This man is part of my family. He stands proudly in his place on the window seal, together with photos of my husband and kids. He is by far the most prominent-looking of them all. He is all dressed up in his finest gear. But who is he?
My grandmother told me that he was an important mandarin in one of the provinces in China, where my great grandparents worked as missionaries.
My great grandfather got the picture of him as a gift, proving that his missionary station was under this mans’ protection. It must have been before 1912, when the system of mandarins was abolished.
As I grew up, I saw this photo standing on a shelf in the cabinet reserved for mementos from China, that my grandparents kept in their livingroom.
I used to study his face and wonder who he was. He looks very serious – and at the same time quite young. He is apparantely very well off and can probably keep his family fed without problem.
The photograph is taken by a person called “Yung Huang”, but I don’t know where and I am unsure as to if I should open the frame and see if there is any information on the back of the photo.
Somehow, I like that he is a bit of a mystery. He was passed on to me after my grandparents died and my cousin had had him for a while. Now, he is part of our family and makes sure we don’t forget what happened over there, in China. He might even have been someone who helped my great grandparents survive over there, as the protection of the mandarin was vital to not be killed by robbers or plunderers that were roaming the country side on a regular basis.
At least, I reckon he was a good guy, seeing that his portrait was brought all the way from China to Sweden and preserved in a glass cabinet. For that, you need to have been of some importance – and done something to deserve a place in the family.
(If anyone has any information about his clothing, the photographer or anything connected to this photo, I would love to hear from you.)
19th of September: I finally did it – thanks to you all – I opened the frame and pulled out the photo… no new information, I’m afraid. Here’s what it looks like: