Happy Chinese New Year! By way of celebration, we’re going to try to make our way through the Chinese zodiac using photographs from the Chung Collection. (Now updated to include ox and tiger!)
Since this is the year of the Rabbit, we’ll start there. This photograph is from an album of photos taken by a Chinese-American teenager between 1915 and 1918 named Jue Fong, or Frank Jue. Aside from rabbits and other furry friends, this album is a wonderful source of images showing everyday life for Chinese-American teens in the early 20th century. Frank and his friends were very theatrical and humorous, which comes across in the photographs and their captions.
This dragon sculpture we believe was exhibited at the Chinese Cultural Centre in Vancouver in the 1970’s. If you know more about this sculpture, please tell us about it at firstname.lastname@example.org !
An image of a snake charmer was found in an album from the world cruise on the C.P.R. steamer Empress of Britain in 1930. Ports of call on this cruise included Spain, Italy, Egypt, India, Singapore, Thailand, Bali, Hong Kong, China, and Hawaii. This snake charmer may have been in Singapore.
This horse and wagon scene is found in the Clandonald material in the Chung Collection. While the Chung Collection is possibly best known for its Chinese Canadian content, we also hold a valuable archive of material related to a Scottish colony in Alberta called Clandonald, one of many settled by the C.P.R. colonization department.
Another world traveler brought us this sheep photograph. It was taken in New Zealand by Ken Seaton’s on a world cruise aboard the Empress of Britain ca. 1930.
This photograph of a monkey (or possibly a baboon?) being led on a leash was taken in Indonesia. Another world cruise album, this one was taken by Franklin and Jane Sykes between 1927 and 1928 on the Empress of Australia.
The closest that can be found in the Chung Collection to a rooster is a chicken. This image, titled “A chicken in one hand…” by the photographer depicts a Chinese woman in San Francisco’s Chinatown holding a chicken in one hand, and probably her grandson in the other. This is one of many images we have in the Chung Collection showing San Francisco’s Chinatown, and dates from around 1900.
This stunning photo of a forest on Vancouver Island depicts a man with his dog and is from an album of photographs depicting the Victoria, Esquimalt and Saanich area. This album is a bit of a mystery- we have dated it to around 1910 but the photographer and original owner are both unknown.
The only pigs to be found in Chung Collection photographs unfortunately have met their end- this photograph of street vendors in Hong Kong with roast pigs is the front of a postcard, sold as souvenirs on the Canadian Pacific cruise ships.
As for rats, we could not find any in the Chung Collection. Depending on your opinion of rats, this might be a good thing!
This photograph of oxen pushing a waterwheel in Mumbai is from an album of photographs from the Empress of Australia and Empress of Britain world tours, which we believe was assembled by a crew member who worked on these ships. Documents related to the experience of CPR crew members can bring an interesting perspective, different from that of travelers.
While we could not locate any photos of tigers per se, this photograph of traveler Kitty David was taken at Tiger Hill in Suzhou, still a popular tourist destination. You can see the Yunyan Pagoda in the background. We have three photograph albums of Kitty David’s travels through China, this one from her 1932 tour through China . We do not know much about her, but she seems to have travelled with a partner or a guide since many of the photographs have her in them. Some of the photographs depict destruction from the Sino-Japanese War.
We hope you enjoyed this tour through the Chinese zodiac- it certainly shows how diverse material in the Chung Collection is. Gung hay fat choy!
The photographs used in this post can be found by searching for the following identifers: