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Random Pics Of Old China

ralphrepo

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#1
In what I hope to be a continuing educational tool about Chinese social, political, & cultural history, I'm starting a Random Pics from Old China thread. I'm hoping to contribute one picture periodically and I strongly encourage others to do so too. Pics do not have to bear exceptional historical significance but should be of good discussion value; comments, notes, insights on the pics and especially on the surrounding milieu at the time that the photo was made, will be greatly appreciated.

General considerations: Pics should be from the Pre Deng period (that is, any pic taken in China or of the Chinese diaspora, before the death of Mao). Post only one picture at a time; if you have a collection that is worthy of viewing or download, please don't flood the forum with it but provide a link instead. Also, kindly provide credit or attribution for all sources if and whenever available. The picture may be retouched or digitally repaired but only to provide visual clarity; that is, do not alter the historical content for creative reasons (either artistic or political).
Also, please add a thanks to the pictures that you like -blush2. That way participants will get a better sense of what people would like to see posted.


Thanks to all participants and lovers of Chinese visual history.
-^_^


 

ralphrepo

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From the Sidney D. Gamble Photographs Collection at Duke University:
From 1908 to 1932, Sidney Gamble (1890-1968) visited China four times, traveling throughout the country to collect data for social-economic surveys and to photograph urban and rural life, public events, architecture, religious statuary, and the countryside. A sociologist, renowned China scholar, and avid amateur photographer, Gamble used some of the pictures to illustrate his monographs. The Sidney D. Gamble Photographs digital collection marks the first comprehensive public presentation of this large body of work that includes photographs of Korea, Japan, Hawaii, San Francisco, and Russia. The site currently features photographs dated between 1917 and 1932; the 1908 photographs will be digitized and uploaded as part of future additions to the site.

The photograph captions are based on the handwritten and typed descriptions found on the original negative sleeves and believed to be the work of Sidney Gamble. The captions and photographs may contain language or stereotypes reflecting the cultural perspective of the era. This content is provided as part of the historical record and does not reflect the views of the Duke University Libraries.

The materials in this collection are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study. Texts and images from this collection may not be used for any commercial purpose without prior permission. Copyright in these images is held by Duke University Libraries and/or the heirs of Sidney D. Gamble. All rights are reserved, except as specified above. When use is made of these texts and images, it is the responsibility of the user to secure any necessary permissions and to observe the stated access policy, the laws of copyright, and the educational fair use guidelines. For permission from Duke University, insofar as Duke is able to give permission, please contact us.

Preferred Citation method: [Identification of item], Sidney D. Gamble Photographs, Archive of Documentary Arts, Duke University.


Entitled
Interior Canal Canton China, [c1917] S Gamble [RESTORED]. Simple retouching and contrast adjustments, slightly cropped.


The original appears to have been taken with a 4x5 view camera. If one enlarges the image, two boats passing beneath a bridge can be seen in the far distance. The image is interesting because it shows that Guangzhou too, had interior canals similar to that of Suzhou, albeit not as elegant nor extensive. It also allows for viewers to appreciate the historical construction of houses and the almost byzantine intimacy of the quarters. The photo appears to have been taken from a bridge that crosses over the canal and the water level at the time is also noted to be quite low. However, noticing that the water marked stones on either side seem to rise for several feet more, it might be assumed that the water level was subject to seasonal influences. A waterway behind rows of houses offers obvious trading advantages; for the buyer, a market will come past one's door and for the seller, the weight in freight becomes moot. Also a boat on the water can be both storefront and home. Additionally, knowing human nature, the canal probably functioned as both a raw sewage and garbage disposal system, as attested to by the heavy film on the water's surface, and the scattered debris on the banks. Also noted, is the construction of the canal; on either side are pilings that probably were driven into the ground as a protection to prevent houses or earth from sliding into the canal.

