Sunday, April 29, 2012

Rainy Wednesday at the Museum of History

Really good museum - definitely a worthwhile stop if you're ever in town. I'm not really big on taking pictures of museum exhibits, but there are some pretty spectacular ones here, and everyone else was doing it, so here you go. Below is a mockup of a home of a family of "boat people" who used to live out most of their lives on the harbor.

Mockup of a Peking Opera performance shed, where traveling troupes would entertain crowds, especially on festivals or other special occasions. 


Spears and other weapons, below. The performers were trained in martial arts, acrobatics and stage combat (among lots of other things) and the Peking opera became a major influence, and a source of performers, for martial arts movies. 

Giant effigies of gods for carrying in village festivals:

Below, the one, the only Lin Zexu, one bad mother... (shut your mouth!). He was an early-mid 19th century Chinese imperial official of legendary sternness and uprightness who inadvertently helped create Hong Kong as we know it. He went to war against the illegal opium trade that was flooding China under the protection of the British empire, who wanted the economic foothold it gave them there and didn't have any other product that would sell. He seized vast amounts of stockpiled opium from British merchants and destroyed it, sparking the first "Opium War" that led to a defeated China handing over HK Island to Queen Victoria. Bold leader or self-righteous and bungling narc? You be the judge. (Actually, he looks like he wants to be the judge.)

Below, a diorama of Lin's forces dumping the opium into some sort of solution (I forget the details) to dissolve it. I think that's him in the blue.

That down there is one of the more quietly astonishing items in the museum. The map compares HK's land area at the time of the colony's founding in 1842, to its area now (or at least at the time of this map's creation - it might be outdated). The beige area is original; the green, red, and light blue areas are "reclaimed" land, which I think is created by dredging soil from the harbor bottom and piling it up along the shore. Land reclamation continues and Victoria Harbour gets smaller, which is increasingly controversial for cultural and environmental reasons - but the population growth isn't slowing any time soon. Some wit (probably more than one, actually) has remarked that one day they won't need ferries because they'll just step across.

Below, mockup of Ye Olde Hong Kong Street.

Ye Olde Teahouse:

Ye Olde Medicine Shoppe:

A subtle, and chilly, bit of Japanese WWII propaganda, clearly aimed at the English army, not Chinese locals:

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