Schlagwort-Archiv: shopping

Port Said, 20 December 1892

In the morning the lights of Damietta came into view. As we approached Port Said and could already discern the city, the pilot appeared to guide “SMS Elisabeth” into the harbor. We saluted the Egyptian flag with 21 rounds which was answered by a battery on land. The Egyptian artillerists looked splendid in their English tailored black uniforms with red trouser stripes (Lampassen).

Flag of the Khedivate of Egypt (1881-1914)

Flag of the Khedivate of Egypt (1881-1914); Source: Wikicommons

Near our consulate we docked just in front of a large English East India ship at a buoy. In the harbor lay an English gunboat and multiple large, mostly English steamboats that replenished their coal stocks as fast as possible in order to continue their journey through the Suez Canal. Port Said is truly a harbor where no ship stays longer than necessary: Coal and provisions are restocked, the mail posted, the pilot embarked and on towards the next stop they go. During our arrival, there were all kinds of people on the dock who were interested to have a look at the mighty warship – English officers, seamen, Arabs, Fellahs, Indians, Jews and travelers from the East India ship.

Our consul as well as consul general baron Heidler who had come from Cairo greeted me. The latter reported that the Khedive had sent his nephew and also general adjutant, Prince Fuad Pasha, to welcome me in remembrance of the friendly reception in Vienna during his visit there, despite my traveling completely incognito. As soon as I had put on my gala uniform, the prince came on board to the music of the Egyptian anthem and offered me a welcome in the lands of the Pharaoh in the Khedive’s name. Prince Fuad Pasha displayed exquisite manners and a thorough European education. We talked for a good time and I later returned his visit at his hotel.

The rest of the day was to be alloted to a hunting expedition to Lake Menzaleh, organized by the consul and the pasha of Port Said. I have to admit that I had little confidence for the success of this venture as such hunts with intense participation of the locals tend to create much noise and cost lots of baksheesh but result in a very small haul. I have collected many experiences of such events during my first voyage to the orient. Fortunately, I was to be pleasantly disappointed this time.

The ceremonial boat transported us some distance into the canal where the pasha and a number of his supervisors of the communes around Lake Menzaleh received us. The handsome, strong men wore heavily pleated, colourful burnous. The good pasha made a sweet-sour face being rather downcast: The organization of the hunt would be his last act in office which was at an end because of his often called “oriental” ideas about debit and credit in the accounts.

Three skiffs were ready at the lake shore and we were soon swarmed by the locals who wanted to carry us the few steps to the skiffs. Four flamingos with wings were living a peaceful life near a small hut and were driven back there by a small boy every time they tried to escape. To my surprise, a local suddenly grabbed these flamingos and took them onto one of the skiffs. It seems they were intended to lure other birds to the skiffs.

The locals were shouting a lot, while we were finally being assigned to the individual skiffs. The placement of the pasha and his entourage proved to be difficult; riding on the shoulders of two Arabs, he proceeded from one skiff to the next until he finally found his place in the consul’s skiff. The consular kavass (constable/armed servant) Ahmed who had traveled with me through Palestine and Syria during my first voyage to the orient served as my interpreter. After much noise and cursing we were finally afloat. In the first skiff were I and Wurmbrand, in the second Clam and Prónay, the rear guard was composed by the gentlemen of the consular corps, the pasha and the rest of the hunting entourage.

Far away, near the horizon, we were seeing many hundreds of flamingos that were standing in the low brackish water in long lines glistering rose-red. Such a chain of flamingos offers the hunter as well as the ornithologist a magnificent view. At first, the eye only notices a light rose-red long strip until the observer, having approached close enough, distinguishes more clearly individual animals, their long, mostly S shaped neck, the long legs and the limber body, the crimson red males and the much lighter colored females as well as their offspring. If a whole flock of these magnificent birds lifts itself up into the air with a tempestuous sough, then the overall image is even more captivating as the flamingos stretch out their long necks and legs horizontally and the intensively colored plumage below the wings is shown to their fullest advantage. Such a flock resembles a red cloud. Besides the flamingos, multiple flocks of coots, grebes, pochards, ferruginous ducks and Northern pintails were swimming in the lake. Individual flights of sandpipers passed and harriers as well as falcons pounced gracefully upon the flocks of ducks that sought their fortune in quick flight.

At first, I intended to go for the closest flock of flamingos. We were cowering in the skiff while two locals, wading in the water, pushed us in front of them. Rifle and shotgun were ready; slowly advancing with anxious alertness we were observing the closest flamingos that were acting like outlooks in front of their flocks. Finally a perturbation rippled through the flock; all necks were strained; the foremost birds started to advance a few steps and lift themselves into the air with heavy flapping wings. Now, there is no time to lose. Although we had approached to only about 180 paces, I tried a rifle shot that, too short, caught one flamingo in its leg but didn’t down it. With a great tumult, the whole flock started to lift itself into the air and took off in a long line. At this moment I saw a single beautiful male bird at around 300 paces high up in the air and dared, without hope of success, a rifle shot with a lead of around 1 m. As struck by lightning, hit squarely into its chest, the flamingo crashed down into the water. To my joy, an Arab brought the fine specimen to my boat and handed me the bird with a big grin. Two more times, we tried to approach the timid animals; once with two skiffs at the same time, firing a salvo which netted both Wurmbrand and Clam a flamingo each. Then the birds set out into unreachable heights; all flocks combined and departed eastwards over the canal.

Afterwards, we occupied ourselves some time with the rest of the water wild life. We bagged many ducks and grebes and then returned back to land as the sun was setting. We said good-bye to the doleful pasha and traveled back on board  “ SMS Elisabeth”.

Before the dinner we undertook a short stroll in the nothing less than attractive Port Said and did some shopping, mostly cigarettes and different oriental objects. The shopping mania that so easily captures the traveler in foreign countries is peculiar. He feels compelled to buy small things, whether beautiful or ugly or even cheap bric-a-brac, only to have something characteristic of the place in question to bring home, as if it was necessary to offer touchable proof of one’s visit of foreign countries. Such it arrived to us at Port Said where we gave in to our shopping spree. Laden with the most useless stuff, paid far too much over its value, we left the bazaars and filled our cabins that did not have much room to spare in the first place with the goods acquired.


  • Location: Port Said, Egypt
  • ANNO – on 20.12.1892 in Austria’s newspapers. The Bregenzer Tagsblatt informs its readers that diamond thefts are on the rise. The Linzer Volksblatt is pleased to inform its readers that Steyr will install an electric power generator given that 3000 light bulbs have been subscribed to by the public as well as the capacity demanded by the local weapons factory.
  • The k.u.k Hoftheater is playing Goethe’s Faust, Part I.

Yokohama — Tokyo, 23 August 1893

In the morning I again tried my luck to do some shopping in Yokohama and in fact this time guided by the kind Baron Siebold who was completely familiar with Japan and all its aspects thanks to his stay of many years here and also speaking the Japanese language. Unfortunately my efforts were unsuccessful as I tried in vain to find silk and brocade like I bought in Kyoto. I everywhere received the answer that the cloth would have to be ordered first from Kyoto. In contrast I managed to enlarge the board menagerie with lovely white bantams — a full aviary — and enlarge it with one of the already rare cock with their tails of multiple meters in length. I also sent two very cute bears on board that soon became the darlings of the crew and learned in the shortest time to wait in place. Hopefully they arrive at our home healthy as they are intended to be the grace and live in the castle moat at Konopiste.

