China was the most photogenic country, and the one where people did nor care either way being taken or not. Le pays le plus photogénique.


Xi’an, China, December 1994. On the Silk Road, this Central Asian metropolis has an important Muslim community. Sur la Route de la soie, cette métropole a une importante communauté musulmane.

All of China’s faces are gathered in Xi’an, the imperial metropolis founded under the name of Ch’ang-an in the year 2500 before the Christian era. At the height of its glory, in the 7th century, it had maybe three million inhabitants. Even the khmer megalopolis Angkor had but one million … five centuries later. And Paris! Did its population then pass 20,000? Xi’an the Muslim, at the edge of Central Asia’s plateaux and deserts. Xi’an of the back alleys’ children, proudly wearing their distinctive features.

Toutes les faces de la Chine sont réunies dans Xi’an, métropole impériale fondée sous le nom de Ch’ang-an en l’an 2500 avant l’ère chrétienne. A son apogée au VIIe siècle, elle avait peut-être trois millions d’habitants. Même la mégapole khmère d’Angkor n’avait qu’un million… cinq siècles plus tard. Et Paris! Sa population dépassait-elle alors les 20.000?


Shi Ma Tai, China, December 1994. Living by a remote part of the Great Wall. La vie à proximité d’un morceau isolé de la Grande muraille.

Riding in the inescapable Mao costume with his son, the farmer almost fell from his bicycle when he saw a foreigner in this area as remote as it was majestic, right under the Great Wall. With a wide smile, he tried to engage a conversation. He was a bright exception. Traveling independently in China is harder than anywhere else, with all signs in Mandarin, and no English nor help to be expected from the people.


Xi’an, China, December 1994. Fresh noodles in the Muslim quarter. Nouilles fraîches dans le quartier musulman..

Xi’an la musulmane, en bordure des plateaux et déserts d’Asie centrale — un restaurateur portant la chéchia blanche représentantive de cette grande communauté, prépare avec dextérité les fameuses nouilles chinoises partir d’un bloc de pâte.


Yangshuo, China, December 1994. An expert at eating with chopsticks at a street stall. On devient vite expert dans le maniement des baguettes.

“Much of modern assembly is fine tweezer work, and nothing prepares for it better than eating with chopsticks from early childhood”, an important factor ascribed by Harvard professor David S. Landes to the successful work ethic of the East Asian “tigers” [The Wealth and Poverty of Nations — Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor, p.475]


Shi Ma Tai, China, December 1994. Isolated part of the 5.000 km-long Great Wall. Segment isolé de la Grande muraille.


Beijing, China, December 1994. The entrance to the Forbidden City on Tiananmen Square. L’entrée de la Cité interdite par la place Tiananmen.