Edit: Bao Huang
Format: A Cong’er
Cartography: You Zi
Plant Hunter’s “Chinese Dream”
In the last issue, oh no, probably in the last issue, when we introduced the Cizhong Church, we mentioned the Deqin teaching case. The Englishman Forrester (1873-1932) we introduced in this issue is also closely related to this lesson plan.
▲George Forrester, this attire is somewhat different from the outdoors today-a small flower is stuck in the hat, with a dog, water bottle and crutches, high boots, looks very professional.
He is a young plant hunter who has just been sent to Yunnan to collect plants, but he is accidentally involved in history, and has been hunted down and fled for more than half a month.
Plant hunter is a profession we are unfamiliar with today. Because the world has been turned over and over again, because of the new concept of environmental protection, the barbaric excavation of species on the earth is no longer allowed. When Forrester entered Yunnan, it was the time when the civilization and culture of western China were changing from old to new. The land that was originally owned by the people turned into a barbaric wilderness in front of the plant hunters with guns.
▲Forrest, his assistant and two puppies, Forest here is closer to the appearance at work.
Moreover, at this time, the western part of China in the middle and upper reaches of the Yangtze River has just opened up. Therefore, those “decadent” youths who have low status and status in their own country, and even face survival crisis, are eager to go to the “end of the world” to show their ambitions.
At that time, in Hubei and Sichuan, Wilson, who was three years younger than Forrester, had arrived a few years earlier than him, and became famous in one fell swoop, although he later limped his leg in the Minjiang Canyon. Wilson found the long-awaited Davidia involucrata in Shenlongjia, took the kiwi seeds back in Yichang, and found Meconopsis entire margin in the western plateau of Sichuan…
▲ Meconopsis whole-leaf in alpine regions, Wilson’s important achievement in Sichuan is to bring back this flower.
Forest’s career as a plant hunter came a few years after Wilson’s. Because before that, he wandered in Australia (another wilderness) for several years. He started working as an apprentice in a pharmacy at the age of 18. After 6 years, he couldn’t take it anymore and used the £50 inheritance left by his uncle to go to Australia to pan for gold. But the gold was not mined, but the sheep were kept for several years. Still later, another uncle gave him a small inheritance, and he returned to Scotland.
▲Australia’s gold mines, gold panning is easier or harder than the work of plant hunters?
In Scotland, his family was still living in poverty, so he worked odd jobs in a small museum, helping to collect specimens. Soon, a turning point came. While fishing, he accidentally saw a stone box containing human bones, which he gave to a National Museum in Edinburgh. This unexpected discovery made him appreciated by a bigwig in the natural history circle, and he was recommended to be a gardener in the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh (Wilson also worked as a gardener in Kew Garden).
▲The Davidia involucrata, which Wilson brought back to England and made him famous in one fell swoop, is very ornamental and delights the British to death.
Still later, stimulated by Wilson’s success, a nursery merchant wanted to hire a temporary worker with plant knowledge to western China. So, in 1904, at the age of 31, Forrester signed a three-year contract with the nursery company. According to the price of collecting plants in China 100 years ago—an annual salary of 100 pounds, which has not changed for a hundred years—Forrester set foot on Chinese land with full expectations.
▲ Rhododendrons in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh.
The “Chinese dream” of plant hunters is somewhat similar, which is probably “the only way to become a master is to endure hardships and hardships.” Sure enough, Forest has had great success thanks to a long, lonely, and arduous career collecting plants in China, mainly in Yunnan.
Especially in 1919, he found a 25-meter-high Rhododendron tree in Gaoligong Mountain, Tengchong, with a diameter of 2.6 meters. The precious wood (don’t even think about making a chopping board) is still in the British Museum.
▲This is the legendary big tree rhododendron, don’t confuse it with the ordinary alpine rhododendron.
Forrester has risen from a blacksmith family member to a British gentleman—in England, professional plant hunters are basically not gentlemen, but there are many rich and leisure gentlemen who are quite interested in natural history, so, Engaging in natural history is also a shortcut in life.
After 1920, various medals followed. In recognition of his discovery of more than 1,000 species of plants and his unique contribution to the introduction of Rhododendron.
