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Chinese Literature
Dianshizhai huabao 點石齋畫報 "The Illustrated Lithographer"

The Dianshizhai huabao 點石齋畫報 "Illustrated Lithographer" was an illustrated magazine that achieved great attention in the late 19th century because it was produced on a lithographic basis, which made it possible to reach a large public. The name is derived from a building within the complex of the Shenbao Publishing House 申報館 in Shanghai where lithographic prints could be produced. Publisher of the "Illustrated Lithographer" was the British Ernest Major (1841-1908, Chinese name Meicha 美查) who also published the famous newpaper Shenbao 申報 "Shanghai News". The first issue of the Dianshizhai huabao was published on May 8, 1884 in Shanghai, the last issue came out in 1898. There were in total 528 issues (according to a lower estimation, 473 issues) including more than 4,600 illustrations. The magazine appeared on a ten-day basis (xunkan 旬刊). Each issue had the same format containing eight pages with 8 illustrations. Collectors could then assemble each issue in a traditional thread-bound booklet. The issues were numbered according to the Heavenly Stems, Earthly Branches, musical notes and the so-called Six Arts. It was sold separately or was given as a free supplement to subscribers of the newspaper Shenbao.
The chief illustrator was Wu Youru 吳友如 (died 1893?) who had some painters at hand like Zhou Muqiao 周慕橋, He Yuanjun 何元俊, Jin Chanxiang 金蟾香 or Zhang Zhiying 張志瀛. The content was geared to serve a wide public and ranged from stories about robbers, landless people roaming around, or prostitutes and depicted the daily life of the rural and urban population, that in the foreign settlements in Shanghai, but also political and social events happening at that time, so that some illustrations depict the court, war, or scientific inventions like the moored balloon. With a wide range of themes, it covered both curiosity for strange events and the thirst for news like the Sino-French War in 1884, or the Sino-Japanese War of 1895.
The monochrome illustrations are drawn in a mixed style that combined traditional techniques of the brush with perspectives seen in contemporary photographies. In fact, a lot of photographs served as model for the drawings. The drawings are of a quite unique style and emerged in a new painting genre. In its concept, the Dianshizhai huabao appealed to the emotions and less to the intellect. Texts only play a subordinated role and are integrated into the illustrations. The magazine is a helpful source for the reflection of historical events on the urban populace of late Qing period 清 (1644-1911) China.
The illustrated newpaper was so popular that in 1910 the Jicheng tushu company 集成圖書公司 in Shanghai reprinted all issues. In 1983 the Guangdong renmin press 廣東人民出版社 published another facsimile in traditional thread-bound booklets in book cases.

Chen Hong 陳江 (2002). "Dianshizhai huabao: Wo guo di yi fen xinwen huabao 《點石齋畫報》我國第一份新聞畫報", in: Chuban shiliao 出版史料 2003/3, pp. 97-99.
Pei Danqing 裴丹青 (2007). "Dianshizhai huabao yanjiu zongshu 《點石齋畫報》研究綜述", in: Henan tushuguan xuekan 河南圖書館學刊 2007/02, pp. 132-134.
Xu Hualong 徐華龍 (1999). "Dianshizhai huabao pingjie 《點石齋畫報》評介", in: Minsu yanjiu 民俗研究 1999/1, pp. 100-101.
Yu Yueting 俞月亭 (1990). "Dianshizhai huabao 點石齋畫報", in: Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Xinwen chuban 新聞出版, p. 80. Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe.

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May 28, 2012 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail