sábado, 28 de dezembro de 2019

"China, Its Marvel and Mystery" (1909)

T. Hodgson Liddell (1860-1925), pintor britânico (essencialmente de paisagens), é o autor deste "China, Its Marvel and Mystery" publicado pela primeira vez em 1909. Para além de texto com as impressões pessoais do viajante, inclui também 40 pinturas do autor, num total de 384 páginas.
"A street in Macao" é legenda original para a pintura que Liddell fez do território. Consultei a edição norte-americana de 1910. (ver imagem abaixo)
Macau é um das várias cidades (inclui Hong Kong, Cantão, Pequim, etc...) que Thomas Hodgson Liddell visitou e pintou. Foi um pintor e este é o único livro que se conhece ter sido da sua autoria. Destaco o facto de para além da assinatura dos quadros com o seu nome incluir ainda um carimbo com o nome em chinês.
Excerto da Introdução:
I undertook this journey to China solely to paint pictures of a country I had during all my life heard a great deal of, and, in my book, I try to convey my impressions as an artist. I had occasionally heard of and seen sketches made by residents in and visitors to China, but I am not aware that a concerted attempt has ever before been made to produce and show to those at home a series of pictures which might illustrate, at any rate, some parts of China known, or of interest, to Europeans. If to a certain extent I restricted myself to illustrating these better-known parts, it was because I felt that the less-known places, though equally picturesque, would not, as yet, appeal to the public; and also I knew well beforehand that the difficulties I should have to face, to work even where I did, would be very great.
And, indeed, I found I had not underestimated these difficulties. The Chinese are, naturally, very artistic; but, in most places where I worked, they have never before seen any one attempting to paint outside from nature.
One has only to think of how the crowd would gather if a China-man, in national costume, were to set up an easel and begin to paint in one of our own streets, to realise a little of what I had to put up with. I had great crowds of curious natives to manage and to humour, and in other cases I had to persuade the officials to allow me to sketch. 
Their whole idea, it seemed to me, was that a foreigner sketching meant making maps and plans for some ulterior purpose. The difficulty I experienced, and the long, patient, persistent efforts I had to make, before I could persuade those most highly educated and placed officials immediately in touch with the Throne even to petition the Empress Dowager to grant me that permission which I ultimately obtained - to work at the Summer Palace - was only one, though the most determined, effort to keep me outside. But once I had obtained that, and become known (and, I flatter myself, rather liked), and consequently favoured by those officials, my difficulties were smoothed over as far as possible. Then I had to contend with the climate, a very serious matter; to work in extreme heat and extreme cold; at times in very moist heat, and again in great dryness; the mere keeping of my paper and materials in fit condition was quite a serious matter. 
Of the places I visited and illustrated the chief were, in the order of my journey: Hong Kong, Canton, Macao, and the neighbourhood of these places, in the south. Shanghai was another centre, and from there I visited and worked in the Soochow and Tahu or Great Lake district, and at Bing-oo, Kashing, and Hangchow, with its famous West Lake. In the north I visited Pei-tai-ho, Shan-hai-kwan, Tientsin, and finally Peking, with its world-famous palaces and temples. (...)
"A street in Macao" - legenda original do livro
Capítulo 3 - Macao
The Old Portuguese Settlement and sometime Home of Camoens. 
"Gem of the Orient, Earth and open Sea - Macao: that in thy lap and on thy breast Hast gathered beauties all the loveliest O'er which the sun smiles in his majesty." - Bowring. 
The visitor to Hong Kong should not, if time allows, fail to visit Macao. The delightful trip on one of the well-equipped boats of the Canton and Macao Steamboat Company is well worth doing ; and Macao, with its history going back to 1557, when the Portuguese first founded their settlement (I think it is the earliest European settlement in China), is most interesting. The Portuguese were allowed at that time to build factories, and the Chinese built a wall to exclude the barbarians. The settlement is on a peninsula on the western side of the Canton River, and the city, with its flat-roofed houses of southern European character, is very pic- turesquely situated. It lies on the level piece of land forming the Peninsula, between bold and rocky hills at either end rising some 300 feet. 
