Christmas is soon here, and what better than to relax by reading Tintin 丁丁历险记? In our Gothenburg collection we have a handful of random Tintin albums from the 1980s, all unauthorised editions. The PRC did not sign the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property until 1992, and only then would Tintin be published legally in China. Our 1984 editions are still printed and published by the publishing house of China Federation of Literary and Art Circles 中国文联, a ”people’s organisation” (not quite an NGO) for cultural workers.
Our books are in the form of lianhuanhua 连环画, meaning ”linked pictures”, and are more or less palm-sized booklets with cartoon(ish) images, in its earliest form preceding modern manhua. An even earlier form from the 1880-90s was called huihuitu 回回图, ”chapter pictures”. The 1980s Chinese Tintin is only in black-and-white, only covers are in colour. From a quick glance Captain Haddock’s 阿道克船长 expletives seem rather dull in this Chinese translation, as can be seen from one of the images above. Since the 1990s Tintin has been published legally in the PRC several times, but in 2001 there was an incident where the Chinese publisher published Tintin in Tibet as 丁丁在中国西藏 ”Tintin in China’s Tibet”, but the Hergé Foundation protested and it was changed back to just Tintin in Tibet 丁丁在西藏.
Today we present the Ningpo Colloquial Handbook by Paul Georg von Möllendorff (1847-1901), German linguist, diplomat, customs officer and in the 1880s adviser to Korean king Gojong 고종 (高宗 1852-1919) under the name Mok In-dok (穆麟德 Mok Indeok). von Möllendorff wrote a number of books, several on Ningbo dialect, but also on Manchu grammar and Chinese family law. Ningbo 宁波 is a major port city in Zhejiang province, with ca 9 million inhabitants, around half of which live in the metropolitan area. Möllendorff lived the last 12-13 years of his life in Ningbo.
The Handbook gives useful phrases for everyday use, and lesson XII tells us phrases like ”Gyi feh-wæn dong-din, yi feh yin min” 其弗還銅錢又弗見面 (”He will not pay me nor even see me). Towards the end of the little book there is even a chapter from 三國志 (Records of the Three Kingdoms), or at least the Chinese heading says so. But the English says ”The Three Kingdom Novel” which would be 三國演義 (The Romance of the Three Kingdoms). These are quite different, 三國志 an actual historical record from the late 3rd century CE, and 三國演義 a novel, attributed to Luo Guanzhong 羅貫中, published in the late 14th century and a true classic of Chinese literature. The text presented in the book seems to be from chapter 78 in the 三國演義, but in Ningbo colloquial form, not from 三國志 as the Chinese heading says. You can find a Chinese-English parallell text of The Romance of the Three Kingdoms online. Records of the Three Kingdoms have not yet been fully translated to English, only parts of it. Today’s book and Möllendorff’s other work on Ningbo dialect has been translated into Chinese and published by Ningbo City Archives in 2020.
Today we present a book from 1974, Inside a People’s Commune: report from Chiliying, a pure propaganda product from Foreign Languages Press in Beijing. Qiliying 七里营 (Chiliying in Wade-Giles transcription) was a commune 公社 from 1958 to 1983, and is today a town in Xinxiang county 新乡县, under Xinxiang City 新乡市, a prefecture-level city in Henan province 河南省. It is actually an interesting historical site as the Battle of Muye 牧野之战 took place somewhere in the vicinity in the year 1046 BCE, almost 3000 years ago. Mao Zedong made a personal visit to this commune in 1958, and Qiliying must have been a ”model” commune that was shown to visitors. Not only this book, quite typical for the period, but also educational material by e.g. Education Resources Information Center from 1979 (sponsored by the US Department of Education) specifically mentions Qiliying.
The images in the book give the impression that people were happy in Qiliying in 1974, cotton yield per mu 亩 (≈666 ㎡) was six-fold from before 1949, and everything was going forward. However, the ”Criticize Lin, Criticize Confucius” campaign 批林批孔运动 was raging through the country, and the Gang of Four 四人帮 with Jiang Qing 江青 were in control with Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai both in bad health. Still we learn from the flap text ”how the Communist Part of China leads her peasants forward in conformity with Chairman Mao Tsetung’s revolutionary line, and how socialist ideas take ever deeper root in countless hearts and minds”. It is unclear if ”her” in the sentence just quoted alludes to all peasants or just the ones in Qiliying commune.
