1920s Lady in sedan chair | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

1920s Lady in sedan chair

1920s Lady in sedan chair

Where:  We're looking west across Statue Square, with Prince's Building on the left, Queen's Building on the right, and Chater Road running between them.

What: The focus of this shot is the sedan chair, number 331.

I've read there were sedan chairs for hire, and sedan chairs that people owned. I don't know the difference though - can anyone recognise which type we're looking at here?

There are also signs of two of the square's statues. In the top left corner there's a blurry view of Queen Mary's statue, and behind the man on the right we can see the railings that ran around Queen Victoria's statue.

Who: Two carriers, and one rather imperious looking passenger. None looking happy about having their photo taken!

When: I'm guessing it was taken around 1930. [Update: More iikely to be late 1920s - see comments below.] If anyone can give a better date from the lady's hat style, or the cars in the background, please leave a note in the comments below.

And judging by the lady's fur coat, definitely a winter's day.

Regards, David

Reference: A078

Date picture taken (may be approximate): 
Thursday, January 1, 1920


David, the shoes and hat are definitely 1930's. The hat is a classic "snood"style which became popular mid 1930's. The high ankle strap on the shoes with a chunky heel are also 1930's fashion statements. The dress length is post flapper but pre-WW2 by the looks. I wonder who this smartly dressed woman is?  Cheers Catherine.

Wikipedia has a good entry including a photograph of a Public sedan chair in Hong Kong, ca 1870. Sedan chairs were once the only public conveyance in Hong Kong, filling the role of cabs. Chair stands were found at all hotels, wharves, and major crossroads. Public chairs were licensed, and charged according to tariffs which would be displayed inside.[2] Private chairs were an important marker of a person's status. Civil officers' status was denoted by the number of bearers attached to his chair.[2] Before Hong Kong's Peak Tram went into service in 1888, wealthy residents ofThe Peak were carried on sedan chairs by coolies up the steep paths to their residence including Sir Richard MacDonnell's(former Governor of Hong Kongsummer home, where they could take advantage of the cooler climate. Since 1975 an annual sedan chair race has been held to benefit the Matilda International Hospital and commemorate the practice of earlier days.

Catherine & Guy, thank you for your replies. I also received a message by email from Shyama:

I would put it at 1920's the flapper era - scullcap closh hat - short skirt, lots of leg with lisle stocking & high heel shoes. Hemlines went right up after WW1 so maybe a bit earlier than you think.

Snoods and Closh hats are new to me, so I searched on the internet and found this site: http://www.fashion-era.com

From what I read there, it looks as though Shyama's date is closer. Their page on 1930s hats shows the "30's Snood", but it is more like a chunky hairnet than a hat. Another page describes the Flapper Cloche hat from the 1920s, and that description fits the hat style in this photo.

Here's a link to the full Wikipedia page that Guy quoted from.

Also thanks to IDJ for this photo of sedan chairs in 1938: "They are an Air France crew visiting after a flight from Hanoi.".

Sedan Chairs, The Peak, 1938

The design of the chair looks just the same as the chair in the photo above, so worrying about fashion and "This year's model" wasn't an issue for the sedan chair builder.

Regards, David

I think these were the publicly licensed chairs.  You can see the license number on the side of the sedan chair. 

Hi David,

I think you received my email regarding the sedan chair project i am working on. 

Can i please use this photo? Who should i credit to?