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Geographical Notes

Nature volume 31, pages 280281 | Download Citation



THE Bulletin de la Société de Geographie for the last quarter of 1884 is largely occupied with the geography of the Far East. Two members of the foreign mission body communicate papers on Tonqnin, both accompanied by maps. Père Pinabel writes on some “savage peoples” dependent on Tonquin. The expression “savage” is explained to mean nothing more than mountaineers. The tribes here described inhabit the mountains of the province of Thague-hoa, between the rivers Maa and Chon, which is the most southern province of the delta of the Red River, and not far from the Annamite border. The tribes called Phon-tays, live in a sort of semi-independence, like the Laos tribes, in the mountains on the Siamese frontiers. A third tribe inhabiting the region is called by Pére Pinabel the Méos (M´oís?), and are said by him to be in all probability the aboriginal Miao-tsze of South-Western China, although whether he has any ground for this belief beyond the resemblance of the names doe; not appear. At any rate, it is evident from their customs and language that they are Chinese. A fourth tribe is called the Sas, of whom nothing appears to be known except that it fled to the borders of Annam during one of the numerous wars of that region. A long and tolerably detailed account of the manners and customs of the Phon-tays is given, and shorter ones of those of the Moís and Sas. They are all the more interesting that the writer appears to have no idea of ethnology, and therefore is not on the look-out for parallels else where, but records everything with simplicity and directness. Pere Blanck's experiences lay also in the Laos States, on the frontiers of Siam and Tonquin, but to the south of those of his colleague. His paper is simply a record of his journeys among the “savages” in the mountains between the province of Nghé-Ane, the most southern province of Tonquin bordering on Annam, and the Mei Kong River. Both these papers are taken from the reports of the missions étrangéres. M. du Cailland describes the Quang-si, or Kwang-si, the province of China adjoining Tonquin, and that from which the greater part of the Chinese invading force is drawn. The writer discusses the routes from Langson into China, the river-system of Kwang-si, its administrative divisions, its ethnography, recent history, and the Catholic propaganda there. According to M. du Cailland, the Chinese population there is nothing more than a colony of Cantonese amongst the vast numbers of Miao-tsze and Laos in the western portion. Unfortunately, the writer has omitted his authorities for this statement, although his references in other portions of the paper are somewhat copious. It would be of great interest to learn on what grounds the wealthiest and most populous province but one of Southern China is believed to be only a Cantonese colony, while the Miao-tsze, who are generally believed to exist only in small and weak communities scattered over the central part of South-Western China, are masters of this vast district. M The geography and ethnography of China must be rewritten, if M. du Cailland is accurate in this portion of his paper.—M. Huber continues his account of his journey in Central Arabia, which has been already noticed.—Prince Roland Bonaparte describes fourteen voyages to the coasts of New Guinea, made by Dutch Government vessels, between 1876 and 1883. They went chiefly from Ternate. Each voyage is described in detail, apparently from official sources. The conclusion of the paper is that it is easy to see from this account that the Dutch have annexed in a definite manner the eastern part of New Guinea to their empire in the Malay Archipelago.—M. Simonin discusses the progress of the Australian colonies commercially and politically.

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