Maybe you have heard of Sanmao 三毛? One of the most well-known modern Chinese manhua 漫画 characters, created by Zhang Leping 张乐平 (1910-1992). Sanmao even has his own webpage in Chinese. The book of the day is another of Zhang Leping’s creations, Erwazi 二娃子, literally meaning ”Second Child” but also with a diminutive and affectionate implication. This booklet was published in 1978 and while keeping the distinct style of Zhang Leping has a very obvious Communist and anti-Kuomintang moralist tendency. Zhang Leping was threatened during the Cultural Revolution, and stopped writing and drawing in for ten years, resuming his public work only in 1977.
Unlike Sanmao, who is an orphan, Erwazi does have a family to begin with. But the ”reactionary Kuomintang” arrests his father, and then everything goes wrong. The family is harassed by an evil landlord, split up, grandmother almost dies, little sister hidden away, Erwazi is mistreated but struggles, and then Father comes back with the People’s Liberation Army! Family reunited, the ”bad guys” arrested and landlords struggled. Not so interesting story as such, but Zhang Leping was still a fantastic manhua artist!
And, yes, manhua is the same word as manga in Japanese, a classic example of what is sometimes called a ”circular loan” between Chinese and Japanese. An originally Chinese word for a literati painting style in the 17th century developed to what we now know as manga in 19th century Japan – and then was borrowed back from Japanese into Chinese in the early 20th century for a distinct Chinese comics style.
It is time for another comprehensive work, aiming to describe ”everything” about China. This time an original edition from 1848, The Middle Kingdom: a survey of the geography, government, education, social life, arts, religion, etc. of the Chinese Empire and its inhabitants by Samuel Wells Williams (衛三畏 1812–1884). Williams was an American sinologist and missionary, arriving in China already in 1833, and for a while was the only foreign missionary in the country together with Elijah Coleman Bridgman (1801-1861). They were both pioneers of American sinology, and when Williams returned to the USA in the 1870s he became the first professor of Chinese at Yale University. Bridgeman and Williams also co-edited The Chinese Repository 中國叢報 for around twenty years.
In his later years Williams revised his two volume book, and it has been republished also in the 21st century. Note the interesting Beijing map above and try to trace what buildings and structures are still there today. The letter ”q” marks the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception 聖母無染原罪堂 near Xuanwumen 宣武門, often known simply as Nantang 南堂 ”Southern Cathedral”, built more or less on the site of where Matteo Ricci resided when arriving in Beijing in the early 1600s .
The previous owner of this book is also an interesting person. You can see his red stamp above, reading 富亭印篾達裕士行一, to be interpreted as ”Seal of Hoetink, the eldest son Bernardus”. This supposedly means Bernardus Hoetink (1854–1927), a Dutch colonial official, interpreter and sinologist, of whom you may read more in The Early Dutch Sinologists (1854-1900). Again, we have no clue how the book ended up in Gothenburg.
This Fourth Sunday of Advent we present Grammatik der Tibetischen Sprache from 1839. It was written by Isaac Jacob Schmidt (1779-1847), a Moravian missionary to the Kalmyks (Хальмгуд in their own language), born in Amsterdam but for many years working in St. Petersburg. Schmidt published what was possibly the first grammar of Mongolian in 1831 and then this grammar of Tibetan in 1839. He also published Mongolian and Tibetan dictionaries, and a number of Bible parts in Kalmyk and other languages. As we can see from the title page Schmidt was a member of the Imperial Academy of Science, by which is meant the Russian Academy of Science, but also of the Royal Asiatic Society in London and Société Asiatique in Paris. The book is dedicated to Count Sergey Semionovich Uvarov (Сергeй Семёнович Увaров, 1786-1855), minister of national education and president of the Academy of Science 1818-1855.
Yesterday I mentioned Frank H. Chalfant who possibly invented the term ”oracle bones”, a designation that may have influenced the Chinese expression 甲骨 jiagu. Today we present an early modern Chinese book on exactly this topic, Zhu Fangpu’s (1895-1973) Jiaguxue wenzibian 甲骨學文字編 from 1933. Our two volumes are the original edition and in traditional stitched binding 線裝 xian zhuang. Zhu Fangpu 朱芳圃 was from Hunan, possibly a school mate of Mao Zedong, but later studied for Wang Guowei 王國維 (1877-1927) at Tsinghua University 清華大學 and its famed School for National Studies 國學研究院.
Zhu Fangpu was a historian and palaeographer, and starting with today’s book 甲骨學文字編 (“Edition of oracle bone characters”) Zhu pioneered the use of 甲骨 jiagu in scholarly works, and he published a number of important books on characters, texts and also ancient history. The last ten years of his life he returned to his native Hunan after developing cataracts, but continued to work hard and left much unpublished material when he passed away, only a fraction of which have been published posthumously.
