“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
— Mark Twain

Russian Women Merchants of Harbin, 1929

Posted: June 29th, 2017 | No Comments »

A picture by the Japanese steam liner company NYK (aimed at showing the touristic attractions of a holiday to Manchuria) of two Russian women (and a baby) outside their curios store in Harbin in 1929….

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Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How it Changed the World (& its links to China)

Posted: June 28th, 2017 | No Comments »

Laurey Spinney’s new book Pale Rider is about the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918 – however it also goes over the old ground of whether or not the epidemic originated in Asia, China specifically and also considers the theory that it was brought to Europe by the Chinese Labour Corps (who travelled both via the Mediterranean and the Pacific and across Canada to Europe.

With a death toll of between 50 and 100 million people and a global reach, the Spanish flu of 1918–1920 was the greatest human disaster, not only of the twentieth century, but possibly in all of recorded history. And yet, in our popular conception it exists largely as a footnote to World War I.

In Pale Rider, Laura Spinney recounts the story of an overlooked pandemic, tracing it from Alaska to Brazil, from Persia to Spain, and from South Africa to Odessa. Telling the story from the point of view of those who lived through it, she shows how the pandemic was shaped by the interaction of a virus and the humans it encountered; and how this devastating natural experiment put both the ingenuity and the vulnerability of humans to the test.

Drawing on the latest research in history, virology, epidemiology, psychology, and economics, Laura Spinney narrates a catastrophe that changed humanity for decades to come, and continues to make itself felt today. In the process she demonstrates that the Spanish flu was as significant – if not more so – as two world wars in shaping the modern world; in disrupting, and often permanently altering, global politics, race relations, family structures, and thinking across medicine, religion and the arts.

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Old Macao Photo Exhibition

Posted: June 27th, 2017 | No Comments »

A photo exhibition depicting the historic center of Macau will be inaugurated on Friday at the Vila Flor Palace in Guimarães, Portugal. The exhibition features more than 90 photographs of world heritage-listed sites taken by Macau photographer Chan Hin Io, revealing nuances in local cultural heritage. The exhibition will be displayed from June 23 to August 12 in Guimarães before traveling to Porto. It is jointly organized by the IC, the Municipality of Guimarães and the Vila Flor Cultural Centre. More here.

 

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A little colour Chinoiserie from a century ago….

Posted: June 26th, 2017 | No Comments »

These photos are from a collection by Auguste and Louis Lumière who invented the first colour photography process, Autochrome Lumière around 1907. Dyed grains of potato starch and light-sensitive emulsion enabled them to produce colourful photographs without the need for additional colourisation. It was very expensive to do but the effects were amazing…and some chinoiserie was popular being both very ‘on trend’ at the time and also making the most of the colourisation process…

‘Two girls in Oriental costume’, 1908 – assumed to be in Paris

‘Woman smoking opium’, 1915 – the original photo was, I believe, taken in French Indo-China

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Plum Rains in Macao, 1930

Posted: June 22nd, 2017 | No Comments »

It’s that time of year again…plum rains…and here’s Macao, in the rain, in 1930….just click to enlarge

 

 

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On the Shanghai Catwalk, 1988

Posted: June 21st, 2017 | No Comments »

The Shanghai fashion shows in 1988 revealed some interesting throw back trends in millinery for the 1989 season….a rather stylish version of what was traditionally referred to as a “coolie hat”.

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All You Need to Know About Peking in 1934

Posted: June 20th, 2017 | No Comments »

This handy guide to Peking in 1934 appeared in the popular “Know Your World” series….you can click to enlarge the images…

 

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Yet More Change at the old Sun Department Store (Shanghai No.1)

Posted: June 19th, 2017 | No Comments »

Apparently Shanghai NO.1 Department Store, formerly Dai Sun or Sun Sun is to get yet another makeover. These are always awful whether it’s making store Maoist back in the day or the wholesale ripping out of interiors in the early 1990s so as to cram in concessions when the store ‘marketised’. Now the interior has only a few original touches left and it’s best to enjoy the exterior (with a little imagination). There are so many images of the Sun Sun, but here’s two that perhaps mark the changes it has seen…

 

The store just after the war with China’s leader emblazoned across its frontage – when he went so did classy retailing (in case you want another reason to dislike what came after?)

Ah yes, the happy retail days of the communist era – flasks, tartans, pioneer scarfs and a red Guard on the telephone reporting everyone for enjoying consumerism…

 

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