Created 2-May-13
Modified 2-May-13
10 photos
Note: This is a continuation of my other gallery of early Chinese nudes!
This curious set of images of "late early" Chinese nudes came into my hands very recently. It dates to the late 1950s, and was sold in Japan to a member of the American military, for the steep price of $10 (inflation adjusted, this would be around $80 in today's evaluation). Originally there were ten transparancy slides in this little box (see image #10), but only nine have survived. This is the only set of this nature that I have ever come across. The posing is traditional and therefore can be seen as a continuation to my gallery of Chinese nudes from the Republican period. However, it is interesting to note that a) some slides are in fact in color, while b) there is a mix of indoor and outdoor shots. It is possible that they were taken by the same photographer, the original processing and the nature of the composition is very similar.

These transparancies are of rather cheap stock (vs, say, Kodachrome, which would have held up much better over the years), with the words "Color transparancy" printed on the individual slides' cardboard frame. Neither the slides themselves nor the little yellow box they came in provide a clue as to their provenance or maker. I do presume that these were Chinese models working in Japan at the time. It was too early for such material to be printed and commercialized in Taiwan, and the time had not come for mainland China to engage in the pursuit of the nude (that time arrived in the late 1980s). Another theory, one which would in fact be worth pursuing, is that this set was produced in Hong Kong, which might explain it's all-English labelling. On the other hand, where in Hong Kong could image #7 have been taken? In any event, the dates are rather firm, since the member of the American military alluded to above returned stateside from Japan around 1958, with this set of transparancies (and other, commercially available tourist-type snapshots) in his luggage.

The material did not age well. Each single slide required several steps of digital restoration. Short of using multiple layer masks in Photoshop, I cleaned up each transparancy to the degree I deemed producing acceptable results. This meant cloning out baked-in dust and debris, adjusting colors, masking, very slight cropping, defringing etc. The slides were scanned to TIF at 1200 DPI on my Epson 4990 scanner.

Thomas H. Hahn
Ithaca, NY