Junks of Central China

The Spencer Collection of Models at Texas A&M University

By Joseph E. Spencer

Foreword by Edwin J. Doran Jr.

Photographs by Jim Bones Jr.

978-1-58544-018-4 Paperback
8.5 x 11 x 0 in
104 pp. Illus., Map.
Pub Date: 06/01/2000


  • Paperback $19.95 s
Within the Yangtze River Basin of Central China are nearly twenty thousand miles of navigable waterways. Historically, overland transportation has been difficult, if not impossible, in many areas, and the Yangtze alone has long carried more boat traffic than any other of the world's great rivers. The collection of thirty-one model junks at Texas A&M University, twenty-nine of which are pictured in this book, is a major nucleus of junk types acquired by Dr. Spencer in China between 1934 and 1936. Representing one of the largest known collections of Chinese watercraft, it is also the only known collection of Yangtze River junk types. Junk types have come and gone as needed. Over one thousand years old, the graceful Wushan Fan Tail was still in use in the 1930's, when the twenty-nine models included here were collected. But the Postal Boat, introduced in the late nineteenth century, disappeared within a few years, replaced by faster steam packets. Steam transport and improved roads have caused a marked decline in junk traffic in the twentieth century, a trend not likely to be reversed. The models thus provide a valuable record of traditional regional types. Dr. Spencer's accompanying text discusses details of design, construction, propulsion, and use for each. The introductory chapter gives an integrated account of the development of various styles and the regional trade patterns of the Yangtze Basin, illustrated by a map and representative photographs of actual junks taken by the author. The twenty-nine models featured here are a major nucleus of the Chinese freshwater junk types acquired by Dr. Spencer in China between 1934 and 1936, and they represent one of the largest known collections of its kind.

Published by Texas A&M University Press