special occasions, such as funerals, weddings, and when he has litigation in the Chinese courts. Each of the tenants also owes the laird so many days' labour during the year with his cattle, and this he pays in cultivating the land which the laird actually farms, and in gathering his crops. When the landlord has a dispute with another laird, his tenants are expected to follow him to the field if it comes to fighting, and to defend his residence if it is attacked. [Source: “Among the Tribes of South-west China” by Samuel R. Clarke (China Inland Mission, 1911)]
These tenants, Nuosu and Miao, are very poor, but, as far as I was able to judge, their condition is not intolerable. Certainly they appear to be better off than the peasantry were in France two hundred years ago, and than most of the peasantry are in Russia to-day. They live principally on maize, buckwheat, and oatmeal: their hovels are nearly always made of mud, and badly thatched with straw. Many famihes have a pony, and all of them two or three cows, a few pigs, half a dozen or a dozen sheep and goats, and some fowls. The oxen are used for ploughing. Like the Chinese, they never milk their cattle and goats, and never use milk, butter, or cheese. This, we think, is a great pity as there is plenty of unoccupied land, such as it is, which they can use as pasturage for their cattle. The children drive the cattle and sheep out to pasture on the hill-sides early in the morning, and stay to mind them till the time for the morning meal, when they drive them home again. During the middle of the day the cattle are penned up in the hovel, and let out to pasture during the afternoon, and driven home again as it is getting dark. There is plenty of fuel about, and the tenants can go to the wood and bring home as much as they like. Moreover, there are no game laws.
There are wild beasts about, wolves, foxes, leopards, wild boars, and even tigers: and people, especially children, are not infrequently devoured by them. Some of the Miao are great hunters. They use spears, crossbows, and poisoned arrows. I think the poison they use is aconite. When they wound a leopard or tiger with their poisoned arrows, they allow the animal to get away, and later go after it. They generally find it dead or dying.
We have already mentioned Miao superstitions and legends, and here we shall only relate what we know of Nuosu rehgious beliefs and legends. These are the more difficult to learn because so many of their ancient customs have fallen into disuse during their intercourse with the Chinese. Most of the lairds have Chinese teachers for their children, and many of them read Chinese. Some of them compete at the Chinese civil examinations, and a certain number of degrees are allotted to the Nuosu. All of them can speak Chinese.
After the ingathering of buckwheat, when the crop is stacked on the threshing floor and the work of threshing is about to begin, the simple formula “ Thank you, Je-so-mo “ is pronounced. Je-so-mo seems to be a spirit who controls the crops: whether good or evil is not easy to determine. Mo is a generic term for “sage “ or “ spirit." Je-so is so like the name Je-su, which the Chinese and Miao use for Jesus, that some of the Nuosu wished to use Je-so for the name of our Saviour: but to this the missionaries very wisely did not consent, as they did not know who, or what sort of a person, Je-so-mo was. Je-so-mo is not God, for when the Nuosu wish to speak of God they use the word, which means “ Master “ or “Lord." In the independent Nuosu territory, north of the Yangtze River in Sichuan, the term used for God is Eh-nia, and one Nuosu, who has had much intercourse with the independent Nuosu, asserts that there are three names for God, each representing different functions, if not persons, in the Godhead. These names are Eh-nia, Keh-neh, and
Nuosu Religion in the 1900s
Clarke wrote: “The Nuosu practise ancestor worship. We have already mentioned the Lolo, or httle hampers, in which they think they have the souls of their parents, and from which the Chinese have called them Lolo. At the ceremony of the consecration of these Lolo an exorcist attends, and a slave is set apart for the purpose of attending to all the rites connected with this worship of the deceased person. For persons who are short-lived the ancestor lolo is placed in a crevice of the wall of some forsaken and ruined building. Every three years the lo'lo is changed, and the old one burned. [Source: “Among the Tribes of South-west China” by Samuel R. Clarke (China Inland Mission, 1911)]
Hill-worship is another important feature of Nuosu religious life. Houses are built at the foot of a hill, and sacrifices are regularly offered on the hill-side in the fourth month of each year. The exorcist determines which is the most propitious day, and the laird with his people proceed to the appointed place. A limestone rock, with an old tree trunk near, is chosen as an altar, and a sheep and pig are brought forward by the laird. The exorcist, having adjusted his clothes, sits cross-legged before the altar, and begins intoning his incantations in a low muttering voice. The victims are then slain, the blood poured beneath the altar, and a handful of rice and a lump of salt are placed beneath the stone. Some person then gathers a handful of green grass, and the exorcist having finished intoning, the altar is covered and all return to the house. The exorcist twists the grass into a rope which he hangs over the doorway of the house. Then out of a piece of willow a small arrow is made, a bow of corresponding size is cut out of a peach tree, and these are placed on the door-posts. Out of a piece of soft white wood the figure of a man is carved, and this, with two sticks placed crosswise, is fastened to the rope hanging over the doorway, with two other sticks one on each side. The exorcist proceeds with his incantations, muttering, “From now henceforth and for ever will the evil spirits keep away from this house."
