January 13, 2012

The Lango: A Nilotic Tribe of Uganda

This 1923 study of the Lango people of north-central Uganda narrates the origins and history of the group, which had a form of government based on minor clan chiefs, rather than a king or superior chief, before the arrival of the British rule. Jack Herbert Driberg (1888–1946) was a British official in the service of the Uganda Protectorate in 1912–21 and lived and worked among the Lango, for whom he had both sympathy and admiration. He describes the ethnology of the Lango nation; their environment, including the fauna and climate; and the geographical features of Lango territory. The latter include the Moroto River, home to various sorts of pigmy crocodiles of up to three feet in length. Driberg also traces Lango physical and psychological characteristics. He provides a detailed record of village life and its weapons and implements, manufactured goods, livestock, agriculture, food, war, hunting, musical instruments, dances, and games. A chapter on social organization looks at birth traditions, the names given to new babies, marriage and burial ceremonies, political organization and inheritance. Lango religion, magic, and witchcraft are also discussed. The study also contains Driberg’s analysis of the Lango people’s Luo language and his Lango–English dictionary. The book concludes with a series of Lango fables.

Ornaments of Domestic Industry: Ruthenian Peasant Metalwork

Vzory promyslu domashnogo vyroby metalevi selian na Rusi (Ornaments of domestic industry: Ruthenian peasant metalwork) is one of a series of books published by the Industrial Museum in L’viv (present-day Ukraine), this one appearing in 1882. The explanatory text appears in Polish, Ruthenian (a predecessor of modern Ukrainian), German, and French, and it highlights the art and aesthetic taste shown in everyday objects. The book’s focus is the Hutsuls, a people of the Carpathian Mountains, mainly in western and southwestern Ukraine, but also northern Romania and eastern Poland, who speak a Ruthenian dialect and adhere to the Ukrainian Greek Orthodox or Greek Catholic faith. Intricate craftsmanship is evident in their clothing, sculpture, architecture, woodwork, and metalwork (especially in brass). The illustrations show decorative metal items used in jewelry, clothing, households, and weapons. These include: hair ornaments; crosses worn on chains, as necklaces and as earrings; other earrings and rings; belts and belt buckles; pipes and pipe-cleaning implements; a typical long-handled axe with a small head; finely decorated sword and dagger handles; and engraving on guns.

Album of the Old City

Al’bom starogo L’vova (Album of the old city), published in 1917, is a collection of images of the main historical monuments of L’viv (in present-day western Ukraine). The album contains pictures of the dominant places of worship, such as the Catholic Cathedral, the Armenian Cathedral, the Dominican Church, and the Benedictine Church. Illustrations show both details and scenes of L’viv’s streets, built in the 16th–19th centuries. The architectural details include bas-reliefs, carved doorways, fine and amusing stone carving, and moldings. People are seen walking by the fountains in the marketplace with its attractive shops and houses. Streets shown include the rue des Arméniens, rue du Tribunal, and rue Czacki, with interior details of the Maison Sobiéski and the Maison Noire. Photographs taken at the City Museum show its fine rooms, with a portrait of Stanisław August (king of Poland 1764–95); other art, furniture, and porcelain; ceramic stoves to heat the rooms; and sculpture. The album conveys something of the spirit of the old city. The introductory text is in Russian, with captions to the photographs given in Russian and in French.

Genealogy of the Liu Family of Xiuyi Mining

Chinese genealogical works are historical records that document the pedigree, deeds, and events relating to a patriarchal clan. A genealogical work generally was composed of: a preface; table of contents; rules of compilation; rules and instructions to be observed by clansmen; images of the ancestral temple, tombs, and portraits; pedigree charts; and biographies of worthy members of the clan. Also included were the names of the person or persons responsible for issuing the work, as well as a postscript. Such works complement the available general historical records and are an important source for studies of Chinese history and culture. Many genealogies exist of Liu families in the early history of China, and the quantity published surged to a new high during the Ming and Qing dynasties. The earliest extant editions are from the Ming era, including this work, published in 1557. The original inscription states that the work was compiled by Liu Hao, a 19th-generation descendant, and other authors. The work traces a family line back to Liu Yu of Mining, who, after receiving his jin shi (doctoral degree) during the Xiantong reign (860–74) of the Tang dynasty, was posted to Jiangnan, where he engaged in military affairs. Subsequent generations of the Liu during the Song, Yuan, and Ming dynasties mostly had literary and political careers. The work contains numerous writings by renowned personalities. The four prefaces were written by Yu Ji (1272–1348), a scholar and poet; by Zhu Sheng (1299–1370), a member of the Hanlin Academy; and by two members of Liu family, Liu Ran and Liu Tang. The postscript was by the author himself. Some pieces in this work are the only existing writings of these men of letters.

Genealogy of the Wang Family

This printed Chinese genealogy is in four volumes. Chinese genealogical works are historical records that document the pedigree, deeds, and events relating to a patriarchal clan. A genealogical work generally was composed of: a preface; table of contents; rules of compilation; rules and instructions to be observed by clansmen; images of the ancestral temple, tombs, and portraits; pedigree charts; and biographies of worthy members of the clan. Also included were the names of the person or persons responsible for issuing the work, as well as a postscript. The title inscription indicates that the compiler was Wang Huo, a 78th-generation descendant from Shaxi, Shexian, Anhui Province. The work traces a line back to Wang Han, a descendant of Prince Yue of the Tang dynasty, who was considered the founding member of the Wang family, and whose descendants later expanded and grew into eight clans. The work was published during the Wanli reign, circa 1550, and has an author’s preface dated 1550 and a postscript by Wang Daokun, a poet and playwright of the time, dated 1551.

The Wanli Gazetteer of Yanping Prefecture

During the Ming dynasty there were three prefectures in northern Fujian Province: Yanping, Jianning, and Shaowu. Yanping Prefecture (present-day Nanping Shi) was established in 1369. The highest-ranking official was the prefect, who administered the counties, relayed the state government’s ordinances, controlled criminal courts, and levied taxes. During the Ming dynasty a prefect had a fourth-grade rank in the official hierarchy. Prefects often were involved in publishing local gazetteers. These works contained detailed descriptions of the state of affairs in a locality at a given period. The in-depth information they contain makes them important sources for the study of the history, geography, local economy, culture, language and dialects, biographies of notable people, as well as the administration of local government. The main compiler of this work was Yi Kejiu, the prefect of Yanping, who achieved his jin shi (doctoral degree) in 1565 and became the prefect at the beginning of the Wanli reign (1573–1620). The four other compilers, all officials in his administration, were Yang Shujing, Li Jiazhi, Lu Yang, and Yao Yinglong. An added title reads Chong xiu Min zhi cai fang shu (New edition of the collected gazetteers of Fujian). The catalog of Tian yi ge (The Tianyi Pavilion Library) lists this work as a new edition of 34 juan, reissued by this library.