There’s an old stereotype about Asians and cameras. When I was a boy growing up in the Midwest, I remember hearing my father say “I’ve never seen a Chinaman without a camera.” Of course by “Chinaman” he meant anyone with “yellow” skin. This kind of talk sounds almost racist these days, but that’s just how people talked back then, regardless of their views on race. Looking back on my father’s life at that time, I couldn’t say he was racist in any way. During that time I rarely knew or even saw any Asians, but my father worked with people from all over the world every day.
Stereotypes don’t come out of nowhere though. After I got married (to a Chinese girl), my wife and I were living in Manhattan’s Chinatown, and once decided to take a Chinese bus tour to Washington DC. As soon as we got there, the bus stopped in front of the Capitol building and everyone (all Chinese except me) proceded one by one to have their pictures taken in front of it. Then we got back on the bus, drove to the next attraction, and then the same thing again! And again! My wife and I finally decided we would escape and catch up with them later.
Back to Sanjiazi: when the Manchu teacher Shi Junguang (see previous posts, listed above) and I got back to the school office, some of the others were looking at the school’s collection of traditional Manchu costumes. Then someone pointed at me and I was doomed.
Of course, these costumes are not real Manchu clothes, but rather just things that you throw over your street clothes.
The fun begins!
Fun can’t be had alone!
美满 (měimǎn, [this means happy, but could also mean U.S.-Manchu])
The more, the merrier!
Mrs. Wu is on the left, and Mrs. Guan’s charming daughter is on the right. She was already in the spirit and only put the headdress on; the other stuff she had already been wearing.