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Old Kunming: A Daoist festival in 1900

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Editor's note: GoKunming is publishing photos from the collection of Auguste François (1857-1935), who served as French consul in south China between 1896 and 1904, during which he spent several years in Kunming. The photos have been provided by Kunming resident and private collector Yin Xiaojun (殷晓俊). GoKunming thanks Yin Xiaojun for providing us a glimpse of Yunnan at the beginning of the 20th Century.

Year: 1900
Subject: Wenchang Gong
Location: Present-day intersection of Wenlin Jie and Jianshe Lu/Dongfeng Xi Lu


Today the intersection of Wenlin Jie and Jianshe Lu is bustling with buses, cars, bicycles, electric bikes and countless pedestrians. Most people passing through the intersection pay no mind to its northeast corner, a walled-off plot of land covered with advertisements for real estate developments.

More than a century ago, the corner was still a major intersection, just within the city's main west gate (大西门). It was also quite a hub of activity with a Daoist (Taoist) temple at its heart. The temple was called Wenchang Gong (文昌宫).

The photo above is of a miaohui (庙会), an annual temple festival. The Wenchang Gong miaohui was a special time for Kunming's women, who were normally restricted from going out in public as they pleased. The miaohui was an exception to this social norm.

Below is a photo of long-demolished Wenchang Gong's location in modern Kunming – where women can leave home and go out as they please.

Related article: Auguste François, Yin Xiaojun and Kunming at the end of the Qing Dynasty

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