The history of China thousands or hundreds of years ago can only be understood through historical data or watching movies and TV series. This is the limitation of the times. But there was a dynasty that left precious photos and even videos for later generations. It goes without saying that this dynasty must be the Qing dynasty.
During the late Qing Dynasty, Chinese society changed rapidly, and Western technology was introduced into China, including photography technology. At that time, the trendy people, weddings or major family events, all liked to go to the photo studio to take a few photos, even the Empress Dowager Cixi could not avoid being vulgar.
But two At the beginning of the tenth century, camera technology was backward, and most of the photos taken were blurry. Basically, they could only show the outlines of the characters, and the details could not be refined. However, color photos had appeared at that time, and some foreigners had travelled far and wide to take pictures of the life of the grassroots people in the late Qing Dynasty. Not only was he photographing China, but the person’s footprints spread all over the world, and he used his photos to construct the”Earth Image” of the early 20th century.
This photographer is Albert Kahn, a wealthy businessman from France. Through the photos, we can understand normal people’s life in the late Qing Dynasty 110 years ago.
01 Qing palace drama and real late Qing images
To tell which dynasty Chinese TV directors like to filmTV series, almost everyone will answer the Qing Dynasty in unison. Under the director’s lens, all the harem women are gorgeously dressed, stepping on the bottom of the flower pots, walking and swaying. The emperor’s harem beauties must be different from ordinary women, even the gap between heaven and earth.
However, under the misleading of film and television dramas, some viewers may equate harem concubines with ordinary women. So, what is the difference between ordinary women in the late Qing Dynasty and Qing palace drama?
The above three pictures , The two pictures on the left are stills of the TV series”Ruyi’s Royal Love in the Palace”, and the women on the right are women in the late Qing Dynasty filmed by Kahn. The concubines of Yongzheng are all jade hairpins, and they are almost only responsible for competing for favor and giving birth to the emperor. The woman on the right has a sad face, ragged clothes and dirt on her hands.
Since the Opium War, The Qing government
span>After the opening of the gate of the country, the West continued to invade China, and China was devastated. Coupled with the inaction of the Qing government, it has to bear the war. reparations, ordinary The life of the common people can be imagined. On the left is the prosperous country in the film and television drama, and on the right is the real life, which is infinitely sighing.
In fact, the concubines of the Qing Dynasty are also different from film and television dramas. According to the existing photos in the late Qing Dynasty, the empresses of the Qing Dynasty looked ordinary and could not be found in the crowd, but they were indeed very rich and noble.
night The Qing Dynasty has become extremely decayed, and the Empress Dowager Cixi can only maintain the superficial prosperity, but behind the prosperity is the search for ordinary people. Take the”Xin Chou Treaty as an example. At that time, China needed to pay 450 million taels of compensation, an average of It’s just one or two personally. For a family, this is already a huge sum of money.
Kahn The man in the Qing dynasty under the camera is improperly dressed, his entire chest is exposed, and his eyes are blankly looking forward. This may be the epitome of an ordinary man. The Qing Dynasty emphasized the three principles and five constants, requiring everyone to be wrapped tightly and not to expose their skin.
In the early twentieth century, the Qing government had almost no prestige at all and lost control of local power. For example, the three eastern provinces were reduced to the sphere of influence of the Russians, the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River were occupied by the British, Yunnan and Guangxi Was encroached on by France. Under the circumstances at that time, ordinary people lived trembling, numb to life, and life is not full, so there is nothing to say about happiness.
Ancient Chinese history books, I have always liked Record Wang Hou The lives of generals are rarely recorded in the lives of ordinary people. The life of the nobles in the Manchu and Qing dynasties cannot represent the common people, and Kahn’s photos just fill this gap. In China 120 years ago, not only the people, but even the petty officials of the court were numb and hopeless.
Official day It’s definitely better than the common people, but how can you retreat in the torrent of the times? In the late Qing Dynasty, most of the enlightened and well-off families chose to send their children to study abroad. These returned young people became the pioneers of the Chinese revolution, often propagating new ideas everywhere.
