Online Encyclopedia

LAOS

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V16, Page 195 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
Spread the word: del.icio.us del.icio.us it!
LAOS, or LAOTIOxs, an important division of the widespread Thai or Shan race found throughout Indo-China from 28° N. and the sources of the Irrawaddy as far as Cambodia and 7° N. in the Malay Peninsula. This Thai family includes the Shans proper, and the Siamese. The name Lao, which appears to mean simply " man," is the collective Siamese term for all the Thai peoples subject to Siam, while Shan, said to be of Chinese origin, is the collective Burmese term for those subject to Burma. Lao is therefore rather a political than an ethnical title, and the people cordially dislike the name, insisting on their right to be called Thai. Owing to the different circumstances which have attended their migrations, the Thai peoples have attained to varying degrees of civilization. The Lao, who descended from. the mountain districts of Yunnan, Szechuen and Kweichow to the highland plains of upper Indo-China, and drove the wilder Kha peoples whom they found in possession into the hills, mostly adopted Buddhism, and formed small settled communities or states in which laws were easy, taxes light and a very fair degree of comfort was attained. There are two main divisions, the Lao Pong Dam (" Black Paunch Laos "), so-called from their habit of tattooing the body from the waist to the knees, and the Lao Pong Kao (" White Paunch Laos ") who do not tattoo. Lao tattooing is of a most elaborate kind. The Lao Pong Dam now form the western branch of the Lao family, inhabiting the Siamese Lao states of Chieng Mai Lapaun, 'Tern Pre and Nan, and reaching as far south as 17° N. Various influences have contributed to making the Lao the pleasant, easy-going, idle fellow that he is. The result is that practically all the trade of these states is in the hands of Bangkok Chinese firms, of a certain number of European houses and others, while most of the manual labour connected with the teak industry is done by Ka Mus, who migrate in large numbers from the left bank of the Mekong. The Lao Pong Kao, or eastern branch, appear to have migrated southwards by the more easterly route of the Nam-u and the Mekong valley. In contradistinction to the Lao Pong Dam, who have derived their written language from the Burmese character, the eastern race has retained what appears to be the early form ofthe present Siamese writing, from which it differs little. They formed important settlements at various points on the Mekong, notably Luang Prabang, Wieng Chan (Vien-Tiane) Ubon and Bassac; and, heading inland as far as Korat or, the one side and the Annamite watershed in the east, they drove out the less civilized Kha peoples, and even the Cambodians, as the Lao Pong Dam did on. the west. Vien-Tiane during the 18th century was the most powerful of the Lao principalities, and was feared and respected throughout Indo-China. It was destroyed by the Siamese in 1828. The inhabitants, in accordance with the Indo-Chinese custom of the day, were transported to Lower Siam. The Lao Pong Kao below 18° N. are a less merry and less vivacious people, and are for the most part shorter and more thick-set than those of Luang Prabang and the north. If possible, they are as a race lazier than the western Lao, as they are certainly more musical. The " khen," or mouth organ, which is universal among them, is the sweetest-toned of eastern instruments. After 1828 the Laos became entirely subject to Siam, and were governed partly by khiao, or native hereditary princes, partly by mandarins directly nominated by the Bangkok authorities. The khiao were invested by a gold dish, betel-box, spittoon and teapot, which were sent from Bangkok and returned at their death or deposition. Of all the khiao the most powerful was the prince of Ubon (15° N., 105° E.), whose jurisdiction extended nearly from Bassac on the Mekong northwards to the great southern bend of that river. Nearly all the Laos country is now divided between France and Siam, and only a few tribes retain a nominal independence. The many contradictory accounts of the Laos are due to the fact that the race has become much mixed with the aboriginal inhabitants. The half-castes sprung from alliances with the wild tribes of Caucasic stock present every variety between that type and the Mongolian. But the pure Laos are still distinguished by the high cheek-bones, small flat nose, oblique eyes, wide mouth, black lank hair, sparse beard, and yellow complexion of the Thai and other branches of the Mongol family. In disposition the Laos are an apathetic, peace-loving, pleasant-mannered race. Though the women have to work, they are free and well treated, and polygamy is rare. The Laos are very superstitious, believe in wer-wolves, and that all diseases are caused by evil spirits. Their