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Beyond the mountains of the red mist in Hainan

Identifier: Film Collection no. 15

Scope and Contents

Filmed during the Munroe-Clark-Smith Expedition to Hainan, 1937. This film was made by Jack Munroe, a friend of AMNH President Trubee Davison. Munroe asked Davison for official introductions, but the AMNH was not otherwise involved in the expedition. The film opens with a caption explaining that the pictures are the first ever taken of the Loi (i.e. Li) people of Hainan. A map of Hainan, an island in the South China Sea off the south coast of Kuangtung Province, follows and the expedition staff is seen on an ocean liner en route to Hainan. The Loi people are seen in their village. The houses are bamboo structures with rounded thatched roofs built on stilts. Several men show their hair knots, the position of which identifies their tribal affiliation; the men seen here are Ba-Sa-Dung people. Some men wear turbans and plain dark woven skirts, the richly woven borders of which describe ancient legends; men and women both wear loose woven jackets. Their faces arms and legs are tattooed with striking geometric designs; only married women wear tattoos on their hands. They wear small chains in their ears and virgins wear carved ox rib decorations in their hair knots at the back of their heads. Children play about. Men are seen with bows and arrows, and women are seen winnowing rice and weaving on a very small loom. A pet monkey is photographed. In an effort to contrast the Loi with other Hainan inhabitants, Leonard Clark, one of the expedition leaders films a different group of people. A basket vendor, an ox drawn cart with enormous wheels, and a modified wheel barrow are shown. An occidental man, apparently ill, is in bed under a mosquito net. This might be Nicol Smith, one of the expedition leaders, who caught malaria. In a more densely populated area are seen western houses, a barber shop, a display of snake and cat skins, a man whose face is severely deformed and scarred, and a pig in a woven tube-like cage. Two men model woven capes fringed with layers of brush. Back in the Loi village, four women pound in turn with a mortar and pestle. Rice is winnowed; the natives eat, smoke, and fish with basket traps. A Miao native is seen with a gun. What appears to be a captured Malayan sun bear is seen, as well as a palm civet. Following is a group of people walking to obtain medical attention outside of an official building. Some are given shots. The film ends with the staff on board a liner and harbor views with junks and sampans.


  • 1937


Language of Materials



1 Film Reel (37 minutes) : silent, black and white ; 35 mm.

1 Videocassette (U-Matic (37 minutes)) : silent, black and white ; 3/4 in.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

3/4 in., U-Matic, viewing copy


Clark, Leonard. Among the Big Knot Lois of Hainan. National Geographic Magazine, v. 74, 1938: 391-418.


Leonard Clark, photographer.

Beyond the mountains of the red mist in Hainan, 1937
Iris Lee
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Museum Archives at the Gottesman Research Library Repository

American Museum of Natural History
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