Black and white photograph showing two young men at a table, one seated and one standing, carve lacquer boxes. Carved boxes and tools are spread on the table and more boxes are piled on a table in the background. A man peers through a window at the right of the image.
These artisans are making carved lacquer boxes. In 'A photographer in Old Peking', Hedda wrote: 'The lacquer consisted of many coats of resin mixed with a red colouring agent and applied to wooden bases. When the coating was thick enough it was carved'. The craft of carving cinnabar lacquer flourished in Peking during the Ming (1368-1643) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties and has continued into the 20th century. Small boxes, such as those photographed were made in large numbers, most probably to be sold to tourists or exported.
This is one of a large number of photographs of local crafts 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; 'An Asian experience: 1933-67', organised by the Asian Studies Association of Australia, Fisher Library Foyer, University of Sydney, 12-30 May 1986. Reproduced in Hedda Morrison, 'Photographer in Old Peking', Hong Kong, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1985, p. 190, with the caption: 'Carving lacquer. The lacquer consisted of many coats of resin mixed with a red colouring agent and applied to wooden bases. When the coating was thick enough it was carved'.
Gift of Mr Alastair Morrison, 1992