chief food is rice and fish. Men, women and children all smoke tobacco. The civilized Laos were long addicted to slave-hunting, not only with the sanction but even with the co-operation of their rulers; the Lao mandarins heading regular expeditions against the wilder tribes. Closely allied with the Lao are a number of tribes found throughout the hill regions of the upper Mekong, between Yunnan and Kwangsi in China and the upper waters of the Menam in Siam. They have all within recent times been partakers in the general movement towards the south-west from the highland districts of southern China, which has produced so many recruits for the peopling of the Indo-Chinese peninsula. Of this group of people, among whom may be named the Yao, Yao Yin, Lanten, Meo, Musur (or Muhso) and Kaw, perhaps the best known and most like the Lao are the Lu—both names meaning originally " man "—who have in many cases adopted a form of Buddhism (flavoured strongly by their natural respect for local spirits as well as tattooing) and other relatively civilized customs, and have forsaken their wandering life among the hills for a more settled village existence. Hardy, simple and industrious, fond of music, kind-hearted, and with a strangely artistic taste in dress, these people possess in a wonderful degree the secret of cheerful contentment. LAO-TSZE, or LAOU-TSZE, the designation of the Chinese author of the celebrated treatise called Tao Teh King, and the reputed founder of the religion called Tdoism. The Chinese characters composing the designation may mean either " the Old Son," which commonly assumes with foreigners the form of " the Old Boy," or " the Old Philosopher." The latter significance is attached to them by Dr Chalmers in his translation of the treatise published in 1868 under the title of The Speculations on Metaphysics, Polity and Morality of " the Old Philosopher," Ldo-tsze. The former is derived from a fabulous account of Lao-tsze in the Shdn Hsien Chwan; " The Account of Spirits and Immortals," of Ko Hung in the 4th century A.D.' According to this, his mother, after a supernatural conception, carried him in her womb sixty-two years (or seventy-two, or eighty-one—ten years more or fewer are of little importance in such a case), so that, when he was born at last, his hair was white as with age, and people might well call him " the old boy." The other meaning of the designation rests on better authority. We find it in the Kid or " Narratives of the Confucian School," compiled in the 3rd century A.D. from documents said to have been preserved among the descendants of Confucius, and also in the brief history of Lao-tsze given in the historical records of Sze-ma Ch'ien (about roo B.C.). In the latter instance the designation is used by Confucius, and possibly it originated with him. It should be regarded more as an epithet of respect than of years, and is equivalent to "the Venerable Philosopher." All that Ch'ien tells us about L'ao-tsze goes into small compass. His surname was Li, and his name Urh. He was a native of the state of Chia, and was horn in a hamlet not far from the present prefectural city of Kwei-te in Ho-nan province. He was one of the recorders or historiographers at the court of Chow, his special department being the charge of the whole or a portion of the royal library. He must thus have been able to make himself acquainted with the history of his country. Ch'ien does not mention the year of his birth, which is often said, though on what Chinese authority does not appear, to have taken place in the third year of King Phing, corresponding to 604 B.C. That date cannot be far from the truth. That he was contemporary with Confucius is established by the concurrent testimony of the Li Kt, and the Kid Yii on the Confucian side, and of Chwang-tsze and Sze-ma Ch'ien on the Taoist. The two men whose influence has been so great on all the subsequent generations of the Chinese people—Kung-tsze (Confucius) and Lao-tsze—had at least one interview, in 517 B.C., when the former was in his thirty-fifth year. The conversation between them was interesting. Lao was in a mocking mood; Kung appears to the greater advantage. If it be true that Confucius, when he was fifty-one years old, visited Lao-tsze as Chwang-tsze says (in the Thien Yun, the fourteenth of his treatises), to ask about the Tdo, they must have had more than one interview. Dr Chalmers, however, has pointed out that both Chwang-tsze and Lieh-tsze (a still earlier Taoist writer) produce Confucius in their writings, as the lords of the Philistines did the captive Samson on their festive occasions, " to make sport for them." Their testimony is valueless as to any matter of fact. There may have been several meetings between the two in 517 B.C., but we have no evidence that they were together in the same place after that time. Ch'ien adds:—" Lao-tsze cultivated the Tdo and virtue, his chief aim