Updated 13 SEP 2009: In other pictures that I've recently come across, it seems that the canal system in old Canton was fairly established in its own right, surviving many years and through some very rough times. See behind the spoiler for more photographs:





The first two pictures above are remarkable in that they both seem to have been taken at exactly the same vantage point but at different times. The first is entitled: Wanham Canton China [c1871] Emil Rusfeldt [RESTORED] The second is
entitled: Canton [c1880-1889] RH Brown [RESTORED] and is listed by the Royal Geographical Society as image number S0017007.


That some years had lapsed between the first and second photo record is apparent. There are major structural differences noted to the buildings on either side of the canal. The large monolithic blockhouse in the left background (the architectural signature of a well fortified Cantonese pawn shop) had its roof top altered. There is a brick building now to the right of the shore. The water in the second shot was at low tide, exposing much more of the critical underpinnings of the surrounding structures.



Entitled Canton Street Scene 16 JAN [1937] Harrison Brown [RESTORED]
Simple tonal, contrast adjustments, and a sepia tone.


Sources:
http://www.artnet.com/artist/425938977/emil-rusfeldt.html
http://www.lib.sfu.ca/special-collections/harrison-brown


 

ralphrepo

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#3
Arguably one of the most important western photographers to have set foot in China, Scotsman John Thomson's collection is a tour de force in visual recording of the life and times of the middle kingdom during the late 1800's. Below is probably one of his most iconic images from that period.



Island Temple On The River Min Near Foochow, Fukien Province, China, taken some time between 1870-1971.

The original gelatin coated glass plate that Thomson used, has been archived at the Wellcome Library collections in London. Despite their best efforts, the inevitable and natural degradation of the gelatin and poor handling of the plates by less than expert caretakers before their arrival at Wellcome, meant that this image was nearly lost. Luckily several bound albums (six out of an original 40 or so) with original prints were found. What we see today are reproductions from those albums.

ADDENDUM: The island in the picture is otherwise known today as 福州金山寺
aka Fuzhou's Gold Mountain Temple (and should not be mistaken for the other Gold Mountain Temple, that is, Zhenjiang's 镇江金山寺 ). Anyway, here is a composite picture of the temple. Notice that the water level in the pictures are subject to seasonal influences, at one point nearly swamping the entire building. It's a wonder that it has lasted so many years.



Photocomposite made from pictures found on the net.
 

ralphrepo

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The Manchurian Plague is not something that most (in or out of China) people know of, or have even heard about. This devastating illness killed about sixty thousand in Manchuria in the early 1900's. The international community sent medical teams in order to find the source and to prevent further spread of this deadly contagion. Doctor Richard Pearson was one of the physicians on that medical mission. His collection of 91 lantern slides from that experience are a part of Harvard University's permanent collection.

Lantern Slides of the Manchurian Pneumonic Plague, 1910–1911

The pneumonic plague outbreak in August 1910 originated in the Transbaikal and spread over 1,000 miles across Manchuria, killing 60,000 people by March 1911. The carriers of this plague were wild marmots trapped for their fur by inexperienced Chinese migrant laborers working in Manchuria. The disease spread quickly across the Chinese Eastern Railway in September 1910 after the first reports appeared of cases in the crowded migrant camps. The Chinese government called for an International Plague Conference. Dr. Richard Pearson Strong (MD 1897, Johns Hopkins University) became the chief delegate from the United States to the conference that was held in Mukden, Manchuria in April 1911. The 91 images in the Contagion collection documenting aspects of this plague in 1911 are part of the Richard Pearson Strong Collection located at the Countway Library. In 1913, Strong became the first professor of tropical medicine at Harvard University.
http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x73/ralphrepo/PopularAsians/7385477EncoffiningBodyChanchung1911.jpg


Encoffining Body, Changchun [1911] RP Strong [RESTORED] - Picture has been cropped and moderately retouched to get rid of scratches and spots, contrast elevated and brightened to convey more visual information.

In this day of Swine Flu and fears of pandemic, pictures like the above help to remind us of just how really fragile we are... -what?

