Black and white photograph showing a group of people caught in a dust storm. Two people carrying a load between them on a shoulder pole can be seen in the centre of the image, along with other people and rickshaws. A small shed-like structure can be seen behind them, as well as trees and the southeast corner watchtower. The watchtower is part of the city walls that once defined the city of Peking. In their present form the walls date from the Ming Dynasty (1421-1439), but their history can be traced back to the 1200s. The walled city comprised the Tartar or Inner City which lies to the north and the Chinese or Outer City, which adjoins on the south. The walls were pierced by sixteen gates, nine in the Tartar City and seven in the Chinese City. At the hear of the Tartar City lies the Forbidden City, containing the imperial palace with it's own high brick wall coloured red.
Dust storms are a feature of winter in Peking highlighting the proximity of the city to the dry land and deserts to the north and west respectively. Pekings city walls were punctuated with gate towers and corner watchtowers. After 1949, Communist Party town-planners decided that the walls slowed traffic and they were pulled down between 1950 and 1962. The city gates were demolished during the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) as part of the campaign to 'Destroy the old to establish the new'. Today only one gate tower, two watchtowers and the south-east city corner watchtower remain. The south-west corner watchtower of the inner city wall was constructed in 1436. In 1937 the upper part of the structure collapsed and in 1969 the base was demolished. Its original location was at the present day intersection of Fuxingmen South Boulevard and Xuanwumen West Boulevard.
This is one of a large number of photographs that were taken by Hedda Morrison (1908-1991) during her years of residence in Peking (Beijing), China 1933-1946.
Exhibited in '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, 'A photographer in Old Peking', Hong Kong, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1985, p. 105, with the caption: Terrible dust storms occurred in the Peking winter. In the distance is the Fox Tower at the south-eastern corner of the Tartar City'.
Gift of Mr Alastair Morrison, 1992