in his studies being how to keep himself concealed and unknown. He resided at (the capital of) Chow; but after a long time, seeing the decay of the dynasty, he left it, and went away to the Gate (leading from the royal domain into the regions beyond—at the entrance of the pass of Han-kfl, in the north-west of Ho-nan). Yin Hsi, the warden of the Gate. said to him, ' You are about to withdraw yourself out of sight; I pray you to compose for me a book (before you go).' On this Lao-tsze made a writing, setting forth his views on the tdo and virtue, in two sections, containing more than 5000 characters. He then went away, and it is not known where he died." The historian then mentions the names of two other men whom some regarded as the true Lao-tsze. One of them was a Lao Lai, a con-temporary of Confucius, who wrote fifteen treatises (or sections) on the practices of the school of Tdo. Subjoined to the notice of him is the remark that Lao-tsze was more than one hundred and sixty years old, or, as some say, more than two hundred, because by the cultivation of the Tdo he nourished his longevity. The other was " a grand historiographer " of Chow, called Tan, one hundred and twenty-nine (? one hundred and nineteen) years after the death of Confucius. The introduction of these disjointed notices detracts from the verisimilitude of the whole narrative in which they occur. Finally, Ch'ien states that " Lho-tsze was a superior man, who liked to keep in obscurity," traces the line of his posterity down to the 2nd century B.C., and concludes with this important statement:—" Those who attach themselves to the doctrine of Lao-tsze condemn that of the literati, and the literati on their part condemn Lao-tsze, thus verifying the saying, ' Parties whose principles are different cannot take counsel together.' Li Urh taught that transformation follows, as a matter of course, the doing nothing (to bring it about), and rectification ensnes in the same way from being pure and still." Accepting the Tdo Teh King as the veritable work of Lao-tsze, we may now examine its contents. Consisting of not more than between five and six thousand characters, it is but a short treatise—not half the size of the Gospel of St Mark. The nature of the subject, however, the want of any progress of thought or of logical connexion between its different parts, and the condensed style, with the mystic tendencies and poetical temperament of the author, make its meaning extraordinarily obscure. Divided at first into two parts, it has subsequently and conveniently been subdivided into chapters. One of the oldest, and the most common, of these arrangements makes the chapters eighty-two. Some Roman Catholic missionaries, two centuries ago, fancied that they found a wonderful harmony between many passages and the teaching of the Bible. Montucci of Berlin Supposed ventured to say in 1808: " Many things about a harmony Triune God are so clearly expressed that no one who with has read this book can doubt that the mystery of the' siaiirai Holy Trinity was revealed to the Chinese five centuries teaching. before the coming of Jesus Christ." Even Remusat, the first occupant of a Chinese chair in Europe, published at Paris in 1823 his Memoire sur la vie et les opinions de Ldo-tsze, to vindicate the view that the Hebrew name Yahweh was phonetic-ally represented in the fourteenth chapter by Chinese characters. These fancies were exploded by Stanislas Julien, when he issued in 1842 his translation of the whole treatise as Le Livre de la voie et de la vertu. The most important thing is to determine what we are to understand by the Tdo, for Teh is merely its outcome, especially in man, and is rightly translated by " virtue." Julien translated Tdo by " la voie." Chalmers leaves it untranslated. " No English word," he says (p. xi.), " is its exact equivalent. Three terms suggest themselves—the way, reason and the word; but they are all liable to objection. Were we guided by etymology, ` the way ' would come nearest the original, and in one or two passages the idea of a way seems to be in the term; but this is too materialistic to serve the purpose of a translation. ` Reason,' again, seems to be more like a quality or attribute of some conscious being than Tdo is. I would translate it by ` the Word,' in the sense of the Logos, but this would be like settling the question which I wish to leave open, viz. what resemblance there is between the Logos of the New Testament and this Chinese Tao." Later Sinologues in China have employed " nature " as our best analogue of the term. Thus Watters (Ldo-tsze, A Study in Chinese Philosophy, p. 45) says:— " In the Tdo Teh King the originator of the universe is referred to under the names Non-Existence, Existence, Nature (Tdo) and various designations—all which, however, represent one idea in various manifestations. It is in all cases Nature (Tdo) which is meant." This view