MIT Visualizing Cultures
MIT Visualizing Cultures
On viewing images of a potentially disturbing nature: click here.
Creative Commons - some rights reserved
Massachusetts Institute of Technology © 2011 Visualizing Cultures
MIT Visualizing CulturesMenu
MIT Visualizing Cultures
Share    
China's Modern Sketch I
Units
Essay
MIT Visualizing Cultures MIT Visualizing Cultures MIT Visualizing Cultures MIT Visualizing Cultures MIT Visualizing Cultures MIT Visualizing Cultures MIT Visualizing Cultures MIT Visualizing Cultures MIT Visualizing Cultures MIT Visualizing Cultures
Wang Zhu
“The Illustrated Biography of a Child Prostitute”
Modern Sketch No. 35, February 1937
MIT Visualizing Cultures
(1) She was such an innocent, vivacious young lass!
[sign:] Girls Middle School

MIT Visualizing Cultures
(2) But her family was destroyed by a man of
ruthless ambition. In order to survive, she let
herself be led into a big, foreign-run port city.
[sign:] Tianjin Hotel

MIT Visualizing Cultures
(3) Even as she gazes out over the cityscape,
her life is being sold away behind her back!

MIT Visualizing Cultures
(4) Once you have entered this den of demons,
you become a slave to others' every whim!

MIT Visualizing Cultures
(5) And so, having fallen into the dungeon,
the hand of the devil overpowers her!

MIT Visualizing Cultures
(6) There is one who would rescue her from the
pit of fire. At any rate, he displays a bit of sympathy!

MIT Visualizing Cultures
(7) Her wicked boss nearly punishes her with
death, for her desire to escape is so easily detected!

MIT Visualizing Cultures
(8) Like a burnt-out cinder of coal she is resold
to the lowest-class of brothel on Catfish Alley!

MIT Visualizing Cultures
(9) Never again shall her eyes see the light of the
sun. With morphine coursing through her veins, they
auction off the last drop of her blood, the last bone
in her body!

MIT Visualizing Cultures
Nine Thematic Visual Narratives

9. A Child Prostitute’s Life

The actual number of prostitutes working in China’s big treaty ports may not have increased from the 1920s into the 1930s, but their public visibility exploded during those years. At the same time, the figure of the prostitute-as-victim entered the popular imagination as a metaphor for the weakness of a semi-colonized, harshly oppressed China. Prostitutes of all varieties and attitudes proliferated in Modern Sketch. Wang Zhu’s nine-panel “Illustrated Biography of a Child Prostitute” takes the victimization story to a shocking extreme, narrating the physical and mental devastation of a “little thing” (the euphemism for underage sex workers) in the treaty port of Tianjin.
MIT Visualizing Cultures VC Units MIT Visualizing Cultures About VC VC Scholars Partner Institutions Outreach Events Contact Join Us Follow Us Units Icon View Text View Visual Narratives City Life Modern Girl Modern Boy Eroticized Women Exploitation & Oppression Politics & Corruption The New World Dis-Order The Japanese Menace Modern Grotesque A Child Prostitute’s Life China's Modern Sketch II The Golden Age of Cartoon Art Image Galleries