'A Pine Raft', c 1871.
© National Media Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
A photograph of rafts of timber being floated down the River Min in China, taken by John Thomson, published in 1873 in the book 'Foochow and the River Min'. The River provided an important trade route to the port of Fuzhou. Timber, agricultural produce and tea were shipped down to the port for export. By the 1850s Fuzhou was the main port in China and also the world's largest tea-exporting centre. Thomson travelled extensively in Fujian province, formerly Fukien, south east China, from late 1870 to early 1871. The book 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.