has been skilfully worked out; but it only hides the scope of " the Venerable Philosopher." " Nature " cannot be accepted as a translation of Tdo. That character was, primarily, the symbol of a way, road or path; and then, figuratively, it was used, as we also use way, in the senses of means and method—the course that we pursue in passing from one thing or concept to another as its end or result. It is the name of a quality. Sir Robert Douglas has well said (Confucianism and Tdoism, p. 189) : " If we were compelled to adopt a single word to represent the Tdo of Lao-tsze, we should prefer the sense in which it is used by Confucius, ` the way,' that is, thOo8os." What, then, was the quality which Lao-tsze had in view, and which he thought of as the Tdo—there in the library of Chow, at the pass of the valley of Han, and where he met The the end of his life beyond the limits of the civilized doctrine state? It was the simplicity of spontaneity, action of" the (which might be called non-action) without motive, WAY'" free from all selfish purpose, resting in nothing but its own accomplishment. This is found in the phenomena of the material world. " All things springup without a word spoken, and grow without a claim for their production. They go through their processes without any display of pride in them; and the results are realized without any assumption of ownership. It is owing to the absence of such assumption that the results and their processes do not disappear " (chap. ii.). It only needs the same quality in the arrangements and measures of government to make society beautiful and happy. " A government conducted by sages would free the hearts of the people from inordinate desires, fill their bellies, keep their ambitions feeble and strengthen their bones. They would constantly keep the people without knowledge and free from desires; and, where there were those who had knowledge, they would have them so that they would not dare to put it in practice " (chap. iii.). A corresponding course observed by individual man in his government of himself becoming again " as a little child" (chaps. x. and xxviii.) will have corresponding results. " His constant virtue will be complete, and he will return to the primitive simplicity " (chap. xxviii.). Such is the subject matter of the Tdo Teh King—the operation of this method or Tdo, " without striving or crying," in nature, in society and in the individual. Much that is very beautiful and practical is inculcated in connexion with its working in the individual character. The writer seems to feel that he cannot say enough on the virtue of humility (chap. viii., &c.). There were three things which he prized and held fast—gentle compassion, economy and the not presuming to take precedence in the world (chap. lxvii.). His teaching rises to its highest point in chap. lxiii.:— " It is the way of Tdo not to act from any personal motive, to conduct affairs without feeling the trouble of them, to taste without being aware of the flavour, to account the great as small and the small as great, to recompense injury with kindness." This last and noblest characteristic of the Tao, the requiting " good for evil," is not touched on again in the treatise; but we know that it excited general attention at the time, and was the subject of conversation between Confucius and his disciples (Confucian Analects, xiv. 36). What is said in the Tao on government is not, all of it, so satisfactory. The writer shows, indeed, the benevolence of his heart. He seems to condemn the infliction of capital punishment (chaps. lxxiii. and lxxiv.), and he deplores the practice of war (chap. 1xix.); but he had no sympathy with the progress of society or with the culture and arts of life. He says (chap. lxv.):—" Those who anciently were skilful in practising the Tao did not use it to enlighten the people; 'their object rather was to keep them simple. The difficulty in governing the people arises from their having too much knowledge, and therefore he who tries to govern a state by wisdom is a scourge to it, while he who does not try to govern thereby is a blessing." The last chapter but one is the following:— " In a small state with a few inhabitants, I would so order it that the people, though supplied with all kinds of implements, would not (care to) use them; I would give them cause to look on death as a most grievous thing, while yet they would not go away to a distance to escape from it. Though they had boats and carriages, they should have no occasion to ride in them. Though they had buff-coats and sharp weapons, they should not don or use them. I would make them return to the use of knotted cords (instead of written characters). They should think their coarse food sweet, their plain clothing beautiful, their poor houses places of rest and their common simple ways sources of enjoyment. There should be a neighbouring state within sight, and