In the afternoon I wanted to be back in Tokyo and, to evade the lurking eyes of the police, sent Clam and Pronay directly to the capital where they too were festively received by a crowd of over a thousand people and a corresponding contingent of policemen, while I with Siebold exited at the next to last stop and entered Tokyo in rickshaws. The maneuver succeeded too so that we could spend a few hours fully unrestricted and eat a dinner in a restaurant of the beautiful Ueno park.


  • Location: Tokyo, Japan
  • ANNO – on 23.08.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is closed for summer until 15 September. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing the opera „Freund Fritz“.

Nikko — Yokohama, 22 August 1893

As the merciless railway administration had been only willing to provide a special train at no other hour than at 5 o’clock in the morning, we had to get out of bed early to say good-bye to Nikko. At 11 o’clock in the morning we were back at the station of Yokohama which rises in the North-east of the city on land reclaimed from the sea.

Situated like Tokyo in the province of Musashi, it has grown to its current importance out of an unimportant settlement on the West side of the Tokyo bay. Since it had been declared a treaty port in 1859, it thus was opened up for trade with Europe and America. The glory to have breached the system of isolation from foreign trade inaugurated by Ieyasu and enlarged by his nephew Iemitsu belongs to the Americans and especially to Commodore Perry’s expedition in 1854 that ended with the opening of the ports of Shimoda and Hakodate for American trade. Since then Kobe, Osaka, Nagasaki, Hakodate, Niigata and Yokohama have been opened overall as treaty ports and for settlement by foreigners so that the latter settle here in specially designated city quarters and are allowed to travel in the surrounding area of nearly 40 km without special permits.

Instead of Yokohama, by the way, at first Kanagawa, a bit to the North, had been designated as a treaty port but was replaced by Yokohama because of Kanagawa’s location on the Tokaido and thus the thereby always threatening conflicts between the foreigners and the samurai entourage of the traveling daimyos. Yokohama today plays the principal part among the treaty ports as the junction of all steam ship lines that connect Japan to Europe on the one hand and America on the other hand, as a destination for nearly all warships that enter Japan and numerous trading ships and coastal vessels of all kind.

Yokohama, counting 143.000 inhabitants, is quite rightly the point of contact of Japan with the West and the East, the point of entry and departure of trade. This is the reason for the international character of the city which is expressed both externally and in its population.

A quay road built at considerable cost runs alongside the harbor. Custom houses and other mercantile establishments like depots and loading docks serve trade. Nearly 3 km wide extends the foreign settlement in the harbor which has been rebuilt after a fire in 1866 larger and more beautiful, criss-crossed by broad well tended streets and containing residential houses, banks, offices, clubs, hotels and consulates. Numerous foreigners, by the way, only have set up their business location in Yokohama while they have built their residences in a crescent-shaped hill range called Bluff to the West of the city in order to breathe sylvan air and enjoy the beautiful view upon the harbor.

The predominant population are naturally the Japanese but the colony of foreigners, mostly Englishmen and Americans. is large enough to be noticeable in the streets as a leading factor of urban life, so that during a stroll through the city one meets foreigners everywhere, not in the least the sailors landing from the warships who look for relief from the deprivations of long sea voyages.

Even though I had requested to spend my time in Yokohama Incognito and thus to forgo the Japanese entourage, the rickshaw I used to wander through Yokohama and do some shopping was followed immediately by he police prefect, a police official and two reporters which caused understandable commotions in the streets. After other attempts to get rid of this entourage had been in vain, I sought help by using a ruse by going to the Grand Hotel, breakfast there and then leave by the small rear door and take another rickshaw. But the pleasure of the liberty won did not last long. The police soon had been on my tracks and finally arrived at full pace, so that I could only call Sannomiya on the phone. He was soon on the spot and freed me from the undesired entourage. Barely a quarter of an hour later, the procession had again assembled like shadows following my heels. I even believe to have observed that one among the entourage was writing down carefully every object that I bought. Finally I rushed on board not without enjoying the company of a police official following me in a barge.

For the acquisition of those objects I was looking for, Yokohama was not quite an enjoyable place. Even though the number of shops is legion, it was quite difficult to find something matching my tastes which had apparently been developed and refined by the stay in the actual factories of the Japanese art industry, namely in Kyoto. Yokohama’s shops are filled with curiosities in the true sense which is targeted towards the foreigners, especially the Americans who are only seeking to buy some characteristic objects of the country and whose demands have apparently not been quite so beneficial for the local production.

When I offered my opinion to some merchants, they admitted the correctness of the observation but added that it was precisely the mediocre goods if they are only large, colorful even loud and quite baroque that made them bestsellers for America and also for England, while the stylish, discrete and tasteful and thus more valuable objects are little sought.

In the evening I had invited some of the gentlemen of our embassy as well as the Japanese entourage to a dinner on board where songs from home made all guests merry.


  • Location: Yokohama, Japan
  • ANNO – on 22.08.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is closed for summer until 15 September. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing the opera „Der fliegende Holländer“.

Tokyo — Nikko, 20 August 1893

In front of the small Catholic mission church where I attended mass the pupils of its nuns assembled for me. The nuns provide excellent service for the education of the children but reasonably keep the Japanese costumes, the usual Japanese greetings and other external traditions. The small musumes are all dressed alike and look very cute. The mother superior, Mater Domitilla, a dignified old lady has been staying for a long time in Japan doing her pious and useful job.

At the visit I paid to the archbishop of Tokyo, a kind Frenchman, I learned from him and a missionary also present many interesting details about the country and its people, but unfortunately also that the propagation of the Christian religion was not showing the desired progress in Japan as the Japanese did not possess much religious sense and are mostly very apathetic in terms of matters of believing.

Until now the number of festivities was so compact that I had not yet found the opportunity to visit the shops of Tokyo. This was to be made up today, the first free day. During my stroll I saw a good part of the city whose enormous extent only now became clear to me but the first impression did not change that the city is behind the other visited Japanese cities as far as originality is concerned. Everywhere pieces of Europe pushed out in a not very stylistic and inharmonious way. The streets one of which measures more than 7 km are too long and have a tiring effect.

Tokyo`s shops, namely the Curio Shops, offer a great variety of objects and thus a rich selection. One believes that all original treasures have already been discovered and bought and still finds new forms and totally unknown objects once more.

In bronze, lacquer, porcelain, wood and paper all the holy animals appeared and especially frequently the dragon that is predominant in Japanese myth, symbolism and art. We also frequently encountered the country`s coat of arms too, namely the schematic flower of the Chrysanthemum, Kiku, and the coast of arms of the house of the Mikado that is formed by the leaves and flowers of Paulownia imperialis, Kiri.

In one of the shops I noticed a wavelike moment of the floor, the walls trembled and the water in the aquariums splashed upwards high into the sky — apparently I lived through one of those earthquakes that strike Tokyo so often and I thought that the underground forces did not want me to leave before they had shown their terrible powers but only at a moderate level thus causing interest but not having a devastating effect. In a distant part of the city one of my gentlemen also noticed the movement of the earth.

Unfortunately I did not have time to buy silk of which it was said that Tokyo was especially rich, as I wanted to pay a visit to our ambassador Baron Biegeleben in the Tokyo Hotel before my departure. It is a first class hotel that is owned by a Japanese and managed by Japanese but still was worthy to be placed in a line with any hotel in England or Switzerland.

The short time that I still had left in Tokyo I used to visit a Japanese theater that is laid out somewhat like our great singing halls. Opposite the entrance is the great stage. The space for the audience is divided into boxes, floor and galleries whereas the first two are divided by half-a-meter high boards in square fields each of which offers space for four to six persons. Banks and chairs don`t exist, everyone is sitting on the floor. The occupants of the boxes, whole families or groups install themselves comfortably in view of the length of the performances —  they last from noon to 10 o’clock in the evening — and bring food and drink.

