Black and white photograph showing a street barber shaving a young man's head in a park. The barber stands behind the seated man, running a razor over the back of his head. The customer holds a plate of hair shavings. The barber's travelling wash stand is at the right of the image and an empty rickshaw is stationed behind the men. In the background, another barber stands with his back to the camera, wearing a long jacket and fur cap. A second rickshaw lays idle on the ground, suggesting the men pull rickshaws for a living.
This photograph appears to have been taken in early spring given the padded winter clothing, fur hats, young leaves on the trees and weak sunshine. Having one's hair cut out of doors by an itinerant barber was and continues to be the preferred hairdressing option for many men in Beijing. It is low cost and many enjoy the open air setting, particularly as the weather gets warmer after the cold of winter. Hedda Morrison wrote in 'A photographer in Old Peking': 'Shaven heads were common. In Manchu times the front of the head was shaved and the hair on the back of the head was grown into a queue. When queues disappeared after the revolution of 1911, men found it comfortable and convenient to have the whole head shaved'.
This is one of a large number of photographs documenting street life and itinerant workers that were taken by Hedda Morrison (1908-1991) during her years of residence in Peking (Beijing), China 1933-1946.
Exhibited in 'Peking: 1933-1946 - A photographic impression', Menzies Library, Australian National University, 17-30 June 1967. Reproduced in Hedda Morrison, 'A photographer in Old Peking', Hong Kong, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1985, p. 120, with the caption: 'Itinerant barber at work. Shaven heads were common. In Manchu times the front of the head was shaved and the hair on the back of the head was grown into a queue. When queues disappeared after the revolution of 1911, men found it comfortable and convenient to have the whole head shaved'.
Gift of Mr Alastair Morrison, 1992
Inscribed, l.l.corner, pencil, "9". Inscribed reverse, l.r.corner, pencil, "9"