OVERSTOCKED & SLOW MOVERS SALE
A definitive study of the Yangtze craft, complete with carefully detailed scale drawings, the result of the author's research and experience during his 30-year career as a river inspector in China. A lavishly produced volume.
“There is really nothing to compare it with, and it is unlikely that it will be superseded in the foreseeable future.”—The New York Times
“Definitive in its genre.”—Publishers Weekly
“The best single reference on the subject.”—American Neptune
“Worcester’s imposing work has no equal and not even a close competitor.”—Dolphin Book Club News
Ever since Marco Polo came home from Cathay some seven hundred years ago with colorful tales of a strange land, westerners have marveled at the timelessness and vastness of China, and the infinite variety of all things Chinese. One such aspect of China was noted by another traveller, Gabriel Magaillans, who nearly three hundred years ago wrote ". . . there are more vessels in China than in all the rest of the known world." In a country so dependent on water transportation for thousands of years, this was most true. The rivers and harbors of China teem with junks and sampans, and almost as amazing as their numbers is the multitudinous variety of types, evolved over the centuries to meet the needs of special and sometimes rather exotic kinds of waterborne commerce.
What one brings home from China depends in part on what one took there; what Worcester took was curiosity and understanding, and what he brought back was the warp and woof with which he has masterfully woven a rich fabric of Chinese culture and customs.
The China seen by Marco Polo has disappeared, and that known by Worcester is fast going. Here is a chance to let an old China hand take you to one of the great rivers of the world for a last look at a timeless land just before time there ceased to stand still.
George Raleigh Gray Worcester (1890-1969) termed himself a sailor by profession. Born in England in 1890, he entered the Royal Navy in the days of sail and rounded the Horn as a midshipman. Although he turned his back on salt water in 1919, the balance of his professional life was spent within sight and sound of water of some sort. He left the Navy to join the Marine Department of the Chinese Maritime Customs Service, and during his 30 years as River Inspector he assisted in surveying, marking, and opening the Yangtze to steam navigation to a point 1,450 miles from the sea. In his wanderings up and down the coast and rivers of China, he developed a deep interest in, and affection for, the junkmen and their craft.
Sir Frederick Maze, the Inspector General of Customs under whom Worcester served, released him from his duties as River Inspector in order that he might spend all his time on Chinese nautical research, thus enabling him to travel in many places not usually accessible to foreigners in China, and to sketch and write about the boats, the people, and their customs. His eight years of field research were carried out during one of the most disturbed periods of China's eventful history --amidst almost continual fighting, bandit raids, enemy occupation, floods and droughts--culminating, for himself and his wife, in a three-year internment in a Japanese prison camp. Five definitive works on the seagoing and riverine junks of China were the result of the author's research, travel, curiosity, and enthusiasm.
Later, after his retirement from the Chinese Customs Service, the author supervised the construction of the unique Maze Collection of Chinese junk models, now housed in the Kensington Science Museum in London--in fact, some of them were built by his own hands.
In The Junks and Sampans of the Yangtze, G. R. G. Worcester has written and illustrated a definitive work that will excite the historian, traveler, collector, naval architect, sailor, and modelmaker alike. “This unique book is a comprehensive and authoritative record of the vessels which for centuries provided practically the sole means of communication and transportation in the vast area drained by one of the world’s greatest waterways,” writes L. K. Little, former Inspector General of the Chinese Customs Service. “These remarkable ships deserve an unusual biographer, and in Mr. Worcester they have found one.” 656 pages with over 900 illustrations, fully indexed, including margin notes and personal comments on the author’s 30 years among the resourceful and ingenious junkmen of the Yangtze River.