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Xia Qinggao Hsieh Ch'ing Kao - Essay Example

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Hsieh Ch'ing kao's account gives the immediate impression of a well-traveled individual. He expressed interest in many aspects of the societies and countries he observed on his travels, and the different tones he adopted in telling his tale give some clues to the comparisons he made with his homeland, China.
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Xia Qinggao Hsieh Ching Kao
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Xia Qinggao Hsieh Ch'ing Kao

Download file to see previous pages... He was very aware of English naval tradition, and sounded admiring of the rescue processes involved in helping those in need on the high seas, and the possibility of punishment for failing to carry out this duty. The tone, while factual, hinted that in China, similar rules for duty to others applied. He perceived that the English were great maritime traders, and by his own travels, we assume that China too was involved in this trade. That is confirmed by the writer's geographical knowledge (not always accurate) and the flags he observed flying from ships at sea; he must have been part of that trading tradition. His comments regarding smallpox quarantine in Portugal, and its purpose in disease prevention, are stated in a tone that allows us to infer that this would happen too in Chinese ports.

With regard to the products and manufactured goods for all the countries mentioned, his awareness was based on knowledge, and such goods were more than likely available in China. He sounded impressed by the "fine system of waterworks" in London, and how easily families could access clean water, with a fair method of payment described. Such a facility might not have been freely available to all in China, judging by his tone and interest. He mentioned good routes by land and water in Portugal, good land routes in the Scandinavian countries, and the steamboat in America impressed him. Because he was so knowledgeable about transportation, we can assume that good mechanisms existed in China, though it was unlikely that they had steam driven boats, as his description was rather inaccurate.
In comparing climate, he mentioned only Portugal as being colder than "Fukien and Kwangtung", though England and Sweden would have been even colder. This tells us that parts of China were very hot. From his comment on "dwelling houses of more than one story" we can surmise that this was not the norm in China, where traditionally, one-story family dwellings were set around a courtyard with one main entrance gate.
The detailed descriptions of clothing, and how it determined social class, suggested that it was very different in style from Chinese clothing, while drawing attention to the differences between what was worn by the rich and poor, similar to such class divisions in China. The European clothes were "tight fitting" at the top, so Chinese clothes must be less so. His comment on the English "Men and women all wear white ordinarily; for mourning, however, black is used." and this links to the idea of white being the mourning color in China. On pointing out that in Portugal, both genders wore leather shoes, he established that this was not the case in China. The loose skirts were different to Chinese female dress, we can surmise by his interest, but the custom of rich young noblewomen learning to sing and dance from an early age seemed to be a familiar practice, by his tone, and was part of Chinese culture. When describing Portugal's royal family structure and succession issues, "the king does not take a new reign title, but follows the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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