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248] be sufficient. Frank acted upon this hint, and did not make any extensive investments in Japanese ivory. He found a great variety of what the Japanese call "nitschkis," which are small pieces of ivory carved in various shapes more or less fanciful. They were pretty, and had the merit of not being at all dear; and as they would make nice little souvenirs of Japan, he bought a good many of them. They are intended as ornaments to be worn at a gentleman's girdle, and in the olden times no gentleman considered his dress complete without one or more of these at his waist, just as most of the fashionable youths of America think that a scarf-pin is necessary to make life endurable. A large number of carvers made a living by working in ivory, and they displayed a wonderful amount of patience in completing their designs. One of these little carvings with which Frank was fascinated was a representation of a man mounting a horse with the assistance of a groom, who was holding the animal. The piece was less than two inches in length, and yet the carver had managed to put in this


contracted space the figures of two men and a horse, with the dress of the men and the trappings of the horse as carefully shown as in a painting. There[Pg 249] was a hole in the pedestal on which the group stood, and Frank found, on inquiry, that this hole was intended for the passage of a cord to attach the ornament to the waist of the wearer. And then he observed that all the carvings had a similar provision for rendering them useful. JAPANESE PIPE, CASE, AND POUCH. JAPANESE PIPE, CASE, AND POUCH. Frank also ascertained that another ornament of the Japanese waist-belt was a pipe and a tobacco-pouch, the two being so inseparable that they formed a single article. The pipe was a tiny affair which only held a pinch of tobacco the size of a pea, and he learned that the smoker, in using it, took but a single whiff and then found the bowl exhausted. When not in use, the pipe was carried in a little case, which was made, like the pouch, of leather, and was generally embroidered with considerable care. Many of the pipe-cases were mad


e of shark-skin, which has the double merit of being very durable and also quite pretty. It is polished to a condition of perfect smoothness, and the natural spots of the skin appear to be as regular as though drawn by an artist. Frank tried a few whiffs of the tobacco and found it very weak. He was thus informed of the reason why a Japanese can smoke so much as he does without being seriously affected by it. He can get through with a hundred of these little pipes in a day without the least trouble, and more if the time allows. Of lacquer-ware, of all kinds and prices, there was literally no end. There were trays and little boxes which could be had for a shilling or two, and there were cabinets and work-stands with numerous drawers and sliding panels curiously contrived, that a hundred dollars, or even five hundred, would not buy. Between these


two figures there was a wide range, so that the most modest purse could be gratified as well as the most plethoric one. Frank found that the dealers did not put their best goods where they could be most readily seen. The front of a shop contained only the most ordinary things; and if you wanted to look at the better articles, it was necessary to say so. When the merchant knew what his customer wanted, he led the way to the rear store, or perhaps to an upper floor, where the best goods were kept. It was necessary to walk very carefully in these shops, as they were very densely crowded with goods, and the least incaution might result in overthrowing some of the brittle articles. A clumsy visitor in one of these establishments a few days before Frank called there had broken a vase valued at fifty dollars, and while stooping to pick



up the fragments he knocked down another worth nearly half that amount. He paid for the damage, and in future declined to go around loosely in a Japanese store. The Japanese lacquer of the present time is not so highly prized as that of the last or the previous century. It is not so well made, partly for the reason that the workmen have lost their skill in the art, and partly because labor is much more expensive now than formerly. The prices obtained for some of the specimens of this kind of


work have been very high, but they are not enough to meet the advance that has been made in wages in the past few years. The manufacturers are anxious to turn their money as rapidly as possible, and consequently they do not allow their productions to dry thoroughly. To be properly prepared, a piece of lacquer should dry very slowly; and it used to be said that the best lacquer was dried under water, so that the process should not be too rapid. The article, whatever it may be, is first shaped from wood or papier-maché, and then covered with successive co



atings of varnish or lacquer; this is made from the gum of a tree, or, rather, from th


e peculiar property of turning black from exposure to the air, though it is of a milky



