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0243 History of the Expedition in Asia, 1927-1935 : vol.2
History of the Expedition in Asia, 1927-1935 : vol.2 / Page 243 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000210
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sedan-chairs or in `Peking cars' and horsemen were no uncommon sight in the streets and alleys. There were no rickshaws, no tramcars, and of course no bicycles or motor-cars. The railway had not yet been taken within the walls of the Chinese city. The life of the people was about the same as it is now — just as colourful, just as noisy and swarming; but it was perhaps more of a piece, for everybody was clad in the beautiful apparel of the country, and not in such unhappy combinations of native and foreign dress as those one so often sees nowadays. On the whole, of course, the people continue in their old customs, more or less unmoved by the novelties introduced by Western technics and a republican form of government. But one no longer sees Chinese wearing pigtails. The hateful Manchu decree making them compulsory was automatically repealed by the revolution in 191I.

The Legation Quarter, that is now chiefly western in aspect, did not exist at that time; indeed, there were scarcely any foreign houses at all. Several of the big avenues had not been laid out. Meantime, many small temples, walls and gateways have fallen into decay or have been ousted by prosaic buildings of brick or cement, many of which are erected in bastard styles that make anything but an edifying impression. There is no denying that the flowers of the ancient Chinese civilization have withered very rapidly since the fall of the empire. Still, one cannot expect too much of a country that has ever since been torn by an almost continual state of civil war.

Despite all changes, however, there is surely no other city with a population of about one million that has retained so much of its mediaeval aspect as Peking, both in the street-life and the general appearance of the town. Over this wonderful city there hovers an atmosphere of departed greatness, a flavour of native nobility and strangely captivating charm that makes it one of my favourite cities.


On September 15th I was visited by our archaeologist HUANG WEN-PI and our geologist TING TAO-HENG, who had arrived in Peking from Urumchi the previous day in company with the photographer KUNG. Leaving Urumchi on July 7th, they had journeyed in carts to Chuguchaq and Sergiopol, covering the rest of the distance by rail. In Manchuli they had had to wait for their baggage for a week. I had not seen them for two and a half years. Both had undertaken extensive journeys in Eastern Turkistan, and HUANG had carried out rather comprehensive archaeological excavations, amongst other places in the Turfan basin. Both HUANG'S and TING'S routes are included in the map given in »Riddles of