Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Russia on Chinese Etiquette

In Chinese etiquette there are eight varieties of the bow ~"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Wei Wu Pu), the same in organization and function as it was in 1901 when it first came into existence as a result of the "Peking Protocol." The Ministry of Rites (Li Pu) succeeded the Department of Rites, without much change, but it incorporated the Court of Sacrificial Worships, the Court of State Ceremonials and the Court of Banquets which formerly duplicated some of the functions of the Department of Rites."  From "Government of China 1644-Cb," by Pao Chao Hsieh
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The Celestials Consider Europeans Barbarians


The Russians have been making something of a study of Chinese manners and etiquette, and their periodicals are reporting what has been learned. The latest number of Russkii Vestnik says it is not surprising that the Celestials consider Europeans barbarians when they see continually what they consider bad manners and breaches of etiquette on the part of white men. The proper thing, according to the Chinese notion, is diametrically opposed to the European idea.
Western depiction of a Chinese wedding ceremony in the mid-1800s. The bride is the one whose face is completely covered. ~ "The latest number of Russkii Vestnik says it is not surprising that the Celestials consider Europeans barbarians when they see continually what they consider bad manners and breaches of etiquette on the part of white men." (Russkii Vestnik or "Russian Herald," was the literary and political journal founded in Moscow in 1856 by M. N. Katkov with the assistance of P. M. Leont'ev)
For instance, when a Chinese welcomes a visitor to his house, be does not remove his hat, if he happens to have it on. He puts his hat on if he is caught without it. The seat of honor at the table is at the left of the host. It would be considered an offense if the guest inquired about the health of the hostess, or, still worse, expressed a desire to be presented to her.


A Chinese takes offense it told that he looks younger than he is. The older the man the more he is respected, independently of his qualities, and. therefore, a Chinese wishes to appear older than he really is. He willingly forgives many offenses, but should any one happen to tread on his foot he will refuse to accept the most humble apologies. When a son dies in a Chinese family the bereaved father considers it proper to show strangers a smiling countenance, no matter what his sufferings may be.  
"A Chinese, displeased with his situation, will not tell his employer the real reason for resigning, but will give poor health or the death of a relative as a pretext for leaving."
The Russian newspaper asserts that there is a minister of etiquette in China known as Li-Pu. Ancient books on manners are accepted by him as authority. The books include 200 volumes. Some of the rules are Draconian in their severity. A Chinese cannot even build a house according to his taste. No matter how rich he is, it is not proper for him to build a finer or a higher house than that of his neighbor if the latter happens to be of superior rank socially.


In Chinese etiquette there are eight varieties of the bow. Ignorance of Chinese ideas of propriety with regard to the bow has often caused embarrassment. A Chinese, displeased with his situation, will not tell his employer the real reason for resigning, but will give poor health or the death of a relative as a pretext for leaving. Such things have led many portions to regard the Chinese insincere, but this does them injustice. They are also unjustly considered to be cold, unemotional and indifferent to the sufferings of others. As a matter of fact this appearance of stolidity is only a specimen "of the wondertul self-control and the iron force of character with which this race is endowed."

– The Los Angeles Herald, 1899

   Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura Graber, is the Site Moderator for Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia