100 Years Ago: July 1919
This is installment number fifty-four of my series of brief reviews of National Geographic Magazines that are reaching the centennial of their publications.
The first article in this month’s issue is entitled “The Progressive World Struggle of the Jews for Civil Equality” and was written by William Howard Taft, former President of the United States and author of several National Geographic articles including “The League of Nations”. The article is the text of an address given by President Taft before the National Geographic Society in Washington D.C. The article includes fourteen black-and-white photographs although the cover states that there are “15 Illustrations”. Eight of the photographs are full-page in size.
The President regrets that he can only give a sketch of their history and emphasizes the remarkable character of the Jewish people. They are unique in that for eighteen hundred years they have had no country. Even being dispersed to the four corners of the globe, they have retained their religion, their cohesion, their intellectual capacity, and their loyalty to their race. Whenever they are given any pretense of equal opportunity, they forge ahead into positions of prominence, influence, and power. This is true for all fields: business, philosophy, art, literature, and government. They have been loyal subjects or citizens of the countries in which they lived whenever they have been accorded civil rights. Yet no other people have been subjected to such continuous persecution, denial of opportunity, restrictions on their liberty, exclusion from education, and even physical cruelty and massacre.
During the three hundred years before Christ, the Jews were under Greek control. Jerusalem was attacked several times and sacked. Many of its people dispersed, migrating to Syria, Arabia, and Egypt. There were as many as one million Jews in Egypt before the Christian era. When Rome ruled Jews were found in every commercial center. The Jews flocked to Rome. Several emperors, including Tiberius and Claudius tried and failed to banish them. In the second century Rome found the Jews in Palestine unruly. Several campaigns were waged against them. Jerusalem was taken in 70 A.D. by Titus and the temple destroyed. In 135 Jerusalem was taken again, this time by Hadrian, and the city destroyed. Hadrian rebuilt the city but forbade Jews from coming within sight of the city walls. This brought about the great diaspora, or second dispersion. Prisoners numbering 80,000 were sent to Spain where they joined Jewish communities which had moved on from Rome.
After the expulsion from Jerusalem, the scribes and Pharisees established a school in Jamnia and later in Tiberias, on the Sea of Galilee, where they codified the Oral Law into the Palestinian Talmud. The seat of Jewish authority then passed to Babylonia, where great schools were established at Nehardra and Sura. There, over the course of two hundred years, the Babylonian Talmud was framed. The law of Moses was contained in the Torah, and the remainder of the Old Testament was divided into the “Prophets” and the “Writings”. The Torah and the Talmud established a direct relation to God, giving the Jews a cohesion they needed since they were with no home or country. In the eleventh century the seat of Jewish authority passed to Spain, where, under the Saracens in Cordova, Toledo, and Granada, the Jews were given full freedom. The two voluminous Talmuds were condensed into a more usable form for daily consultation and use.
From time to time, philosophers and leaders of Jewish thought arose: Philo of Alexandria in the beginning of the Christian era, Maimonides of Spain in the Middle Ages, and Moses Mendelssohn in the eighteenth century were three great lights. False Messiahs appeared and misled many to their sorrow. Mysticism played its part too. Commentaries were published by some Jewish leaders which were pronounced heretical by others. Even Spinoza, the great philosopher, was excommunicated by the Dutch Rabbis. In spite of these differences, during the seventeen centuries of gloom and woe, somewhere in the world there was a religious center of Jewish authority to which all Jews could turn for hope and inspiration.
The strictly orthodox Jews have always adhered closely to the rabbinical law of the Talmud. Under the influence of Mendelssohn and his successors there arose a liberal and reform school. These newer branches of Judaism grew in number as the conditions became more favorable for their assimilation into the country in which they lived.
While Jews throughout their history have spoken many languages including Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, Arabic, and all European tongues; in their wanderings they developed two unique languages, Yiddish, or Jargon, and Ladino. The former is based on medieval German but written in Hebrew letters, while the latter is Spanish in its base and mixed with Hebrew and Turkish. Ladino has been carried to Africa, Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Greece.
After the second dispersion Jews and Christians flocked to Rome in great numbers. Generally, the Jews were exclusive and unexpansive but the Christians were active missionaries. The Jews were hostile to the Christians for failing them in the wars with Vespasian and Titus. Both Jews and Christians were persecuted by the Romans, but that changed when the Roman Empire became Christian under Constantine. From that time until now, in one form or another, one finds constant Christian persecution of the Jews. In the long, dark Jewish night there were only two or three countries and comparatively short periods in which Jews have enjoyed tolerance.
In 711 Arabian and African Jews accompanied the Saracens into Spain. There they met their brethren, who had been greatly abused by the Visigoths. These Spanish Jews were only too glad to aid in establishing a Saracen kingdom. There they developed trade, poetry, philosophy, science, literature, and art. They became ministers in government and its representatives abroad. This favorable condition continued until the Christians reconquest of Spain, ending with the expulsion of the Moors from Granada in the fifteenth century.