Most of the Nuosu at the present time observe the New Year festival, at the same time and with the same ceremonies as the Chinese. Formerly this was not so, and even now in the remoter districts some of them observe New Year's Day as the first day of the tenth moon of the Chinese year. A pig and sheep are killed, cleaned, and hung up in the house for three days. On the first day of the New Year they are taken down, cut up, and cooked. The family sit on buckwheat straw in the middle of the chief room of the house. The head of the house invites the others to drink whisky, and the feasting begins. Presently one will start singing, and all join in the song: "How firm is this house of mine! throughout the year the hearth fire has not ceased to burn. My food corn is abundant: I have silver and also cash. My cattle have increased to herds, my horses and mules have all white foreheads, K'o k'o ha ha ha ha k'o k'o. My sons are filial, my wife is virtuous. In the midst of flesh and whisky we sleep. Our happiness reaches unto heaven. Truly glorious is this glad New Year."
Some of the Nuosu, but not all of them, have a legend of the Creation, but all of them have a legend of the Flood. They manifestly trace their genealogy from Noah. They say a certain man had three sons. He received warning that a flood was to come upon the earth, and the family discussed how they should save themselves when this calamity came upon them. One suggested an iron cupboard, another a stone one, but the suggestion of the third that they should make a cupboard of wood and store it with food was acted upon. Thus the family was saved: but they say nothing about animals. The Miao of that region say that the land was all divided among the three sons of Noah, who were the ancestors of the Miao, Chinese, and Nuosu. The Miao are the descendants of the eldest son. Unfortunately when the land was divided, they only used straw ropes for boundaries, while the Nuosu used stones. A fire occurred which burnt up their boundary ropes, but left the Nuosu stones uninjured. Thus they lost their land!
Nuosu Demons and Diseases in the 1900s
Clarke wrote:“Like the Miao, and other races of China, the Nuosu live in great fear of demons. They understand hardly anything about medicine, and so exorcists are in constant demand. What we have said of the Miao and their superstitions in reference to demons might be repeated almost word for word about the Nuosu. When it is known that disease has visited a neighbour's house, a pole seven feet long is erected in a conspicuous place in a thicket some distance from the house of any one who wishes to be safe. On the pole an old ploughshare is fixed, and it is supposed that when the spirit who controls the disease sees the ploughshare he will retire to a distance from these homesteads. [Source: “Among the Tribes of South-west China” by Samuel R. Clarke (China Inland Mission, 1911)]
There is a fever called No-ma-tsz which works great havoc among the Nuosu every year. No person will stay by the sick-bed to nurse the unfortunate patient. Food and water are placed by the bedside, the sick one is covered with a quilt and left at the mercy of the disease. Since the patient will perspire as the fever progresses, heavy stones are placed upon the quilt that it may not be thrown off and the patient take cold. Many an unfortunate sufferer has through this strange practice died from suffocation. After a time the relatives return to see what course the disease has taken. This fever seems to yield to quinine, for several persons to whom quinine was given recovered. It is probably a malignant form of malarial fever, and what the Chinese in Guizhou call men pai ts'z.
When a man dies, his kinsfolk, as soon as they receive the news, hold in their several homes a feast of mourning which they call za. A pig or sheep is sacrificed in the doorway, and it is supposed that intercourse is thus maintained between living persons and the spirit of the departed. The nearer kindred, on hearing of the death of a relative, take a fowl and strangle it, as the blood of it ought not to be shed. This fowl is cleaned and skewered, and the mourner then proceeds to the house where the deceased is lying, and sticks the fowl near the head of the corpse as an offering. The more distant relatives do not perform this rite, but each leads a sheep to the house of mourning, and a son of the deceased strikes each animal three times with a white wand, while the exorcist stands by and announces the sacrifice by naming the person who ofers it.
