THE COMMERCE OF IVORY
traveller Soleiman, writing in the ninth century, notes ivory among
the principal articles imported into the port of Canton for
distribution in China; the others were frankincense, copper,
tortoise-shell, camphor, and rhinoceros horns. Three tenths of the
merchandise was kept by the Chinese Government as import duty, the
balance being turned over to the merchants to do as they pleased
with.* The same writer remarks that the Chinese women adorned their
heads with a number of small combs of ivory and other materials, as
many as a score of these being sometimes worn together.f
who imported ivory into China by way of Canton in the ninth century of
our era were not only forced to yield the high import dues we have
noted, but were forced to sell all tusks weighing 30 catties or more
(about 40 pounds or upward) in the official market, where there was
commonly great undervaluation. Of course the consequent exclusion of
competition must have been felt as a great hardship. To escape this
restriction but one way was open: to cut up the heavier tusks so that
each separate piece would weigh less than the limit set for the
official market. Any attempt to evade the strict customs regulations
was severely pun-
Ju-Kua, "Chu-fan-chi" ("A Description of Barbarous Peoples"), trans, by
Friedrich Hirth and W. W. Rockhill, St. Petersburg, 1911, p. 15.
Ancient Accounts of India and China by Two Mohammedan Travellers,"
Engl, trans, of Renaudot's French version, London, 1733, p. 14.