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An early view of the Fragrant Harbour

LAI, FONG . Hong Kong Harbour

Hong Kong , ca.1875

Albumen print, mounted. 9 x 11 ½ inches. Printed caption mounted beneath photograph: “No. 941. – Cargo-boats and native crafts…”

This fine photograph by Lai Fong, who has long been considered “the most significant Chinese photographer of the nineteenth-century,” offers an excellent glimpse of old Hong Kong’s crowded harbor (Bennett). Traditional Chinese junks and sampans fill the waterfront view. During the 19th century the “harbor was at the very center of Hong Kong’s attraction and contributed more than anything else to its growing importance.  It was a safe, well-sheltered, convenient anchorage, and very beautiful.” (Lim, Forgotten Souls, 158.) Hong Kong Harbor was praised for the prosperity it brought to the city as well as its beauty. This photograph shows the bustling waterfront and those who inhabited the junks and sampans moored in the Fragrant Harbor over a century ago.