the sound of the fowls and dogs should be heard from it to us without interruption, but I would make the people to old age, even to death, have no intercourse with it." On reading these sentiments, we must judge of Lao-tsze that, with all his power of thought, he was only a dreamer. But thus far there is no difficulty arising from his language in regard to the Tdo. It is simply a quality, descriptive of the style of character and action, which the individual should seek to attain in himself, and the ruler to impress on his administration. The language about the Tao in nature is by no means so clear. While Sir Robert Douglas says that " the way " would be the best translation of Tao, he immediately adds:— " But Tdo is more than the way. It is the way and the way-goer. It is an eternal road; along it all beings and things walk; but no being made it, for it is being itself; it is everything, and nothing Some of these representations require modification; but no thoughtful reader of the treatise can fail to be often puzzled by what is said on the point in hand. Julien, indeed, says with truth (p. xiii.) that " it is impossible to take Tao for the primordial Reason, for the sublime Intelligence, which has created and governs the world "; but many of Lao-tsze's statements are unthinkable if there be not behind the Tao the unexpressed recognition of a personal creator and ruler. Granted that he does not affirm positively the existence of such a Being, yet certainly he does not deny it, and his language even implies it. It has been said, indeed, that he denies it, and we are referred in proof to the fourth chapter:— " Tao is like the emptiness of a vessel; and the use of it, we may say, must be free from all self-sufficiency. How deep and mysterious it is, as if it were the author of all things! We should make our sharpness blunt, and unravel the complications of things; we should attemper our brightness, and assimilate ourselves to the obscurity caused by dust. How still and clear is Tao, a phantasm with the semblance of permanence! I do not know whose son it is. It might appear to have been before God (Ti)." The reader will not overlook the cautious and dubious manner in which the predicates of Tdo are stated in this remarkable passage. The author does not say that it was before God, but that " it might appear " to have been so. Nowhere else in his treatise does the nature of Tdo as a method or style of action come out more clearly. It has no positive existence of itself; it is but like the emptiness of a vessel, and the manifestation of it by men requires that they endeavour to free themselves from all self-sufficiency. Whence came it? It does not shock Lao-tsze to suppose that it had a father, but he cannot tell whose son it is. And, as the feeling of its mysteriousness grows on him, he ventures to say that " it might appear to have been before God." There is here no denial but express recognition of the existence of God, so far as it is implied in the name Ti, which is the personal name for the concept of heaven as the ruling power, by means of which the fathers of the Chinese people rose in prehistoric time to the idea of God. Again and again Lao-tsze speaks of heaven just as " we do when we mean thereby the Deity who presides over heaven and earth." These last words are taken from Watters (p. 8r); and, though he adds, " We must not forget that this heaven is inferior and subsequent to the mysterious Tao, and was in fact produced by it," it has been shown how rash and unwarranted is the ascription of such a sentiment to "the Venerable Philosopher." He makes the Tao prior to heaven and earth, which is a phrase denoting what we often call " nature," but he does not make it prior to heaven in the higher and immaterial usage of that name. The last sentence of his treatise is:— " It is the Tao—the way—of Heaven to benefit and not injure; it is the Tao—the way—of the sage to do and not strive." Since Julien laid the Tdo Teh King fairly open to Western readers in 1842, there has been a tendency to overestimate rather than to underestimate its value as a scheme of thought and a discipline for the individual and society. There are in it lessons of unsurpassed value, such as the inculcation of simplicity, humility and self-abnegation, and especially the brief enunciation of the divine duty of returning good for ill; but there are also the regretful representations of a primitive society when men were ignorant of the rudiments of culture, and the longings for its return. When it was thought that the treatise made known the doctrine of the Trinity, and even gave a phonetic representation of the Hebrew name for God, it was natural, even necessary, to believe that its author had had communication with more western parts of Asia, and there was much speculation about visits to India and Judaea, and even to Greece. The necessity for assuming such travels has passed away. If we can receive Sze-ma Ch'ien's histories as trustworthy, L"ao-tsze might have heard, in the states of Chow and among the wild tribes adjacent to them, views about society and government very like his own. Ch'ien relates how an envoyy came in 624 B.c.