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Michel de Maynard lantern slides of early twentieth-century China, 1906-1912

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Finding aid for the Michel de Maynard lantern slides of early twentieth-century China

Scope and Content of Collection

The collection of 230 lantern slides taken by Michel de Maynard, a French Franciscan missionary serving in China, document Chinese culture and missionary activity during the last days of the Qing dynasty, the revolution of 1911, and the birth of the Chinese Republic, notably in Shaanxi province. Subjects include landscapes, buildings, cultural monuments, formal and informal portraits, scenes of daily life, religious and cultural practices, and aspects of the 1911 revolution.

At the beginning of the collection are several slides reproducing Maynard's personal documents, such as his passports and Chinese-language calling card. Maynard appears in several images (slides 5 and 7 for example). Also included are slides of maps of China and the Franciscan apostolate.

The Catholic missions in China as well as native Chinese religious practices are documented. There are several slides of Western clerics, missionaries, and nuns. Groups of adult converts, school children, and missionary bands are posed in front of churches and Sunday schools. The influence of missionary work on the Chinese population is evident in a view of two Chinese women praying at an altar, with pictures of the life of Christ in the background (number 17), and a slide of a Chinese scroll containing a liturgical prayer or scriptural quotation (number 21). Chinese religions are represented in views of pagodas and shrines and statues of the Buddha, Taoist deities, and guardian spirits. People are shown making offerings at local Buddhist shrines. Groups of monks include an image of newly-ordained monks outside a Taoist shrine (number 65). Intertwined with religious practice are slides showing the tombs of important personages and slides documenting funerary customs, such as mourners in front of a Buddhist pagoda (number 88), a mourner burning paper money offerings (number 87), and funerary processions (numbers 89 and 90).

The revolution of 1911 and its effects on the country and people of China are also well-represented. There are portraits of local leaders of the revolution in Shaanxi and a portrait of General Yuan Shikai before he became provisional president of the Republic (number 173). The caption for the Buddhist pagoda Liao-yuan-T'a identifies it as "c'est tramé la révolution de Zhensi" (number 60). Scenes from the revolution include the removal of queues, imprisoned imperial soldiers, executions, and views of shattered buildings, churches, and fortresses. The rise of the "militarists" in Shaanxi can be seen in images of local militias; officials and police; soldiers and officers; barracks; military schools and headquarters; military bands; processions; military maneuvers; and battalions in formation. A group portrait of five young upper class women identifies them as "victimes de la révolution de 1911" (number 433).

Representations of Chinese people include studio portraits of upper class individuals and families; scholars; nobles; and officials. There are a few formal portraits of persons from the lower classes, as well as many informal images and genre scenes depicting daily activities and occupations. The western influence in China is evidenced in small details of clothing and objects, and even in the types of poses chosen and the more direct gazes on the faces of some of the subjects.


The collection is arranged in a single series:
Series I. Lantern slides, 1906-1912.

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