Monday, February 23, 2015

Performing Monkeys and Their Masters in China

Over a year ago as I crossed the road at a familiar intersection in Zhuhai's Gongbei subdistrict, I looked down and to my surprise saw three monkeys crossing the road as well.

three leashed monkeys crossing a road in Zhuhai

three leashed monkeys crossing a road in Zhuhai

Near the same intersection two hours later, I saw a sizable crowd had gathered to watch the monkeys perform a show.

monkeys performing in Gongbei, Zhuhai

This month in Zhuhai's Nanping Town, I once again saw monkeys performing for a human crowd.

monkeys performing in Nanping, Zhuhai

monkeys performing in Nanping, Zhuhai

As I watched, I wondered about the lives of both the monkeys and their masters.

I am reminded of these performances and others I have seen in China by a powerful photo essay on (in Chinese; photos say much on their own; HT Chris Buckley). Beginning in 2002, Hongjie Ma's photographs capture a period of 12 years in the lives of performing monkeys and their masters from Henan province. Neither the monkeys nor the humans appear to have had easy lives. And they lived them together.

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