Liens, musées etc




Questions d'Eventails



Les Martyrs de Tien-Tsin
The TianJin massacre

Please, give us information if you can ! We are happy to share our fans or our little knowledge with others, but are waiting for some feedback in return ! Thankyou !

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This page has been turned to an article : « The Tianjin Massacre Fan », FANA Journal, Spring 2010, pages 10-16. Join FANA and you will be able to read this article online -as well as a multitude of others!-. This fan was also used as an illustration by Pr Robert Bickers in his most interesting book : The Scramble for China: Foreign Devils in the Qing Empire, 1832-1914, Penguin 2012.


Here is a fan which is of historical importance, as it fits in the history, rich and successful sometimes, but often difficult, of the relations between China and the West, and especially between China and France.

 Eventail de Tien Tsin

 This fan is 30 cms long, including 17 cms  for the leaf. The sticks are bamboo and the leaf of local paper (rice ?); the rivet also is traditional. The head is square, and if the fan is closed when viewed from the side it has a concave arc. The leaf is printed and painted in watercolor and gouache.  At first glance, the crude colors hide  somewhat  the details of the scenes (but we will see that it was may be desired by the fanmaker).

 When we found it, we were very happy as we immediately recognized a fan which was shown in an article which had been in our possession for some years,  from the "Every Sunday - An Illustrated Journal of Choice Reading," published in Boston MA on 24 December 1870.
Scramble for ChinaEvery Saturday
The fan  is shown here without the added  painting and  is clearly readable. One understands soon that it is not a peaceful landscape : a church on fire,  numerous armed people attacking some others. Of course the legend sheds light on the subject

The article on page 838 provides a clear and concise summary of the events

 We give it below 

The Tien-Tsin fan

The picture of a fan on page 837 possesses a painful interest, though the fan itself is grotesque enough to make one smile in spite of all. Immediately after the Tien-Tsin massacre of the 21st June, many thousands of these fans were manufactured for the purpose of  notifying throughout the Empire the terrible event which had recently taken place in that city. The foreigners resident at the settlement naturally fearing that the sight of this pictorial representation might stimulate the natives to further deeds of bloodshed ant violence, remonstrated through their official authorities with Chung-How, the Governor of Tien-Tsin, begging him to stop the circulation of these inflammatory missives. He at once complied with this request, but by the time his prohibition was put in force many thousands of these fans had been dispersed throughout the country.

The fan represents the burning of the Roman Catholic Cathedral, together with the French consulate and the massacre of the foreigners. On the left a Mandarin has risen from his chair, and is urging the people to vengeance. Close to him the French Consul is being brutally murdered. The bridge of boats opposite was not allowed to be opened by Tseng-Kwoh-Swai, the great promoter of the massacre.  According to many accounts, Chung-How wished to open this bridge, so as to prevent the people crossing the river, but he was not able to effect his object, so that after the populace had done all the mischief they could, they crossed, and finished their brutal work by torturing and murdering those unfortunate Sisters of Charity, who had been so good and kind to all, setting fire to the place, and throwing them among the burning embers. The foreign residents were; no doubt, right in regarding the circulation of the fan as mischievous, but we scarcely think they were justified in assuming that they were manufactured with the direct aim of encouraging further outrages. We rather incline to regard them as a primitive mode of circulating a piece of startling news.

This particularly painful episode of relations between Europe (especially France) and Imperial China deserves some explanation. Après examen de sources diverses, nous en donnerons page suivante un résumé tout à fait personnel. After having reviewed various sources, we give on our next page  a summary which is  entirely personal.  (Naturally, if we make a big error, we thank you for the report !)

Our English speaking visitors interested by the history of China may read a book by Robert Bickers (Bristol University)  : The Scramble for China, Allen  Lane Londres, 2011.  Pr Bickers shows our fan  (plate 14) and the Catholic cathedral after the fire (plate 15). More important ! he gives, thanks to sources which are chinese as well as from the West an interesting and documented view of the "Foreign Devils in the Qing Empire, 1832-1914"

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