Who Miniaturises China? Treaty Port Souvenirs from Ningbo

  • Yuanxie Shi
  • Laurel Kendall


Miniature carved wooden figurines from Ningbo were consumed by missionaries, travellers, and occasional museum collectors. Inexpensive, small, lightweight, portable, and well crafted, they were ideal treaty port souvenirs. Miniatures portraying scenes of bucolic rural life, unrelenting toil, or grisly torture replicate scenes also widely circulated in treaty port art and in early photographs of China. As such, these miniatures can easily be interpreted as satisfying an Orientalist appetite for an exoticised China. While not incorrect, this interpretation is limited. In this chapter, Shi and Kendall restore some agency to the carvers themselves, first, in accounting for older woodcarving techniques that were creatively adapted to the production of free-standing miniatures and, second, in adapting images from a Chinese visual imaginary that predated the treaty ports.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yuanxie Shi
    • 1
  • Laurel Kendall
    • 2
  1. 1.University of ChicagoChicagoUSA
  2. 2.American Museum of Natural HistoryNew YorkUSA

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