Magazine article Geographical

Archive: Images: Ferrying Timber, GSS Gordon, China, 1926

Magazine article Geographical

Archive: Images: Ferrying Timber, GSS Gordon, China, 1926

Article excerpt

Timber has played a huge part in both Chinese culture and its history. Its presence dates back to the Qin dynasty (221-206 BO but was also used considerably in the later Tang, Song and Ming dynasties for both structural timber work and furniture making. However, in the 19th and early 20th century, the British Empire began to use Chinese timber at an unprecedented scale. The British constructed treaty ports utilising timber across China after the Opium Wars of the mid-19th century.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Logs, most commonly from fir trees, would be gathered near rivers and built into rafts to be sent to the lumber markets, with reports at the time daiming it could take as long as three years for the rafts to float down the Yangtze River from the Southern Hunan Province. This is what photographer and Society fellow Captain Gerard Stafford Staveley Gordon captured while surveying Chinese oil installations in 1926.

With the forests diminishing, debate sparked in the West as to whether China could sustain its domestic timber market Thus, the foreign timber trade was established By the 1920s, Western architects working in China much preferred using non-native wood This also led to an increase in Western style designs of the treaty ports, as they required less timber than traditional Chinese buildings. …

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