The Coolie--single 1960s-era figure carrying baskets on pole
Item Number: HKY001
The dictionary defines ‘COOLIE’ as an unskilled native labourer usually found in Asian countries particularly India, China, and South East Asia. In Hong Kong, these hard-working individuals were often seen pushing trolleys full of all types of merchandise or using a long wooden pole from which were suspended large rattan baskets full of fruit, vegetables, or other items of every description.
HONG KONG is not only the ‘home’ of King & Country it’s also one of the most vibrant and dynamic cities in the world and now a Special Administrative Region of the PRC (People’s Republic of China) with a population of almost 7.5million residents of various nationalities all packed into a relatively small territory.
Originally established as a colony of the British Empire, it has weathered and overcome many a storm, violent upheavals, all kind of typhoons, and other natural and man-made disasters, wars, and crisis. Through it all, this small, densely-packed city with its hard-working inhabitants has created one of the wonders of the world and a major financial and trading hub on the southern coast of China.
During its existence, Hong Kong has grown dramatically from a small, sparsely populated area of farming and fishing villages into the city and region I know today. Perhaps its greatest time of growth was following the end of World War Two and the victory of Mao Tse Tung and his Communist Party in China in 1949. Many skilled emigrants and refugees crossed over the border into what was then the British Crown Colony of Hong Kong, and, even in the often most difficult of circumstances, sought a better life for themselves and their families. That resulted in Hong Kong becoming the first of the Four Asian Tiger economies during the 1950s.
Nevertheless, life could still be hard for the majority of its inhabitants even as many improvements were made and opportunities were seized in this busy, bustling and very crowded metropolis.
ABOUT ‘ALL OUR YESTERDAYS’
One of K&C’s most popular and colourful series has been and still is ‘Streets of Old Hong Kong’. Our look back at Colonial Hong Kong circa 1897, a period when traditional Chinese dress and costumes were still worn by most citizens on the streets of this thriving port city. Several months ago I went to an exhibition of miniature Hong Kong buildings that were created by a team of very skilled and knowledgeable diorama builders.
Most of the exhibits on display were approximately 1:24 in scale and were depictions of typical three and four storey Chinese-style Shop Houses and sections of streets that were once familiar sights all over Hong Kong, but are now few and far between. Victims of the growth, development, and prosperity of this amazing city and its hard-working people. Looking at these exquisite reminders of a time not long past, it struck me that the only thing missing was a lack of miniature figures to help populate the scenes as well as provide a truer, more authentic picture of this day before yesterday in the life and times of Hong Kong.
And so, here are our first offerings that give perhaps, a little portrait of some of the people who helped build and shape this amazing city during the tumultuous 1960s and the sensational 70s.
THE ‘VIETNAM’ CONNECTION
As I worked on this project, I was also reminded that many of the Asian countries around Hong Kong also have large communities of ethnic Chinese families living and working in them… especially in their towns and cities.
Vietnam is one such example, where there was a sizeable section of the population that was of Chinese origin particularly in what was then called Saigon. Whole sections of major South Vietnamese urban centres such as Hue and Da Nang also had ‘Chinatowns’ in their midst.
For many ‘VIETNAM’ street displays and dioramas this new range of additional figures is both are useful and additional touch of authenticity
Due to be released in SEPTEMBER 2023.