Page from a Chinese book printed by a gaming house detailing procedures to be used for gambling on the outcome of the 1903 civil service exam. This form of gambling on the surnames of exam candidates, known as wei xing 闈姓 “palace gate surnames”, was popular during the late Qing period in regions of south China including Canton, Macao, and Hong Kong. Betting was run by private companies who issued their own certificates, printed lists of winning names, and produced other documentation such as this book of procedures. Betting on the examination outcome was variously subject to taxation and prohibition during the nineteenth century. The text begins on the left with a list of 60 different surnames: Chen, Li, Huang, He, Zhang etc. This is followed by a description of how gamblers were to place bets on the outcome of the 1903 civil service exam (本年癸卯科) by selecting 20 surnames from this list of 60, aiming to predict the distribution of surnames of successful candidates. The procedures are specified in painstaking detail.
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