In the eighth century Charlemagne granted the Jews tolerance of religion and encouraged them in the development of trade which both helped his empire and made many of them rich merchants. There were Jewish communities in every great commercial center in the empire, even the most distant parts. After his death Charlemagne’s son, Louis the Pious, continued his father’s wise and kindly treatment.
Every great upheaval seems to increase Jewish persecution. The First Crusade in 1096, and the Second Crusade in 1146, both led to the Jews being persecuted. A cruel massacre of the Jews occurred in 1189 in England, at the time of the coronation of Richard I. The Jews were expelled from England in 1290. Under Pope Innocent III measures were passed requiring Jews to wear a dress or a badge indicating their race. Soon after in all the cities of Europe the Jews were required to live in particular quarters. Surrounded by walls and locked in at night, these congested ghettos were where the Jews were forced to live until the middle of the eighteenth century. The Jews were expelled from France in 1254 then, after being invited back, expelled again in 1315. After being recalled again, they were finally expelled by Charles VI in 1394.
When the black death hit Europe in 1348 and 1349, the Jews were blamed. Because of the hygienic effect of the Mosaic law the Jews escaped the ravages of the plague. Others saw this and accused the Jews of poisoning wells. Massacres of Jews followed the plague everywhere. In the course of centuries, the Popes issued many bulls against the Jews. The bulls were enforced with much greater severity in other countries than by the Popes themselves. Every excuse for attacking them was seized. In 1420, Huss in Bohemia proclaimed his adherence to the teachings of Wycliffe. He was persecuted by the Church, but so were the Jews. In 1481 the inquisition was set on Spain and in 1492, when Granada fell, the Jews were driven into Africa, and from there, Turkey and Italy.
A common form of accusation against the Jews was the sacrifice of Gentile children. A trial was held and, whether conviction followed or not, persecutions ran riot. This form of charge was used by pagan Rome against Jews and Christians alike. It has survived only against the Jews. The effect of the crusades, the black death, the Inquisition, the Huss persecutions and the annual massacres in Austria under Rudolph of Hapsburg, drove the Jews to seek refuge in Poland. At the height of its expansion Poland reached from the Black Sea to the Baltic and covered an area which today harbors the great bulk of the Jewish population of Europe.
In 1334 Cassimir the Great of Poland confirmed a charter of privileges to the Jews which had originally been given by a predecessor in 1264. The charter insured economic progress and guarantied personal and religious security. Cassimir’s liberality attracted Jews from every quarter of Europe. After the Yaguello dynasty the power passed from the kings to the Polish nobility. The protection of the Jews grew less and less. The burghers were hostile and the nobility cruel and tyrannical. Chaos ensued and the condition of the Jews grew worse. They were forbidden to hold land. For lack of other occupation, the Jews were forced to become innkeepers, the purveyors of the liquor business.
The reduction and elimination of the Polish Kingdom during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries transferred the bulk of the Jews in the world to the jurisdiction of Russia, Germany, and Austria. Russia had very few Jews before she annexed a large share of Poland. Now, nearly half of all Jews in the world were within her borders.
The adoption of the Inquisition by Spain in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries led many of the Spanish Jews to become baptized into the Catholic Church. They were called Maranos. They outwardly practiced Christian services but retained a secret allegiance to Judaism. The Maranos did not escape persecution by the Inquisition. They fled Spain, many of them to Holland, where they engaged in trade and, eventually, resumed their relations to the synagogue.
Skilled in international trade, the Jews achieved wealth and standing among the Dutch. Charles II dealt with them while in exile, and one of them visited Cromwell in 1655 and pressed upon him the wisdom of allowing the Jews to return to England. Cromwell made no formal agreement, but indicated that he would tolerate their return, and they went back. When Charles was restored to power, he found them there. While they were not politically emancipated in England until 1850, they suffered no oppression and were treated as loyal subjects of the British Crown.
When the Constitution of the United States was adopted in 1789, Jews were treated on a full political equality. While there were religious qualifications for suffrage in several states, they rapidly disappeared. During the French Revolution, Mirabeau and Abbe Gregoire led the movement for the emancipation of the Jews. While there was resistance, they were successful. Napoleon extended the equality of civil rights to other countries in which he exercised power. In Holland the Jews were given political and civil equality in 1796, while in the British colonies the Jews enjoyed it in 1840, much earlier than they did in the mother country.
In Prussia the Jews ware granted some rights in 1812. After Napoleon was defeated in 1814, the Jewish communities from Hanse towns and Frankfort appealed for relief from their governments. Bitter resistance from the free towns and Frankfort lead to a friendly resolution with no moral binding effect. The Frankfort senate desired not to grant equal rights to the Jews. About this time a professor named Ruhs from the University of Berlin began propaganda against the Jews arousing a bitter feeling.
