- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
364

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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THROUGH SIBERIA
364
district occupied by a Chinese population, the former
masters of the land. These Manses, as they are called,
were often unmarried men who formed small com
munities, and they were not always people of the best
kind. The immigration of Chinese rather increased
after the country became Russian ; the Chinese authori
ties in Manchuria no longer had any influence there,
and the Russian authorities scarcely had more in
that roadless country. The Manses therefore felt them
selves more and more to be the real masters of the
country, and had free play. An additional factor was
the discovery of rich gold deposits on the Russian side
of the frontier. At the close of the sixties the Chinese
population was estimated at about 40,000. Of these
about half had fixed habitations and carried on agri
culture together with hunting and fishing, while the
rest led a roving life for the most part, forming Khun
khus bands which struck terror into the population by
their brigandage, or digging for gold and searching
for fungus, horns, and the ginseng root, so highly prized
by the Chinese.* Moreover the Manses ruthlessly
fleeced the natives and often reduced them to complete
slavery. When it comes to fleecing natives, no Euro-
* The ginseng root is the Chinese panacea, which often fetches
treble its weight in gold. In 1869 it is said that a root fetched £250 ;
«.bout 1900 the price was lower, £8 to £9 a pound. The genuine
Manchurian and Korean ginseng is derived from the root of Panax
ginseng, C. A .Meyer ( «=Panax quinquefoleum, Lin., var. ginseng, Regel
et Maak), which is a native of Korea and northern China, and is
cultivated in Japan. According to the universal belief in China, the
root ought to be shaped as much as possible like a man in order to
have great virtue as a remedy ; this is something like the mandrake
in mediæval Europe. The root is a cure for all diseases, keeps off
evil spirits and prolongs life ; in fact, it renders its wearer immortal.
Hartfs horn and elk’shorn are much used by the Chinese in the prepara
tion of medicine and pills for many ailments. Fungus is used by the
Chinese both for food and medicine. For this information I am
gratefully indebted to Mr. Fonahn.

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