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Yung Ting Men, Front View Of The Two Towers & The Barbican [1924] Osvald Siren [RESTORED] | by ralphrepo
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Yung Ting Men, Front View Of The Two Towers & The Barbican [1924] Osvald Siren [RESTORED]

Entitled: Yung Ting Men, Front View Of The Two Towers & The Barbican [1924] O Siren [RESTORED] Light retouching of minor spots and scratches, I also whited out the sky and added a false gradation. The water in the original just didn't look like water; I smoothed out the surface and gave it a flow impression, then restored a false soft reflection.


The photograph was scanned from a book published in 1924. Thus, the image was probably taken at least several years before. It shows Yung Ting Men Gate 永定門, built during the Ming Dynasty in 1553, one of the many that allowed access through the city walls of Peking. At the time, Peking (now Beijing) was a walled city divided into two main sections; the southern, "outer" city for the Chinese, and the northern, "inner" (or Tartar) city for their Manchurian overlords. The inner city also contained a secondary walled off central section called the Imperial City; and within the Imperial city was finally, a tertiary walled off area otherwise known as the Forbidden City; like three concentric rings. Yung Ting Men (now Yongdingmen), was the central gate that entered the outer city from the south. It was also the largest of the many gated towers that dotted the wall of the outer city. Following in a straight line through the gate and to the north, would be several other gates, but otherwise a direct path into the Forbidden City. A very nice general map of the gates can be seen in Wiki:


Sadly, the original double tower gate was removed in 1957 for urban renewal, and a single tower reconstruction (visually an approximation of the inner gate, but bypassed on either side by the actual road system) was built on the same site in 2005. The new gate reportedly was rebuilt using traditional wood assembly techniques without the use of nails. Despite this however, I myself still would have preferred the original. Beijing currently is completing a park plaza directly south of the reconstructed gate.


This image was found on what may be the best site for a wide range of historic images of China. Thomas H. Hahn's Docu-Images:


...and its sister site:


...are, in my personal opinion, the most in depth and extensive historic image resource for China on the net. In terms of type of material, and the obscure and rare nature of many of his images, I would put his site on a par with the Library of Congress. At any rate, the original and many more can be seen here:


About the photos Mr. Hahn writes:


"A selection of photographs and architectural drawings from Osvald Siren's monumental volume on "The Walls and Gates of Peking", published in London by John Lane and the Bodley Head in 1924. Overall the book contains 109 photographs and 50 drawings. They are printed in half-tone on heavy stock paper with a soft, but "fluffy" fiber, so the photographs may in some cases appear like paintings in fact.


All images have been scanned with a bit of a border, and do include the original captions underneath each item. Note that images come in two types of sepia tones (some brown, others have a more grayish hue). Scanned with an Epson Perfection at 300 and/or 600 dpi. Some post-processing, mainly minor sharpening and brightness/contrast adjustment.


Thomas H. Hahn

Ithaca, NY"




For those that haven't yet seen Mr. Hahn's site, if you care anything at all about the history of photography in China, do visit and give yourself a treat. Like me, you'll likely find yourself returning again and again to use it as both a continuing reference and invaluable resource.

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Taken on November 20, 2009