In Spain the Inquisition was revoked in 1834, and the Jews were invited back. By the Congress of Berlin, in 1878, the Jews secured equality in Bulgaria and Serbia. Turkey had already granted it to them. At present, the Jews have legal protection except in Romania and Russia. That is not to say that they do not encounter social prejudice in all countries, which in some countries has grown into bitter Anti-Semitism. Prejudice cannot be banished by law.
What are the reasons for this almost constant persecution of the Jews from the fourth century to the present? It can be mainly attributed to the religious intolerance of the Christians. We find this prejudice in the hostility of Constantine after his conversion; we find it in the bulls of the Popes; we find it in the actions of St. Louis of France, Queen Eleanor of England, Elizabeth of Russia, and Maria Theresa of Austria; we find it in the Inquisition in Spain; and we find it in the words of Martin Luther against them.
The persecutions which this religious prejudice has engendered have caused the Jews to protect their exclusiveness, continue their religious life, and avoid assimilation. This persecution has increased the Jews intense activity, their cunning in business, in order that they might live at all against such opposition.
In 1877, Russia declared war on Turkey because of atrocities committed by the Turks against the Christians in the Balkans. Russia ultimately won the war and made the Treaty of San Stephano with the Turks. The great powers decided that there must be a congress to revise the treaty. The congress was called at Berlin in 1878 and under it were established the countries of Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania. France, England, and Germany insisted that the new governments have in their constitutions religious and civil equality for all domiciles within their jurisdictions. This was not favored by Russia and was bitterly opposed by Romania. Prince Bismarck, who presided over the congress, made it a condition of recognition by the European governments that the Romanian constitution guaranty civil and religious liberty and equality to the Jews. Russia signed the treaty.
The Romanian authorities deliberately framed a plan by which to evade the requirement of the treaty. They worded their constitution to state that a person’s religion does not constitute in Romania an obstacle to acquiring civil rights. They then provided for naturalization and held that Jews were aliens, although they had been living in Romania for hundreds of years and subject to draft into the army. By adopting this constitution, Romania procured the recognition of European countries. Since then they have placed work restriction on the Jews and denied them education. Although this is in direct violation of the Treaty of Berlin, the signatories have not thought it best to intervene. Bulgaria and Serbia complied with their obligations.
The law in Russia which requires the Jews to live in the cities of the Pale of Settlements produced a great congestion. They were forbidden to engage in so many trades that their opportunities were most limited. They had no political rights and were denied access to education. The result has been that the great majority of them are uneducated, and at least a third of them are destitute.
There are in the world over fifteen million Jews. Of these, six million live in Russia. There are 2,225,000 Jews in Austria and Hungary, 615,000 in Germany, 270,000 in Great Britain, 100,000 in France, and 45,000 in Italy. Romania has 250,000 Jews and there are a half a million Jews living in Asia. While up until 1880 there were fewer than a quarter of a million Jews living in the U.S., due to the pogroms and massacres in Romania and in Russia that number has swelled to 3,300,000 in less than forty years. Over one million Jews lie in New York City alone.
The policies of restrictions against the Jews have had unforeseen consequences that are now being used against the Jews. In the middle ages, the Jews were denied other occupations and forced into money lending. This is now a major complaint against the Jews in Russia. The objection to them that they work together in the interest of each other may well be true, but when the whole of society is against them, it is natural for them to be self-supportive and self-protective.
Nearly half the Jews in the world had to bear the brunt of the World War, living between Russia and Germany (and Austria). The population between these two armies, of which Jews were a large part, suffered untold horrors. Now that the war is over and Poland is being created from the rubble, the plight of these Jews is improving. Harsh and repressive measures are counterproductive. By extending equal opportunities in trade and in education the Jews will excel. Russia needs people of energy, keenness, and enterprise. She would benefit greatly by extending full civil rights to the Jews.
From the East Side of New York to the other population centers where they have congregated, have come the youth of the race who soon manifest the spirit of Americanism. They succeed in trade, in professions, and in business. They’ve moved to better neighborhoods and acquired all the tastes and views of their fellow countrymen. They remain loyal to their race, but not a strict adherence to the ceremonies. They even intermarry with Gentiles. Several books written by Jews deplore this fact. They fear that Israel will be swallowed by the nations.
The Jews, when given opportunity, have won their way to great financial power. Their religious training has instilled them with a duty of charity. Individuals like Sir Moses Montefiore have given much time, money, and effort all over the world to the cause of their race. Baron Hirsch and Baron Rothchild have carried out rural colonies of the Jews in Palestine, in Argentina, and in Texas. The Zionist movement to secure a migration of Jews back to Jerusalem, while not well supported, has the potential to relieve the congestion of east Europe. During the World War, Jews in the U.S. raised $25,000,000 to aid their poor people suffering in the war.
