China, Manchu Ladies Of The Palace Being Warned To Stop Smoking [c1910-1925] Frank & Frances Carpenter [RESTORED]

Entitled: China, Manchu ladies of the palace being warned to stop smoking, Peking China [c1910-1925] F Carpenter [RESTORED] LC-USZ62-113720 (originals on repository with the Library of Congress can always be found by using its LC number in their number search engine). The photograph was cropped, spotted, and had several areas tonally adjusted to bring out hidden or obscure detail not easily seen with the original. One large scratch on the left was digitally retouched out, as were a few emulsion wrinkles and processing marks.


Frank Carpenter and his daughter Frances were not only extraordinary world travelers ahead of their time, but so too were their desire to record everything that they saw on their journeys. On repository with the US Library of Congress, their staggering collection of over 15,000 images lives on for future generations. Above is an image that was made whilst they traveled through China, sometime in the beginning of the 1900's.


The image is so profoundly rich in the detail of Manchu fashion that I sat literally for an hour going over every inch of the picture. How it came to bear such a ridiculous title is probably lost to the generations. However, it remains a stunning record of the beautiful style of dress available to the affluent during imperial China. An interesting observational note is the abundant use of face powder seen here, rivaling that of Elizabethan fashion. The women's necks all reflect their normal skin tone, but their faces were artificially rendered white. Note too that, except for the two women on the right, their lipstick only traces the middle portion to their lower lips. There is a man in the background, seen though an open window to the right. His identity, purpose, or role can only be guessed at.

  • Chinese Currents 6y

    Wonderful shot!

    You are invited to add it to the ONLY Flickr group that is exclusively for “slice of life” photography of Chinese people taken in China (中国人在中国):

    Chinese Currents

    PLEASE also add your own favourites (you can add up to 6 per day)


    Thanks and best regards from Beijing.
    … ;-)
  • ralph repo 6y

    Glad you liked it, Chinese Currents, I looked at your gallery and think it's great. It's a fantastic collection that I will certainly keep my eye on. I thank you for your kind words and invitation. Cheers!
  • Chinese Currents 6y

    Thanks - please add it to the 1878-1975 group!

    Simply go to the “ALL SIZES” caption above your photo and press "medium". Copy the "HTML" code (press ctrl c) and then go to Chinese Currents to paste the code in the “reply” box (press ctrl v).
  • Sunny Brook PRO 6y

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called Journey to the Old Orient, and we'd love to have this added to the group!
  • MIgracionTOtal*Don't Fav' And Run! PRO 6y

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called ~ women together ~, and we'd love to have this added to the group!
  • Dan Stiver 4y

    In pre-modern times, smoking tobacco was much more of a danger than the threat of eventually developing lung cancer. This is because the extensive usage of wood and other flammable materials made fires easy to start and spread quickly. The Portuguese first introduced tobacco to Japan in the mid-1500s and by around 1600 the Japanese government enacted laws forbidding smoking to prevent potential fires. To the relatively young government's dismay, however, the edicts were largely ignored as are so many other prohibition laws throughout history. The government did, however, successfully remove almost all other western influences by 1700 including Christianity and firearms (save for a few contraband guns).

    So maybe that has something to do with the odd title?
41 faves
Taken on November 3, 2009
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