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[Unidentified Young Manchu Woman]

Date ca. 1865-70
Location China
Dimensions Image: 7 3/4 x 5 1/2 in. (19.7 x 14 cm)
Print medium Photo-Albumen silver

Your Mirror: Portraits from the ICP Collection
Section: Self-presentation
One of the first and one of the main commercial photographers in Shanghai, William Saunders focused primarily on portraiture but also photographed street life, local customs, current events, scenic views, and even executions. Through a series of fifty prints—Portfolio of Sketches of Chinese Life and Character, published in 1871—and his photographic contributions to Illustrated London News and other publications, Saunders disseminated information about life in China to audiences in Europe and North America.
This woman is wearing a loose-fitting qipao, the traditional dress of the Manchus, one of China’s ethnic minorities. Unlike Chinese women, Manchu women did not bind their feet nor did they wear their hair in buns. Her high status is indicated by her platform shoes and elaborate coiffure, conventionally adorned with flowers and tassels.

Credit line

Purchase, with funds provided by the ICP Aquisitions Committee, 2004

Feedback Accession No. 13.2004