The result of the war and the breakup of Russia have led to the creation of seven independent nations in central and eastern Europe. The Baltic states, Poland, the Ukraine, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia all have many Jewish citizens. In addition, Romania, which is to receive Transylvania from Hungary, is another state which will have many Jews living there. The German treaty provides that the five great powers shall make future treaties with Poland and with Czechoslovakia. It is understood that the Austrian treaty will have similar provisions for Yugoslavia and Romania. The prejudice against the Jews still remains in those countries, and cannot be eliminated by mere legislation. The League of Nations is to be a continuous body and will have the power to enforce these new treaties.
The second article this month is entitled “Exploring Unknown Corners of the Hermit Kingdom” and was written by Roy C. Andrews, author of “Shore-Whaling: A World Industry”. The article contains thirty black-and-white photographs, none of which are full-page in size. The article also contains a full-page sketch map of Korea on page 24.
Map Courtesy of Philip Riviere
Although Korea has a civilization extending nearly 4,000 years, many natives of the north have never seen a white man. They live among the hills today much as did their ancestors centuries ago. They worship gods in the rock, trees, and mountain. Keeping their women in semi-slavery they live and die unaware of the wonders of the outside world. For centuries Korea guarded the secrets of her mountains and her people. But in 1882 the first treaty with Korea was signed by the United States, and foreigners took up residence at Chemulpo, the seaport of the capital, Seoul. Even with this foothold, as late as 1897 only a relatively small portion had been visited by white men.
After the Russian-Japanese war of 1904 the country was opened to foreigners and its railway completed. The exploration of the northern part progressed quickly, until the only extensive unknown area lay along the north central boundary between the Tumen and Yalu rivers. While the Long White Mountain with its “Dragon Prince’s Pool” far down in the ancient crater had been reached by two Jesuit missionaries in 1709 from the north in Manchuria, its approaches in Korea from the south and the west had never been traversed by a white man. The zoology was less known than its geography and this lead the American Museum of Natural History to send an expedition to make a study of the fauna.
Before any non-resident foreigners can go into the interior, permission must be obtained at the Bureau of Foreign Affairs at Seoul. The Japanese insist on knowing the reason for the visit to the remoter parts of their new possession. The Museum’s expedition was given enthusiastic support from the Japanese government and was furnished with one of their interpreters, a Japanese who spoke Korean, Chinese, and a little English. A Korean cook who knew some English was also engaged. After some early problems with graft, “Kim” was caught and from then on became a valuable assistant. In discussions with Kim, the author learned that he was indifferent to Christianity and that he disliked the Japanese.
The expedition landed at Chon Chin, a village on the northeast coast, about 150 miles south of Vladivostok. The first part of the journey was by railway handcars along the coast. Fishermen were bringing in nets full of “men-tai”. This fish is used as a basis for a favorite dish of the northern Koreans, “kimshi”. From the old walled town of Puryon the expedition was pushed up the railway to Muryantei where they spent the night. There were so many insects that the only way to sleep was to spread a circle of insect powder around the cot, get inside a sleeping bag, and pull the cover tightly over the head.
Structurally the huts are interesting. Every house is raised a foot or two above the ground. A wide flue runs beneath the floor, emerging at the other end in a tall chimney made from a hollow log. When a fire is built at the entrance of the flue, the smoke and heat are drawn beneath the house keeping the room warm even in the coldest weather.
The expedition left Muryantei with their equipment piled in three bull-carts and headed west to Musan, the largest town in northeastern Korea. The valley up which they traveled was extensively cultivated. Telephone and telegraph lines ran on poles along the road giving the scene a western appearance. Besides the occasional thatch-roofed hut, there was little to suggest that they were not in the foothills of Montana or Wyoming. Musan was reached in two days. It is a wonderful ancient city, its grim walls bearing five centuries of history. Except for a few foreigners, Musan lies unknown to the western world. The central palace remains intact, but the temple is in partial ruin.
A company of Japanese gendarmes was stationed in the old military quarters. Their commander, Lieutenant Kanada, showed the expedition the greatest kindness. At the time of their arrival there was much excitement over two tigers near the village of Hozando, 12 miles away. The author and company spent nearly three weeks hunting them. After returning to Musan the party found it difficult to procure horses and men for the trip into the wilderness. This was due to Chinese bandits known to be in the area. After great effort by the author and the gendarmes they finally got away with six horses and five drivers.
The next objective was the little village of Nonsatong on the edge of the unexplored wilderness. The first portion of the journey was over picturesque hills overlooking the Tumen River, which forms the boundary between Korea and Manchuria. Below were oat and millet fields and villages. Everywhere the log water-hammers, made for pounding grain, were rising and falling ceaselessly as if alive. They had their first sight of forest in Korea when they reached Nonsatong, a settlement of only 10 or 12 small huts.
