Sun Qing is associate professor at the Department of History, Fudan University. She received her Ph.D degree in Chinese history from Fudan University. Her research interests include modern Chinese history, intellectual history, and the history of cross-cultural interactions. She has published a monograph in Chinese and dozens of articles in Chinese, English and Japanese.
「 To View the Magic Images from Lens (jingying): The Early Experiences about Magic Lantern as Urban Residents (1670-1921) 」
In the middle of the 17th century, an embryonic form of lantern slide was invented. This machine was called “magic lantern”. It was brought to China by Jesuit missionaries such as Ferdinand Verbiest and was part of overseas trade. The machine subsequently entered the palace and also used at some catholic churches, where it was considered as a kind of exotic optical toy. Since then, a variety of names have appeared in Chinese documents referring to this machine and the “wonder in dark room”. By the end of the 17th century and the early 18th century, optical workshops emerged at cities located in the lower Yangtze river delta, including in Suzhou and Nanjing. During the early 19th century, with the activities of medical missionaries, the “magic lantern” became the main teaching tool for western medicine, demonstrating anatomical images and photographs of the human body.
This paper focuses on two aspects of the transmission of this “magic lantern”. First, it explores the different Chinese terms used to refer to the “magic lantern”. Second, it examines the multifaceted encounters between the Chinese people and the “magic lanterns” prior to 1927. It will argue that the Chinese experience with the “Magic lanterns” was not only that of a foreign commodity, but also as a material media that made meaningful changes to Chinese epistemology, the elite associative life, and the urban entertainment space where spatial modernity of China was conceived.