Oh, and yes, even in today's modern medical world, Pneumonic Plague is still ole reliable; that is, it is still strikingly virulent, and unless treated within the first 24 hours, remains 100 % deadly (that is, if you're infected, you will die unless you take the proper antibiotics immediately). It is transmitted in the same way as Swine Flu; ie, if someone coughs or sneezes in your face.


 

[mJ9]

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#6
hey..nice thread...this way,i will know more where my mum and my ancestors lived.(I hadn't gone to china yet:( )
 

ralphrepo

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In probably one of the most generous gestures that any corporation can make towards public image history, Time's China Blog reports that Time, Inc., the owners of the former Life Magazine, has offered up their photo archives of over TEN MILLION images to be freely available for non commercial use via Google. In order to search the life photo database using Google, simply go to Google Images, and type in your search term, skip a space and append the words source:life

Example of how to search Life's image database for pictures of Shanghai, enter the following into the search term field:
shanghai source:life
For those that weren't familiar with the magazine, in its heyday, Life Magazine was best described as the National Geographic of people and society. It offered mostly an intimate and fascinating view, with extensive picture stories or photo essays, into sections of social milieu that Americans could only imagine.

The late Jack Birns (1919-2008) was one of Life Magazines best photographers, and was probably their most prolific photographer in China. He was only 28 years old at the time, and was serendipitously stationed on assignment in Shanghai in 1948, just in time to witness and extensively document the beginning of the end of the Chinese civil war. His steady hand armed with a sharp twin lensed Rolleiflex captured indelible and unforgettable images of the momentous change then transforming China.

http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x73/ralphrepo/PopularAsians/LFMDragonBoatFestivalShanghaic1940J.jpg


Entitled Dragon Boat Festival this was probably taken in a happier time of either late 1948 or the beginning of 1949, before the communist victory and takeover in May of that year. I retouched the spots out of the clouds, and removed the distracting LIFE logo from the bottom right corner, along with pushing up the contrast a bit for visual impact.


 

ralphrepo

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Ernst Boerschmann's 1906-1909 three year excursion in China resulted in a superb book of photographs that was finally published in 1923. The book entitled Picturesque China - Architecture and Landscape - A Journey through Twelve Provinces, is still considered one of the best sources of unique images that details late 1800's early 1900's Chinese architecture. The entire collection of nearly 300 photos can be viewed by clicking on the above link (the photographer's name).

http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x73/ralphrepo/PopularAsians/0173SzechuanProvince1906-1909edit00.jpg


Entitled Pan pien sze, Süchoufu Szechuan province The photo was lightened in tone to reveal better shadow detail, and then overall contrast was boosted to enhance visual impact. Tonal artifacts in the sky areas were removed.
 

ralphrepo

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http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x73/ralphrepo/PopularAsians/ChineseFamilyc1875edit001.jpg


Entitled Chinese Family [c1875]. Found in The Face Of China As Seen By Photographers & Travelers 1860-1912 by L. Carrington Goodrich, with historical commentary by Nigel Cameron (published in 1978, the book is still in print & is available from Amazon.com). The photograph was retouched to eliminate spots and scratches, and contrast was elevated to improve visual impact.

I love this photograph.

Knowing nothing at all of the actual people; that is, who they were or what social or political connections they had, we can only make educated assumptions and guesses about their milieu, based on what is believed or understood about Chinese culture during the late 1800's. From the outset, the viewer is particularly struck by the rather formal arrangement of the seated individuals, and then immediately notes the contrasting inconsistency offered by the starkly informal positioning of the man to the left rear. Further, the setting itself is rather peculiar; the seating is positioned directly in the path of a moon door walkway, which one sees is a part of a weathered wall. One then realizes that this setting is outdoors, perhaps located in a private courtyard, and was most likely artificially arranged for the purpose of the photograph. The wet ground between the paving stones reinforces that the setting was outdoors. It was likely chosen because the visual impact of the doorway lent itself to the creative thought process of the photographer.

