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This photograph of a woman having her hair braided by a street beautician was taken by Hedda Morrison in Hong Kong in late 1946 or early 1947. The woman is holding a cloth strap to keep her hair in place throughout the braiding process.
According to the Powerhouse Museum collection record:
Both women wear woven cotton trousers and upper garments (sam foo) and wooden sandals (mook kek) that are typical of dress commonly worn in Hong Kong and southern China. The walls of the street shops are plastered with streetbills (kai chiu) advertising the services of Western and Chinese doctors, an afternoon tabloid containing lurid stories, and Reunification Noodles bearing the flag of the Nationalist Party (Kuomintang), and Winning Noodles reflecting the political atmosphere and hopes of the 1946-47 period before China descended into civil war.
Photographer Hedda Morrison, (1908-1991), was born Hedda Hammer in Stuttgart, Germany. She acquired her first camera, a Box Brownie, at the age of 11. In 1931, after completing studies at the State Institute for Photography in Munich and working in the studio of photographer Adolf Lazi (1884-1955), she answered an advertisement in a photography journal for a job in Peking.
In Peking Morrison managed Hartung’s photographic studio from 1933-1938. After her contract expired she continued to work freelance from a small darkroom in her home in Nanchang Street. The young photographer travelled around the city, usually by bicycle, often photographing its inhabitants.
Hedda Morrison arrived in Hong Kong on 21 September 1946 by ship from Tianjin, China. She had travelled there with her husband, Alastair Morrison, who was serving as an officer in the British army. They departed for England in March, 1947. This photograph is one of 555 that Hedda Morrison took whilst in Hong Kong.
Post by Kathy Hackett, Photo Librarian
Photography by Hedda Morrison
Powerhouse Museum Collection: 2005/254/1
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