The theater offers room for ca. 3000 people, and all of them smoke, without any distinction among the sexes. Everywhere there are fireboxes with glowing coals and the matches are only thrown on the ground. The orders of the fire police did not seem to be very demanding which should be the case given that the buildings are made only out of wood, straw and paper. Instead of almond milk, lemonade or similar refreshments that are common at home, here they sell rice, fruit and sake. The continuous rustle of the fans, crying children and the beating of the pipes creates ongoing and varied noise that has quite a negative impact on the art enjoyment.

The quite spacious state is very primitive in matters of changing the scene as it only involves the turning of a disc that has various decorations. The orchestra consisting of only a few musicians sits at the height of the first floor next to the stage in a cage-like space out of which now and then unmelodious sounds reach our ears. To the right and left of the floor and along the full length of it are two board runways called flower paths that lead to the stage. These are used for the entrance and exit of armed groups but also serve for the movements of the actors who act and speak from these runways. During the long breaks, the elegant part of the audience moves to the surrounding tea houses and only return when the play continues to the theater.

The themes of the pieces played in the Japanese theater are mostly taken from the national history which offers inexhaustible themes in the continuous wars among the daimyos. Heated fights, murder, killings and harakiri, that has now gone out of practice, are the climax of most dramatic development. But the presentation of popular life and moral plays are not missing if one may call them thus. Is a piece too long or too tragic in its conclusion, then arbitrary cuts are made and individual acts from other plays inserted. Only men perform as actors but are very good at playing the female parts in voice, posture, gestures and dress. It is not necessary to highlight that we did not understand much about the plot of the piece that was played. It was a piece of the category of a jealousy drama and resulted in an intense fall-out of the lovers according to the gestures and the looks of the actors. Apparently the action was very sad as the audience was visibly moved. Namely the female part of the audience was drenched in tears and at times loud sobbing was heard. But soon we had to tear ourselves away from the play in order to drive to the distant station of Uyeno where the Imperial princes and the ministers had assembled to say good-bye to me.

The railway forms an arc in a Northern direction crossing well tended land until Utsunomiya, where it turns towards the Northwest to reach the for Japanese holy grounds of Nikko. From the shores of the Tone-gawa to just up to Nikko there was an alley of Japanese cedars that was in a class of its own and made a great impression in the darkness of the night, covered in shadows. A pious man who was to poor to pay for a bronze lantern at the sanctuaries of Nikko is said to have planted the alley. Where we today quickly rolled on railtracks, under the Tokugawa shoguns the Reiheishi moved on the road named after him, the envoy of the Mikado who had to present offerings in the mausoleum of Ieyasu at Nikko.

At 11 o’clock in the night we arrived in Nikko where despite the advanced hour there were curious people in great numbers who watched the nearly endless line of djinn rickshaws that winded liked a snake from the station to the Nikko hotel more than 2 km away which is situated in the gully outside of the temple city, close to a temple grove and provided a fitting place to rest for us.


  • Location: Nikko, Japan
  • ANNO – on 20.08.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is closed for summer until 15 September. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing a ballet and Viennese waltzes.

Miyanoshita, 16 August 1893

This day was completely dedicated to rest, to the dolce far niente, as there were no temples to visit nor was the weather suitable for excursions. The morning I filled with shopping where I bought countless quite useless and valueless objects of various kind, feeding the goldfishes and watching the creation of a Japanese hairdo of a Japanese lady who despite wearing a negligee was not inconvenienced by our presence. Then we all put on kimonos and had ourselves photographed in the local dress which caused hilarity many American ladies especially our chief doctor who is blessed with a bit heavier body.

Especially well did one photograph turn out that showed me in the midst of my entourage who were all kneeling in the Japanese manner and covering the ground with their heads. As we were already enjoying the local customs, I undertook the quite painful procedure of getting a tattoo that required in a four hour session no fewer than 52.000 pinpricks and resulted in a resplendent dragon on my left arm — a joke I will probably come to regret due to its inextinguishable marks. A stroll and an excellent dinner completed this no very useful but quiet day of rest.


  • Location: Miyanoshita, Japan
  • ANNO – on 16.08.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is closed for summer until 15 September. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing the opera „Die Königin von Saba“.

Kyoto, 13 August 1893

To celebrate the Sunday we attended the holy mass in the French missionary church and devoted the day, our last in Kyoto, nearly completely to shopping. As the shop owners seemed to know that there was no chance of me returning, they were lowering their demands if they saw us leave without having achieved a deal.

The atmosphere was clean, the weather gorgeous — so I felt inspired by Buddhism towards the evening and leaning towards spending it in calm contemplation and meditate to the sunset. Looking for a suitable spot, I selected the Yaami Hotel. The choice was a fine one as the establishment was situated on a dominant hill and its veranda offered a wide panorama. The sunset left nothing to be desired too. For a few hours I settled down for a quiet rest and my eyes enjoyed themselves on the panorama. Below us lay the earnest temple groves with their huge Japanese cedars, the extended city out of whose sea of houses the roofs of the temples rise like mighty ships in a calm sea. In the distance gleam the softly undulating mountain ranges in the light of the setting sun. I sat, thought and dreamed about Kyoto’s glorious past, from the periods of splendor of ancient Japan, from the huge battles that this island people had to heroically endure through the centuries — until my eye was caught seeing the smoking factory stacks and this bothersome sight reminded me that in Japan too the era of European civilization had arrived whose main quality is its sobriety.

We no longer looked for the ideal but at the factory stacks. Japan has already learnt to look to us. With no intention to deny the importance of these critical buildings and the respect they are due, I still feel how inside of me, if such an audacious young modern smokestack stands next to an ancient temple that has seen the centuries come and go, the opposition to such a profanation becomes active and an egoistic sentiment grows which does not want to be disturbed in enjoying the beautiful and dignified by the presence of the mere useful. Very many Japanese will justly look proudly upon all the European discoveries that his homeland has mastered in such a short time, but when the ancient founders of sects and temples would rise out of their graves and see how their Japan has changed and tell what they have seen to the old Buddha in Nara, I believe that Daibutsu would shake his head so hard that he would lose it again.


  • Location: Kyoto, Japan
  • ANNO – on 13.08.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is closed for summer until 15 September. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing the opera „Die Walküre“.

Kyoto, 9 August 1893

Very close to our residence and in the same garden are historic buildings where generations of Mikados had lived and died hidden from the eyes of the people, until the new constitution ended this captivity. The complex of the palace buildings consists of a row of wide-ranging one story buildings that we had noticed already during our arrival. In contrast to the other Japanese buildings they make in fact a very austere and cold impression. The delicate small gardens that are missing hardly anywhere are here replaced by sandy dust-filled courtyards. We visited the hall called Seiro-den. The wing of the rooms of this buildings used to form the actual place where the Mikado stayed but then later only served to hold certain festivities. In the audience hall, the place of inthronization of the Mikado, I noticed a small seat of honor with a pavilion roof made out of white, red and black silk guarded by two yawning bronze figures in front while on the walls hung paintings in Chinese style.

The part of the palace called Tsune-goten contains the private rooms of the Mikado. In the numerous rooms of the palace where a visitor might nearly get lost we found now and then beautiful wall paintings that however were unable to reduce the first impression of the bleakness of the palace which the interior of the residence exudes. If I were Emperor of Japan, ruler over such an artistic people, I would have known to decorate my palace much more splendidly and more comfortably, namely if it would have been to spend my life in silent seclusion.

