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Canton (Guangzhou), Kwangtung province, China: the abbot at the Temple of five hundred gods. Photograph by John Thomson, 1869.

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

Selected images from this work

About this work


Two elderly men standing in a garden of potted plants. The man on the left is short, bearded and wears a hat, the other is tall, bald, clean-shaven, and bespectacled. Each holds a fan in his right hand and beads in his left. Two negatives combined on one plate

This is the private courtyard at the 'Temple of Five Hundred Gods' or 'Magnificent Forest Temple in Guangzhou. Situated in the western suburbs of the city, it was thought to be have been founded by Bodhidharama, a 6th-century Buddhist missionary from India. The man on the right is the abbot. As a guest of an official of the local Customs office, the photographer John Thomson was well received at the temple and shown to the abbot's private quarters. This courtyard, according to Thomson, was adorned with a variety of rare and beautiful flowers, including a splendid specimen of the sacred lotus. The abbot was devoted to the plants, and pleased to share his fondness for flowers with his foreign guest



Physical description

1 photograph : glass photonegative, wet collodion


Chinese priest, Canton


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

John Thomson, Illustrations of China and its people, 1873-4, vol. I, pl. XVIII, "The Abbot of the Temple". The man on the right only
China through the lens of John Thomson, 1868-1872, Beijing: Beijing World Art Museum, 2009, p. 121 (reproduced)

Lettering note

Bears Thomson's negative number: "644"


Wellcome Library no. 19536i


  • English

Where to find it

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