New ideas often run counter to the Qing government’s philosophy, and arrests fall on theseOfficials. Officials are arrested seriously and may suffer retribution. The Qing government is too busy to take care of itself, and it is certainly difficult to send troops to protect it. Even the Qing government can’t even issue salary, and being an official is a chore.
Even Li Hongzhang is ridiculed everywhere, not to mention these middle and low-level officials. Kahn left a portrait of Qing Dynasty figures to later generations, including men and women in full clothes, Mongolian women, and ordinary officials. Images are more intuitive and specific than text, and can also corroborate historical data. The real images of the late Qing Dynasty were devastated, almost everyone looked numb and lost their enthusiasm for life.
It can be said that the card Grace left first-hand information for the Chinese to study the society of the late Qing Dynasty. Like these legendary photos, Albert Kahn himself is also a legend, able to spend a lot of money to purchase the emerging Color camera, thinking far more than the same generation.
02The legendary life of Albert Kahn
Kahn was born in an ordinary French family, not from a wealthy person. As the youngest child in the family, Kahn was loved by his parents, but his mother died when Kahn was ten years old due to years of exhaustion. The pain of losing his wife made it difficult for Kahn’s father to live in his homeland. Soon he moved his family to St. Michel, where he could support his family on a small business.
but the card En has been extremely smart since he was a child. At the age of 18, he entered a bank job and changed from a small clerk to a bank leader. At the end of the 19th century, France was full of talents in the banking industry. No matter how smart and hardworking ordinary people are, it is difficult for ordinary people to have a chance to get ahead, but Kahn is one of the few winners.
After Kahn became a rich man by virtue of his extraordinary talent, he has no worries in his life, but his heart is very empty and he urgently needs a kind of spiritual comfort. At this time, the color camera invented by the Lumiere brothers entered Kahn’s life.
As soon as he came into contact with color photos, Kahn’s interest was immediately ignited and put into action. As a rich man, Kahn is certainly not bad for money. So Kahn hired a dedicated photographer at a high price and went around for shooting. The planes of the Wright brothers were all recorded by Kahn. Maybe some people think that Kahn is just a momentary interest, after all, making money is the first.
However, Kahn has a greater desire to establish an earth archive.
03The world under Albert’s lens
In the early twentieth century, Kahn brought his assistants to China. At that time, Daqing Empress Dowager Cixi, who is in power, has just passed away. Puyi, who is less than ten years old, is the highest power holder in name. Only ten years before the fall of the Qing Dynasty, Kahn was lucky enough to seize the last shadow of Chinese feudal society.
Kahn doesn’t like shooting High-ranking officials like to hang around the streets and alleys and villages to photograph the most ordinary people at the bottom of the Qing Dynasty. The Qing Dynasty society recorded by Kahn is the real situation in China at that time. The photos of Empress Dowager Cixi’s rich and honorable birthday, ordinary women’s clothes full of patches, strong and vivid contrast, Linghou People are impressed.
Not only was he shooting China, Kahn took his photography team to almost the entire globe, and took more than 70,000 photos in total. Kahn records India under British rule, Palestine in the Middle East, Persia, Africa and other countries , Almost all the colonized and oppressed countries are recorded in photos. Before the disappearance of these civilizations, Kahn was the first to record with the lens. This is simply a legend. Kahn’s name is worthy of being remembered by these countries.
Kahn His experience has also been specially filmed into a documentary, which basically restores Kahn and his shooting experience, which is worth watching. For Kahn, the Chinese people’s impression is definitely different.
The Chinese talk about Kahn, The first reaction was probably”Isn’t this the French photographer who photographed the Qing Dynasty?” Kahn recorded the daily life and appearance of ordinary people in the Qing Dynasty, so that later generations would know that the people of the Qing Dynasty were not as”beautiful” as TV series. The Qing palace drama is artistically processed, but the photos are not deceiving. Kahn’s photos show that the reality is cruel.
Moreover, this contrast is of great practical significance. It not only allows us to recognize the current situation of the Qing Dynasty more than 100 years ago, but also allows us to cherish today’s hard-won life. Kahn’s photo is cruel, because it unveiled the last fig leaf of the Qing government; Kahn’s photo is also real, because it reflects the real social conditions. So, we should thank Kahn, because he let the Chinese really understand the history of that era.