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Shanghai 1930...

Aiqi returned to China for a visit in the summer of 2000. She came back to the Bay Area with stories, presents, Chinese medicine... However, the most amazing articles in her luggage were a pile of vintage photos of her grandparents family in Shanghai during the early 1900's...

This is a picture that Aiqi restored in her photoshop class. It was taken in the year of 1900. The little girl standing on the left was Aiqi's Grand-mother. The little boy standing on the right was Aiqi's Grand-uncle, who was rumored to fall victim of an opium addiction in his adult life. The only memory Aiqi had of him was a middle-aged man standing by the door, wearing smelly clothing, smiling humbly, waiting for his baby sister to spare some money. The handsome couple sitting on two sides of the tea table were Aiqi's Great Grand Parents, Jean and Alice's Great-Great-Grand-Parents. It was a well-to-do family, successful merchant of the late Ching Dynasty. Living in the affluent society of Shanghai, even the traditional women's bounded feet were treated to a pair of heeled embroidery silk shoes.

Faces from the Past
These are the most powerful pictures in the pile. Each face has so many stories to tell. What's more, the moment these images were captured, part of me was there. Imagine that.
Aiqi's Grandpa. He was a very famous fabric style designer, working in a foreign textile factory in Shanghai. During his days, he was known as "Mei LanFang" (The most famous Beijing Opera singer at the turn of the century) of the fabric style design. As you can see, he was posing infront of two of his designs that had won a big award. Maybe that is where we inherited our taste in arts. Grandpa (Great-Grandpa for Jean and Alice) was also passionate about gardening. He did all that he could to keep his small pots of flowers alive in the concrete forest of the early 20th century Shanghai. He was also the one that loved photography, thus came the pictures we are seeing now.
Aiqi's Grandma
Aiqi's Mother, in her teens
Aiqi's Mother
Aiqi's twin sister, Aiqiao. Alice's baby pictures showed strong resemblance of her! 
Aiqi's uncle, who had a big influence on Aiqi's education and her writing style. Aiqi and her uncle are still the two writers in the family.

Family photos, pre-Aiqi days
While mom was reciting the household stories she collected on her trip, the Shanghai of Zhang AiLing came to life in front of me. The big family lives in a westernized house, the suitors came to ask for one of their daughters' hand. The individual woman's charactor and passion, and the gossip among the sisters. I love these photos also because one can see the fashion, architecture, and even furniture in those early glorious days of Shanghai.
Aiqi's er-yi (2nd aunt)
and si-yi(4th aunt)
and er-yi's child. 
Aiqi's er-yi. I think she is the most beautiful one among the sisters. What do you think? 
Aiqi's san-yi and Grandma in front of the house they used to live.
Grandma with her daughters.
They were in HangZhou, to show respect in a famous temple.
Grandma with er-yi and san-yi (3rd aunt, who is the most stylish), and uncle. 
Grandma, Grandpa, si-yi and san-yi. 

Family photos, see if you can find Aiqi in them!
1946. Aiqi was around 3 years old in these two pictures.
She was always in the front!
Do you find her? 
1960. Grandma had passed away. The infamous famine years had began. Aiqi was standing in the back, second from the left, in both pictures. She also hand-knitted the scarves she wore in both pictures.