The Chinese have always (notably in 1862) disputed the ownership of this piece of territory, but their authority has gradually diminished, and now the place has been for some time regarded as a colonial possession by the Portuguese. It was early occupied by the Jesuit mis- sionaries, who established the grand old cathedral, beautiful even in its ruin, but still towering up into the sky, and sharing with the old castle the domination of the town. Macao was the centre of a disgraceful and cruel trade in coolies, a slave trade of the worst character, from the middle of last century till it was abolished in 1874. 
More recently the colonial revenue has been largely gained from a tax on the notorious Fan-Tan gambling- dens, which in 1872-73 yielded as much as 380,000 dollars (Mexican), or close on £'35,ooo sterling. These and still worse places are largely patronised by the Chinese and Macoese (among whom half-breeds largely predominate), and one is lost in amazement at the action of a European nation in upholding such things and pandering to the worst side of the Chinese character. But, for all this, Macao is a fair place to look at and dream over; and it is a more pleasant task to let one's thoughts go back to days when, in 1568, Louis de Camoens, prince of poets of his time, was exiled here as Portuguese Governor of the Fort, for writing a satire on the Portuguese officials at Goa, exposing their corruption. 
His memory is kept green by the grotto which still bears his name, and here he is said to have composed at least part of his " Lusiad " (the national epic of Portugal), and probably in this peaceful retreat he passed the happiest time of his adventurous life. " There never fails, intent on treacherous ends, Some lurking foe to those whom Heaven befriends." ^ Nearly all the outer end of the Peninsula and close to the river rises a small and rocky tree-covered hill, and on this is situated the very beautiful Fisherman's Temple, as dainty and picturesque a group of buildings, small though they are, as I saw anywhere in the East. 
My guide induced me to visit the Fan-Tan gambling-houses, the outsides of which are ornamental in a tawdry way; the insides did not appeal to me, being rather dull and dirty. We were taken upstairs, where, round a railed opening in the floor, one looked down on the gaming-table; but the game did not appear to me to have any charm. We also looked in at a Chinese theatre, where one of their everlasting plays was in progress. I cannot say that there was any resemblance to Drury Lane. 
There was no scenery; the actors (there are no actresses, though the men make up very well as women) wear cheap but very gaudy costumes, and change their dresses on the stage ; all the hangers on, such as we might term scene- shifters, and the like, stood about the stage and watched » "The Lusiad." the performance, which was so weird I cannot find words to describe it. It largely consisted of the performers yelling at each other in very high-pitched falsetto voices (caterwauling is the only noise I can liken it to), waving their arms and walking up and down - the so-called band adding to the din, cymbals, drums, and sort of coach -horn, &, making every few minutes a great banging - then a sudden hush, after which off they would start again. The men who take women's parts are raised on false wooden feet, made quite small to give the appearance of the small, bound feet of the women; their baggy trousers are tied in at the ankle. The audience, although watching intently, seem moved very little, and only signify their approval slightly. There is no enthusiastic applause as with us, though there is occasionally slight laughter. 
While here I visited a charming Chinese residence. The owner was from home, but I was most courteously shown over it by his servants. The gardens were very pretty - approached through quaintly shaped doorways in the walls, and intersected by pathways lined by ornamental stone-work and plants and flowers - sheets of water, with the usual bridges leading to pavilions on islands, making the whole very attractive. The residential part of the house was very well furnished with fine Cantonese black wood and many pieces of beautiful porcelain. The No. I Boy brought out as a great treasure for my inspection a book of photographs of London, asking me if I knew these places; and on my saying so, I was asked by my interpreter if I would explain them. This I did, to their great delight. They were greatly struck by St. Paul's, which I described to them as our Chief Joss-House, and with the idea of the railways which went under the houses and streets. 

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