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Oscar Birkett Payne Views of China, circa 1924-circa 1929

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Payne (Oskar Birkett) views of China

Scope and Content of Collection

The collection of glass and nitrate negatives contains almost 1,000 views of Shanghai and surrounding areas taken by Oscar Birkett Payne, especially documenting sites and scenes along the waterways going as far north as Ningbo (Ningpo) and Hangzhou (Hangchow). The geographical area represented comprises the provinces of Jiangsu (Kiangsu) and Zhejiang (Chekiang), and includes the towns or districts of Anting (Anking), Nanxiang (Nanshiang), Suzhou (Soochow), Songjiang (Sungkiang), Haining, Hangzhou, Jiaxing (Kashing), and Ningbo, as well as the city of Shanghai. Views of Shanghai include the old Chinese city as well as the European commercial center along the river known as the Shanghai Bund. Hebei (Hopei) province is respresented in a map of Nakow pass and a view of the Great Wall.

Included are views of the countryside, canals and rivers, bridges, junks, city walls, houses, local agricultural practices, pagodas, temples, Buddhist sculptures, markets, and cloud studies. The views of temples, pagodas, and their contents are especially valuable to researchers, as they capture the religious sites at a particular moment in time before many were destroyed by war or fire during the upheavals of the Chinese revolution in the late 1920s.

There are numerous portraits of Buddhist priests, many holding religious implements such as ruyi scholar wands and prayer beads. Many of the priests are from the Tiger Hill Pagoda. Candid and posed portraits of local inhabitants include studies of men, women, children, and family groups from various walks of life and of various ages. They are shown engaged in a wide variety of daily activities such as ploughing, weaving, smoking and drinking tea, selling their wares, and making shoes. Several images include Western men or women; Oscar Birkett Payne can be identified in a few images.


The collection is arranged in two series:
Series I. Nitrate negatives, circa 1924-circa 1929;
Series II. Glass negatives, circa 1924-circa 1929.

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