Home > culture, Photos > 陈海汶 (Chen HaiWen): Pictures of China’s 56 Ethnic Groups

陈海汶 (Chen HaiWen): Pictures of China’s 56 Ethnic Groups

陈海汶 (Chen HaiWen) lead a team of 14 photographers, traveling over 100,000 km from 2008 through 2009, photographing all 56 ethnic groups making up China.  They took roughly 570,000 photos during this period.   It was a massive undertaking. Over 150 people, including historians and cultural experts worked with Chen to come up with the final compilation, “和谐中华——中国56个民族剪影” (“Harmonious China – Silhouette of China’s 56 Ethnic Groups”), officially released in the Shanghai Book Fair on August 18, 2009.


[Click on image to launch slideshow of the individual ethnic “family” portraits.]

Chen is a renowned photographer from Shanghai having established himself as someone who has a unique talent to capture the authenticity of every day life. Sina.com conducted an interview with him on September 29, 2009, and had this to say about Chen (my rough translation):

[As a photographer] he has always chosen to pay close attention to the ordinary people’s view of their lives, and through the pictures taken from that perspective to reveal the national spirit. One such and the source of China’s greatest strength lies in the diversity of the 56 ethnic groups.

For a better sense of the undertaking, Todou has a 12-minute documentary (in Chinese) of Chen and his team visiting all corners of China to bring this rich tapestry of ethnicities to the world. Four jeep convoys traveled throughout China, braving snow, sand, unpaved roads, remote mountains and villages, and a multitude of elevations that make up China’s geography. (Side note: according to this Shanghai Municipal People’s Government Portal press release, Shanghai General Motors Co., Ltd. sponsored Chen HaiWen’s team’s “filming vehicles.”)

Amazon.com has a hard-cover version of the book for sale: “Ultimate China Giant Photobook: Harmonious China – Features of China’s 56 Ethnic Groups.” Here is a brief editorial from Amazon on what inspired Chen HaiWen:

Chen says the idea for his album came from a book by Bai Yansong, a news anchor in China Central Television, who said that he had found several well-illustrated books on Chinese minorities in Japan, but none of the authors was Chinese. “Recording is a photographer’s responsibility,” says Chen. “I wanted to express my understanding of the Chinese nation as a huge family through my camera.”

Few weeks ago we published a post on the 56 ethnic groups “【每日歌曲】中华大家庭 (the Big Chinese Family)

Below is another take by Youtube user: zhouzhzh accompanied by a Chinese song – using images from “Harmonious China – Silhouette of China’s 56 Ethnic Groups”:

  1. September 27th, 2010 at 21:48 | #1

    Hats off to those photographers who took so much photos of Chinese ethnic groups and made the whole things predictable one. The photography is really well and reflects the clear expertise of those hands. Beautiful work and generous venture…

  2. February 2nd, 2014 at 04:10 | #2

    Yes. it’s an awesome works to have them in printed book, which i hope is still in print and circulation. When i have chance to visit China, will look for it in bookstore 😉 so thank you Hidden Harmonies for covering the photographer, Chen HaiWen 陈海汶 and his team works.

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