The inhabitants had never seen a white man and were curious. They were most interested in the fact that the author’s eyes were blue, and not black, brown, or gray. The natives doubted he could see well, or if at all. The author shot a dog about 250 yards away, at the natives’ request. The Koreans were amazed and the dog became dinner for four of them. Dogs are bred for food. The Japanese have confiscated all firearms so the natives use traps and pits to catch wild game. They are industrious farmers and raise oats and millet. The village is too far north to grow rice.
In Korea a boy becomes a man when he marries. Only men can wear hats and tie up their hair. In one village, the author saw an 11 years old “man” and a “boy” of 47. The boy could not wear a hat and wore his hair in a long braid down his back. The man was very unhappy to be photographed with the boy. When Meyer arrived in Nonsatong, one of the villagers was ill with malaria. He gave the boy a five-grain tablet of quinine. Then, he wrapped five tablets in a bit of paper and told the boy to take one every two hours. The boy swallowed all of them almost immediately. They spent some time in Nonsatong and found the shooting good. When the collecting at Nonsatong was finished, they started on the trip through the primeval forests to the base of the Paik-tu-san.
Their destination was a log cabin some 14 miles up the valley. It had been built a number of years before by a Korean hunter. Few of the villagers had ever been there due to the gangs of Chinese and Korean bandits that roam the area. Most of these marauders had been pretty well cleared by the Japanese, but the fear of them remains strong. They found the cabin in good shape. On the hillside above there was a row of little bark shrines. These were built by hunters who stayed at the cabin. The author’s gun-bearer built one for this visit.
The hunt was in a dense forest stretching far to the northwest, up the slopes of the Long White Mountain. The hunting was poor and the expedition left after a few days. Ascending the plateau, the oak and birch trees gave way to larch 60 to 100 feet tall and strung with long gray moss. There were few birds and no mammals to be seen. High upon the slopes the snow made progress difficult. Sleet and rained forced them to camp in place for two days.
It was decided to retreat back down for a few days and then strike through the forest to the Samcheyong, and cross the watershed and head toward the Yalu River. After the descent down the mountain, the party camped for a few days, but trapped nothing and saw no birds. The Koreans reluctantly agreed to push on instead of returning home. On the third day of this leg they came upon a large burned tract thousands of acres in extent. A day's march through the desolation brought them to the shores of a lake, 3,700 feet above sea level. The author had heard of the Samcheyong, “Three bodies of water” and he assumed they were lakes. Sure enough, there were three lakes and a small pond connecting two of them. They seem to have been formed by some violent eruption. All were circular with the largest about three miles in circumference. These lakes were known to the Japanese, but none of the foreigners in Seoul had ever heard of them.
The expedition remained at the Samcheyong for several days and then started to cross the watershed toward the Yalu River. The forest became denser than that near Paik-tu-san, and the trees were larger. Great larch, 150 feet tall were everywhere. The ground was soft and wet, and soon they were in a series of swamps. Travel was difficult and they covered only six miles in one day, but they had cleared the swamps. Two more days of cutting their way through the wilderness, they came into a thin forest, where a broad trail lead down the mountainside. They descended nearly 2,000 feet to the valley below. There, in a clearing next to the forest were four log houses constituting the village of Potisan. They remained overnight and the next day crossed another heavily wooded mountain to the village of Potaidon.
After collecting at Potaidon for some time, they started across the mountains toward Heizanchin, on the Yalu River. This is the largest city in north central Korea. A good road led over the hills, and upon the top of one they found a picturesque little temple. They stayed at this temple for five days. Beyond the temple, they descended into a treeless valley, where in one of the huts there was a funeral taking place. Everyone wore white at the funeral, as was the tradition.
The country they traversed was becoming more deforested. There was very little vegetation except on the hilltops. Nearing one of the tributaries of the Yalu River, however, they found the hillside covered with flowers. Azaleas, buttercups, and violets were everywhere; and further on near a stream, lilies of the valley. Two weeks after leaving Potaidon they reached the city of Heizanchin. Built atop a flat-topped hill that forms a natural fortress, this is an ancient town. For hundreds of years it served as a sentinel. Many battles were fought here between the Koreans and their Chinese neighbors across the Yalu River. The old watch towers have crumbled. An old shrine overlooks a new Japanese built town on the banks of the Yalu River.
There were too many rapids to make travel downstream safe for all the equipment, so the party trekked another 50 miles across country to the village of Shinkarbarchin. A raft was secured there, and with baggage piled aboard they floated 375 miles to the mouth of the river on the west coast. The scenery on the upper Yalu is beautiful, but rather monotonous, with hills and mountains rising on either side. The river for the first 100 miles was exceedingly rapid, and a boat could float down it 50 or 60 miles in a day. As the river widened, thee force of the current decreased, the hills became lower, and villages appeared at intervals.
