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Yongquan monastery, Drum Mountain, near Fuzhou, China: Buddhist priests. Photograph by John Thomson, 1869.

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

Selected images from this work

About this work


Nine men, wearing light coloured robes, standing in a courtyard, two on a high plinth to the left. One of the men moved out of the frame during the exposure, leaving a ghostly impression

Yongquan monastery is situated seven miles from Fuzhou, halfway up Drum Mountain. It was thought to have been built in the 9th century and then rebuilt several times during the Ming and Qing. One of the most magnificent religious buildings in Fujian, it was an important centre for studying Mahayana Buddhism. At the time of the photographer John Thomson s visit, about 200 monks lived there. He was intrigued by their robes, which he thought resembled closely the monastic garb of medieval Europe. He came to believe that Buddhism and Roman Catholicism shared certain similarities



Physical description

1 photograph : glass photonegative, wet collodion ; glass approximately 30.5 x 25.5 cm (12 x 10 in.)


The monks of Kushan.


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, Through China with a camera, London, 1898, facing p. 48, and cf. Illustrations of China and its people, 1873-4, vol. II, pl. VII
China through the lens of John Thomson, 1868-1872, Beijing: Beijing World Art Museum, 2009, p. 90 (reproduced)
Paisarn Piemmettawat, Siam through the lens of John Thomson 1865-66, including Angkor and coastal China, Bangkok: River Books, 2015, p. 135

Lettering note

Bears Thomson's negative number: "642"


Wellcome Library no. 19532i


  • English

Where to find it

  • LocationStatusAccess
    Closed stores
    By appointmentManual request


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