Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Narayan Mahon: Beijing Hutongs

Image Copyright © Narayan Mahon-All Rights Reserved

Narayan Mahon is Maine-born and is based in Charlotte, North Carolina. He earned his Master’s degree in Photojournalism at Syracuse University's Newhouse School of Public Communications, and holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

He specializes in reportage and travel photography, and has traveled and photographed in nearly 80 countries, and is a contributor to The New York Times, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, and Seattle Times.

His photojournalism projects on his website are in the popular Soundslides format. I had difficulty in choosing which project to feature on TTP, since they are all very good...but in the end, I decided on the Beijing Hutongs project, not only because of Narayan's documentary style street verite -type of photography, but also because of the project's cultural and historical interests. There is no narration to the slideshow, but it's accompanied by lovely Chinese music.

Here's some background on the hutongs: A hutong is an ancient city alley or lane typical in Beijing, where hutongs run into the several thousand. Surrounding the Forbidden City, many were built during the Yuan (1206-1341), Ming(1368-1628) and Qing(1644-1908) dynasties.

The regular hutongs were near the palace to the east and west, and arranged in orderly fashion along the streets. Most of the residents of these hutongs were imperial kinsmen and aristocrats. The simpler hutongs were located further to the north and south of the palace. The residents were merchants and other ordinary people.

Many of the hutongs are now being demolished to give way to high-rises, and a traditional way of life is threatened by China's modernization.

Narayan Mahon's Beijing Hutongs