The expedition’s raft passed several Chinese junks, loaded with salt or corn, being towed up the river by natives. The current was too strong for the sails to make any headway. The journey was tedious, for the boats must be hauled the entire distance against strong current by manpower. It took these junks seven to eight weeks to journey up river. The Koreans call the Yalu “Am-nok” (green duck), from the color of the water in early spring. At Antung, at the mouth of the Yalu, the expedition took the train to Seoul, where the collections were packed for shipment to New York.
At the bottom of the last page of the article there is a bold, capitalized announcement stating that the “Index for Volume XXXIV – January-June, 1919 – will be mailed to members upon request”. Note: Messages like these usually appear on the last page of the issue instead of in the middle of the magazine.
The next item listed on the cover is “Masters of Flight” with no byline. It is not an article but a set of eight full-page photogravures by William Lovell Finley. The pages are labeled with Roman numerals from I to VIII, and are between pages 48 and 57. The images are on a special paper used in the image transfer process. The pictures are of birds including: the golden eagle, Caspian terns, barn owls, pelicans, the great blue heron, and a seagull.
As stated, these images are photogravures. This is an art form in and of itself. Photogravure is a photo-mechanical process whereby a copper plate is coated with a light-sensitive gelatin tissue which has been exposed to a film positive, and then etched, resulting in a high-quality intaglio print that can reproduce the detail and continuous tones of a photograph. It registers a wide variety of tones through the transfer of etching ink from an etched copper plate to a special damped paper run through the etching press. The unique tonal range comes from its variable depth of etching, that is, the shadows are etched many times deeper than the highlights.
The next article this month is entitled “A Hunter of Plants” and was written by David Fairchild, Agricultural Explorer, in Charge Office of Foreign Seed and Plant Introduction, U.S. Department of Agriculture. The article contains eighteen black-and-white photographs. Two of the photos are full-page in size.
The article is about Frank N. Meyer, a plant hunter for the United States Department of Agriculture. He hunted plants in China, Siberia, Turkestan, and in the Caucasus. He drowned the previous year in the Yangtze River, after nine picturesque years. He spent time in the dense forests of northern Korea; in Chinese temples perched on sacred mountains; and in orchard, gardens, and cultivated fields in that vast Oriental country.
Wandering from village to village, inquiring and learning as he went of some new plant which, because of its perfume, the deliciousness of it fruit, the color of its flower, the shade it cast, its alkali resistance, or its hardiness in northern regions, might be worthy of sending to this country. As Meyer stood before one of these new plants, he would try to imagine the region of the United States where it would grow.
He sent in hundreds of shipments of living cuttings and thousands of sacks of seeds of useful plants from the countries he had wandered. The results are now growing in American fields and orchards, and avenues and hedges of Meyers plants would have gladdened his heart if only he had lived. He had a great love of plants and would pack them with care in moss, Chinese oiled paper, and burlap before mailing them from the interior of China to Washington.
Meyer was a Hollander by birth and spent his childhood among the gardens of Amsterdam. Later, he travelled by foot across the Alps into Italy to see the orange groves and vineyards. Then he explored America and northern Mexico on foot. This combination of restlessness and his love of plants, drew him to the attention of the author, who was looking for someone who could travel the roadless regions of China. Meyer’s work had a peculiar fascination for magazine and newspaper writers, and a number of colorful accounts of his “experiences” have been written.
Meyers also showed what the Chinese have done to improve their native fruits: persimmon four inches wide and delicious, hawthorn the size of crabapples with excellent flavor, and from jujube have evolved scores of varieties, some as large as apricots, and when candied with a flavor similar to the Persian date. While not uncharted territory, Meyer journeys expanded our knowledge, not only of new plants, but also the methods used by the locals in cultivating and cooking these foods. His observation of customs and cultures also added a wealth of knowledge of the orient.
His first expedition was from 1908 to 1911 when he explored North China, Manchuria, and northern Korea. On his second expedition in 1909 to 1911, he traveled through the Caucasus, Russian Turkestan, Chinese Turkistan, and Siberia. His third expedition in 1912 to 1915 took him to northwestern China into the Kansu Province to the borders of Tibet. His last expedition started in 1916 when he went in search of the wild pear forests in the region of Jehol, north of Peking, and the region of Ichang. He was caught at Ichang by the revolution. His confinement led to illness. He made it as far as Wu Hu, thirty miles north of Nanking, where he was drowned in the Yangtze River.
