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

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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Marlene in Schiaparelli and a Chinese Lion

Posted: June 17th, 2017 | No Comments »

I noticed it’s been a while since we had a picture of Marlene Dietrich on this blog…so to remedy that here’s Marlene in the 1940s modelling a Schiaparelli dress alongside a Chinese lion…

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A Shanghai Shopping Street on Bargain Day, 1935

Posted: June 16th, 2017 | No Comments »

This photo-illustration appeared in the US papers in 1935 depicting “Bargain Day” at a Shanghai shop…

 

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Tallulah Bankhead Day – June 15 1940 (& remembering 1931’s The Cheat)

Posted: June 15th, 2017 | No Comments »

In order to drum up some attendance figures the New York World’s Fair of 1939-1940 named various days after celebrities of the time and encouraged their fans to come along….Noel Coward got a day….as did Tallulah Bankhead – on June 15 1940. So, as a fan of Talluluah, I want to record this auspicious day in the calendar and the only thing I can think of is (apart from her 1920s forays into Limehouse for opium and cocaine – see my post on that here) is to recall the 1931 (pre-Hays Code) movie The Cheat.

Tallulah herself saw the movie as ‘banal’, though the New York Times liked it. Tallulah is seriously sexy and the movie is a must for those interested in Orientalist tropes in American movies – it’s basically an entire movie of them! It’s a Harry Hervey script (he of Shanghai Express and the broadway adaptation of Somerset Maugham’s Rain – see my posts on Hervey here and here). Bankhead spends much of the movie in a Chinese dress of some Hollywood concoction – she certainly looks great; stylistic accuracy is less certain. You can watch the film on Youtube here .

Talluluah in her “Chinese costume” with Irving Pichel (in  “Japanese costume”)

Tallulah on the telephone in her costume!

Tallulah with some Chinese dolls

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Royal Asiatic Society Beijing – Technology transfer along the Silk Road: Myth, mystery and reality” by Prof. Plinio Innocenzi – June 20 2017

Posted: June 14th, 2017 | No Comments »

Technology transfer along the Silk Road: Myth, mystery and reality” by Prof. Plinio Innocenzi

Please join us for an RASBJ presentation about important inventions that were transferred between Europe and China, including their myths, mysteries and reality. Prof. Plinio Innocenzi explains why the architectural marvel of Florence’s famous Duomo — Filippo Brunelleschi’s dome — was a technological breakthrough, never attempted before nor created ever again. Brunelleschi built machines to construct the dome which profoundly influenced later technologies, reaching beyond the field of architecture. Such designs — some of which were brought to China by Jesuits — were categorized centuries later as Chinese inventions. Other innovations were indeed Chinese breakthroughs. And quite a few mysteries remain about inventions that appeared in both China and Europe without any documented exchange. Prof. Innocenzi will present case studies of machines used by Brullelleschi as well other discoveries – paddle boats, the magic square (pictured, Yuan Dynasty), paper, mechanical clocks, hydraulic devices – which offer a view differing from Joseph Needham’s perspective. Veteran foreign correspondent Laura Daverio will moderate the event.

WHAT: “Technology transfer along the Silk Road: Myth, mystery and reality” by Prof. Plinio Innocenzi
WHEN: June 20, Tuesday from 7:30-9:30 PM
WHERE: The Bookworm, Building 4, Nan Sanlitun Road, Chaoyang District Tel: 6586 9507 MAP
HOW MUCH: RMB 65 for members of RASBJ and Bookworm, 75 for non-members
RSVP: Email communications.ras.bj@gmail.com and put “Inventions” in the header

MORE ABOUT THE SPEAKER:
Prof. Plinio Innocenzi is Full Professor of Materials Science at the University of Sassari in Italy and Director of the Laboratory of Materials Science and Nanotechnology (LMNT) of the University of Sassari. In 2010 he was appointed Science and Technology Counsellor at the Embassy of Italy in China. He is also visiting Professor at the Osaka Prefecture University in Japan and at the Beijing University of Chemical Technology, as well as Honorary Professor at the Luoyang Normal University . He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and author of more than 250 scientific articles, 5 books and 10 patents. His research is focused on nanoscience and he is very active in popularizing science among a general audience.

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