—twenty years before the date assigned to the birtkt of Lao-tsze—to the court of Duke Mu of Ch'in, sent by the king of some rude hordes on the west. The duke told him of the histories rr The Ta"o and the Deity. poems, codes of rites, music and laws which they had in the middle states, while yet rebellion and disorder were of frequent occurrence, and asked how good order was secured among the wild people, who had none of those appliances. The envoy smiled, and replied that the troubles of China were occasioned by those very things of which the duke vaunted, and that there had been a gradual degeneration in the condition of its states, as their professed civilization had increased, ever since the days of the ancient sage, Hwang Ti, whereas in the land he came from, where there was nothing but the primitive simplicity, their princes showed a pure virtue in their treatment of the people, who responded to them with loyalty and good faith. " The government of a state," said he in conclusion, " is like a man's ruling his own single person. He rules it, and does not know how he does so; and this was indeed the method of the sages." Lao-tsze did not need to go further afield to find all that he has said about government. We have confined ourselves to the Taoism of the Tao Teh King without touching on the religion Taoism now existing in China, but The which did not take shape until more than five hundred Taoism years after the death of Lao-tsze, though he now occupies of to-day. the second place in its trinity of "The three Pure or Holy Ones." There is hardly a word in his treatise that savours either of superstition or religion. In the works of Lieh-tsze and Chwang-tsze, his earliest followers of note, we find abundance of grotesque superstitions; but their beliefs (if indeed we can say that they had beliefs) had not become embodied in any religious institutions. When we come to the Ch'in dynasty (221–206 B.c.), we meet with a Taoism in the shape of a search for the fairy islands of the eastern sea, where the herb.of immortality might be gathered. In the 1st century A.D. a magician, called Chang Tao-ling, comes before us as the chief professor and controller of this Taoism, preparing in retirement " the pill " which renewed his youth, supreme over all spirits, and destroying millions of demons by a stroke of his pencil. He left his books, talismans and charms, with his sword and seal, to his descendants, and one of them, professing to be animated by his soul, dwells on the Lung-ha' mountain in Kiang-si, the acknowledged head or pope of Taoism. But even then the system was not yet a religion, with temples or monasteries, liturgies and forms of public worship. It borrowed all these from Buddhism, which first obtained public recognition in China between A.D. 65 and 70, though at least a couple of centuries passed before it could be said to have free course in the country. Even still, with the form of a religion, Taoism is in reality a conglomeration of base and dangerous superstitions. Alchemy, geomancy and spiritualism have dwelt and dwell under its shadow. Each of its " three Holy Ones " has the title of Thien Tsun, " the Heavenly and Honoured," taken from Buddhism, and also of Shang Ti or God, taken from the old religion of the country. The most popular deity, however, is not one of them, but has the title of Yin Wang Shang Ti, " God, the Perfect King." But it would take long to tell of all its " celestial gods," "great gods," " divine rulers "and others. It has been doubted whether Lao-tsze acknowledged the existence of God at all, but modern Taoism is a system of the wildest polytheism. The science and religion of the; West meet from it a most determined opposition. The " Venerable Philosopher " himself would not have welcomed them; but he ought not to bear the obloquy of being the founder of the Taoist religion. (J. LE.) LA PAZ, a western department of Bolivia, bounded N. by the national territories of Caupolican and El Beni, E. by El Beni and Cochabamba, S. by Cochabamba and Oruro and W. by Chile and Peru. Pop. (1900) 445,616, the majority of whom are Indians. Area 53,777 sq. m. The department belongs to the great Bolivian plateau, and its greater part to the cold, bleak, puna climatic region. The Cordillera Real crosses it I.W. to S.E. and culminates in the snow-crowned summits of Sorata and Illimani. The west of the department includes a part of the Titicaca basin with about half of the lake. This elevated plateau region is partially barren and inhospitable, its short, cold summers permitting the production of little besides potatoes, quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) and