Peter Moss
India (1947) Malaya (1957) Hong Kong (1997)   A Journey through the Twilight of Empire   Lichen Books
 
Publications on Asia


Hong Kong: The Classic Age is more than a voyage into the past. Spanning the era of tea clippers in the 1860s to the departure of HMS Britannia, bearing away the last colonial governor at midnight on 30 June 1997, it resurrects Hong Kong's crucial formative epoch through a stunning range of photographs that vividly reconstruct what that earlier community looked like, and what it meant to live here in those very different times. It transports the reader on an often tumultuous journey, from the reckless gamble of Hong Kong's beginnings to its spectacular epiphany as Britain's last and most famous imperial outpost.

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They dwelt in marbled halls, overlooking spectacular vistas,  breakfasted amid the aspidistras on arched verandahs and were borne in sedan chairs down to a gracious mercantile metropolis of classical  elegance. They were the pioneers, living in a city very different from the one that has replaced it. Almost nothing remains of their era except the historical record and the photographic plates that have affectionately preserved their vanished architecture, faithfully recaptured in this volume of what Hong Kong was, once upon a time.


Its architecture is Hong Kong's sublime art, conditioning the way this ever-changing city has evolved. The thrust is more upward than outward, shaping the vertical profile of this intensely concentrated metropolis and ensuring that, whatever changes are in store, Hong Kong continues building its fabled reputation as the 'Many Splendoured Thing'.

The largely unknown photographers who compiled a scrupulously detailed record of a bygone Hong Kong, bearing no resemblance to its present-day successor, have handed down to us a rich inheritance, filled with the lost memories of those who were here before us. Their passing shadows leave an imprint on these pages so palpable and vivid we can almost reach out and touch the long demolished stones of that vanished metropolis, made painfully aware of a city we never knew, populated by a people we never met and pursuing a lifestyle far removed from our own.

Hong Kong has far outstripped its chroniclers. It's the metropolis of perpetual metamorphosis, endlessly remodelling the way it lives, works and functions so that its skyline is always undergoing reconstruction, its image ceaselessly shifting. The only constants are the spirit of its people, their receptivity to new ideas and influences, their restless quest for a better way. These pages of An Affair to Remember encompass a range of striking images to portray a city forever in a state of flux.

Not only is colour more lustrous in Asia, but also the use made of it is often more extravigant, and in direct contrast to the practice elsewhere. In Asia, red is the required colour of a Chinese bridal gown and white the colour of mourning. The Colour of Asia explores the richness of the spectrum that makes this region the world's most colourful and culturally diverse.

George Chinnery was that providential and all-too-rare combination of the right man in the right place at the right time. But for him, our vision of the China coast in the early years of the nineteenth century would remain deficient, our understanding of Macau less secure and our grasp of its humanity lacking in intimacy. His was the faithful record not only of the greater panoramas in his oils and watercolours but also of every lovingly-captured detail in his sometimes minute pencil sketches. Chinnery in China presents a portrait of the artist as an old and crotchety but immensely gifted man, just the way Chinnery would have wanted it.

Hong Kong's skyline is ever in transition, a flamboyant affirmation of this city's determination to let nothing stand in its way as it forges full steam ahead into the future. Such unquenchable aspirations produce a seemingly endless succession of architectural marvels, but leave too little trace of historical continuity. This volume serves both as tribute to the restless, driving spirit of a metropolis forever creating better and grander manifestations of itself, and as a reminder of whence it came, as enshrined in the few traces of antiquity that survive that headlong progress.

Furniture was a relatively late arrival in Asia, where climates and lifestyles were markedly different from those in Europe. But when colonial incursions and the exigencies of history conspired to bring about profound social change, Asia underwent a sudden flowering and flourishing of furniture whose like had never been witnessed before. However far its adaptations may have been conditioned by external influence, each country imposed a stamp on its furnishing mode as unmistakably distinctive as its flag or anthem. Rather than merely succumbing to practical necessities, Asian furniture was seen as an extension of the prevailing national ethos, and fashioned as a work of art. Today these diverse styles are treasured by collectors for their ability to lend unexpected flourishes to Manhattan penthouses or grace notes to Parisian apartments, adding breathtakingly exotic touches to otherwise familiar surroundings.

One can kill the thing one loves by loving it too much. Drawn by its Shangri-La cachet, growing tides of tourists descend each day on Lijiang, in the farthest reaches of China's Yunnan Province. But Lijiang, situated near the borders of Tibet, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam, has stood the test of time. Nothing much has changed here since Kublai Khan arrived in 1253. Which is why UNESCO has conferred World Heritage status on this uniquely historical town without walls.

Surprising the outside world, in the spring of 1971, China invited young table tennis players from five countries, including the United States, to Beijing to participate in friendly matches. The contrast between the China they experienced then, and the China of today, marks one of the greatest historical transitions of the 20th century. Captured in these pages is a rare portrait of a people about to embark on the Long March Back to the international community of nations after China's isolation behind its Great Wall of communism.

The passing years leave few traces on the face of Hong Kong. Without the surviving photographic record — much of it recaptured in the pages of this sumptuously illustrated volume — there would be little to remind us of the very different Hong Kong which served as prelude to the city that has taken its place. There in an unlikely setting of quiet streets and shaded verandahs of elegant mansions and grandly arcaded offices the seeds were planted for the boundless ambitions that would — in good time — transform this mercantile community from coastal backwater into one of the paragons of Asia.

This very recent publication takes you to the heart and soul of one of the world's most fabulous cities. It will help you select what appeals most about Hong Kong and discard what the itinerary may not allow time to accommodate. Discover where to go, what you should know, where to sleep, what to eat; an abundance of Chinese and Asian cuisine and watering holes from top end to bottom. What's in; what's out. What's indoors; what's outdoors. What's fashionable; what isn't. What's hot; what's not. What to do; what not to do... All of these, and much more, are packed into this most comprehensive, up-to-the-minute guide ever published on Hong Kong.

Confucius has become the oft-quoted fount of aphorisms and analects far wider and more comprehensive in their didactic scope than any attributed to sages elsewhere in the world. But the real gems of Chinese wisdom lie in the anonymous and ageless proverbs, of which this volume contains a representative and at the same time beautifully illustrated selection. Accompanying the Romanized Chinese versions and English translations in this edition are the corresponding Chinese calligraphic characters

Pictograms, through which earliest mankind endeavoured to communicate, achieved their richest profusion in China, and gave rise to the world's most complex - and, many would argue, most artistic - written language. Symbolism still lies at the core of China's ancient heritage, in which certain animals and inanimate objects have long been regarded as directly linked with particular human conditions. This book surveys some of the best recognised examples - not least of which are the dozen animal signs that comprise the twelve-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac.

Hong Kong was Britain's ultimate colony of significance. Handover poignantly documents the countdown to a solemn moment on that historic midnight when British rule returned Hong Kong to the sovereignty of the People's Republic of China. NOW OUT OF PRINT

This copiously illustrated volume of Hong Kong Style is concerned not with the private domain of exclusive domiciles, but with the personality of Hong Kong as it has evolved over the last 170 years. NOW OUT OF PRINT

Its real nature is a far cry from the city that has wrested Hong Kong's name, fame and reputation. Within these pages is a voyage of discovery into a heartland rich in fauna and flora and extravagant in scenery and theatrical effects.  NOW OUT OF PRINT

This brand new book chronicles the development of railway travel in Hong Kong and the achievements of the Kowloon-Canton Railway since it started operations in 1910. With over 100 images, including historic archival illustrations as well as modern-day photographs, this volume tells the fascinating story of Hong Kong's oldest railway and the people who created it.