Friday, 9 April 2010

Indo China


 "Hanoi - Porte d'entree de la Garde Indigene" - Entry Gate of the Native Constabulary/Gendarmerie

The flag is flying so the police must be at home, a grand entrance dwarfs the actual building.

This is a card produced by Raphael Moreau who set up in business with François-Henri Schneider in French Indo-China in 1900, within the year they had published 3000 cards. Their great competitor was Pierre Dieulefils, a retired military officer in Tonkin who also produced thousands of cards

Indo-China was the chief bastion of  imperial France in the East, the so called  'French balcony in Asia' (I don't know who first called it that but if anyone out there has the answer I would love to know).  The French believed in decentralisation and local autonomy; Indo-China contained distinct and separate regimes, though under control of the governor-general who was responsible to the minister of colonies in Paris.  Tonkin, with its capital at Hanoi was independent but theoretically ruled by the Emperor of Annam, in the present time these are the country of Vietnam. 

In the scramble for concessions in the late 1890s "spheres of influence" began to be marked out by the 'Great Powers'. Russia claimed Manchuria, Britain the Yangzte Valley, Japan Fukien, Germany Shantung.  France claimed Southern Yunnan, which despite the subject of the card is where this was posted from.  The name means "south of the clouds" and it is a mountainous region with 600 rivers and lakes bordering on Burma, Laos and Vietnam .  Its beautiful landscape and mild climate make it a popular tourist destination in the present time.

  
A Chinese Imperial Post 4cent stamp with a clear franking of Hokow dated 22 August 1904, which by coincidence is also my birthday, not I hasten to add the 1904 bit.  Although someone who was going to have a great influence on China was born on that date in Szechwan, the future leader Deng Xiaoping.  The other coincidence of this date is that 1904 was also the year that the French started to build the first railway, not to connect to the rest of China, that would happen many years after the French had left, but to the Vietnamese port of Haiphong and also to Hanoi. The narrow gauge railway was completed in 1910. The province was rich in tin and opium, the latter probably not an export that would be encouraged today.

The card also has an arrival marking of 'Plancy-Aube' dated 9 October 1904, being 48 days in transit. The length of time is not surprising as not only was Yunnan mountainous it was sparsely populated.  The 1 in 3 written on the left hand corner is intriguing I wonder if the sender was based in Tonkin and was taking a break journeying through beautiful Yunnan or maybe involved in French colonial business and letting Mademoiselle Chaplain know where he was. From the corner marks it was obviously at some time in an album and maybe it was hers.


Our hostess for the Postcard Friendship Friday meme is The Best Hearts are Crunchy

10 comments:

viridian said...

Thanks for the great post. funny how dates match up - with the postcards you have, or with world wide events.

Aimee said...

What a great card & interesting post!

Postcardy said...

They sure published an amazing number of cards in a short time.

Irene said...

WOW, this is a great card and such a lot of history. Happy PFF

Shaunna said...

What a great looking entrance. It would be amazing if we could make something like that now-a-days. Happy PFF!

Christine H. said...

Wonderful post and great research and detail! I love the expression 'French balcony in Asia.'

Sheila said...

Fascinating information about a part of the world I know little about. There is a book called "Indo-Chine années vingt : le balcon de la France sur le Pacifique" but I think written relatively recently, so I doubt if he coined the phrase.

Sreisaat said...

Hello Joy! I'm actually living next to Vietnam (Cambodia) and I must tell you that there are some colonial houses, like the one featured in your postcard, still standing up to these days. Some are well-kept, but most are neglected. Thanks for sharing the information above, it's quite fascinating to know :D


Postcards Crossing

Bob of Holland said...

I loved the history of the card and the story about the men who produced it. Thanks for sharing.

Debs said...

a very special card and masses of research for this post - good job! happy belated PFF!