The purpose of the photograph is another issue. In our present day, a picture being recorded is so uncomplicated and common that we give it scant thought. However, we must appreciate that to the people of those times, being recorded in a photograph was as unlikely and as monumental an undertaking for them, as perhaps a ride on the space shuttle would be for us. My speculation is that the photographic session was arranged for by the man in the photograph to the left. In my view, he is definitely the master of this house, and the others in the picture were his wives and children. The photographic opportunity was likely initiated as an effort to produce a record of his family, as it became highly fashionable for affluent Chinese in the late 1800's to have such portraits taken. The man is standing to the rear (normally a servant's position), but by his very nonchalant stance, and to be so close in physical proximity, that is, to be nearly draped over one of the ladies of the house; reveals clearly that he is not one of the household help, but also reveals that he was not intended to have been in the picture. That is, had he been intended or would have been planned to be in the picture in the first place, where should one expect him to be? I would think that he should have belonged in the center of the photograph, occupying the most important position of all, telling anyone who sees it that he is the master of this setting. So, on that basis, I surmise that this was first intended to be a picture of only the wives and children, and not of him at all.

So, if that was the case, what then, is he doing in the picture? His positioning to the far left side is telling. My hypothesis is, that similar to spectators at crime or accident scenes, the man was so caught up in his curiosity to observe that he failed to realize that he had strayed into the scene and had become a part of the event. The look of the man's face strongly suggests that he was so raptly focused on what the photographer was doing, that he didn't know that he had stepped out of the sidelines and had put himself into the picture. One can only imagine that had the man not been so hypnotically distracted to have thus entered the picture, how much poorer the image would have been.

Socially, the furniture belies a family of some affluence. The wooden foot stools at the time were used not for the height challenged but rather to provide insulation against having to put one's feet onto a cold and unheated floor. The man has four wives, all of which seem to have bound feet (except for one who's feet we cannot see) bespeaking already his ability of a high degree of financial security. In the center, the most politically powerful position in any family portrait, is probably the first wife. Seated next to her is the eldest child, likely the first wife's daughter. To the far right is probably the second wife based on appearance of age. Next to her is probably her son, whose importance as heir mandated that despite his reluctance, his presence in the photograph was a considered must. This is evidenced by the notable steadying hand against fidgetting, of an off camera person (probably a servant) holding him in position. On the far left, the two seated ladies are likely wives three and four, with wife (probably) three, holding the third child of the house (borne from her), on her lap. The remaining wife was childless to that point, but still had her youth. The fine embroidary of their clothing further reinforces that these were women of importance, that is, they were all wives and not a wife's personal maid attendant or any member of the serving class.
 

justric3

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#11
This is a very interesting thread to see actual photos of old china rather than depictions on TVB.
 

ralphrepo

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TITLE: Some of China's trouble-makers - "Boxer" prisoners captured and brought in by 6th U.S. Cavalry, Tientsin, China

The title is not accurate, as it is now believed that most of the Boxer prisoners caught by Foreign troops were just innocent bystanders. Nonetheless, the US Library of Congress, where this historic image resides, maintains the original title (despite it being an inaccuracy) as it was historically written or described by the person(s) that originally made or produced the photograph.

http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x73/ralphrepo/PopularAsians/BoxerPrisonersCapturedBy6thUSCavTie.jpg


Entitled Boxer Prisoners Captured By 6th US Cavalry Tientsin China [1901] Underwood&Co. The picture was retouched to eliminate spotting and obvious defects; tonal range was expanded to reveal better details in the shadows; cropped as single image from double imaged stereoscope print and mildly sepia toned.

