Black and white photograph showing a young man seated at a writing desk. He has a pen in his hand and is writing on a piece of paper. He is practicing the traditional Chinese calligraphy by copying the model of calligraphy copybook. The copybook, a piece of inkstone, an open ink box, a ceramic brush pot, and a brush holder with two brushes hunging on it sit on the desk in front of him. Beside him, to the right of the man (left of the image) is a clock in a case, and light streams in the window behind the clock. Behind the desk from the floor to the ceiling, are shelves filled with sets of traditional string-bound books. Tags that indicate the name of the series of books with identifying Chinese characters are attached to the books.
Vast libraries of historical texts, sometimes numbering many thousands of volumes, such as Gu jin tushu jicheng and the Si ku chuan shu, were published in Peking during the reigns of the Manchu-Qing emperors Kang Xi (1662-1722) and Qianlong (1736-1795) respectively. These multi-volume texts provided an unprecedented amount of material for the antiquarian bookshop traders of Liulichang.
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. Reference: http://baike.baidu.com/view/420575.htm
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. 183 and cover, with the caption: 'The bookshop. Old Chinese literary texts were frequently reprinted with or without additional commentaries, resulting in an enormous literary output and a great volume of work for booksellers, bibliophiles and librarians'.
Gift of Mr Alastair Morrison, 1992
Chinese characters: tags on the top level of the shelf from left to right as: "Qian Shuo Jian Zhu Ji" (A Brief Introduction to Architecture); "(illegi) Shi Wen Ji" (Poem and Essay Collection of (illegi)); "Qian Yin Wen Xuan Quan Shu" (The Stereotype Edition of Complete Works of 'Wen Xuan' ('Selected Literature' compiled by Xiao Tong during the Southern dynasty)); "Pi Ben Shi Shuo Xin Yu" (The Annotated Edition of "A New Account of Tales of the World"); "Hui Tu Tai Xia Xin Zou" (Illustration Works of Tai Xia's New Memorial Notes); "Xian Hua Fu Juan (illegi)" (Fu Poem of Free Flowers (illegi)); "Chen Mei Gong Shi Li" (Ten Volumes of Chen Meigong (Chen Jiru, Ming dynasty literati and painter)); "Hai Shan Xian Guan Cong Shu" (Series of Immortal House in the Sea and Mountains); "Chong Gu Shu Yuan 'Wan Hua Gu' (also called Jin Xiu Wan Hua Gu)" (Chonggu Academy's Edition of the '(Splendid) Ten Thousand Flowers Valley"); "Yue Ya Tang Cong Shu" (Series of Yue Ya Hall); "Jiu Chao BenTong Jian Hui Bian" (Old Hand-copied Edition of 'Tongjian Huibian' (Compiled Edition of '(Zi Zhi) Tong Jian', by Sima Guang, Northern Song dynasty)). Some other recognisable tags on the lower levels of shelf: "(illegi) Shui Jing Zhu" ([valuable] edition of "Commentary on the Waterways Classic"); "Xi Hu Zhi" (Annals of the West Lake). etc.