Combing for Ice and Jade

@ Tong, Kurt



Presentation by Jiazazhi:

"Combing for Ice and Jade is a love note from Kurt Tong to his nanny, who was one of the last remaining « self-combed » women left in China. An early form of Feminism, the comb up ceremony granted women great autonomy at a great cost.

Kurt Tong has worked closely with his nanny over a period of nearly 7 years. Having only 8 photographs of herself, the book is an exploration of her extraordinary life. Her story is slowly revealed through the book, combined with Kurt’s family archive, found photographs from her extended families, new photographs, Chinese ink works and women’s magazines from China that spanned 6 decades.."

In this Chinese tradition, these women would bear the generic name of zishunü. An article in the British newspaper The Guardian (2014, in English) provides a bit of historic and social context about these women and the tradition.

The work Combing for Ice and Jade was part of the Rencontres d'Arles 2019 festival in the « Émergences » section under the name Glace et Jade, le rituel du peigne.

The book includes 8 inserted booklets and many gatefolds. Texts in Chinese and English throughout.

246 pages + booklets - Hardcover

Jiazazhi Press, 2019 (700 copies)

Format : 17.5 x 24.5 cm

New - Mint condition

This book is no longer in stock


Tong, Kurt

Kurt Tong is a photographer born and based in Hong Kong; he studied documentary photography in London. The website of the Rencontres d'Arles festival indicates: « His work revolves around exploring his Chinese roots and understanding of his motherland, Tong having grown up in the United Kingdom. » His work "Combing for Ice and Jade" was part of the Rencontres d'Arles 2019 festival in the « Émergences » section under the name "Glace et Jade, le rituel du peigne". Kurt Tong has published, among others, "In Case it Rains in Heaven" (Kehrer, 2011), "Combing for Ice and Jade" (Jiazazhi, 2019) and  "The Queen, the Chairman and I" (Dewi Lewis, 2019). © Portrait by Su Tong taken from the website of the Rencontres d'Arles festival
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