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Bo lan Zhonghua tu zhi albums, 1873-1897

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Bo lan Zhonghua tu zhi albums

Scope and Content of Collection

The collection comprises two photograph albums of China titled Bo lan tu zhi> . Inscriptions within the albums identify them as Volume 19A and Volume 19B respectively. The albums were likely assembled by Herbert Francis Brady, who appears in several of the photographs. The albums document the lifestyle of the British Foreign Service community in Beijing, Tianjin (Tientsin), Hankou (Hankow), Jiujiang, and Yantai (Chefoo) in the late nineteenth-century, and also include views of well-known monuments and sites in Beijing, Hankou, and Ningbo (Ningpo).

Althought the bulk of the images are by an unknown maker(s), likely an amateur photographer from within the British Foreign Service community, photographs by Thomas Child; L. F. Fisler; Kung Tai; and William Saunders are also included in the album. Also included are two photographs from Far East Magazine.

The British Legation in Beijing and its denizens are featured in Series I. Album 19A. Included are exterior and interior views of legation buildings, two group photographs of its fire brigades, and another of the cast of a legation theatrical performance. Sites and monuments in and around Beijing featured in the album include Summer palace, the Temple of Heaven, the observatory, and the Ming tombs. There are also views of the city's gates, walls, and streets. There are several images of the Great Wall, one of which includes a figure who may be Thomas Child.

Images from Hankou and Jiujiang in Series II. Album 19B include views of the British consulates and social clubs and group portraits of members of the local British communities. There are images of outings to places such as the monastery at Yichang, the Lu-shan hills near Jiujiang, and the Hankou plain, as well as race meets and fancy dress balls. The album also contains views of the Hankou harbor during tea season, the bund, guild houses, and city gates, and the Ningbo pagoda and Tian Tong temple. There are also city views of Yantai and Shanghai.

Both albums contain a group portrait of members of the Hankou Chinese Inland Mission garbed, according to the sect's custom, in traditional Chinese dress. Scattered throughout the albums are photographs of Chinese people. Included are portraits of the general-statesmen Li Hongzhang (Li Hungchang) and Zuo Zongtang (Tso Tsung-t'ang). A photograph by Thomas Child is a rare depiction of a Buddhist priest doing penance. The Chinese judicial system is represented by a court scene and a group of prisoners wearing the cangue. Also included are studio portraits of Chinese beauties, actors, officials, and a group portrait of bankers and merchants.

The albums have blue silk brocade covers with hand-lettered titles pasted on upper right-hand corners. A container made of two rosewood boards attached with string has the title and maker's name engraved in Chinese characters: Bo lan tu zhi/ Xiabo Lei.

Volume 19A has 33 leaves numbered in ink and 61 photographs; most pages have pencil captions in English. Volume 19B has 34 leaves numbered in ink and 58 photographs; most pages have ink captions in Chinese and English. Photographs are adhered to both the rectos and versos of the leaves.


The collection is arranged in two series: and .
Series I. Volume 19A,1873-1897;
Series II. Volume 19B,1878-1897

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