On the way to the Nijo, the former palace of the shoguns, we entered a silk weaving factory where goods for export were produced that however can only in part be called excellent products of the Japanese textile industry. The technical process is overall the same as that used at home in similar establishments. The silk weavers of Kyoto are concentrated in Nishi-jin, that is the Western camp in the North-western part of the city. The number engaged in this industry is very considerable given the importance that silk production plays for the production of goods in Japan and silk is Japan’s most valuable export article. As in Europe this industry has to overcome calamities of all kinds, not the least the diseases that afflict the mulberry silkworm (Bombyx mori). The latter circumstance had led to efforts in Japan to seek a replacement for the silkworm in  Antheraea yamamai that eats the leaves of the Japanese oak (Quercus serrata) and produces a light glittering cocoon that has been successfully used to produce damask and brocade-like crepe.

Nijo Castle has been built in 1601 by Ieyasu as his quarter during visits to Kyoto and since then has served as a residence for the shoguns of the house Tokugawa until it passed into Imperial possession in the year 1868. The fortress-like exterior and namely the Cyclopean walls with towers are not preparing the visitor to what he will see in the interior rooms, even though the rich haut-reliefs of the gates reveal more artistic taste and love of splendor than the Imperial palace.

A fairy tale magic is surrounding us as we walk through one gold ornamented hall after another. Splendidly executed wall paintings stand out from the gleaming background offering us insights into new art forms. If we had hitherto admired the delicacy and love of detail in Japanese paintings, we could not fail to notice a trait of brilliance in these paintings.  All other halls are surpassed by the splendor of the former audience hall of the shogun whose gold decoration is formally blinding the visitor.  But this splendor failed to ban the fear which can be concluded by the presence of a secret door intended to keep armored guards hidden in a side chamber of the audience hall who were able to assist a shogun in trouble at any moment.

Japan’s Rothschild, a very rich banker called Nitsui who owes his millions to the mines in the interior asked me to pay him a visit in his newly completed house. I gladly accepted this invitation and was greeted in in the hall of the newly built palace by its owner, a friendly looking small man who bowed many times and gave a longer speech. The visit showed that the building had been constructed with taste, out of finely planed wood, clay and paper and surrounded by a cute garden. The interior however showed a turn toward European tastes and comforts which could not be matched with the also present native furniture of the rooms. The heavy splendid fauteuils in flashy colorful cloths procured in Europe as well as the massive armoires and thick rugs stood in a stark contrast to the delicate Kakemonos and light mats, But exactly this contradiction seemed for the owner to create the charms of something original and thus to please him. Nitsui seems to love animals very much. This conclusion can be based on the wire frame aviary on the veranda oriented towards the garden with two prancing pairs of cranes one coming from Japan, the other from Korea, while in delicate and completely clean wooden cages nearly all bird species existing in Japan were kept, namely singing birds. Among the prisoners I noticed also a nutcracker whose feathers had the same coloring as its European brother. Mr. Nitsui had some refreshments served and then presented me an owl and a spoonbill as a gift that had unfortunately been quite badly stuffed.

Had I up to now only visited ancient temples, I now wanted to look at Higashi-honganji ebethat was just being built. The brother temple of Nigashi honganji had become a victim of the flames in 1864 during the murderous fight between many hundreds of people from Chōshū who had come with the intent of capturing the person of the Mikado despite the prohibition to stay in Kyoto and the troops assembled to protect the capital. The construction has already achieved great progress so that it was clear that a Buddha temple was being built which conformed strictly to the provisions of the Shin sect in both planning the site and its style and at the same time by the noble proportions of its dimensions and the splendid decoration will become a landmark of the city.

My astonishment was especially triggered by the colossal tree trunks that had been supplied as offerings from all parts of Japan for the construction. It was as if one was wandering in the building site through a forest of pillars made out of the Keaki wood, a tree that is part of the family of elm trees (Zelkowa keaki) whose wood is exceptional in regard to its robustness, elasticity and durability so that is a favored building material for ships and houses and the construction of various small luxury goods. For the construction of the Higashi-honganji Keaki wood is used for all visible parts while the other ones use spruce, namely for the roof woodwork of the building. The spruce used are really giant ancient trunks which however are necessary to cover the enormous spans as the temple is 74 m long and 52 m wide.

The more than an arm thick ropes, with which the mighty trunks are hoisted up, lay in front of us in two man-high coils. They are said to be made out of women’s hair. This use of a material otherwise unused or to different effect is said to have been derived that at the start of constructing the temple multiple ropes had cracked while hoisting the heavy trunks which caused accidents repeatedly and made one priest prophecy that only a rope produced out of women’s hair would be capable of bearing the load and thus avoid further accidents. Based on this prophecy many women and girls decided in great numbers to sacrifice their hairs to the temple construction and contribute to the creation of the necessary ropes. And so it was — the sex that is actually the stronger one proved its worth also in this case. As their hair braided into a pitch-black ropes has been doing stellar services at the temple construction proving the confidence of the prophetising priest right. Even though I elsewhere do not tend to mutilate works of art to take a piece of it home nor take strange things in an illegal manner to add some curiosity to my collection, I nevertheless departed from my principles here as I had a small piece of this rope cut off in secret and merrily returned home with my haul.

Quickly we ate breakfast and then rushed out to once more go shopping whereas I especially wanted to buy silk and kimonos, the latter to present as a gift to friends at home. The shopping madness that had taken hold of us had become known in wider circles so that the people crowded in the streets in front of the shops and followed our activities with their eyes while uniformed policemen and detectives were busily rushing here and there to assure my security though I did not feel threatened at all. That such circumstances do not make shopping easier and namely cheaper is probably obvious.

Just before the late evening dinner a football game in my honor had been arranged by the gentlemen of Kyoto’s aristocracy which was played in an ancient Japanese costume. Here it was the goal of the players  to kick a football up and to a team mate within a delimited rather small space who would take the ball in the same manner and pass it on. I found reason to admire the eagerness and skill of the players and even more so given that some of the gentlemen had long been past the beautiful time of their first youth.  The players made an excellent and characteristic impression in their national dress. They looked much better attired in it that in the often badly cut tail and frock coats.


  • Location: Kyoto, Japan
  • ANNO – on 09.08.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is closed for summer until 15 September. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing the opera „Fidelio“.

Kyoto, 8 August 1893

From Kobe to Osaka the Tokaido railway line to Tokyo is following the coast and then turns towards the interior in a North-western direction to Kyoto where we arrived at 1 o’clock in the night after with a considerable delay caused by the festive receptions. Here I entered a court carriage and rushed to Gosho, the Imperial Palace, followed by a long line of djinn rickshaws with my entourage. After a long drive through the straight streets that are laid out in a grid pattern. Disregarding the late hour, a packed crowd was lining the streets under and with lampions in our home colors.

The Imperial palace is surrounded by a garden and a high covered wall and makes an ugly impression which is not improved by the dark walls made out of wood from Hinoki, the Japanese cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa) and the steeply sloping roofs covered with the bark of that tree. The rooms of the house assigned to us are decorated in a simple but tasteful way in the original Japanese art. We found here too sliding doors and the lightly colored mats. On the walls are artistic images on a golden background. A veranda encloses the building and leads directly into the garden where countless guardians of the law are fending off all potential dangers.

In consideration of the late hour we had gone to sleep I believed that I could escape out of the clutches of my entourage by leaving the palace early in the morning and visit the sights of Kyoto in an inconspicuous way. But my assumptions proved to be wrong as I had hardly been strolling half an hour through the city when the gentlemen of the Japanese entourage turned up, quite worried whether I would be angry about their delay.

My first visit was to the Catholic church, a friendly house of worship in Gothic style that has been built by a Japanese architect. French priests exercises with as much enthusiasm as the nuns nearby whose beneficial works have already borne fruits.

Kyoto, numbering 298.500 inhabitants, rose out of the fertile plain of the province Yamashiro — on of the five main provinces of Japan (Go-kinai) that provided the foundation of the empire and in which all Imperial residences were situated — between the rivers Kamo and Katsura. With the larger part on the right bank and the smaller one on the slopes of the wooded heights of the Higashiyama on the left bank of Kamogawa, at some distance also surrounded by wooded mountains in the North and West. Kyoto is well known for its scenic landscape, its regularity of the site and not the least by the cleanliness of its not especially wide streets.

In this city the blooming art industry was held in high esteem since ancient times, namely the silk, metal and ceramic industries. Honorable and very famous, Kyoto is the classic focus of the one thousand year old history of ancient Japan — the genie of the more recent history lies in Tokyo. In 794 the Mikado Kanmu, one of the most important princes of the country, changed his residence to the village of Uda by constructing a peace palace called Heian-kyo and thus set the foundations for the city of Kyoto whose name in Chinese language means „capital city“.

The year 1868 moved like so much else with an iron foot past Kyoto’s position — it was necessary to break with the great historical past and rooted traditions. The new ideas had to be given more favorable soil as a place of old memories. Thus the residence of the Mikado was moved to Tokyo and thus Kyoto’s hegemony was broken — the former city indicated the future, the latter the past of Japan. For a conservative Japanese, however, Kyoto is still, even though it has lost not only in political but also material relations in an unfavorable comparison with Tokyo, the center of history, of erudition and culture of Japan. And one other glory Kyoto has kept: It is the city of temples. In its surrounding area it is said that to be about 3000 temples. What is Rome for Catholics, Moscow for the Russians, Mecca for the Muslims, Kandy for the Buddhists, that is Kyoto for the Japanese even if a person might be a Buddhist or Shintoist.

Visiting all 3000 temples would be too much to ask so that we limited us to the most exceptional. We started with the main Buddhist temple of the Jodo sect called Chion-in, situated in the Eastern part of the city on a hill and looking similar to a fortress.

The Jodo sect whose priests strictly live celibate and abstain from eating meat proclaims that salvation is mainly due to observing pious customs and has been founded in 1173 by Honen Shonin and blossomed during the Tokugawa shogunate. An avenue bordered by cherry trees leads to the main entrance of the temple, a building two stories high that has been made out of heavy wood and has as original as elegant an architectural form. A steep stairs bordered by dark Japanese cedars leads to a great forecourt at whose end lies the main temple Hondo in a charming grove. In the forecourt stand multiple splendid bronze vessels out of which water is spilling, intended for the believers to clean their hands before entering the temple. For the same purpose apparently a number of obviously already used cloths are hanging there. The main building, a covered mighty hall of pillars is also built out of the universal material, wood, and thus has repeatedly become a victim of the flames. The last time in 1633, after which it had been rebuilt in its current form.

We had to take off our shoes and entered the room accessible to any visitor where multiple bonzes were murmuring prayers and beat on gongs. But their curiosity seemed to be greater than their piety as the priests looked at us and lost their rhythm of ringing bells. Sannomiya, who had been a temple priest in his younger days, called his former colleagues and ordered them to guide us through all rooms of the temple. The bonzes whose shaved heads were covered with strange net-like caps wore a kind of stole slung around the neck and were noticeable by the splendor of their dresses even though they should have been joined together out of small patches according to the strict doctrines in order to show that the priests once walked in rags. The idol servants not only perform the prescribed prayers and ceremonies but also engage in a roaring trade with amulets and write passe-partouts to heaven for the believers in exchange for a commensurate tip.

In the main temple itself, one of the largest of such buildings in Kyoto, rises a splendidly gilded shrine on a table-like alter contained within an area delimited by four pillars. The shrine contains the statue of the sect’s founder. It is usually only shown once a year during the commemoration ceremony about the founding of the doctrine. In my honor, they made an exception and I could take a look at the sanctuary for which a bonze opened the shrine by bowing down numerous times to his knees. The statue shows a small corpulent man with a smiling physiognomy who is comfortably ably resting on a pillow and in his external expression reminds more of a jovial dandy than a strict religious reformer. The altar that holds this sanctuary is notable for its splendid lacquer and bronze works that produce a rare artistic effect by their harmonious blend. The surrounding wooden pillars are richly gilded,  their capitals and the freezes and ceiling fields are decorated with artistic carvings, fantastic animals and all kinds of symbols.

In front of the facing pillars rise mighty bronze vases, carrying metal lotus flowers, that reach up to nearly half the temple. Numerous lamps, incense burners and bronze displays form a peculiar valuable decoration and show all kinds of thinkable variations in terms of their sizes as besides the lamps there are other metal objects multiple meters high as well as objects in the most minimal dimensions such as lamps that barely manage to hold a miniature flame. Whatever we look at is contained in the most noble forms and shows the noble sensitive taste of the artists that created these master works.

On the side of the main altars stands the altar of Buddha, a peculiarity that is connected with the fact that the temple had been dedicated to the sect’s founder. In multiple gilded shrines lay tablets on small pedestals to commemorate various persons for their pious contributions and dedications to the temple. These tablets of which there was a considerable number gave in their formation the impression of the model of a cemetery.

The main temple is followed by a number of buildings of all kinds and various purposes, thus a conference hall and a library that contains a collection of all Buddhist prescriptions and multiple Buddha altars that each carry a richly gilded statue that represent the god with a halo sitting under or on an opened lotus flower. The close environment of the altars show signs of the frequent visits of the believers as the gilding is often enough rubbed off in some places which can easily be explained that the pious pilgrims who desire the ease from bodily pain or the end of an infirmity from the divine power by brushing the affected body part against the respective part of the statue — a form of activity of religious conviction that leaves nothing to be desired in its drastic comic relief.

A further building next to the temple is the palace built by the shogun Iyemizu, who ruled from 1623 to 1651 and had been conspicuous by his activity. That palace contains a real labyrinth of rooms that in earlier times were intended in part for the Mikado in part for his Imperial prince acting in his capacity as high priest but now serves as a residence for the bonzes or are unoccupied. These rooms are exceptional by their paintings that cover the moving walls. We saw here old very famous works by important masters whose impressions of all kinds of animals and plants and activities of daily life have entered them into an eternal commemoration. Some of these rooms show admirable images of spruce, bamboo and peach trees, chrysanthemums, willows and winter landscapes etc. An especially well reputed image shows a cat that seems to turn its head always towards the spectator irrespective of the position of the spectator in the room. Furthermore an image of a spruce and that of a sparrow whose realism is characterized by an anecdote that the painted trees have sweated resin but the sparrow had started to fly just having been finished. In view of these artworks the gimmick of placing a board into the veranda floor that emits a sound reminding one of a tweeting bird when one steps on the board.

Below the front gallery of the temple a gilded withered umbrella is stuck into the woodwork that according to a myth had flown in ancient times out of the hands of a boy who had changed into the form of the god Inari and provided protection against fire. In this function the magic umbrella does not seem to have performed well given the repeated destruction of the temple buildings in fires. The believers use the umbrella to gain a view into the future. Who has a desire in his heart and wants to be informed about its fulfilment throws small balls made out of clay or chewed paper on the umbrella. If the projectiles stick, this is considered a good omen, as a blessing by the god asked in this strange way. Given the numerous bought requests to learn about the future that are attached to the woodwork and sully the room, the number of believers who have wishes and desire to know the future are very large indeed.