Forest has a great reputation. In Western countries, he is said to be named “the first person to explore plants from ancient times to the present.” This statement is somewhat exaggerated, but it makes sense if one considers his experience of being hunted down during the plant exploration. In Tengchong (Tengyue Prefecture), Forest has another nickname – “Consul of Picking Flowers”.
▲The former British Consulate is now a relic.
Probably at that time, foreigners in Tengchong were either customs officials or consuls (the consulate was set up in Tengchong in 1899, and the customs office was set up in 1902). Therefore, Forrester, the “flower picker”, often went in and out of the consulate, so he naturally became a consul. got the consul.
This “flower-picking” thief, who “picked flowers” desperately in Yunnan, escaped several times in his life, but finally did not escape.
At the beginning of 1932, he originally planned to retire after returning to China, but when he was about to shoot a bird in Tengchong, he died suddenly. After his death, he was buried in Laifeng Mountain, Tengchong, accompanied by G. Litton, the acting consul of the United Kingdom in Tengchong who had inspected the Nujiang Gorge with him.
▲In ancient times, there was a saying in western Yunnan that there was a “smoky place”, and the reason was mainly due to falciparum malaria. When the editor went deep into the Nu River for the first time that year, he took free anti-malarial medicine (supposedly quinine) at the head of the Gongshan Bridge, a project sponsored by the United Nations. * Numbness is still fierce.
In October 1905, Forest, who had just escaped from Deqin, under the leadership of Liedon, went to explore the Nujiang Canyon for the first time from Mingguang Canyon in Tengchong, and returned after arriving at the watershed between Nujiang and Dulong River. Both Falciparum and Forrester contracted falciparum malaria. Litton could not resist, and died of illness early in the second year. After a few months of illness, Forrester came back to life.
If we believe in ghosts, there should be a passage like this next to a grave in a certain corner of Tengchong in 1932:
“Brother, you are late!”
“Hey, I can’t help it. In this colorful world in the world, there are always endless flowers to pick.”
Fatal Moments on the Lancang River
If we had known the severity of the storm in the summer of 1905, we really do not think Forest would have survived.
▲Cizhong Church across the Lancang River.
In July 1905, stimulated by the British invasion of Tibet, Deqin’s angry fellow Tibetans began attacking churches (albeit French ones). At this time, Forrester is staying at Zigu Church. This is his second visit here. In the summer of 1904, not long after he arrived in Yunnan, he arrived in Deqin along the Ancient Tea Horse Road, and then went all the way south along the Lancang River to Cigu. Afterwards, he continued southward along the Lancang River. After arriving in Weixi, he turned to Lanping and Jianchuan, and returned to Dali, the temporary base.
▲The middle and upper reaches of the Lancang River.
This time, Forester and 17 hired assistants devoted themselves to collecting plant specimens when they came to Shiitake. I have collected more than 1,200 wax leaf specimens and more than 80 kinds of seeds, and I plan to bring these things back to the UK by the end of the year.
But by mid-July (probably July 18), the situation of Ciguella became critical. In the end, the two missionaries, Forrester and others had to abandon the church and start fleeing. But many people did not run away. Two missionaries, one was shot and killed by poisoned arrows on July 19, and the other was captured (and later died) a few days later (probably July 26). Forrest was lucky, probably because he had practiced martial arts and finally survived.
▲Although he is short in stature, Forrest in professional equipment is still very imposing. It is really impossible to imagine his embarrassment while fleeing.
Forrester reminds me of his fellow 13th-century fellow Wallace with a “brave heart.” But escaping requires more perseverance than death, especially escaping by the Lancang River, which is a more painful experience than death.
First, for 8 days, I was hotly pursued. One time, when the way out was blocked, he rolled into the jungle to escape; one time, he was chased and ran for 3 miles in waist-deep water; one time, his hat was shot through by two poisoned arrows, and he almost died; The pursuit of multiple people.
▲Chabuduoga is located in Yezhi Town, with a maximum altitude of 4,840 meters. It is the highest peak in Weixi. Forest passed through this area when he fled.
