photos and stories from the Powerhouse Museum
Photography by Serge Vargassoff
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Photography by Xiaoyang Yu
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These two photographs are the ninth in our ‘then and now’ series that we are sharing on Photo of the Day that have been researched by Nina Wang, an intern from the University of Sydney who has been working with our Registration team cataloguing the lantern slides of Serge Vargassoff taken in China from 1910s to 1940s. Serge Vargassoff (1906-1965) is a Russian-born photographer who established himself as a professional photographer, at the age of 20 in Beijing and became a long-term resident of the city. A set of 89 lantern slides in a Chinese style wooden box was donated to the Museum by Vera Vargassoff, a niece of Serge Vargassoff in 2010.
Nina has written the following:
This slide shows the Yudai Qiao (Jade Belt Bridge) which is located in the West Causeway of Kunming Lake in the Summer Palace, Peking. Built during Emperor Qianlong’s reign (1736-1795, Qing dynasty), this high and thin bridge was named Jade Belt Bridge because its body and railings are made of gray white and white marbles which combine to resemble a jade belt. Under the bridge, the Kunming Lake inlet led to the Yu River. When the Emperors and Empresses went by boat from the Summer Palace (previously called the Garden of Clear Ripples) to Yuquan Shan (Jade Spring Hill), they would pass under this bridge.
Lying to the west of the Kunming Lake, the Western Causeway was built to imitate the Su Causeway in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China. The most distinctive features of the West Causeway are the six bridges which ranging from north to south are: Jiehu Qiao (Lake Bound Bridge), Binfeng Qiao (Wind Bridge), Yudai Qiao (Jade Belt Bridge), Jing Qiao (Mirror Bridge), Lian Qiao (White Silk Bridge) and Liu Qiao (Willow Bridge).