Meyer’s letter are the letters of a real traveler. They reflected his surroundings showing pictures of strange cultures. From mountain passes in the Caucasus to the borders of Tibet and its forty centuries old civilization, he waxed philosophic about existence. In Samarkand, Turkestan he was left on his own when his assistant was called away and his interpreter became ill from the heat. He spoke very little Russian and no Sart, the native tongue. He described a pretty park in Merv, and a great market held in the city. He would always digress to plants. Tens of thousands of acres of the desert around Merv are covered with “camel’s thorn”. It was in full bloom with pinkish-purple flowers. It is great feed for the camels and, when dried, is used as fuel. It is also a great sand binder growing in even sterile sand, and it prepares the soil for better vegetation.
Writing from Chugutchak, Mongolia he described the difficulties in travelling through the region, ranging from rain to wolves and bandits. It was difficult to find a guide as well. A letter postmarked Peking tells of his finding the famous Pekin pear on New Year’s Day. He procured many scions and shipped them along with instructions for growing them. Also, in that letter he described the Chinese use of hot houses to grow things from vegetables like cucumbers and onions to flowers like paeonias. From Kang-ko, Korea he wrote of customs and costumes. They all wore white, in their houses the floors were heated, and they ate rice, beans, and cucumbers. The main food crops in the north are sorghum, millets, rice, soy bean, maize, and buckwheat. Tobacco is of great importance in Korea “as the whole race is addicted to excessive use of the leaf”.
Going to Hoiryong, Korea he travelled through primeval forests of larches up to four feet in diameter and 120 to 180 years old, followed by spruce, then pines and lindens, birches, poplars, and giant willows 100 to 150 feet tall. He spent his nights in log cabins built by hunters. There was an awful gloom in these forests; the silence was almost oppressive. In a letter from Tai an fu, Shantung, China he writes of acquiring eight grafted trees of the Fei peach, and the difficulty he had in purchase them. From Chieh Chou, Kansu, China Meyer describes “the best inn in town” which was overcrowded with people having angry disputes, gambling, and smoking opium.
During the last year of his travels Meyer was oppressed by loneliness. A note of this loneliness could be felt in his letters. He wrote that while soldiers face more danger, they at least have companionship; “For about one month now I haven’t seen a white person.” In spite of this melancholia he continued his good work. He delivered to the local post office a small wooden box addressed to the American Consul General at Shanghai, containing twelve Ichang lemons and several fruits called the Yang tao. Meyer described its flavor as a combination of gooseberry, rhubarb, pineapple, and guava. He pictured it being grow in the southern U.S. and parts of California.
A few of Meyer’s gifts to America includes the Rosa xanthina, a yellow bush rose grown in New England; the Chinese elm, used as windbreaks in the Dakotas; an ash from Kashgar will grow in the alkali soils of Nevada; the Tangsi cherry, grown in California, ripen a week to ten days before other types; orchards in California of a wild Chinese peach that is drought and alkali resistant are five years old now; and the Fei peach is especially good for canning, although it was rare and difficult to acquire and ship.
Meyer has given us the Ussurian pear. With the fire blight ruining the growth of years, this new variety has been declared the most resistant of all the species of the pear genus. An orchard of Chinese jujube is growing in California. The fruits are the size of plums and are as delicious as Persian Gulf dates. The Chinese chestnut trees introduced by Meyer are very resistant to the chestnut-bark disease. A strain of spinach has been developed by Mr. J. B. Norton from seeds gathered by Meyer. There is and avenue of Chinese pistache forming the entrance to the Chino Plant Introduction Garden. These trees stand for centuries, casting dense shade in the summer and scarlet foliage in autumn. The white-barked pine is one of the most striking landscape trees of China. Its brilliant white trunk contrasts its dark green needles. One grows over the late W. W. Rockhill, U.S. Minister to China.
Meyer’s life was over and his death remains a mystery. He came from Holland, a gardener by profession. He became a citizen and has given to his adopted land a host of lasting benefits.
The last article this month is entitled “The Land of Lambskins” and was written by Robert K. Nabours of the Kansas State Agricultural College. It has the subtitle “An Expedition to Bokhara, Russian Central Asia, to Study the Karakul Sheep Industry”. It contains fifteen black-and-white photographs all taken by the author. One of these photographs is full-page in size.
Since time immemorial, man has made use of skin, hair, wool and fur of animals to protect himself from the elements and for adornment. While cotton, hemp and other plant-based materials are valuable and universally used substitutes, the demand for animal-based clothing products is greater than ever. This is especially true of furs. Wild fur-bearing animals have decreased in number leading to a rise in prices. The breeding and rearing of foxes and skunks are now of widespread interest.
The Karakul sheep-raising industry may be a way of solving this shortfall in supply of furs. The pelts of the young lambs, because of their special qualities of warmth and beauty, appeal to persons of both sexes, young and old, of all stations of life and of all nationalities. There is a good chance that this source could meet the excess in demand for furs. The Kansas State Agricultural College funded an expedition by the author to Bokhara and other parts of Russian Turkestan.
