Dog lying in the shade of a parked carriage, Ruxton collection, Ru02-20.
Sometimes a genre photograph holds a surprise, or a redeeming punctum, as elucidated by Roland Barthes. In this photograph (Ru02-20), taken on a hot dusty street, probably in Peking (Beijing), c.1905, a dog takes advantage of the shade of the horse and cart. It may even be the photographer’s ever-patient (and trusting) dog?
Women washing laundry, Ta01-14, Taylor collection.
Women washing laundry, Wi02-04, Wilkinson collection.
These two photographs from unrelated collections show women washing clothes on rocks. Whilst doing their own work together in a communal way, one imagines the women having neighbourly conversations, perhaps even singing.
The images have several similarities and may have been taken at about the same place. However the photographs were not captioned and the location(s) remain unidentified.
A photograph of portrait sketches of foreigners, Peking, 1877. Henderson collection, DH-s019.
This intriguing montage photograph (DH-s019) of forty sketched portraits of foreigners and one photographic portrait, is labelled “PEKING CHRISTMAS 1877”. Their faces can be studied more closely at DH-s020, DH-s021 and DH-s022.
Most of the photographs in the Henderson collection came with no captioning information. We would be most interested to know who are the distinguished-looking men and women in this remembrance of a Christmas in Peking – and the name of the artist.
Luoyang Bridge, Quanzhou, showing oyster beds. Henderson collection, DH-s023.
This magnificent and famous stone beam bridge (Wan’an Bridge) in Qhanzhou, Fujian province was first built in the eleventh century; it has been restored many times since then and still stands. The elegant granite ship-shaped piers cut the rapid current of the Luoyang River.
Oysters were cultivated around the bridge to help bind the piers and stone blocks – a pioneering example of using a living organism to reinforce a structure. This photograph (DH-s023) was taken in the late nineteenth century, and shows what appears to be extensive oyster beds exposed at low tide.
Prior to 1949, and again more recently, foreign tourists avidly visited the marvellous sights in China. The tourist trail would include the Ming Tombs, just forty kilometres north of Peking (Beijing), here being explored in the 1920s, by donkey in a conversationally conducive way (Ru-s052):
Touring the Ming Tombs (backwards) by donkey, Ruxton collection, Ru-s052
Nowadays, many Chinese tourists are also touring China, lapping up their own history and culture, as Martin Woollacott reports <http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2012/nov/16/china-tourism-domestic-chinese-staycation>.
History is topical – and the future of the past in China is more promising than it has been for a long time.
China has just changed its leadership team, at the 18th Party Congress in Beijing. The photograph below, a favourite of ours, shows three Premiers in waiting, and the widow of one just deceased.
Revolutionaries at Canton, possibly during the Second National Conference of the Guomindang, 1st January1926, Fu Bingchang collection, fu-n086.
Here we have Wang Jingwei (second left); Chiang Kai-shek (fourth left); Mikhail Borodin (fifth left); Song Ziwen (sixth left waring cap); Eugene Chen (Chen Youren) (third right); He Xiangning (second right); Song Qingling (Madame Sun Yat-sen). Sun Yat-sen and Chiang both served as President of the Republic of China, while Wang, Chiang and Song Ziwen all served as Premier. During the Sino-Iapanese war Wang also served from from 1940 until his death in 1944 as head of state of the pro-Japanese, collaborationist regime. From 1949 until 1968 Song Qingling served as a Vice-President in the People’s Republic. Unluckiest of all of these was Comintern agent Mikhail Borodin, who died in a Soviet prison camp in 1951 after being found guilty of a trumped up charge of espionage.
Entrance to the mosque, Peking, Bowra collection, Bo01-056.
To mark the Islamic New Year, here is part of a rare photograph of the entrance to the Huihuiying Mosque [回回营清真寺遗存], in Donganfu Hutong, near Beihai Park, Beijing, taken about 1870. The image shown above, is a cropped version to better show the architecture. Parts of the Qing Dynasty building still exist
The photograph (Bo01-056) is from one of two superb Bowra albums, which are held in the archives of the Royal Society for Asian Affairs, London (RSAA reference RSAA/SC/BOW/1).
We have been on our holidays, but were also overwhelmed by correspondence resulting from July’s BBC Radio 4 documentary about the project, ‘Old Photographs Fever‘, and the accompanying BBC News slideshow. Many wonderful new collections were offered to us, and some of these will be heading on to the website soon. There were some nice blogs about the project as a result on other sites, including this on the National Trust’s Treasure Hunt.
Meanwhile, elsewhere on the web, we are happy to see that the UK National Archives has placed on its Flickr stream a large number of its photograph holdings relating to China, where they can be viewed in the wider context of British colonial and foreign office activity. We are already placing many of these online here, as photographs, rather than as pages of albums, as on the National Archives stream. You can search for them using ‘National Archives‘ as a search term.
In the meantime, here is one of my favourites among our recent acquisitions.
Studio portrait of four boys in a ‘boat’, Shanghai, Carstairs collection, jc-s032. The photography studio’s name and address is printed on the mount: Wu Guang Photography, Zhonghua Road, Xiaonan Gate, No.562.” So the studio was in the south east part of the old city, Shanghai.