tree. It can be made to assume various colors by the addition of pigments; and while it is in a fresh condition coatings of gold-leaf are laid on in such a way as to form the figures that the artist has designed. Every coating must be dried before the next is laid on; and the more elaborate and costly the work, the more numerous are the coatings. Sometimes[Pg 251] there may be a dozen or more of them, and pieces are in existence that are said to have received no less than fifty applications of lacquer. A box may thus require several years for its completion, as the drying process should never be hastened, lest the lacquer crack and peel when exposed to the air, and especially to heat. Good lacquer can be put into hot water without the least injury; but this is not the case with the ordinary article. In 1874 a steamer was lost on the coast of Japan. She had as a part of her cargo the Japanese goods from the Vienna Exhibition, and none of them were recovered for nearly a year. There they lay under the[Pg 252] salt-water, and it was supposed that nearly everything would be ruined. But it was found that the lacquered ware had suffered very little, and some of these very articles were shown at Philadelphia in 1876. A few of the pie


ces required to be freshly polished, but there were many of them that did not need even this slight attention. JAPANESE ARTIST CHASING ON COPPER. JAPANESE ARTIST CHASING ON COPPER. The boys were greatly interested in their shopping excursions, and learned a good deal about Japanese art and industry before they had ended their purchases. By the time they were through they had an excellent collection of porcelain and other ware, of ivory carvings, lacquered boxes, and similar things; silk robes, wrappers, and handkerchiefs; and quite enough fans to set up a small museum. They tried at first to get a sample of each kind of fan that they could find, but the variety proved so great that they were forced to give up the attempt. They bought some curious articles of bamboo, and were surprised to find to how many uses this vegetable production is put. Frank thought it was a pity the bamboo did not grow in America, as it could be turned to even more advantage by the enterprising Yankee than by the plodding Oriental, and Fred was inclined to agree with him. They changed their minds, however,[



Pg 253] when the Doctor told them how far the bamboo entered into the life of the people of the East, and on the whole they concluded that the American couldn't improve upon it. A JAPANESE VILLAGE.--BAMBOO POLES READY FOR MARKET. A JAPANESE VILLAGE.—BAMBOO POLES READY FOR MARKET. "The bamboo," said the Doctor, "is of use from a very early age. The young shoots are boiled and eaten, or soaked in sugar, and preserved as confectionery. The roots of the plant are carved so as to resemble animals or men, and in this shape are used a


s ornaments; and when the bamboo is matured, and of full size, it is turned to purposes almost without number. The hollow stalks are used as water-pipes; rafts are made of them; the walls and roofs of houses are constructed from them; and they serve for the masts of smaller boats and the yards of larger ones. The light and strong poles which the coolies place over their shoulders for bearing burdens are almost invariably of bamboo; and where it grows abundantly it is used for making fences and sheds, and for the construction of nearly every implement of agriculture. Its fibres are twisted into rope, or softened into pulp for paper; every article of furniture is made of bamboo, and so are h

ats, umbrellas, fans, cups, and a thousand other things. In fact, it would be easier to say what is not made of it in these Eastern countries than to say what is; and an attempt at a mere enumeration of its uses and the articles made from it would be tedious. Take away the bamboo from the people of Japan and China, and you would deprive them of their principal means of support, or, at any rate, would make life a much greater burden than it now is." CHAPTER XVIII. SOMETHING ABOUT JAPANESE WOMEN.

Frank thought it was no more than proper that he should devote a letter to Miss Effie. He wanted to make it instructive and interesting, and, at the same time, he thought it should appeal to her personally in some way. He debated the matter in his own mind without coming to a conclusion, and finally determined to submit the question to Doctor Bronson, from whom he hoped to receive a suggestion

that would be useful. A JAPANESE LADY'S-MAID. A JAPANESE LADY'S-MAID. The Doctor listened to him, and was not long in arriving at a conclusion. "You have just written to Mary on the subject of Japanese art," said he, "and she will be pretty certain to show the letter to her intimate friend." "Nothing more likely," Frank answered. "In that case," the Doctor continued, "you want to take up a subject that will be interesting to both, and that has not been touched in your letters thus far." "I suppose so." BRIDE AND BRIDESMAID. BRIDE AND BRIDESMAID. "Well, then, as they are both women, or girls, as you may choose to call them, why don't you take up t


he subject of women in Japan? They would naturally be interested in what relates to their own sex, and you can give them much information on that topic." The proposal struck Frank as an excellent one, and he at once set about obtaining the necessary information for[Pg 255] the preparatio

n of his letter. He had already seen and heard a great deal concerning the women of Japan, and it was not long before he had all the material he wanted for his purpose. His letter was a long one, and we will make some extracts from it, with the per

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