A Man and Woman of Tartary in their proper Habits.

Tartary couple

An Account of

TARTARY, which is the same country as the ancient Scythia, comprehends all the North of Europe, and almost a third part of Asia.  At present the Russians possess the North part and have given it the name of Siberia.  It is a cold barren country, generally covered with snow, and very thinly inhabited.

Their wealth consists in cattle, and their employment in grazing.  They carry on neither manufacture nor trade, except in slaves and horses, and rove about in herds or clans.  The Emperor of Russia is supreme Lord of the Western as well as North part of Tartary,

especially since the time of the late Czar Peter the Great, who extended his conquests even to the Northern coast of the Caspian Sea.

The Chinese are masters of the South and East parts of Tartary. The Tartars are divided into four different nations, namely, the Tartars properly so called, the Calmucks, and the Usbeck and Moguls. The Calmuck Tartars acknowledge themselves subjects of Russia; the Usbeck Tartars were once independent, but since subdued by Kouli Khan, the late Sovereign of Persia [also known as Nadir Shah, sometimes described as the "Persian Napoleon", assassinated 1747; one of the unlucky owners of the fabulous Koh-i-Noor diamond], who took possession and plundered their capital city Bochara, which was extremely populous and wealthy. This country of Usbeck Tartary is situate in a very happy climate and fruitful soil, and carries on a very brisk trade to the East and West parts of Asia: it was the country of the victorious Tamerlane, who subdued most of the kingdoms of Asia.

The Tartars, as to stature, are generally thick and short, having flat square faces, little eyes, little round short noses, and an olive complexion. They are reckoned the best archers in the world, and eat all manner of flesh but hog's-flesh. They are very hospitable, and take a pleasure in entertaining strangers. Their religion is mostly Paganism, they worship the Sun, Moon, and Stars, and a variety of images, but not in temples or churches, for they worship in groves and on the tops of monntains [sic]; but those that live near the Mahometan countries are mostly Maho-


metans. The Southern provinces lie in a temperate climate, and would produce all manner of corn and vegetables; but the inhabitants pay no regard to it, and lead a rambling life, driving great herds of cattle before them to such parts of the country where they can meet with the best pasture, and here they pitch their tents, but seldom remain long enough in a place to reap a crop of corn, even if they were to plough the land and sow it.

A Chinese Man and Woman in their proper Habits. 

Chinese couple

An Account of CHINA.

THE Empire of China is a great and spacious country, on the East of Asia, famed for its fruitfulness, wealth, beautifulness of towns, and incredible number of inhabitants.


It is divided into seventeen kingdoms, which contain 160 large cities, 240 lesser, and 1200 towns; the chief of all is Pekin.  The air is pure and serene, and the inhabitants live to a great age.  Their riches consist in gold and silver mines, pearls, porcelain or China ware; japanned or varnished works; spices, musk, true ambergris, camphire [sic], sugar, ginger, tea, linen, and silk; of the latter there is such abundance, that they are able to furnish all the world with it.   Here are also mines of quicksilver, vermillion, azure-stone [lapis lazuli], vitriol [sulfuric acid, or various sulfates], &c. So much for the wealth:  Now as to the inhabitants, they are so numerous, that the great roads may be compared to a perpetual fair, such numbers are continually passing, which made a Portuguese, who went thither, ask, "If the women had not nine or ten children at a birth?"   Every inhabitant is obliged to hang a writing over his door, signifying the number and quality of the dwellers.  The inside of their houses is very magnificent.  The men are civil, well-bred, very ingenious, polite, and industrious, but extremely covetous, insomuch that they will not scruple to sell their very children, or drown them, when they think they have too many.  This desire of wealth lets them never be idle, and makes them have a great aversion to strangers that come to settle among them.  The men go neatly dressed, and carry a fan in their hand, and when they salute each other (for they are very courteous) they never put off their hat,


