Nice Guangzhou China Trade Show photos

Check out these guangzhou China trade show images:

Flower Boats, Canton China [c1871] Emil Rusfeldt [RESTORED]

Image by ralphrepo
Entitled: Flower Boats Canton [c1871-1874] E Rusfeldt [RESTORED] I did the usual spot and defect removal, tonal and contrast adjustments, with a final Sepia tone.

I found this pic on a personal Flickr page. The page owner, someone named Etherflyer, had apparently scanned the image from a book called Imperial China: Photographs 1850 – 1912. The picture shows several of the many Flower Boats that had stationed themselves in the waters of old Canton. A euphemistic term for bordello, these were essentially floating houses of prostitution that offered up dinner, music, and carnal entertainment along the banks of the many rivers that coursed through Canton. At one point thousands of these ornate, palatial boats prospered in that busy port city. Other works that documents the China trade writes:

"…The sampan sellers provided all sorts of other services, too. Barbers served both the Chinese and Westerners. Many boats provided coal, charcoal, and firewood for fuel, while others specialized in ships’ supplies. Many others raised ducks on nearby farms and supplied eggs and duck meat to the ships. The “flower boats,” or floating brothels, were also a conspicuous sight in the harbor. The women on the boats lived in near slavery to their procurers, who could be hong merchants or compradors who paid off the officials to allow the China trade. Even though it was illegal for women to enter the factories, compradors could smuggle them in secretly. The flag on the colorful boat in front says “Heavenly Women,” indicating that it is a “flower boat” or floating brothel. The prominent Anglican church and the American steamship Spark, owned by Russell and Co., are lined up behind it. Chinese officials banned Western women from the factory quarters, but several did arrange secret visits. Meanwhile, the foreign and Chinese men found many women to serve their needs in the harbor…"


In addition to the Flower boats, small boats and floats of various kinds, involved in a variety of China trades, were often lashed or anchored closely together. This claustrophobic closeness of quarters portended disaster, attested to by a passage in the Memoirs of Robert Dollar [1918] WS Van Cott & Co., San Francisco, Pg 122. In it, he writes:

"A few days before our arrival in Canton there had been a disastrous fire in what are called the "Flower Boats," which are used as places of ill repute. There are a great number of them made fast in rows about fifty feet apart, extending out into the water about two hundred feet. The boats are broadside on the shore and each row is made fast, side by side, the whole secured by chains and anchored at the outer side to keep them in position. A lamp exploded in one of them near the shore and the fire speedily spread. first along the shore then out, so that the inmates had the choice of being burned or drowned. It was reported that six hundred girls and two hundred men lost their lives, but the bodies recovered exceeded one thousand. Strange to say. the police prevented any one going to the rescue and the victims died like rats in a trap. No place in the world has as many boats as Canton. The number of people living in them is estimated now at seven hundred and fifty thousand. In the evening there is a solid mass of them about two hundred feet wide and six or seven miles long. Every small boat has one family at least living on it, and the large ones have several. Each family averages four children. The boats are their homes, and they make their living by carrying passengers and freight of all kinds. A great many of the boats are stern wheelers, the motive power being men on a tread mill. They run from twelve to. forty men propelling each boat, and they seem to make seven or eight miles an hour. The river is so crowded with boats of all kinds and descriptions that it is with great difficulty a stranger can navigate through them, but like people in a crowded city street the natives get on without many mixups…"

A Copy of the book (Memoirs of Robert Dollar [1918] ) can be downloaded from Google Books free:….


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s