Inari is the harvest and rice god which Kitsune, the Japanese fox, has selected as his servant. The fox has been selected due to its cunning as a temple guard and has this function at the entrance of many temples, made out of various materials. Beside the fox, the crane and also the freshwater turtle are especially venerated and both as symbols of luck, the latter one also as a symbol for a long life and peaceful dotage, one of the seven felicities. Thus too the preference for the display of these animals in bronze, in porcelain or in lacquerware and also using such objects as birthday presents to express the desire of a long life for the recipient.

On a small hill between the trees stands the tower completed in 1618 that has a giant bell of over 3 m and a nearly as large diameter at the base and of a respective thickness. This bell had been cast in 1633 and has considerable quantities of gold added to improve the purity of its sound. A tree trunk fixed to the exterior of the tower serves as a ram-like bobbin.

In djinn rickshaws we drove through multiple clean and especially cute streets to the temple  Gion-jajira that lies close to the one just visited and is dedicated to the Shinto cult. This is very simple to detect even for a stranger by the gates already familiar from Mijajima. In general it its easier for foreigners to gain entrance into a Buddhist temple than a Shinto one but we did not have any troubles today. In the forecourt were numerous votive tablets covered with long sayings and lamps. In the interior rooms we found the mirror and the Gohei as a symbol, guarded by two grotesque figures, a unicorn and a tiger. In front of an alter stood on clean small tables food and drink offerings, mostly rice, fish and sake that the believers have given in large quantities and which are received by the priests as a welcome offering.

A stark test to our rickshaw runners was posed by the road ascending steeply through a row of small alleys in whose shops porcelain and namely puppets of all kind were sold that led to the Buddhist temple of Kijomitsu. This is very popular in Japan for being dedicated to the goddess of mercy called Kwan-on, who listening to the prayers of the humans may safe them out of calamities and in apparent symbols of this power is shown with multiple faces, 40 arms and a 1000 hands. The history of the foundation of this sanctuary is a myth and lost in ancient times. In any case the temple is said to be among the oldest buildings in Kyoto. Here too a row of steeply ascending steps leads to a path to the two story high gate.

A bit higher lies a pagoda of three stories that is distinguished by its richly carved ornaments ad takes up a dominant position. In its proximity are some smaller chapels. Approaching through a path of pillars upwards the visitor finally stands in front of the main temple itself that has a strange effect caused by its ornamented raw pillars. The not really comfortable ascent is much eased by the number of interesting objects that make us rest at any moment to look at them and admire them. Votive tablets, bronze vases in colossal dimensions, gorgeous fountains with artistically formed dragon figures etc. catch the attention and slow down the steps.

The main temple contains in a shrine a 1,5 m tall image of the sitting „Goddess of Mercy with 1000 Hands“, also called Kwan-on, at whose sides are a row of figures of gods. The shrine is only opened every 33 years so that the people are granted viewing the the image of mercy. The decoration of the altar is a wild mix of living plants, artificial flowers, vases, candleholders, incense burners and offering vessels. The believers can work into motion large bells  with intertwined white-red ropes and thus assure consideration from the goddess for especially important pleas. Eternal lights are burning in the temple that is visited day and night by believers seeking mercy and aid.

On the frontside of the temple is a wooden platform called Butai, that is a dancing scene, with two wings for the orchestra, built apparently for special ceremonies on important holy days. A hall connected to this platform is filled with votive images that contain in part very interesting representations of events and actions n which the goddess has helped the donor. Besides the presence of symbols of various kinds such as the holy temple horses in all kinds of potential poses and gaits, one can see human fates in a colorful alternation, important events next to minor ones, heated cavalry battles and fights with giants and monsters next to the discomforts of daily life are preserved for eternity —  all in commemoration of the goddess with her thousand hands who had provided help.

The strange impression that the total site of the temple and the local situation makes on the spectator is still increased by the fact that the hill that carries the main temple is separated by a gorge from another sanctuary also dedicated to the goddess Kwan-on.

This building stands on poles rises above the hill and offers a splendid view of Kyoto and its picturesque surroundings for visitors from the veranda. Countless votive images provide here too testimony about the goddess‘ helping power whose wooden bust has been worn away by the frequent touches from the body parts of the believers in need. Among the votive images the representation of a steam boat deserves to be mentioned which is just experiencing the explosion of its boiler. A number of people on the ship, however, are saved from the impending drowning by the majestic goddess in the clouds.

From the platform of the veranda, fanatics jumped not rarely down over the rocks into a depth of 30 m holding but an opened umbrella in their hands to test whether the eternal protection of heaven was theirs which would be shown by the audacious jumpers surviving the fall intact while broken bones were seen as a quite sensitive refusal of divine protection. Often the dangerous jump was made to get a judgement of god. Killing oneself to enter into the nirvana close to the temple suggests itself. Finally the newly organized police had a lattice built around the platform and thus terminated the various aspirations of the jumpers.

Another smaller temple seems to be dedicated to a goddess for her effectiveness in protecting children. Here are found all kinds of votive images and other objects that are related to such protection of youth by the goddess, thus lattices that prevent children from falling down and small clay Buddha statues equipped with red bibs tied around the neck similar in the way one uses them to prevent kids to soil their clothes during a meal.

The number of visits today was concluded with one to the temple of the Buddhist Shin or Ikko sect that had been founded by Shinran, a descendant of an ancient noble family, in the year 1213 and is said to have over 10.000 temples in the country and said to distinguish itself by a certain level of rationality in its teachings as well as the purity of the behavior of its adherents. The belief in Buddha, noble thoughts and acts are the main demands for the believer whereas the celibacy, penitence and all kinds of asceticism or monastic life etc. are repudiated. Especially remarkable is that the founder of the sect has introduced the local language into the rituals and that the priesthood is inherited as it is among the Shintoists. The sect which intends a reform of Buddhist beliefs by the re-foundation of its original purity and is eager to teach its adherents also in the European sciences has not only in Kyoto but in every larger city two temples. Nishi (West) and Higashi (East) honganji.

The former, built in 1591 or 1592, is remarkable by its important dimensions as well as the richness of its decorations and the ornaments which are apparently connected with the cult of the especially splendid decoration by the sect. What gorgeous trunks have been used here as pillars and in the woodwork! What luxurious and still noble ornaments provide such true artistic enjoyment! The main entrance is covered with splendid carvings that represent flowers and leaves of chrysanthemums. Similar decorations are found on the friezes and extends up into the woodwork of the ceiling.

One of the most famous woodcutters of the country who could only use his left arm is said to have enlivened the rigid wood by those master works. A mighty tree growing in the temple courtyard is said to have the power to protect the temple from fire. The interior room, and namely both the nave and the two side chapels, richly light up thanks to the gilded areas on the walls and also the pillars when light enters from the veranda. To the right and left are chapel-like rooms that contain almost two hundred year old Kakemonos with golden letters on a dark-blue background proclaiming the god and furthermore the portraits of important believers of the sect.

The shrine of a height of about 60 cm encloses a statue showing the sect’s founder in a sitting position and is covered with gilded and painted flower ornaments while the altar on its front side is divided into individual fields with flowers and birds that are in contrast to the gilded background. In front of the image of the founder hangs a frame that holds the name of the currently ruling Mikado.

