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photos and stories from the Powerhouse Museum

Daoist musician

February 6th, 2013 by


The ceremonies themselves were elaborate. They were held largely in the home, but processions were an essential element conducted with ceremony through the streets and accompanied by music.

Hedda Morrison, A Photographer in Old Peking, Oxford Univeristy Press, 1985, p.92

The musician in this photograph is wearing a Daoist robe and playing  traditional multi-toned gongs as part of a funeral procession.

According to the collection record, the multi-toned gongs or cloud gongs (‘yun luo’) were also known as ten-side gongs (‘shi mian luo’) or nine-sound gongs (‘jiu yin luo’). They were originally used by Daoists in almsgiving religious ceremonies but during the 20th century they gradually became a more popular folk musical instrument. This is one of a number of photographs that Hedda Morrison took of funeral ceremonies.

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. This photograph is part of the Hedda Morrison Photographic Collection

Post by Kathy Hackett, Photo Librarian

Photography by Hedda Morrison
Powerhouse Museum Collection 92/1414-285

No known copyright restrictions.

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