Original was taken by a photographer employed by the Underwood & Underwood Company. Underwood was one of several companies at the time, whose business purpose was to send photographers to all parts of the world to photographically record interesting events in the hopes of selling the pictures to domestic customers. The double imaged pictures were recorded with a special stereo camera; that is, a camera fitted with two lenses side by side. This optical arrangement mimicked the natural and mildly divergent views of each eye that is necessary for human depth perception. When the resultant processed image was placed at a correct distance from both eyes (using a standardized picture holder - viewer), it reproduced a false sense of depth perception. This effectively made the image seem three dimensional and slightly more authentic, giving the viewer a feeling that they were witnessing the actual real life event. Thousands of these stereoscopic photos were sold in their day, and many may still be found tucked away in the old forgotten boxes of a grandparent's basement or attic.

Additionally, black and white photography at that time was limited in terms of how the film perceived the colors of the spectrum. Most films were termed orthochromatic, that is, the film was sensitive to the Blue and Greens but was a poor recorder of the Red end of the spectrum. Thus, the skin tone of darker Asians, especially those worked in the sun and were well tanned, tended to be rendered much darker. This gave many Chinese in early black and white photographs darker skin tones, making them appear more African than Asian. In later years, this phenomenon faded with the introduction of Panchromatic films; that is, film with emulsions that were equally sensitized to all the colors of the spectrum.

This picture is a cue to a lot of history. Taken about one year after the suppression of the "Boxers" (as the Chinese participants were known to the foreigners) these men were reportedly captured from the surrounding areas outside of Tientsin, China. The foreign powers had sought to purge and punish the responsible participants that had brought about the rebellion the year before (in 1900). Knowing little and caring even less about the locals, the foreign troops stated mission was to raid supposed Boxer stronghold villages to capture criminal Boxer participants that were still at large and to bring them to justice. However, what they effectively engaged in was pillaging, rape, and razing operations; essentially reprisals for the Chinese wounding of the Europeans. Prisoners that were not killed outright were brought back into the city for show trials and public executions. These expeditions snared mostly farmers, field hands, and otherwise uninvolved and innocent local Chinese. Under agreement with a Qing government that was more worried with preserving its monarchy than to concern itself with jurisprudence, thousands of Chinese were thus rounded up and executed by either western military or an acquiescing Chinese imperial authority. This heinous treatment of the Chinese populace by foreigners drove home the point that the Qing were no longer able to control China, and within this perceived power vacuum, the stage for China's transformation into a republic was ultimately set.
 

ralphrepo

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#13
Another worthwhile image from the Sidney Gamble Collection at Duke University. The full uncensored and uncropped image of the original can be seen here: http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/gamble.252-1420/

http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x73/ralphrepo/PopularAsians/gamble_252A_1420BeggarFamilyedit003.jpg


Entitled Beggar Family [c1917-1919] Taken in Pei Hai Summer Palace Peking (what is known today as Beihai Gong Yuan, Beijing, China) I cropped the picture, retouched the spots and most of the scratches; corrected the contrast, and added a sepia tone. I also whited out the view of the genitals that was apparent in the original as a nod towards today's anti child porn environment, despite this being an acknowledged and accepted historical image.

One of my favorite stories about China is Pearl S. Buck's, The Good Earth. For those of you that don't know, Buck was the daughter of two American missionaries that were posted to China in the turn of the century 1900's. Though born in the US, at the age of three months, she was taken by her parents on their extended religious mission to China. For all intents and purposes, she was raised in China and became intimately familiar with the indigenous customs, manners, language, culture and ethics. Being one of the first bi-cultural writers in modern history, her serendipitous childhood in China allowed her unique insights that only someone in her position could obtain. In today's culture, her equivalent would be that of an ABC or CBC, in which a Chinese child grows up with Chinese trappings in the midst of western culture. Buck's was a western child who grew up with western trappings in the midst of Chinese culture; except for the color of her skin, she was absolutely Chinese. Her prize winning literature detailed the life of an ordinary farmer and his family's rise from poverty. Along the journey she clearly illustrated the distinct and uniquely Chinese pressures and concerns in a way that, for the first time, any westerner could easily understand. Her novel, The Good Earth, written in 1931, won a Pulitzer in 1932, and then the Nobel for literature in 1938. It is still read and enjoyed by many today.

