Reading into the Past

Reading into the Past is a selection of English-language materials relevant to the China Story originally published in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In reprinting these essays we intend to not only preserve them and make them more easily accessible, but also to augment the modern day China Story by providing perspectives from the past on critical issues that continue to be debated. More than mere curios, Reading into the Past illuminates and contextualises the present.

Peking, a Memory

In this short piece, the author fondly reflects on the sensory elements and architecture of Peking.

A Tibetan Skyline

Born in Min-hsien, China to missionary parents, Robert B. Ekvall (1898-1983) was a missionary in China and Tibet for the Christian and Missionary Alliance. His publications include Tibetan Sky Lines (1952), Religious Observation in Tibet: Pattern and Function (1964), Fields On the Hoof: Nexus of Tibetan Nomadic Pastoralism (1968), The Lama Knows/ A Tibetan Legend is Born (1979) and a novel, Tents Against the Sky (1955).

A Sounder Education for China

The author reflects on the changes in China since 1900 and points out the issues with Chinese learning, urging for a sounder education.

Ka Pu Chiao

The China Journal of Science & Arts published a number of poems, some of which will be reproduced here. This short poem recalls the atmosphere by a bridge at night.

Opium and Narcotics in China

Arthur Sowerby begins his study of opium in China by discussing its cultivation and the physiological effects on users, before starkly condemning the drug for the individual and social harm it can bring.

Memories of Peking, the Northern Capital

The anonymous author of this essay recounts his experiences of travelling through Beijing. He describes the modes of transportation, the city scenes and visits to the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, the Summer Palace, a Lama temple and other sites.

The Tea of Immortality 僊茗

In this article, Australian archeologist James Huston Edgar (1872-1936) introduces the “Immortal Tea” of Meng Shan and quotes from the work of French historian Jean-Baptiste Du Halde to describe the tea’s medicinal properties.

China Tea

The anonymous author of ‘China Tea’ explores the history of Chinese tea trade and its decline. Possible reasons include inferior soil, the collapse of Russia (a big consumer of tea), labour, and China’s political turmoil.

The Study of Chinese Coins

In this article, Percy J. Smith introduces readers to the history of Chinese copper coins from the Zhou dynasty to Tang dynasty. Several illustrations of different types of coins are included.