« AnkstesnisTęsti »
ing no custom except as it pertains to universal Christianity to do. His success in vocal music in the Cathedral of the Resurrection in Tokio has been amazing.
Of the Protestant Christians to-day, nine tenths are away from home, from the village priest and the graveyard. Rural Japan is hardly touched. Yet apart from the church, a quiet and sure work is proceeding among the Japanese themselves, not by individuals, but by families. Harsh native critics of missionaries who refuse dogmatic Christianity declare that there are more Christians without than within the churches. My own view is that at least five million Japanese see in Jesus their Master and in pure Christianity the only hope for Japan, and they more
less earnestly strive to live after his example. The Japanese as a nation will never become Christians by multiplication of individuals, but rather of families; for Nippon's life and civilization, as all her history shows, is a matter of families, the units of society.
Is Japan becoming a Christian nation? If the answer must be given to mean the acceptance of the theology made in Europe, I reply, "Never." Christianity in Japan will develop without our traditions, classifications, and controversies. If answer must be by statistics, in terms of mustard-seed phenomena, I answer, "Perhaps." If in terms of leaven and transformation, there can be no other answer than an emphatic "Yes."
HE cremation of the remains of the
THE late King of Siam took place at
Bangkok on March 16, amid circumstances of pomp and splendor that were probably without precedent in a land that is accustomed to pageants of semibarbaric magnificence.
In Siam, as the reader may or may not know, cremation is general, the interment of the dead taking place only when certain diseases are responsible for the demise. The higher the rank of the deceased, the more impressive are the appointments and the mise en scène of the cremation. Where royalty furnishes the silent principal to the solemn function, the incidentals are as elaborate as they are costly. So it was in the present instance.
The death of King Chulalongkorn took place just a year ago. In accordance with the etiquette of the Siamese court, the embalmed body has been kept in the palace in the interval, surrounded day and night by a guard of honor. Incidentally it may be remarked that the elapsing period between the deaths of royal personages and the lighting of their funeral-pyres has been gradually reduced within recent years. The remains of the grandfather of the present king were kept nearly two years before being consigned to the flames. Those of the then crown prince, who died in 1895, were not cremated until 1901.
The preparations for a royal cremation
are as follows: a crematorium, or phra moro, or premane, as it is sometimes called, is erected, and decorated in lavish fashion. The site of the phra moro is a large plot of land in front of the palace at Bangkok that is known as the Premane Grounds. Ordinarily the ground is used by foreigners as golf-links, cricket-grounds, and for other sports. Around the crematorium, which is of wood, are built other wooden structures, to be used by the priests and for the shows and festivities, secular and religious, that form an important part of the total function.
The ceremonies last several days. Each morning begins with religious rites, hundreds of priests conducting the services. Following these come theatrical shows, the Siamese equivalent for vaudeville, wrestling-matches, and so forth; and at night there are fireworks in profusion. The new king, the royal family, the nobles, and the court officials are among the spec tators from the beginning to the end of the daily functions.
On the last day of the religious observances, usually lasting a week or ten days, the remains of the deceased are placed in a jeweled urn, which is placed on a pyre of dried fagots. The king starts the fire, specially invited spectators throw holy candles and sandalwood on the flames, and the priests chant prayers meanwhile until the body is consumed.
After the pyre has burned itself out, the ashes of the body are collected amid further ceremonies, put in an urn, and placed in a building in the palace in which are kept the urns of the reigning family.
With the dawn of the morning appointed for the recent royal cremation, minute-guns began booming in various parts of Bangkok. All else was still, traffic being stopped, and the usually chatting, laughing Siamese for once were hushed and subdued. From a very early hour of the day the streets presented a unique aspect. White being the Siamese
from a semibarbaric state to an independent kingdom, he abolished slavery, and, more wonderful still, by his energy and constant devotion to duty, he inspired his people with an enthusiasm which has had an effect on the national character; for the Siamese of to-day are not the indolent, pleasure-loving people we knew them to be thirty years ago.
The Siamese people somewhat resemble the Japanese in their love of artistic effect and display. There is the same minute attention to detail, the same harmonizing of bright colors, and an equally fervent de
mourning color, the spectacle of several thousand people so dressed, and packed closely together, wending their way slowly and reverently to the Premane Grounds, gave one the impression, when viewed from above, of a river of white on which floated the heads of the people.
What made the ceremonies specially interesting was the remarkable enthusiasm shown both by Siamese and foreigners to make the event a testimonial to the worth, and a fitting close to the remarkable career, of a great monarch. King Chulalongkorn was generally loved and respected; he took a great and personal interest in the welfare of his people, and was by natural gifts eminently qualified to rule his people. He saw his country emerge
votion to national style and conventions. In the construction of the royal crematorium they showed that the Siamese style of architecture-which may be described as ornate, for everything is sacrificed for the sake of elaborate ornamentation-is capable of much dignity and grandeur.
For several months many hundred skilled artisans, working under the directions of the king's architect, had been busy night and day at the construction of the meru, or central building, and the pavilions surrounding it. The meru was designed to carry the large golden and bejeweled urn in which was placed, in a kneeling posture, the body of the king. It stood 110 feet high, rising from a base ninety feet broad, and consisted of three
platforms, on the top and middle one of which was a golden frame which was to receive the royal urn, and under which, within the closed middle chamber, were a closely packed pile of dry fagots.
At each of the four corners of the large main platform were the praying-towers, where the yellow-robed priests sat reciting the Buddhist scriptures.
The pillars and walls of the crematorium were beautifully ornamented with a groundwork of gold, over which scenes from the sacred books, worked in blue silk, gave a charming effect. On each platform were delicately carved figures of angels and of yaks (devils), the former in attitudes of devotion and prayer, the latter holding the large pagoda-shaped umbrellas, the emblems of royalty. The ceilings had a beautifully chased design in gold and blue, alternating with inlaid mother-ofpearl, and from the inside of the eaves hung great golden curtains lined with red. When we consider that almost every inch of this enormous building was elaborately ornamented in hand-painting, carv
ing, or inlay-work, some idea may be formed of the time and money spent upon it-all to be destroyed in a few minutes.
As we took our seats in one of the pavilions that surrounded the crematorium, and awaited the entrance of the royal procession, about us was a living sea of white, silent and expectant. Already the priests in the praying-tower had begun their monotonous incantation. There was a slight smell of burning incense, and the stewards were making final preparations for the reception of the distinguished mourners. There was a moment of hushed expectancy, and over the still and torrid air came the sound of a low wail, which grew louder and louder as the Tamruet Band, 300 strong, clad in scarlet, came marching slowly along the broad Palace Road, the drummers leading, behind them the silver trumpets, then the long line of conchshells, and last the clarionets and flutes. Some distance behind the band, looking very pompous and sedate, marched the high officials, carrying great jeweled swords, long silver spears, golden vessel,