Upon seeing this picture, I was instantly recalled to a passage in Buck's story:
"...and she said to them, "Each of you take your bowls and hold them thus and cry out thus…" And she took her empty bowl in her hand and held it out and called piteously, "A heart, good sir, a heart, good lady! Have a kind heart, a good deed for your life in heaven! The small cash, the copper coin you throw away, feed a starving child!" The little boys stared at her, and Wang Lung also. Where had she learned to cry thus? How much there was of this woman he did not know! She answered his look saying, "So called when was a child and so was fed. In such a year as this was sold a slave." Then the old man, who had been sleeping, awoke, and they gave him a bowl and the four of them went out on the road to beg. The woman began to call out and to shake her bowl at every passerby. She had thrust the girl child into her naked bosom, and the child slept and its head bobbed this way and that as she moved, running hither and thither with her bowl outstretched before her. She pointed to the child as she begged and she cried loudly, "Unless you give, good sir, good Lady, this child dies, we starve, we starve…" And indeed the child looked dead, its head shaking this way and that, and there were some, a few, who tossed her unwillingly a small cash..."
This picture is quite interesting in that it is quite obviously posed. I could not imagine that any beggar family would quietly stand still for a portrait unless there was some sort of gain to be had from it. Gamble most likely offered them the remuneration of a few coin for doing so. That they were destitute is clear, wearing literally nothing but rags on their back. My interest is heightened by the nearly naked urchin, third from the left, who has his arm raised. The fact that he is nearly naked and exposed doesn't seem to matter to him at all. He appears to be preoccupied with raising his arm. What was his purpose for doing so? Was he attempting (with his raised hand), to stop the boy in front from fidgeting? But how would he have known that to take a picture, one had to hold still? Or, was he attempting (with his raised elbow), to stop the boy (second from the left) from further stepping into the picture and stealing a share of the photographer's promise of a reward? Interesting too, is their style of haircuts and degree of poverty. I noted that while poorly dressed, the second boy from the left is decidedly better off than all the rest of them, and his hair is closely shorn. This suggests (to me least) that he is not a member of the family, and that while a beggar too, was probably an outsider to their group. The remainder of the boys seem to have their hair cut in the Qing style, that is, the front portion of the skull in shaved while the rear portion is allowed to grow and then is to be eventually tied into a queue. This second boy also has a look on his face, of what? Anger? Or was it determination? In other words, was he determined to intrude into the picture?

Considering all of the above, my speculation therefore is that it was probable that the third boy was raising his elbow to protect his family's stake (in the offer of a reward for posing), and the second boy was just as determined to get a piece of that stake. When looking at a picture in this way, I feel that history comes alive with real people and is full of passion.
 

ralphrepo

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Cholon is an area of Saigon, that was the heart of the Chinese community in early 1900's Cochinchina, or the southern part of what we now call Viet Nam. At the time of this photograph, the area was under French dominion. I stumbled upon this magnificent picture while trolling around looking for old picture sites related to China and the Chinese diaspora. There are more pictures here.



Entitled Cholon Actress Cholon, Saigon, French Cochinchina [c1900's] Attribution unknown [RESTORED] Picture shown here was spot corrected, given better contrast, and rotational correction applied and cropped to fit. I also evened the tonality of the background to make it less distracting. The title is link to original source and the original can be seen behind the spoiler.

The actress is Chinese, traveling with a theater troupe in either late 1800 or early 1900's Viet Nam. Despite the fact that inclusion of this picture violated my own guidelines (of pre-Deng era within China only), I was so awestruck by her quiet beauty that I just had to share her picture here. For this reason, I've thus expanded the criteria henceforth to include the Chinese diaspora. This of course would widen the choices to an even greater choice of material.