Eight days later, Forest, who was about to faint from hunger, finally ushered in a turning point. Like a three-part Hollywood movie, Forrester starts another escape in a Lisu village.
Forest inadvertently broke into a Lisu village. Here, this plant hunter who was hunted down because of his identity as a foreigner enjoyed the hospitality of the mountain people in Yunnan. In this unknown Lisu village, Forest spent 4 days recuperating. But at this time, the pursuer was still nearby, so he disguised himself as a local and moved to another Lisu village.
▲Nanjiluo near Biluo Snow Mountain.
In order to escape the sight of the pursuers, the Lisu youth led him to make a ruthless move, determined to climb the high mountain on the west bank of the Lancang River, that is, to climb the watershed between the Lancang River and the Nu River. Along the way, there are many places where there is ice and snow that does not melt all the year round. Indeed, there are no pursuers this time, but it is another kind of torture in the cold mountains.
Climbing snow-capped mountains and dangerous peaks, finding no way to find a way, suffering from hunger and cold. This is truly challenging the limits of the human body. However, at the top of the mountain, Forest also appreciates the beauty of the high mountains in Yunnan. Summer on the mountain is the season when flowers are in full bloom. The flower picker can finally enjoy the flowers quietly.
▲Rhododendron forest on Biluo Snow Mountain.
After 6 days, they finally reached the territory of Weixiyezhi. Descending from the mountain to the river, Forest thought he was finally liberated, but he encountered the darkness before dawn. His almost bare feet stepped into a button. This is a trap set by the nearby Lisu people. A 1-foot-5-inch bamboo stick pierced the sole of his foot, nearly crippling him.
▲It is estimated that it is this kind of earthen button, with spikes.
Ye Zhi’s Naxi chieftain brought bait, eggs, and pork from Jiangdong to express his condolences, and even changed him into a suit of clothes. However, the chieftain also told him that Jiangdong was not safe yet, and the pursuers also came after him.
That night, Forrester took a hot bath in the village on the west bank of the Lancang River, changed into a Tibetan costume the next day, and left quietly. Along the path on the west bank of the Lancang River, it took four days for Forest to finally escape the hunt completely. Sitting on a zipline, he slipped from Jiangxi to Jiangdong, and the local Qing Dynasty garrison received him. Nineteen days later, under the escort of the army, the survivor, who had even reported his death to his family, finally arrived in Dali and was transferred to the British Consulate in Tengchong, his base. The ordeal remembered by history is finally over.
▲Since the advent of cameras, ziplines have been a favorite subject of photography. But at the beginning of the 20th century, the communication between the two sides of the Lancang River, the simple but not simple tool of the zip line, was too advanced.
In 1905, Forrester faced multiple death threats. But fighting against microorganisms like malaria is obviously not as legendary as fighting against heaven, earth and humans. Forrester later wrote his Deqin adventure story, which he could boast about for a lifetime. Not only him, at that time, everyone who heard of him probably labeled him as a legendary hero.
“Through torture, he narrowly escaped death,” Johnston, who traveled to Yunnan in 1906, summed up Forester’s experience in his book “From Beijing to Mandalay”. At that time, they did not meet, and Johnston was not as famous as he was later (he became a foreign teacher of Puyi who abdicated in 1919). On May 15, Johnston arrived in Lijiang, and Forest had just left.
▲Johnston’s “From Beijing to Mandalay” once described Forrester’s legendary experience. Today, the original book has sold for more than 20,000 yuan.
Plant expeditions, or all expeditions probably have such a logic: as long as you survive, you are a victory. During Forrester’s trip in the summer of 1905, although the collected specimens were lost, his assistants were also lost, and the “Chinese dream” of getting rid of poverty and becoming rich that he almost achieved was also shattered. But he survived and earned a reputation as fearless. This is exactly what the somewhat contrived British culture needs.
I don’t know if Forrest, who became so famous, went to the Lisu village that rescued him back then. Forest has experienced many villages in his life in Yunnan. Other villages, like the other two villages we will discuss below, are related to his career, but only this one is related to his life. Those honest and kind Lisu people should be remembered forever, and at least a silk banner should be sent out. (to be continued)