barley, with a little Indian corn and wheat in favoured localities. Some attention is given to the rearing of llamas, and a few cattle, sheep and mules are to be seen south of Lake Titicaca. There is a considerable Indian population in this region, living chiefly in small hamlets on the products of their own industry. In the lower valleys of the eastern slopes, where climatic conditions range from temperate to tropical, wheat, Indian corn, oats and the fruits and vegetables of the temperate zone are cultivated. Farther down, coffee, cacao, coca, rice, sugar cane, tobacco, oranges, bananas and other tropical fruits are grown, and the forests yield cinchona bark and rubber. The mineral wealth of La Paz includes gold, silver, tin, copper and bismuth. Tin and rapper are the most important of these, the principal tinmines being in the vicinity of the capital and known under the names of Huayna-Potosi, Milluni and Chocoltaga. The chief copper mines are the famous Corocoro group, about 75 m. S.S.E. of Lake Titicaca by the Desaguadero river, the principal means of transport. The output of the Corocoro mines, which also includes gold and silver, finds its way to market by boat and rail to Mollendo, and by pack animals to Tacna and rail to Arica. There are no roads in La Paz worthy of the name except the 5 m. between the capital and the " Alto," though stage-coach communication with Oruro and Chililaya has been maintained by the national government. The railway opened in 1905 between Guaqui and La Paz (54 M.) superseded the latter of these stage lines, and a railway is planned from Viacha to Oruro to supersede the other. The capital of the department is the national capital La Paz. Corocoro, near the Desaguadero river, about 75 M. S.S.E. of Lake Titicaca and 13,353 ft. above sea-level, has an estimated population (1906) of 15,000, chiefly Aymara Indians. LA PAZ (officially LA PAZ DE AYACUCHO), the capital of Bolivia since 1898, the see of a bishopric created in 1605 and capital of the department of La Paz, on the Rio de la Paz or Rio Chuquiapo, 42 M. S.E. of Lake Titicaca (port of Chililaya) in 16° 3o' S., 68° W. Pop. (1goo) 54,713, (1906, estimate) 67,235. The city is built in a deeply-eroded valley of the Cordillera Real which is believed to have formed an outlet of Lake Titicaca, and at this point descends sharply to the S.E., the river making a great bend southward and then flowing northward to the Beni. The valley is about tom. long and 3 M. wide, and is singularly barren and forbidding. Its precipitous sides, deeply gullied by torrential rains and diversely coloured by mineral ores, rise 1500 ft. above the city to the margin of the great plateau surrounding Lake Titicaca, and above these are the snow-capped summits of Illimani and other giants of the Bolivian Cordillera. Below, the valley is fertile and covered with vegetation, first of the temperate and then of the tropical zone. The elevation of La Paz is 12,120 ft. above sea-level, which places it within the pupa climatic region, in which the summers are short and cold. The mean annual temperature is a little above the puna average, which is 54° F., the extremes ranging from 19° to 75°. Pneumonia and bronchial complaints are common, but consumption is said to be rare. The surface of the valley is very uneven, rising sharply from the river on both sides, and the transverse streets of the city are steep and irregular. At its south-eastern extremity is the Alameda, a handsome public promenade with parallel rows of exotic trees, shrubs and flowers, which are maintained with no small effort in so inhospitable a climate. The trees which seem to thrive best are the willow and eucalyptus. The streets are generally narrow and roughly paved, and there are numerous bridges across the river and its many small tributaries. The dwellings of the poorer classes are commonly built with mud walls and covered with tiles, but stone and brick are used for the better structures. The cathedral, which was begun in the 17th century when the mines of Potosi were at the height of their productiveness, was never finished because of the revolutions and the comparative poverty of the city under the republic. It faces the Plata Mayor and is distinguished for the finely-carved stonework of its facade. Facing the same plaza are the government offices and legislative chambers. Other notable edifices and institutions are the old university of San Andres, the San Francisco church, a national college, a seminary, a good public library and a museum rich in relics of the Inca and colonial periods. La Paz is an important commercial centre, being connected with the Pacific coast by the Peruvian railway from Mollendo to Puno (via Arequipa), and a Bolivian extension from Guaqui to the Alto de La Paz (Heights of La Paz)—the two lines being connected by a steamship service across Lake Titicaca. An electric railway 5 M. long