cody bear's friends

forbidden city: imperial film and a legacy of interest

i don’t have a family legacy, per se. if i had to pick one thing that is passed down from generation to generation, it isn’t the regal asian splendor we’re discussing today, it’s probably alcoholism. but more on that later. today we’re talking about imperial china and my dear friend m.

as many of you know, m. has been showing me the ropes in photography. she is generous, intelligent and calming. i felt two things when her father died two months ago: sad for her, mystified by her strength.

(more on that saw blade in her foot later. ) what YOU want to read about is imperial china. more specifically, the forbidden city.

m.’s grandad was one of the few gringos living in the imperial stronghold of the forbidden city in, at the time, peking. decades later, (this year) after her father’s death, m. was doing executor things….rifling through property including photos. she happened on these original 8 x 10 film negatives of the forbidden city.

her grandparents lived in peking, where her father was born,  between 1920 and 1925. as an engineer hired by the emperial corps, her grandfather designed the entire grid for peking (now beijing) and other staggering tasks of state includiung the coffin design for one of the leaders of modern chinese thought.

how rare and timeless these negatives are….

how amazing to find something that places your family in one of the most important and beautiful moments in world history!

today china is a hot button. olympics. tibetan freedom. animal activism. pandas. earthquakes.

recently i was accused of hating the chinese because i asked a grocery store to stop selling chicken strips from china after my friends’ dog died of chinese pet food. but the poetry and splendor of the region cannot be denied.

there will never be architecture like this again…

m’s grandparents and father were present duriung the denouement of an era. and perhaps it isn’t obvious to her, but having been loved by grandparents who lived in europe, turn of the century u.s.a. and the sunset of imperial china, well….perhaps that is why her days are full of color, creativity and practicality.

and i loved her before i ever had proof she was so interesting.

earlier today i posted satire pictures of my dog’s trip to the forbidden city. i mean no irreverence. each culture has an intricate time line. and every other country somehow is affected by it.

p.s….snaps to m.’s dad who kept so many artifacts in such pristine condition.

oh…and here is a chinese food dog toy…


9 Comments so far
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Wow! Those negatives are incredible. Family history is so fascinating and those are treasures. M sounds like a wonderful friend to have in your life. Hope your back is better too.

Comment by livingisdetail

That’s really neat, the negatives and the story. Your friend M. must be really proud of her family.

I’m a little puzzled as to how a boycott of one factory’s poisonous products translates into a hatred of one and-a-half billion people.

Comment by lavenderbay

Remarkable negatives! Do you by any chance have a scanner with a light in the lid for scanning negatives? I’d love to see the positives.

Ditto Lavenderbay on the toxic dog treats.

Comment by jamesviscosi

a very cool story.

Comment by henri hopper

I enjoyed seeing the negatives! I love the Chinese culture and always entertained the idea of adopting a little Chinese girl if we had been financially able. (My father is a reformed alcoholic).

Comment by Gina

Great negatives and loved the story.I know you don’t hate the chinese and as you know many of us who watch what products we buy are accused of that.but as you said in an earlier post,it is the big guys at the top that we don not like.the one’s making the money and treating other’s so poorly.

Comment by buzzybeegirl

It is a great srory. You made it even more interesting and exotic. I know m is a wonderful person. We are fortunate to have a friend like her.

Comment by Yong

How wonderful to get an inside glimpse, as it were, of the Forbidden City. It is a sad and strange feeling to think of how places like that must have been in their heyday. And I love that you photographed the negatives — it’s so appropriate because you’re writing about memories, what isn’t there…

Comment by eyegillian

[…] toys hello!  well, my friend m. found another treasure in her father’s house from his years in emperial china!  as you recall, her dad’s family lived in peking in the early 20s.  yesterday she brought […]

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