This highly readable history of the world's most populous country dates from the late nineteenth century, when its author, John Henry Gray, served as the Archdeacon of Hong Kong. His two-volume study, here bound into a single volume, begins with the earliest known legends of China as the "Middle Kingdom," around which all lesser states gathered like satellites, and ranges forward to an intriguing series of portraits of the author's Chinese contemporaries. Subjects include the functions and powers of government; prisons and forms of punishment; religion, gods, and goddesses, and Confucian philosophy; marriage and divorce; the roles of servants and slaves; festivals, amusements, and sports; funerals; astrology and fortune-telling; and benevolent institutions. Commercial activities — agricultural techniques, tea and silk production, and maritime pursuits — also receive detailed and informative treatments. Evocative illustrations include images of fireworks and flying kits, opium smokers and Buddhist nuns, traditional fishing techniques, and numerous other scenes from daily life. Of immense value to Sinologists and historians, this insightful volume will appeal to anyone interested in China and Far Eastern cultures.