Yokohama: T. Moriya, 1900-1901. Item #532
15,5x20 cm. 25 card stock leaves put together in accordion-like manner. With 50 hand coloured mounted albumen prints, each 9x13 cm. All captioned in negative in English (one with the publisher’s credentials also written in negative), thirty-seven with period ink inscriptions in French on the mounts. Original Japanese lacquered album with a pictorial image on the front cover. Publisher’s printed paper label reading “Manufactured by T. Moriya, No. 18, Onoyecho Nichome, Yokohama, Japan” on the inner side on the rear board. boards slightly rubbed on the corners, several images slightly faded, neatly repair of a tear on the joint of two leaves with, otherwise a very good album.
Interesting example of a traditional Japanese lacquered album with an unusual content: seemingly classic views of the famous sites of the Chinese capital are interspersed with the group portraits of international soldiers and marines, photos of partly ruined Beijing city gates, and scenes of execution of the Boxers. Compiled by the owner of a Yokohama curio shop T. Moriya (Onoye-cho Nichome neighbourhood), the album was intended to become a memento of the recent Boxer Rebellion (1899-1901) and its suppression by the troops of the Eight-Nation Alliance (Japan, Russia, Great Britain, France, United States, German Empire, Italy and Austria-Hungary). English captions to the photos, and two photo collages with the text in German and French suggest that the album was addressed to the European military men who took part in the suppression of the Rebellion. Most photos are supplemented with extensive period manuscript notes in French, which judging by their content were made by a participant of the events.
The album includes two photo collages showing the flags of the countries-members of the Eight-Nation Alliance; the first collage also includes portraits of French and Japanese commanders (by the way, the Russian flag is shown with a mistake in the order of the colours); the second one displays the flags around German Imperial eagle and houses the text “Zur Erinnerung an den Feldzug in China, 1900-1901, Gott mit Uns” on top and bottom. Other topic-related photos include four different group portraits of the “International Soldiers in Tientsin” featuring soldiers and/or marines of all eight nations, as well as sepoys from the British Indian army, on three portraits the foreigners protectively hug or hold hands of a Chinese peasant or a boy. There is also a group portrait of the officers during a “Meeting of International Staff,” and a group portrait of the members of the Russian mission in Tientsin/ Tianjing. Three scenes of execution of the Boxers feature Japanese soldiers and sepoys witnessing it from the back. Six views of Tientsin – a gateway to Beijing and a site of the important battle between the Boxers and the Alliance’s forces (13-14 July 1900) show the Drum Tower in the Tientsin Castle, entrance to the Confucian temple, railway station, an iron bridge over the Grand Canal, and a commercial street with Japanese shops. There is also an important photo of Tientsin’s Catholic church of Our Lady of Victory (Wanghai Lou church), which burned down after the Allies’ bombardment in July 1900 (with an extensive manuscript note on the margin).
Over thirty photos of Beijing include various views of the sites of the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace, there are two interesting views of the Zhengyangmen Gate, showing the considerable damage inflicted to it during the invasion of Beijing by the Eight-Nation Alliance in August 1900; the other photos show Japanese shops in the East Shiriro district; the Gate of China (Zhonghuamen, demolished in 1954 and replaced with the mausoleum of Mao Zedong), entrance gate to the Yonghe Temple, pleasure boats outside Beijing, “Ferry boat outside Choyomon,” and others. Overall a very interesting visual source on the history of the Boxer Rebellion and the Eight-Nation Alliance.