PS. If anyone here knows anything more about this picture please do share your information with the rest of us.
 

ralphrepo

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Trolling the net for great examples of Chinese photographs with a story, I happened across the pages of one Frank Dikötter who (according to his web page) is the Chair of Humanities at the University of Hong Kong (Sun Yat Sen's alma mater). For those of you that don't know of or haven't heard yet of Hong Kong U, let's put it this way; you could get into Harvard, Yale, or MIT a hell of a lot easier. At any rate, I was looking over Professor Dikötter's site when I encountered the photograph below on his page that discusses the History of Photography in China. Having personally studied photography and have worked it as a professional sideline for many years, I was instantly struck by that photograph. For all intents and purposes, it could have been taken in Hollywood, USA, because of its classic 1930's George Hurrell style of portrait lighting and pose positioning.

http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x73/ralphrepo/PopularAsians/75.jpg


Portrait Study of Young Man, undated but probably circa republican era, Photographer not known (at least it wasn't attributed on the above web pages). I removed spots, increased the contrast, and added a sepia tone overall. The original and others, can be seen Here.

What is so fascinating about this picture is that for nearly a century, western photographers were the only ones that were prolific in China. But after having watched and absorbed those skills from western sources, Chinese photographers quickly became proficient; their style and excellence undoubtedly mimicked and equaled that of foreign photographers. As the above is an example, Chinese studio work, except for the subject matter, became absolutely indistinguishable from that of their overseas counterparts.
 

ralphrepo

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Nearly a century ago, German colonialism was at its height. With military outposts in Africa and China, Germany was no different than any of her European counterparts. All were to carve out as much of the world as each could, never mind the hopes and desires of the indigenous populations. That mattered very little then. But, imperialism politics aside however, the silver lining of this was the introduction of western ideas to native cultures for the first time. This resulted in an acute awareness within China that there lay a world beyond its borders with knowledge, technologies, and culture previously unknown. Chinese students then began to seek out this knowledge too, and often it was taken directly from the hands of their colonial occupiers.

One of the best photo repositories is the German Federal Picture Archives found in Wiki. They have examples of their holdings in categorized by year. All the pictures are public access, as the authors are generally not known or the picture now belongs to the German government.

http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x73/ralphrepo/PopularAsians/Bundesarchiv_Bild_134-A379_Tsingtau.jpg


Entitled Tsingtau, Techn. Abt. der Deutsch-Chinesischen Hochschule (Technical instruction in the German Chinese University, Qingdao) [1913]. The original can be seen at wiki (title is the link). The photograph was unfortunately developed unevenly as very heavy streaks are easily seen throughout the image. I corrected for spots and the majority of these chemical streaks , elevated contrast and cropped slightly. You can still see some of the developer streaks in area of the bookcase, as retouching those out would have taken more time than I would have liked to devote to this, so I left it as is.

An under appreciated aspect of European colonialism in China is that Germany, prior to the great war (WW1) based their Pacific fleet and had an extensive presence in Qingdao (then called Tsingtao, or Tsingtau). Had there been no war or further political influence and Germany had remained, their effect on the local population may have rivaled what the British did with Hong Kong. Even now, despite nearly a hundred years since they were defeated and kicked out in WW1 by the Japanese (another colonial power covetous of Chinese territory), remnants of German influence in the area is still evident and the old German quarter is considered a present day tourist attraction in Qingdao.

ADDENDUM 20 AUG 2009: The above link no longer works. Unfortunately, someone has deleted the entire Images from the German Federal Archive by year category from Wiki. I don't know who would want to do such a thing, or for what purpose it would serve. A major public image resource has literally been wiped off the net and I'm personally dismayed that such a thing could have happened at all. I hope the powers that be at Wiki find some way to restore it as it was probably the easiest way of finding images (from that vast collection of more than 100,000 images) by target year. Other Wiki archive pages related to the German Federal Archives luckily still work.
 

ralphrepo

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#18
Frank Carpenter and his daughter Frances were not only world travelers ahead of their time, but so too were their desire to record everything that they saw on their journeys. On repository with the US Library of Congress, their staggering collection of over 15,000 images lives on for future generations. Below is an image that was made whilst they traveled through China, sometime in the beginning of the 1900's.