Samuel Couling (1859-1922) was a British missionary to China, a large part of his time working in Shandong province 山东省. Together with American missionary colleague Frank Herring Chalfant (1862–1914) ha was also an early collector of ”oracle bones” 甲骨 jiagu. Their joint Couling-Chalfant collection of oracle bones was gathered 1903-1908, and is kept at the British Library in London. Chalfant is credited with the invention of the English name ”oracle bones”, supposedly first used in his book Early Chinese Writing from 1906.
In 1917 Couling published the one-volume Encyclopaedia Sinicawith Kelly & Walsh, a Shanghai based publisher of English language books still remaining in Hong Kong as a book seller (under Swindon). The Encyclopaedia covered many important aspects of China-related topics from a Western perspective. One might imagine that an encyclopaedia covering China in a wide sense would have been at least ten volumes, but it is only one with concise descriptions. Our copy is the original 1917 edition, and while in reasonably good shape it has indeed seen some usage. The Encyclopaedia became a classic, and has been reprinted several times, even as late as 1984 by Oxford University Press.
William Hamilton Jeffreys (1872-1945) was a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, and came to China in 1901 as a medical missionary. In 1905 he became professor of surgery at St. John’s University 聖約翰大學, a Christian university in Shanghai. Today the tradition from St. John’s is continued by the School of Medicine at Shanghai Jiaotong University 上海交通大学, while the former St. John’s campus is now the campus of East China University of Political Science and Law 华东政法大学. Jeffreys in his work saw the need for a handy medical phrase book, and first compiled one in Shanghai Thoo-bak 土白, meaning ”dialect” or ”colloquial”, literally ”earthy colloquial”. In 1909 he first published a Mandarin version (see review from 1909 here), and we have the second edition from 1916.
The list of colloquial expressions is quite interesting, and it is a mix of all kinds of phrases that a doctor might come across. Mostly disease related sayings, but also a phrase like 不要豁喇豁喇的吵 ”Stop all that pow-wow”. 豁喇 huola is an onomatepoeic word meaning a quite loud rumbling or howling noise, and with 吵 chao, ”make noise” or ”quarrel”, it is obvious that it means a noisy and quarrelling patient. The use of ”pow-wow” made me a little confused, but it was probably rather common in American usage at the time for ”conferencing” or ”talking”, Jeffreys likely using it to underline the colloquial tone.
The book ends with a section of ”Prayers for Use in Hospitals”, in Chinese with short English references for what purpose each prayer has.
Our book collection holds quite a number of leaflets, pamphlets and interesting paraphernalia, and today we present on of these. At first glance it could have been printed in Beijing and part of showing how modern the city had become after the policy of ”Four modernizations” 四个现代化, first started in the 1960s and then revived late 1970s. But anyone knowing Chinese sees directly that there is something strange, as the title is ”China’s Glorious Way – the Three Principles of the People” 中国光明大道 三民主义. The Three Principles of the People (full Chinese text here) were not formulated by Mao Zedong but by Sun Yat-sen 孙逸仙 (Sun Zhongshan 孙中山 1866-1925), the ”Father of the Nation” 国父 and first president of the Republic of China. The photo on the cover shows Taipei 台北 (Taibei in pinyin), not Beijing, but the Chinese characters are all simplified as if printed in the PRC. They are not, however, as this is Taiwanese propaganda material.
The pamphlet is not dated, but should be from the early 1970s, as Chiang Kai-shek is still evoked, he died in 1975. The language is very similar to PRC propaganda as we can see on one of the images: ”Chairman Chiang’s [Kai-shek] important points on the Three Principles of the People” 蒋主席有关三民主义的重要提示. The exact same phrase is still used when Chairman Xi Jinping has something important to tell… Calling it the ”Glorious Way” is also well chosen as that phrase was often used during the Cultural Revolution. Item three under the first chapter talks about ”transplanting 30 years of Marxist-Leninist thought” 三十年马列思想移植. The fourth chapter is about the ”rebuilding of New China” 新中国的重建, a sharp play with words as ”New China” and ”rebuild” were exactly the terms used by Mao Zedong in 1949.
If the reader still had not quite understood where the pamphlet came from, he or she would get a lead from the last inner page where the distinct logo of Central Daily 中央日報 is displayed. Central Daily was the major Kuomintang newspaper, founded in 1928 and long a leading Chinese newspaper. After Taiwan democratised in the 1990s and Kuomintang lost influence the newspaper lost impact and sales, and paper circulation was stopped in 2006, web presence ended in 2018.