Nuosu Marriage and Funerals in the 1900s
Clarke wrote: “In the olden times the Nuosu did not beg for and betroth a wife as they do now, but obtained their wives by main force. At the present time, while milder methods prevail, there are still survivals of the ancient custom. As a rule, the betrothal now takes place very early, sometimes in infancy, and at the ceremony a fowl is killed, each party taking a rib of it. When the young people come to marriageable age, the final negotiations have to be concluded. These are purposely prolonged until the bridegroom, growing angry, gathers his friends and makes an attack on the maiden's home. Arming themselves with cudgels, and covering their heads and shoulders with their felt cloaks, they approach secretly and then rush towards the house. Strenuous efforts are made by the occupants to prevent their entering, and weighty blows are exchanged. When the attacking party has succeeded in gaining an entrance, peace is proclaimed, and whisky with large chunks of flesh are provided for their entertainment. Occasionally during these fights the maiden's home is quite dismantled. The negotiations being concluded, preparations are made for escorting the bride to her new home. [Source: “Among the Tribes of South-west China” by Samuel R. Clarke (China Inland Mission, 1911)]
Being heavily veiled, she is supported on horseback by her brothers, while her near relatives, all fully armed, attend her. On arriving at the bridegroom's house there is a scuffle. The veil is snatched from the bride's face by her kinsmen, who do their utmost to throw it on the roof, to signify that she will rule over the occupants when she enters. The bridegroom's people, on the contrary, do all they can to trample it down on the doorstep as an indication of the rigour with which the newcomer will be subjected to the ruhng of the head of the house. Much blood is sometimes shed, and people are often seriously injured in these skirmishes.
The bride remains for three days in a temporary shelter before she is admitted into the house, A girl, having left her parents' home to become a wife, waits many years before she pays a return visit. Anciently the shortest period was three years, but some allow ten or more years to elapse before the first visit home is paid. Two or three years are then often spent with the parents.
Some years ago a Nuosu youth said to Mr. Hicks, “The thought of our friends' bodies either turning to corruption or being eaten by wild beasts is distasteful to us, and therefore we burn our dead” The corpse is burned with wood, and during the cremation the mourners arrange themselves around the fire, chanting and dancing. The ashes are buried and the ground levelled. The custom is still observed by the Nuosu in the independent Lolo territory. The Nuosu in Weining and Zhaotung districts have adopted burial as the mode of disposing of their dead, and to the Chinese burial customs have added some of their own.
On the day of the funeral the horse which the deceased used to ride is brought to the door and saddled by the exorcist. The command is then given to lead the horse to the grave. All the mourners follow, and, marching or dancing in intertwining circles, cross and recross the path of the horse until the poor creature, bewildered and frantic with fear, rushes and kicks in a wild endeavour to escape from the confusion. The whole company thereupon raise a great shout, and say: “The soul has come to ride the horse! The soul has come to ride the horse! “ A contest then follows among the women of the deceased man's household for the possession of the horse, which is henceforth regarded as of extreme value.
Nuosu Slaves in the 1900s
Clarke wrote: The Black Nuosu are not all of them territorial magnates, but we believe all the poorer ones farm their own land, and even these, as a rule, own a few slaves who do all the work for them. Some of the White Nuosu are free at the present time. The Black class assert that all the White were originally slaves, and that in the case of those who are now free, either they themselves or their parents escaped at some previous time from their masters. [Source: “Among the Tribes of South-west China” by Samuel R. Clarke (China Inland Mission, 1911)]
The masters of these unfortunate slaves have absolute control over them, and manage all their affairs. The girl slaves he marries to other men's male slaves. The lot of these unfortunate people is hard beyond description. Being looked upon as of little more value than the cattle they tend, the food given to them is often inferior to the corn with which the master's horse is fed. The cruel beatings and torturings they have endured have completely broken their spirit, and now they seem unable to exist apart from their masters. Very seldom do any of them try to escape, for no one will give them shelter, and the punishment awarded to a recaptured slave is so severe as to intimidate the most daring. These poor creatures are born in slavery, married in slavery, and die in slavery. It is not uncommon to meet Chinese slaves, boys and girls, in Nuosu families. They have either been kidnapped and sold, or their parents, unable to nourish them, have bartered them in exchange for food. Their purchasers marry them to White Nuosu, and their lot is cast among the slave class. The heart of the missionary is wrung with anguish sometimes as he thinks what cruelty and wretchedness exist among the hills and valleys of that benighted district. Even there, however, light is beginning to shine, for some adherents of the Christian religion have changed their slaves into tenants, thus showing the way to the solution of this difficult problem.
