Thursday, January 16, 2020

Xikang: the Vanishing Province - Chinese photographer Sun Mingjing's Remarkable Record of 1939 and 1944

Another great book discovery on my latest trip to Yunnan. Just done an excellent two week bike tour from Kunming to Hekou (Vietnam border). No Joseph Rock connection (although he did stay at the hill station of Dalat when passing through what was then Indo China on his way to a ship connection in Haiphong). But the trip did give me the opportunity to pop into Mandarin books in Kunming, where they have lots of great books on the region - unfortunately most of them I can't afford. But I couldn't resist this collection of photographs from the former province of Xikang ( the Tibetan bits of Sichuan). The photos are by Sun Mingjing (孙明经) and include some great images of places like Kangding and Ganze. I can't find much info about Sun online. The son of Nanjing Christian intellectuals, he was interested in photos and movies from the age of five. In 1939 after graduating in film studies from Jinling University, he travelled to Xikang and took many documentary style photos. He went on to become a pioneering socially aware documentary film maker and spent a year in the US. However after the Communist takeover he opted to stay in China rather than move to Taiwan. In the 1950s he was condemned as a rightist, never made any more films again and had many of his photos and films confiscated and destroyed by Mao Zedong's Red Guards. He died in obscurity in 1991. His photos of Xikang are wonderful.

Update: April 2020 ...
I wish I could post more of these wonderful photos

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