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

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…

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

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…

 

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

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

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

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.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Massive Architectural Vandalism on Julu Lu (Rue Ratard), Shanghai

Posted: June 13th, 2017 | No Comments »

This sad tale of architectural vandalism in the former Shanghai French Concession is a cross post from Sue Anne Tay’s Shanghai Street Stories blog with accompanying images by 娄先生…

Earlier in June, Shanghai press reported a bizarre case of the unauthorized demolition of an old English-style garden villa on 888 Julu Lu (巨鹿路) by Changshu Lu (常熟路). The public was most likely irked by the fact that the land deed owner was in fact a millennial (born in 90s) girl who was studying abroad. It was acquired for an eye-watering RMB 80 million (USD 11.8 million) in 2016.

The property is categorized by the Shanghai municipality as heritage architecture, and purportedly designed by architect Lazslo Hudec (1883-1958). Hence, any modification and/or demolition had to be reported to the housing authorities. Yet the developement was reported only 6 months after new construction began, probably when neighbors discovered a mass of scaffolding over the site.
This particular villa was one of 12 that were built in 1930, on what had been Rue Ratard.

Authorities, pressed by press, scrambled and for the longest time, was simply unable to contact or find a responsible party. Meanwhile, construction continued. The question on everyone’s mind was: To modify a heritage building requires approvals from layers of tedious bureaucracy involving housing and planning departments. So how was it possible that the owner had disregarded authorization process and managed to escape notice?

Eventually, the owner was found and reportedly will be fined heftily, on top of having to restore the property to its original state. The report included a few examples of past precedents of imposed re-restoration of modified heritage sites in Xuhui district.

To be honest, unauthorized demolition of “immovable” heritage architecture in Shanghai is not new, especially when it is part of a larger estate initiated by a commercial developer. But this case was sharpened by a young, wealthy “fuerdai” (second generation rich), or her parents, who flagrantly disregarded the law. This kind of socio-economic slice is always an easy trigger in today’s China.

Can it be properly restored? Judging by the current state of construction, with foundations built in and several floors already in place, I doubt it. But the fine will mean a windfall for the local district, that’s for sure.

Note: All photos taken liberally from 娄先生’s weibo account. He is a respected historian of Shanghai heritage architecture whom I interviewed on one occasion. Photos of the original property were sent to him too.

Full story in Chinese: http://m.thepaper.cn/newsDetail_forward_1703137

The villa pre-destruction

Villa interior pre-destruction

Villa interior pre-destruction

A now meaningless heritage plaque (i post this specifically for all those people who tell me to stop going on about destruction on Shanghai – “don’t you know buildings are protected by heritage plaques!!”)

The site of the former villa now

The former villa (left_ – as you can see restoration has occurred on other properties in the road in keeping with their traditional construction)

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

1935 Travel Advice to the China

Posted: June 12th, 2017 | No Comments »

A big thank you to the travel correspondent of the Chicago Tribune in 1935 who advised the following…

 

The “Native City” is what is now generally referred to as “old town” (or Nantao, or a variant). It is less of a shock these days unless, of course, you are a lover of traditional Chinese architecture, treaty port architecture or historical preservation in general in which case its destruction is so shocking as to make you lie down and weep….

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

1929’s Shanghai Lady

Posted: June 9th, 2017 | No Comments »

Made in 1929, Shanghai Lady mostly played in cinemas in 1930. The character plaayed by James Murray was called ‘Badlands’ McKinney, which obviously I love.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Selling Ann Bridge’s The Ginger Griffin in 1934

Posted: June 8th, 2017 | No Comments »

I came across this wonderful advert from 1934 for Ann Bridge’s novel of Peking ex-pat life The Ginger Griffin…if you haven’t read it then do.

Odd though that they should choose to stress that The Ginger Griffin is “far richer” than her first, Peking Picnic – which is also a fantastic novel and sold plenty and won prizes.

 

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter