Hsieh Ch’ing kao on Spain and Portugal

From the The Hai-Lu (1783-1797), as quoted on this page on this excellent site, again via TdiT:

Portugal (called Ta-hsi-yang, or Pu-luchi-shih ". . . has a climate colder than that of Fukien and Kwangtung. Her chief seaport [Lisbon] faces the south and is protected by two forts manned by 2000 soldiers and equipped with about four or five hundred cannons. Whenever any ship calls at the port, it is first examined by officials to see whether there is any case of smallpox on board. If there is not, the ship is permitted to enter; otherwise, the ship must wait outside the harbor until all traces of the disease have disappeared. Places of importance are seven in all: Lisbon, Coimbra, Guarda, Vizeu, Villa Real, A-la-chia [?], and Chaves. All these towns are densely settled, garrisoned by heavy forces, and are connected by good land and water routes.

"The people are white in color, and are fond of cleanliness. As to the dress, the men usually wear trousers and short upper clothes, both very much tight-fitting. On special occasions, another piece is worn over the shirt, short in the front and long in the back, just like the wings of a cicada. Women also wear short and tight-fitting upper- clothes, but instead of trousers they wear skirts which are sometimes eight or nine folds deep. Among the poor this is made of cotton among the rich, silk. When rich women go out they often wear a veil made of fine black silk. Both men and women wear leather shoes.

"Monogamy is the prevailing practice. It only when either the husband or wife has died that the other may remarry. The family of the prospective bridegroom takes particular pains to find out the size of the bride’s dowry before marrying her. Marriages between persons of the same surname are permitted but they are prohibited between children of the same parent. All marriages must receive the sanction of the Church and it is only after the priest has pronounced his benediction on the couple that a marriage is considreed concluded. The marriage ceremonies usually take place in the church.

"Religion plays a dominant part in the lives of these people. Whenever anyone would commit a crime, he would go to the priest in the church and confess his sins and repent, after which he would be absolved by the priest. The priest is strictly forbidden to tell others what he has heard; he would be hanged if he did so. When a king ascends the throne, he does not take a new reign title, but follows the Christian calendar. There are also womenfolk who withdraw from the world and live apart in convents.

"The king of the country is called li-rei. His eldest son is called li-fan-tieh
[l’infante] ; his other sons, pi-lin-hsipi [principes] ; his daughters, pi-lin-so~shih [princezas]. The Prime Minister is called kan-tieh [conde] ; the commander-in-chief of the arny, ma-la-chi-tsa [marquesado]….These officers are usually selected from among the leading citizens of the local community. In order to assist tne local officials in their administration of affairs, the home government usually sends out a military official to each region. If the possession is a large one, then three or four officials are sent. If any problem arises, a conference is held of the four local officials and the two central officials from home to decide on the solution and his solution must be in conformity with local customs and habits."

Spain "…is said to be north-northwest of Portugal and could be reached by sailing in that direction for about eight or nine days from Portugal [one of Hsieh’s mistakes in indicating directions.] The area of this country is larger than that of Portugal: the people are fierce and wicked. Catholicism is the main religion. Its products are gold, silver, copper, iron, wine, glass, and watches, etc. The silver dollars used in China are manufactured in this country. "

I go along with the fierce and wicked bit, although he could have added “and are dangerous let loose with an umbrella.”

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