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Fangguangyan monastery, Fujian province, China: a monk ringing the bell. Photograph by John Thomson, 1870-1871.

  • Thomson, J. (John), 1837-1921.
  • Pictures

Selected images from this work

About this work


An exterior scene of a cowled man striking a large bell with a hammer at a Buddhist monastery. The bell is covered with Chinese characters. Pierced doors and screens of a building to the left, a plain square column to the right. The monastery is described on pp. 155-157 of Through China with a camera

Thomson’s trip to Fangguangyan monastery is sometimes regarded as the most artistically accomplished of all his photographic journeys. Situated at the summit of a high mountain, the monastery is almost as difficult to reach as it is to enter the 'Heavenly door'. In addition to the location, Thomson was deeply impressed by the monastery’s architecture: "It looks like nothing I have ever seen or dreamed of seeing, with its broad eaves, carved roofs and ornamented railing painted in the brightest hues." Of his stay there, he recalled that each morning he was awoken by the monks chanting or by the ringing of the bell seen in this photograph



Physical description

1 photograph : glass photonegative, wet collodion : stereograph ; glass approximately 10.5 x 21.5 cm (4 x 8 in.)


This is one of a collection of original glass negatives made by John Thomson. The negatives, made between 1868 and 1872, were purchased from Thomson by Sir Henry Wellcome in 1921

References note

China through the lens of John Thomson, 1868-1872, Beijing: Beijing World Art Museum, 2009, p. 88 (reproduced)

Lettering note

Bears Thomson's negative number: "631"


Wellcome Library no. 19510i


  • English

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