Through a Lens Darkly (25): A Sawback Dadao in Hangzhou

    The Album   Recently I had the good fortune to come across a photograph of a Chinese dadao (big knife) that dates to the late 1930s. Images such as these were sometimes collected by Japanese soldiers in occupied China and subsequently ended up back in Japan. Obviously photos of Chinese martial artists and…

1849: Origins and Consequences of a Southern Chinese Piracy Crisis

    Introduction   By the early 19th century much of Guangdong province existed in a perpetual state of simmering anarchy. The large clan structures that dominated the agricultural economy competed with each other for access to land and water. As often as not these unique organizations (combining both the gentry’s leadership and the peasant’s…