People Were Claiming This Photo Of A Smiling Man From 1901 Was Fake Until Someone Pointed Out That Rural Chinese People Didn’t Know How To Pose

Published 5 years ago

If you ever looked at old pictures (and by old, we don’t mean your childhood photos, think more like late 19th century), you probably noticed that everyone looks dead serious. That’s not too big of a surprise – having your picture taken was quite a big deal back then. But what is really surprising is to actually see a person smiling – in fact, when one picture showing a smiling Chinese man taken in the beginning of the last century recently surfaced, people couldn’t believe it wasn’t fake.

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The 1901 photo, titled “Eating rice, China”, was recently confirmed by the American Museum of Natural History to be authentic

It could have been taken by a young German scholar named Berthold Laufer during the Jacob H. Schiff Chinese expedition, who spent 3 years in China. He gathered a total of 143 photographs during his stay but there is no evidence that he took them himself. No explanation why the Chinese man decided to pose like that was given either and people began speculating that it might have been because the subject wasn’t aware of the western ‘posing traditions’.

One 0Tumblr user tried explaining why most people weren’t smiling in photos, and why this Chinese man did

Smiling in photos only became ‘acceptable’ sometime in the 1920s and there are many theories why – one even says that it could have happened because peoples’ oral health got better. Some of the less far-fetched theories suggest that it was due to the reduction of time it took to capture a photo – while the very first cameras took a whopping 8 hours to take a picture, that time was drastically reduced to mere minutes or even seconds in the 1850s and 60s. Another theory suggests that smiling wasn’t popular because the photographers were following the footsteps of painters, who usually portrayed people as serious.

Even though many people loved the photo

Some still couldn’t believe it is real

Aušrys Uptas

One day, this guy just kind of figured - "I spend most of my time on the internet anyway, why not turn it into a profession?" - and he did! Now he not only gets to browse the latest cat videos and fresh memes every day but also shares them with people all over the world, making sure they stay up to date with everything that's trending on the web. Some things that always pique his interest are old technologies, literature and all sorts of odd vintage goodness. So if you find something that's too bizarre not to share, make sure to hit him up!

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China, eating rice, history, photo, photography, smiling chinese man, smiling man
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