In an almost endless row of hall-like rooms of other buildings belonging to the temple, especially the government rooms we could admire gorgeous stitchings and paintings that covered the movable walls. Here there are all kinds of trees and bushes, there  chrysanthemums, then again geese and peacocks that have inspired and served the artists as models of living and natural beings. All these master works that are able to improve the understanding of the ancient Japanese art in a much different way than the goods that reach Europe are painted on long paper rolls that first lay horizontally in front of the artist and only after the completion are mounted on the walls. In general there are very few paintings from ancient Japan that are painted directly on vertical areas.

Through a labyrinth-like garden I was led to the home of the high priest who received us in a purple dress similar to those used by the Catholic bishops. This religious official is one of the highest religious dignitaries of Japan, a consequence of the respect awarded to the the sect as well as the circumstance that the Niji-hongwanji in Kyoto is seen as the main temple of the sect and its priests provide leadership in matters for the religious community in the whole country.

In 1876 the now ruling Mikado has awarded the title of Kenshin-daishi, that is Great Master, to the founder of the Shin doctrine who died 600 years ago which was a high honor and a recognition for the direction into which the reforming spirit of this Buddhist sect is moving. After the dignified leader of the Shin had offered us snow-like shaped fruit ice as well as very heavily sweetened treats that I could only force down with great effort, we drove to our residence in a djinn rickshaw column that had become all the longer as the assigned dignitaries and policemen were joined by a considerable number of reporters who were the complete equal of their European colleagues as far as their zealousness to their profession was concerned.

The afternoon was devoted to shopping for which Kyoto offers great opportunities. However the prices in the larger and better known shops are already set for trading with foreigners that I mostly avoided those progressive shops that carried the sign „Curio Shop“ and directed my steps to trading shops in the side alleys where I found also beautiful objects but at considerably less expensive prices as it the most prominent shops.

The regular layout of the streets in endless long lines from South to North and in a shorter extent from East to West makes the orientation much easier which is all the more helpful as we had to cover considerable distances between one shop and the next. As an aside, the distances in the city in Kyoto are calculated from the point of the Sanjo bridge built by the Taiko-sama. Everywhere one notices the cleanliness in the public areas as well as the fact that in Kyoto the sprinkling of the streets in front of the houses works much better than this is the case at home where it is the duty of the caretakers with their perennial bad moods.

During the drive I saw also a small factory in which the very common and quite pretty porcelain wares are produced in a process that is still not much removed from the artisanal method. The easier tasks are done by boys and women, the more difficult ones by men. In general the fabrication process, as far as the process and the tools used for it are concerned, looks still primitive.

Still the production speed achieved in part by the large division of labor is astonishing. As the form is quickly created on the potter’s wheel, then dried for a short time and afterwards painted. For the latter purpose a foreman sketches the outline of the figure or other decoration on the object itself which then wanders from hand to hand that add each some colors or some brush strokes until the artwork is ready to go into the oven for the final burning.

The location of the earthenware and porcelain industry is on the left bank of the Kamo-gawa in the quarter of Kiyomizu  which we had already crossed on our way to the visit to the temple of the same name. Here they produce and sell primarily goods for the home market, but for some years there exists also a production dedicated to foreign taste and export which has increased considerably since 1868. That the porcelain industry is not native in Japan but the permanent success of the expedition in which Taiko-sama set out to conquer Korea and China can be assumed as correct. The daimyos of Satsuma, Hisen, Choshu and multiple other brought home artisans from Korea who became the founders of the Japanese pottery industry.

In the evening we visited one of the largest tea houses in which female dancers put their art on display. But I could not applaud their choreographic skills nor their singing to the accompanying instruments. The allure for novelties which both in tea houses and the productions of dancers and singers performed in them at first exert is likely to certainly catch the interest to a high degree. Still I can not share the delight of the Europeans for these establishments and about the artistic skills of the puppet-like beauties.


  • Location: Kyoto, Japan
  • ANNO – on 08.08.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is closed for summer until 15 September. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing the opera „Der Troubadour“.

Hongkong, 28 July 1893

Today’s stay in Hongkong is considered an extension of the program. But we were so busy with the packaging and sending of the objects bought in Canton that a delay of the time for departure seemed inevitable. In the morning I stayed on board, occupied with all kinds of business and received our so late arrived consular agent, a German named Kramer who excused himself as he had gone to pick up his sick wife in Japan.

In the afternoon I „strolled“ again in the streets of the city, taking my leave from Hongkong, and in the evening I hosted a dinner on board to which I had invited the Austrians, namely consul general Haas and his wife, Coudenhove and the Lloyd’s agent as well as Mr. Kramer. „Bismarck“, the German speaking Chinese, had presented me with a flower bouquet as table decoration. After the meal, the wonderful moonshine enticed all dinner participants to undertake, in our barge, a tour of the harbor.


  • Location: Hongkong
  • ANNO – on 28.07.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is closed for summer until 15 September. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing a ballet „Coppella“ and more.

Port Moresby, 15 June 1893

The end of the rainy season made itself felt in a disagreeable manner as a tropical rain was pouring down in the morning and the sea was moving heavily driven by the wind as the crashing waves on the barrier reef revealed. A fog was laying on the mountains and it was windy so that the work of loading coal on board was on the one hand made more difficult by the wet weather but on the other hand spared us the presence of coal dust entering into all rooms. The rain and the heavy sea prevented also our plan to fish with dynamite in the bay as recommended by the harbor steward. Thus we could but stay and look out for the governor’s yacht that was still not visible. As towards 10 o’clock in the morning it was still nowhere in sight, tired of waiting, I took a boat to the close village Hanuabada.

The homes in Hanuabada were, like most native settlements in New Guinea, huts resting on poles. This custom of building elevated rooms high above ground or where a village is standing in the water — either on the sea coast or in a lake or at the river shore in the interior of the land — high above the water level is derived from the purpose of offering protection against human and animal enemies for the occupants of such pile dwellings.

Here too as well as in the other villages near Moresby the poles are made out of mangrove wood and 3 to 4 m tall on which rest the mostly two storey huts The walls and the roof of the hut are made out of dried palm leaves or out of caned grass. The roof crags widely and offers shade on the frontside of the hut in a veranda like structure.

Those huts that have two storeys also have two verandas above each other that are connected with ladders while access into the interior of the huts is also made possible by very thin ladders. Here all equipment is stored, especially the fishing equipment and on palm fiber strings hang the skulls of slain enemies as trophies, tail fins of large fishes etc. These verandas serve as places to rest during the day for part of the population, namely older family members who sit there crouching in the real Papuan manner and watch almost without motion the life and activities taking place at their feet.

The interior of the huts is dirty and rather dark as daylight can only enter through the two door openings at both ends as well as the smoke vent in the roof, as windows are unknown.Innere In one corner of the interior room stands a hearth, a rudimentary fire place whose base is constructed out of a thick layer of clay resting on trellis work. In two-storey huts the room with the hearth is on the lower floor and the sleeping and living quarters on the upper.

The furniture in the living rooms is no less basic than those of the huts in the Solomon islands. Chairs and tables are unknown to the natives and as they prefer squatting also not necessary. Only some mats and thick bamboo pieces as a head rest serve as a bed. Earthware or bamboo vessels, woven bags and the indispensable hand weapons complete the poor equipment. The overall impression of this primitive housing is a bit more enjoyable for a cultured human as these houses are not at a higher level than the pre-historic houses of the European pile dwellers.