connects the Alto de La Paz with the city, 1493 ft. below. This route is 496 M. long, and is expensive because of trans-shipments and the cost of handling cargo at Mollendo. The vicinity of La Paz abounds with mineral wealth; most important are the tin deposits of Huayna-Potosi, Milluni and Chocoltaga. The La Paz valley is auriferous, and since the foundation of the city gold has been taken from the soil washed down from the mountain sides. La Paz was founded in 1548 by Alonzo de Mendoza on the site of an Indian village called Chuquiapu. It was called the Pueblo Nuevo de Nuestra Senora de la Paz in commemoration of the reconciliation between Pizarro and Almagro, and soon became an important colony. At the close of the war of independence (1825) it was rechristened La Paz de Ayacucho, in honour of the last decisive battle of that protracted struggle. It was made one of the four capitals of the republic, but the revolution of 1898 permanently established the seat of government here because of its accessibility, wealth, trade and political influence. LA PEROUSE, JEAN-FRANCOIS DE GALAUP, COMTE DE (1741-c. 1788), French navigator, was born near Albi, on the 22nd of August 1741. His family name was Galaup, and La Perouse or La Peyrouse was an addition adopted by himself from a small family estate near Albi. As a lad of eighteen he was wounded and made prisoner on board the " Formidable " when it was captured by Admiral Hawke in 1759; and during the war with England between 1778 and 1783 he served with distinction in various parts of the world, more particularly on the eastern coasts of Canada and in Hudson's Bay, where he captured Forts Prince of Wales and York (August 8th and 21st, 1782). In 1785 (August 1st) he sailed from Brest in command of the French government expedition of two vessels (" La Boussole under La Perouse himself, and " L'Astrolabe," under de Langle) for the discovery of the North-West Passage, vainly essayed by Cook on his last voyage, from the Pacific side. He was also charged with the further exploration of the north-west coasts of America, and the north-cast coasts of Asia, of the China and Japan seas, the Solomon Islands and Australia; and he was ordered to collect information as to the whale fishery in the southern oceans and as to the fur trade in North America. He reached Mount St Elias, on the coast of Alaska, on the 23rd of June 1786. After six weeks, marked by various small discoveries, he was driven from these regions by bad weather; and after visiting the Hawaiian Islands, and discovering Necker Island (November 5th, 1786), he crossed over to Asia (Macao, January 3rd, 1787). Thence he passed to the Philippines, and so to the coasts of Japan, Korea and " Chinese Tartary," where his best results were gained. Touching at Quelpart, he reached De Castries Bay, near the modern Vladivostok, on the 28th of July 1787; and on the 2nd of August following discovered the strait, still named after him, between Sakhalin and the Northern Island of Japan. On the 7th of September he put in at Petropavlovsk in Kamchatka, where he was well received by special order of the Russian empress, Catherine II. ; thence he sent home Lesseps, overland, with the journals, notes, plans and maps recording the work of the expedition. He left Avacha Bay on the 29th of September, and arrived at Mauna in the Samoan group on the 8th of December; here de Langle and ten of the crew of the " Astrolabe " were murdered. He quitted Samoa on the 14th of December, touched at the Friendly Islands and Norfolk Island and arrived in Botany Bay on the 26th of January 1788. From this place, where he interchanged courtesies with some of the English pioneers in Australia, he wrote his last letter to the French Ministry of Marine (February 7th). After this no more was heard of him and his squadron till in 1826 Captain Peter Dillon found the wreckage of what must have been the " Boussole " and the "Astrolabe " on the reefs of Vanikoro, an island to the north of the New Hebrides. In 1828 Dumont d'Urville visited the scene of the disaster and erected a monument (March 14th). See Milet Mureau, Voyage de la Perouse autour du monde (Paris, 1797) 4 vols.; Gerard, Vies des . . . marins francais (Paris, 1825), 197-200; Peter Dillon, Narrative . of a Voyage in the South Seas for the Discovery of the Fate of La Perouse (London, 1829), 2 vols.; Dumont d'Urville, Voyage pittoresque autour du monde; Quoy and Paul Gaimard, Voyage de . l'Astrolabe; Domeny de Rienzi, Oceanie; Van Tenac, Histoire general de la marine, iv. 258-264; Moniteur universel, 13th of February 1847.
End of Article: LAOS
[back]
LAON
[next]
LAP

Additional information and Comments

There are no comments yet for this article.
» Add information or comments to this article.
Please link directly to this article:
Highlight the code below, right click and select "copy." Paste it into a website, email, or other HTML document.