A Photographer and a Cave Village

April 25, 2014 - Photographers - Post by: WfpaEdit

In 1993, Mr. Zhu Yunkuan went to Fengyan cave village for the first time. For the next 14 years, he visited the village for 14 times and witnessed all the changes in the Fengyan cave village and the villagers’ migration out of the cave. The more than 7,000 photos he had taken during these years become valuable documents.

In 1993, the cave, which is 200 meters in diameter, was home to a total of 300 people living in 60 households. More than 200 years ago, the first group of residents came from Jiangxi to escape gangsters. They settled down in the cave and built their home, totally isolated from the outside. Elder women still worn Han-style clothes when the village was discovered in 1990 by a project officer of Ford Foundation.

Since October 1993, Zhu has worked with two TV crews to make documentary films about the Fengyan cave village. From 1999 to 2001, he spent four Spring Festivals with Fengyan people, who have considered Zhu as one of them. With photos, he recorded their traditions in festival celebration, which were preserved well due to isolation. In January and February, 2001, he attended and photographed one wedding and four funerals, the most important events for the whole village.

Apart from folklore traditions, he documented changes happened in the cave, including new water reservoir, new houses, electricity, new schools, and finally gradual migration out of the cave. In 2007, he went there for the last time, because all the Fengyan cave residents had built houses in surrounding mountains and moved out. Standing alone in the cave, he took the last photo.


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