The Luchu Islands and Their Inhabitants,
by Basil Hall Chamberlain


Chamberlain, Basil Hall:
The Luchu Islands and Their Inhabitants, a three part extracted article from The Geographical Journals of 1895. The three parts are:

  • April, 1895, Volume 5, No. 4 (pages 289 - 319),

  • May, 1895, Volume 5, No. 5 (pages 446 - 462) and

  • June, 1895, Volume 5, No. 6 (pages 534 - 545).
In all these three parts, there are a total of 57 pages, 1 fold out map of the Luchu Islands, 4 photographs, 5 illustrations. The page size is approximately 24.5 x 16 cm.

This three part article is found in the hardback bound edition of Geographical Journal, Volume 5-6, 1895. The Geographical Journal is a publication of The Royal Geographical Society, London. The printer for the hardback volume is William Clowes and Sons, Limited, London. The bound volume for 1895 includes Volume 5 (January - June, 1895) and Volume 6 (July - December, 1895). The Map of Luchu Islands is found after page 408 of Volume 5, No. 4 (April, 1895) and is not bound in with the article that appears in that issue. This bound volume has numerous maps (some in color) and articles on many areas such as the Great Siberian Railway, British Guiana, the Congo Free State, Northern Mongolia, Frankincense Country of Southern Arabia, Persia, Ruwenzori and Tanganyika, Gilbert Islands, and the Southwestern Provinces of Siam. There a numerous pictures and drawings that accompany the geographical articles.

Basil Chamberlain was the grandson of Captain Basil Hall who visited Okinawa in 1816. At the time of writing this article he was a Emeritus Professor of Japanese and Philology in the Imperial University of Japan. This article is a fascinating snap shot of Okinawa approximately forty years after Perry's visit.

Chamberlain notes that throughout his visit he found the Luchan's had a favorable impression of foreign visitors with one exception. That was Commodore Perry of which Chamberlain noted:

...the account he himself gives of his haughty and masterful conduct, of his violent threats, and contemptuous disregard for international law and courtesy, renders it scant matter of surprise that even Luchuan patience should have been exhausted, and that the islanders should have resorted to deceit, which is the only weapon the weak have at their disposal against the strong. The blustering Commodore's virtuous indignation at the employment of this weapon against no less august a personage than himself, makes most amusing reading by reason of its unconscious satire. (at page 319)

The author's syllabus of the article:

I. Introductory Remarks. (Volume 5, No. 4)
II. Geology and Natural Characteristics. (Volume 5, No. 4)
III. History and Racial Characteristics. (Volume 5, No. 4)
IV. Manners and Customs of the Inhabitants. (Volume 5, No. 5-6)

Title Page for the Article

The Map (Volume 5, No. 4)

Click the Map for Larger Picture

The Pictures
(all in Volume 5, No. 4)

The Palace at Shuri

Naze Port, Oshima

"Common People" of Napa (Naha)

"Luchuan Gentleman"

List of Illustrations. (Volume 5, No. 5 & 6)

1. Tattooed Hands.
2. Man and Woman - Coiffure.
3. Luchuan Grave.
4. Ideographic Writing of Yonakuni Island.
5. Numbering Ideographics/writing.

List of Tables:

1. Census taken on December 31, 1891. * (Volume 5, No. 4)
2. Meteorological Observations from the Nafa Observatory. (Volume 5, No. 4)
3. Public Schools and Children of School Age. (Volume 5, No. 5-6)
4. Prisoners in Naha Prison. (Volume 5, No. 5-6)
5. Prices of Various Commodities. (Volume 5, No. 5-6)

*Nafa (Naha) was a town of 7,726 houses with a population of 26,896 while Nakagami had 21,633 houses and a population of 21,633.


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