Nuosu Landlords in the 1900s
Samuel R. Clarke wrote in “Among the Tribes of South-west China”: “The first day we travelled thirty-three miles, and put up at a Chinese inn. Here we learned that the Nuosu laird, the landlord of many of the Christians at Lan-lung-chiao, and near to whose place we should have to rest the next evening, had recently gone out of his mind and was at times a raving lunatic. On one occasion he had thrown off all his clothes, and smashed all he could in his own house. He was sometimes sane and sometimes insane. [Source: “Among the Tribes of South-west China” by Samuel R. Clarke (China Inland Mission, 1911)]
Next day we went on, and late in the afternoon, as his place — like a fortified Yamen — came in sight, there he was, standing at the entrance with some of his people, waiting for us. We dismounted and went to pay our respects to him. He was certainly clothed like a gentleman, and in his right mind. If I had met him elsewhere, I should have taken him for a Chinese official, or for one of the gentry.
We reached Ko-pu by way of Weining, making a wide circuit so as to visit many of the Miao villages. Some of the Christians were again suffering persecution, and we called on the laird to ask him not to oppress his tenants because they were Christians or inquirers. We did not see the laird, who was away somewhere in hiding, as he was wanted by the Chinese authorities for some of his many misdeeds. But we saw his steward and spoke a word for the sufferers. One laird we called upon was the richest and most influential Nuosu in that district. He seemed a kind, intelligent man, and said he was quite willing that his Miao tenants should be Christians as they were honest, simple folk, but he would not allow his Nuosu tenants to become Christians as they were false and crafty, and if they entered the Church, it was from unworthy motives. As a matter of fact, some of the Nuosu have been baptized, but the vast majority of the believers are Miao.
Many of the lairds are called by the name of their estate. At So-i, thirty or forty miles from Weining, the laird, a young man whose family name was Yen, died three or four years ago. His heir was a child: some say it was the son of the laird, and others that it was adopted by the widow. But that child died after the death of the laird, and the widow adopted another. The next of kin was So-do, laird of a neighbouring estate of that name, whose family name was also Yen. There has been very much litigation in the Chinese Yamen at Weining over the matter. The civil magistrate at Weining is changed about once every year. One magistrate decided in favour of So-do, and another in favour of the widow, for what reasons we don't presume to say. Meanwhile, the tenants are between the hammer and the anvil. If they pay rent to So-i, So-do with his people comes and carries off their cattle and beats them: if they pay rent to So-do, So-i's people plunder them in the same way. The rent is not very high, so Mr. Adam advised the Christians to pay rent to both: but this does not save them from being plundered and beaten. Each of the two claims to be the landlord, and demands and compels the tenants to pay rent, but neither undertakes to protect the tenants from the resentment of the other.
We called on the widow So-i, but she declined to see us. We saw, however, some of her people who did the plundering for her, and told them that if the tenants paid their rent to the widow, they ought not to plunder them. They promised to send back the cattle they had taken, but some had already been killed and eaten. Next day we called on So-do. He was having in a high strong tower, built of stone, just outside his dilapidated Yamen, for reasons that can easily be guessed. It had so much the appearance of a prison that if we had not noticed that the door could not be fastened on the outside, I don't think we would have ventured in. He was very friendly, explained his rights to us, and complained about his wrongs. On our part, we urged that if he was the landlord and the tenants paid rent to him, he ought to protect them from the ravages of the other party. A month or so after our visit we heard that he had already attacked So-i's place and plundered it. Whether this is true or not I, at all events, am not able to say.
Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons
Text Source: “Among the Tribes of South-west China” by Samuel R. Clarke (China Inland Mission, 1911)
Last updated October 2022