'Fishing With Cormorants', c 1871.
© National Media Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
A photograph of two Chinese fishermen using cormorants to catch fish, taken by John Thomson [1837-1921]. The fishermen stand in small fishing boats just wide enough for them, their nets and the whicker baskets for holding their catch. Catching fish with trained water birds dates back hundreds of years in China. A string is tied around the bird's neck to prevent it from swallowing any of the fish they catch. Thomson travelled extensively in Fujian province, formerly Fukien, south east China, from late 1870 to early 1871. The book, 'Foochow and the River Min', records his journey up the River Min by boat from Fuzhou to Nanping, a distance of about 160 miles. Thomson was one of the most significant travel photographer-explorers of the nineteenth century. Born in Scotland, he studied chemistry at the University of Edinburgh, before taking up photography in the 1860s. Thomson travelled extensively throughout Asia, documenting the antiquities, landscapes and people of Sri Lanka, Camb