On the first expedition, the Mr. Nabours’ interpreter was a man of education and influence in the affairs of trade, government, and religion. He gave the author cordial and enjoyable entertainment for two nights at his home in the oasis. While the author never saw his host’s three wives or older daughters, he was informed that he was being scrutinized by the womenfolk, as well as the neighbors, through peepholes. The women stayed mostly in the kitchen preparing food and tea, and sending them out to be served by the boys of the family.
Mr. Nabours was able to converse, through his interpreter, with the owner of flock of 800 who lived at the edge of the oasis and the desert steppes. The area around the oasis has a network of irrigation ditches. They normally contain water for a short time each year. This forces the ranchmen to move in and out in intervals and depend on wells continually. The conversation was difficult at first, but over time it became more mutual. After the author had asked about sheep-raising, the taking of pelts, and marketing, with cautious replies; eventually the tables turned and they were quizzing him about the affairs of his own country. At noon they had a feast of mutton with Tatar bread, sheep milk, and tea.
After the feast they went out on the steppes through a sandstorm, fierce July heat, and over shifting dunes where vegetation is conspicuous by its absence. They found a considerable flock of Karakuls in care of two shepherd boys. The boys were terrified by the presence of westerners and started to drive the flock away. They were stopped by a few men on horseback, instead of riding camels. It took a while to calm the boys down. Finally, they helped corral, sort, and otherwise assist in the study and photographing of the animals. During the inspection, a lamb was born. Its hair had a beautiful black luster and tight, even curls.
The mother and one of the shepherds vied with each other for the attention of the lamb. The flock drifted away but the ewe and the boy stayed with the lamb until finally the shepherd picked it up and brought it to the crowd. These shepherd boys live the life of sheep, day and night, for months at a time. They can identify individuals flock members and know the parentage of each sheep. Since a number of fat-rump Kirghiz ewes are yearly placed among the Karakul flocks to keep up their vigor, and since no written records are kept, the knowledge of the shepherds is depended upon for grading any individual. The Kirghiz sheep can weigh up to 400 pounds and have an excellent “muttony taste”.
While knowledge of parentage is important, breeding males, and to a lesser extent ewe, are selected almost exclusively on the appearance of their fur at birth. There does not appear to be any well-defined Karakul breed with precise standards as among English and American sheep. Full grown animals vary greatly in size. The fleece of the adult sheep is long and coarse and inferior in conformity to the fleece of English and American breeds.
Male lamb, except for those reserved as breeding rams, are killed at birth and their pelts taken before the hair loses its curl and luster. Most of the ewe lambs are reserved for breeding. Baby Karakul is obtained by killing an old ewe just prior to birth of what would probably be their last lambs, especially if it is thought to be carrying twins.
Karakul sheep are found almost exclusively in the emirate of Bokhara, Russian Turkestan. Between the ninth and the fourteenth centuries Bokhara was a gathering place for the most studious men of Asia. It still has nearly a hundred colleges and more than 300 mosques. It remains a center of Islamic learning, though greatly diminished in recent years. The men are dignified and conservative. The women, when out of the home, are heavily veiled. It is difficult to raise live stock here with grass growing only between March and May.
On the journey from Bokhara to the steppes, the author observed many “happy, primitive people” among the irrigation ditches engaged in intensive agriculture. Most tools used were crude and handmade of a kind dating back thousands of years. The author witnessed horse, camel, and man powered water wheels for raising the irrigation water, the cutting of alfalfa with hand scythes, transporting the grain on backs of donkeys, threshing of it with flails, and winnowing it in the manner of Biblical times. Slow, crude water-powered mills clean the rice and grind the grains.
For many years before the war, the Russian government kept several engineers here to expand the irrigated area as much as the water would allow. Some of the additional area was even used for cotton cultivation. Through the Department of Agriculture at Tashkent a beneficial influence is being exercised with an experimental station and a dry-farming station located there. There is also a Karakul sheep breeding station near Samarkand. The administration of the country was highly beneficial. Russian railways afforded transportation for exports and imports. This allowed the locals to purchase many necessities, something they were unable to do prior to Russian occupation. It appeared that the natives were being aided in many ways and under great difficulties, with the least possible disturbance of their religion and customs.
Fifty-four head of Karakul sheep, mostly rams, have been brought from Russia to America since 1909 by Mr. C. C. Young. These and their offspring have been distributed widely over the United States and Canada. Many rams have been mated to ewes of American breeds. In 1915 the flocks owned in Texas, Kansas, and New York numbered 1,000 head of one-half or three-quarters Karakul blood, and 60 head of the pure Karakuls. Since then the numbers have certainly increased, with some high-grade individuals being produced. It will be necessary to import more animals in order to get the industry properly under way. It will also be desirable to import some of the fat-rump, tailless Kirghiz sheep since they are tied to the successful production of top-quality Karakul skins.