This film is part of Free

Naval Life in China

The waterways of Imperial China are bursting with life in this French travelogue made in the final years of the Qing Dynasty.

Travelogue 1908 4 mins Silent


This richly detailed travelogue of China is one of three or four made by French company Pathé Frères in 1908. It's likely to have been filmed in southern China, possibly at the mouth of the Yangtze River or along the Grand Canal. The river and its banks are crowded with sampans, fishermen and traders; goods and empty litter chairs are unloaded. The elaborately carved junk could be a warship.

Most of the men in the film are sporting the Manchu queue hairstyle with its familiar braided ponytail, imposed on the Han Chinese population during the late Qing Dynasty - and soon to be a relic of Imperial China. The intertitles are in German as this copy of the film was part of the collection of Jesuit priest Abbé Joye.