http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x73/ralphrepo/PopularAsians/090516ManchuLadiesc1910-1925edit006.jpg


Entitled China. Manchu ladies of the palace being warned to stop smoking Peking China [c1910-1925] F Carpenter [RESTORED] LC-USZ62-113720 (originals on repository with the Library of Congress can always be found by using its LC number in the number search engine). In this case, I decided to post the original (behind Spoiler) to give people a sense of the degeneration that images can go through with the passage of time. The photograph was cropped, spotted, and had several areas tonally adjusted to bring out hidden or obscure detail not easily seen with the original. One large scratch was retouched out, as were a few emulsion wrinkles and processing marks.

The image is so profoundly rich in the detail of Manchu fashion that I sat literally for an hour going over every inch of the picture. How it came to bear such a ridiculous title is probably lost to historians. However, it remains a stunning record of the beautiful style of dress available to the affluent during imperial China. An interesting observational note is the abundant use of face powder seen here, rivaling that of Elizabethan fashion. The women's necks all reflect their normal skin tone, but their faces were artificially rendered white. Note too that, except for the two women on the right, their lipstick only traces the middle portion to their lower lips. There is a man in the background, seen though the open window. His identity, purpose, or role can only be guessed at.
 

ralphrepo

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#20
Another John Thomson image of great interest; there are some bonsai enthusiasts that claim (with some qualifications) this to be the oldest or first historic image ever made of a dwarfed potted plant (one can clearly see plants in containers of some kind, sitting on wood planks of the balconies in several of the houses; I don't know if I myself would call these 'Bonsai' however). Again, Thomson was a Scot who traveled throughout China in the mid to late 1800's, and with a tripod and large view camera, recorded clearly unforgettable photographs of the life and times of ordinary folks of the late Qing. However, reading some of his written stuff though, is a real hoot as it is loaded with what we in the modern day would interpret as cultural misunderstanding and ignorance, notwithstanding contemporary political incorrectness. For those that would like some good reads, look up Thomson on Google books (full view only) and freely download some of his work. Despite their inaccuracies of cultural or social misinterpretations, they remain an invaluable resource to historians, professional and amateur alike. One example is Through China With A Camera (free download PDF link), first published in 1898 (this picture appears between pages 90 and 91).



Entitled Chao Chow Fu Bridge Kwangtung Province China [c1868-1872] Glass plate negative, wet collodion process, taken by John Thomson as he traveled down river on the Han, via boat from town to town taking pictures. I made the corrections as seen (spotting, scratch removal, crop, tonal or gamma correction, reconstruction of edges; original behind Spoiler).

On the web page about the Bonsai plants there is this quote from one of Thomson's writings:
"This bridge over the river Han at Chaochow is perhaps one of the most remarkable in China. Like old London Bridge...it affords space for one of the city markets... While taking the illustration, I endeavored to avoid the crowd by starting to work at daybreak, but the people were astir, and seeing my strange instrument pointed cannonwise towards their shaky dwellings, they at once decided I was practising some outlandish witchcraft against the old bridge and its inhabitants. The market stalls were abandoned, that the barbarian who had come to brew mischief for them might be properly pelted. The roughs and the market people came heart and soul to the task, armed with mud and missiles, which were very soon flying in a shower above my head. I made a plunge for the boat and once on board, it told to my advantage when I charged a ruffian with the pointed tripod as he attempted a black eye of mud in exchange. For myself I sustained but little damage, while it may fairly be said that the bridge was taken at the point of the tripod."
Personally, I find the bridge and the tacked on accessory structures to be an amazing gravity defying feat. It looks likely to collapse at any moment, and would seem more at home within the setting of a medieval fantasy novel (like Lord of the Rings) than anything in real life (past or present). That people obviously lived and worked on it despite it's state of ill repair is a testament to either their sheer industriousness or desperation. Either way, I respectfully tip my hat to them.
 
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