Just at the entrance to Hanuabada I witnessed a strange spectacle — a jig, a“harvest festival“. Dancing is here too, understandably, the means of communication to express all kinds of feelings and moods, and today there was joy about the more than ample banana harvest of the inhabitants of Hanuabadas which was the occasion for a feast on that day. While the old men and the married women squatted in sweet harmony with dogs and pigs on the verandas of their huts and smoked and served as the audience, the youth of both sexes danced around the long poles on which had been quite decoratively fixed bushels of bananas in the form of garlands.

Each of the dancers carried a wooden drum which he beat in step. Rhythmic chants accompanied the movements of the dancers who performed a sort of quadrille for which the pairs formed themselves into two columns and then executed a similar figure that is done at home after the command of „Traversez“. While the dancers move their upper bodies by the hips, the pairs danced one after another through the always reforming column until the column dissolved into a large circle.

The pairs, that consisted just like at home of a „gentleman“ and a „lady“ with the young man leading one of the pretty girls by the hand, devoted themselves to the dancing with rare endurance and passion, in full color and feather decorations, stepping and jumping lissome and with a natural grace.

Especially graceful appeared the young girls. As they were used to an unstrained posture unrestricted by any bothersome pieces of clothing, these beauties floated on light swinging feet swaying their hips graciously with the upper body kept a bit back, which made the grass skirts flitter gaily.

Colorful painting, necklaces and bangles were the decorations of the girls who with their curly heads and the impishly smiling black eyes looked very nice. Like the girls the young men were tattooed carefully too in blue-black and painted with red, black and white colors. The tattoos covered all parts of the body and namely the delicately shaped legs with the exception of the faces that showed little of this type of decoration. On the breast of the girls of marriageable age presented without any covering the girls of Port Moresby used to tattoo a heart which was to express that the wearer of this symbol may now be courted.

As ornaments they use, apparently in all of New Guinea, all kinds of flowers and leaves. Very popular for the same purpose are feathers in flashy colors which the natives combine with great skill to form crowns and headbands or stick them loose into the curly hair. I identified mostly feathers of the large hornbill, the southern cassowary, the white cockatoo, but especially all kinds of parrots and the birds of paradise used in this manner.

Necklaces are highly prized here and as they are usually heirlooms only sold or traded in the rarest cases. Shells and teeth, then corals, feathers etc are the material out of which the necklaces are made and sometimes formed into amulets. The arm bands and leg rings consist mostly of woven straw or pieced shells while glittering metal pieces and smaller shells serve as earrings.

The whole appearance of the dancing pairs, their strong, tall, well-formed posture, their graceful mobility, the agreeable even pretty faces, the vivid eyes — all this combined creates a vivid contrast to the native peoples and tribes which we had had opportunity to observe during the last months. How slight and softly seemed the Hindus to me, how dull and not beautiful were the slant-eyed Javanese!

The Papuas of the territory of Port Moresby belonging to the Motus tribe, however, are in physical and psychic aspects more closely related to the Polynesians than to the Melanesians. Also in favor of the Papuans of Moresby was their especially vivacity and direct expressiveness of their feelings, the smiling joyfulness and the apparent learning ability displayed by their curiosity, incessant asking questions and talent for imitation of these individuals I could observe here.

Further proofs of these qualities were offered to me after the end of the harvest feast in Hanuabada and I had said good-bye to the dancers, when during the tour of the village, I was surrounded by young and old as all but namely the children wanted to see the stranger and watch him. Everybody was assailing me with questions, smiling happily and waved their hands and crowded around me to observe from a really close distance. Some imitated my movements, others were shaking from laughter as they apparently found much about us very comical.

Finally the dear youths held out their hands begging in order to receive some kind of goods and the smaller ones, as soon as they got a coin, a cigarette or something else, climbed with a monkey-like skill up the ladders to their huts and delivered what they just received to their parents, only to return quickly and beg again for another present. We could not observe any fear of strangers among this crowd of children, whom I could barely resist, in contrast to the experiences made earlier on my voyage.

I tried to buy some ornaments but these people already were aware about the value of money as the usual trading objects had no effect and for every piece they demanded only „Money“ or „Shilling“. As soon as the people noticed that we were interested in a piece, the price increased much. The good savages goods they took each piece of money to the wise man of the village to confirm the genuity of the coin and even then some sellers refused to hand over the acquired goods or suddenly asked for double the previously agreed price.

A better affair I made in the apparently poor village in the bay, Elewara, where I bought a large number of ethnographic objects, among them delicate containers in which the natives keep the chewing betel mixed with coral lime. Also I took away the only piece of clothing of about twenty ladies, namely a red and yellow colored small skirt made out of woven grass that they willingly sold for a shilling a piece. In Elewara now developed a formal market in which the people carried everything imaginable and even very young children offered shells and coral pieces. The real business was done by the women and young men while the older men squatted on the verandas smoking calmly.

In New Guinea everybody smokes, men, women, even small children and in those areas where money is not known one can buy everything for tobacco. For it the native offers land, agricultural products, pigs, weapons, with one word even the last thing he possesses. To smoke long bamboo sticks are used that are beautifully decorated with burned marks and on whose end is a small opening in which the tobacco rolled-up in a palm leaf is inserted. After its ignition, the pipe is passed from mouth to mouth. If they do not have a pipe, the tobacco is rolled-up in a leaf and smoked like a cigarette.

After I had almost filled our boat with acquired objects I made a small journey to the surrounding heights despite the still pouring rain and passed the low buildings of the Anglican mission which however was not very successful as the savages it was said were only willing to attend services if given presents. Then we crossed multiple banana gardens that were just then being harvested and encountered a group of women carrying large bundles of bananas on their head to their homes.

Furthermore we climbed up to hill next to Government House but the force of the pouring rain drove us back on board.

Here too a vivid trade had developed. The natives had come with their wives and children in their slim canoes to offer arrows, bows, decorative objects and other things and found willing buyers among the officers and crew — everybody on board wanted to take home a souvenir from the land of cannibals. I dare say that „Elisabeth“  equipped itself on that day with hundreds of arrows, spears etc. as cargo. The crew of the coaling ship too acquired an important load of ethnographic objects, apparently with the intention to sell them at much higher prices after their return to Sydney.

The occupants of the canoes were not shy, various girls even came on board where they examined everything with curiosity and accepted small presents. A general applause was given when we gifted one of the beauties with a pink jacket and light-green silk pants and dressed her thus on the spot. The people could not contain their joy and proudly the presentee glided down over the side of the ship into her canoe.

As the governor was still nowhere in sight I drove in the afternoon again to Hanuabada with the intent to reach a small rocky island where pigeons were said to land there each evening.

Unfortunately I did not choose a good moment for my excursion as the low tide had set in and the boats were unable to land anywhere so that I had again to wade for a few hundred paces through water and deep mud to reach Hanuabada.

Countless naked boys were mingling with nets in the mud and collected various shells and sea animals that the low tide had thrown out. The collector is always voracious and thus I was bargaining again with the friends made today in the morning to buy a number of objects, especially amulets and household objects.

Meanwhile it was already 4 o’clock and I was ready to set off from Hanuabada to the islands of pigeons when a steam yacht came into sight at the entrance to the harbor and was steering towards Moresby. Thus finally returned the long expected governor! The pigeon hunt expedition was immediately canceled and I rushed back on board to await the arrival of the governor. The small yacht entered and moored at a buoy but nothing moved until I sent an officer to request the governor to pay me a visit.

The negotiations resulted in the principal agreement of a three-day expedition into the interior of the land to the Laroki river. Details were to be determined during the evening on board of the yacht.


  • Location: Port Moresby, New Guinea
  • ANNO – on 15.06.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Faust“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is closed from 1 June to 19 July.