but with their hands joined before their breast bow their bodies.  Here is no Nobility but what depends on learning, without any regard to birth, except the Royal Families; and the more learned any one is, the more he is advanced in honour and government.  The King, who is called the Tartar [the current (Qing) dynasty was Manchurian], keeps a guard of forty thousand men.  When he dies his body is buried on a pile of paper, and with him all his jewels, and every thing else, except living creatures, that he made use of in his life-time.  His Counsellor, Priest, and Concubines, that devoted themselves wholly to his soul, sacrifice their lives as soon as he dies;  but have the liberty to chuse what kind of death they please, which is generally beheading.  In this country there is a stupendous wall, built to prevent the incursions of the Tartars, which is at least 1700 miles long, near 30 feet high, and broad enough for several horsemen to travel on it abreast.  Their established religion is what they call the Religion of Nature, as explained by their celebrated Philosopher Confucius; but the greatest part of them are Idolaters, and worship the Idol Fo [Buddha; Buddhism arrived in China in the 2nd cent. BCE].   The Mahometans have been long since tolerated, and the Jews longer.  Christianity had gained a considerable footing here by the labour of the Jesuits, till the year 1726, when the missionaries being suspected of a design against the Government, were quite expelled.


An Indian Man and Woman in their proper Habits.

Indian couple

An Account of

INDIA, one of the greatest regions of Asia, is bounded on the East by China, on the West by Persia, North by Great Tartary, and on the South by the Indian Sea.  It is divided into three parts, viz. Indostan, or the Empire of the Great Mogul; India on this side the Ganges, and India beyond; the cities of Deli [sic] and Agra are the two chief, and, by turns, the residence of the Great Mogul, at each of which he has a very splendid palace.  The most noted city on the coast is Surat, a place of great trade, where the English have a factory.  India on this side the Ganges contains many petty kingdoms.  On the coast are Goa, belonging to the Portuguese, which is their staple for East-India goods; and Bombay, a little island


and town belonging to the English.  On this coast are Pondicherry, Fort St. David [in Cuddalore near Devanampattinam], and Fort St. George [in Chennai], which belong to the English, who in fact possess the supreme dominion of the country, most of the native princes being either dependent on them, or happy to enter into alliance with them.  India beyond the Ganges, is also divided into various kingdoms, and contains a great number of large and populous cities, of which we have no knowledge besides their names.  The people are for the most part tawny, strong, and big, but very lazy.  They eat on beds, or tapestry spread on the ground.  They burn most of their dead, and their wives glory in being thrown into the funeral piles, and there consumed to ashes [sati, or suttee, remained legal in some princely states for a time after it had been abolished in lands under British control. The last such state to permit it, Jaipur, banned the practice in 1846].  The Great Mogul is a Mahometan, and esteemed the richest King in the world in jewels; one of his thrones is said to have cost five millions sterling [over 350M sterling in today's terms, according to].  Their commodities are silks, cottons, callicoes [ states The East India Co. began importation of calico from Calicut in India in 1631-1633], muslins, sattins [sic], carpets, gold, silver, diamonds, pearls, porcelain, rice, ginger, rhubarb [this would have been the medicinal variety - says it became a major state monopoly for Russia and an important commodity for the East India companies], aloes, amber, indigo, cinnamon, cocoa, &c.  They are mostly Pagans, and worship idols of various shapes, and the rest are Mahometans, except a few Christians.  Their monarch is absolute, and so are all the petty Kings; who are so fond of titles that they often take them from their jewels, furnitures, equipage, and elephants, to make up a number.  This country is so exceeding rich, that it is thought by many to be the Land of Ophir, where Solomon sent for gold.



THIS vast continent takes in Natolia [also called Asia Minor], Arabia, Phœnicia, Judea, or Palestine, and the Euphratian Provinces.  The people are chiefly Mahometans, though there are many Jews and Christians in some places among them.  There are various governments, but they are all subject to the Grand Signior, who depopulates these fine countries, and discourages industry; so that the Phœnicians, formerly famous for commerce, are at present a poor despicable people; and Judea, the land which heretofore flowed with milk and honey, is in general still fruitful, abounding in corn, wine, and oil, where cultivated, and might supply the neighbouring countries with all these, as they anciently did, were the inhabitants equally industrious.  The parts above Jerusalem, its once famous capital, are mostly mountainous and rocky; but they feed numerous herds and flocks, and yield plenty of honey, wine, and oil, and the vallies [sic] abound with large crops of corn. 
Shaw's Travels.

A Museum for Young Gentlemen and Ladies - late 1790s