Canton, Kwangtung province, China: a lady holding a parasol. Photograph by John Thomson, 1869.
- Thomson, J. (John), 1837-1921
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About this work
A woman standing on rush matting in a room, with her hair in an elaborate plait, holding a closed parasol with the point down. She is also holding a bundle of cloth, possibly a wrapped baby [?], in her arms
In China Thomson had a particular interest in women’s hair. Although he found that Chinese hair was uniformly black and straight, there was great diversity of styles throughout China according to the prevailing local fashion. This photograph shows a lady with an elaborate hairstyle, which Thomson described as "chignon par excellence". The chignon was made by a professional hairdresser, and wearing one meant that the woman had to sacrifice her comfort when sleeping. This photograph was taken at full length, showing the woman holding a closed parasol. The parasol was another example of Thomson’s proof that shadows were essential in the life of southern Chinese
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