Join Alfred Raquez on his adventure through Laos in 1905!
The eighth dispatch of Alfred Raquez’s journey through Laos in 1905 is now online at the Mission Raquez blog.
Join the adventure today!
So as my work on Raquez’s biography is coming to completion, I’ve used some digital forensics to answer some questions that probably matter mostly to me but nonetheless I will share with you.
One of these burning questions is: where was the exact location of the Laos Pavilion at the 1906 Marseille Colonial Exposition?
Raquez was the delegate from Laos at the exposition and spent all of 1905 on an exploratory mission to collect ethnographic materials to display at the exposition [read my published paper on Raquez’s expedition here: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02757206.2018.1474351].
He also brought dancers and musicians and monks to perform. All of them can be seen along with Raquez in this postcard, with the Laos Pavilion in the background (Raquez is the tall, dark, bearded one; the figure next to him in the suit may be Joseph Fadovic, his interpreter).
The pavilion was modeled on the library at Wat Siaket in Vientiane. Raquez hated it, calling it a ‘pigeon coop’ nearly half the size he had been promised by the exposition organizers. Here’s another view:
There are many postcards of the building, but where was it?
The exposition was held in specially built grounds just above the new velodrome in the Point du Prado in Marseille. The Indochina section was the biggest of all the sections in the exposition and had a pavilion for each of the Indochina territories (Cochin-china, Annam, Tonkin [modern Vietnam], Laos, Cambodia, and a smaller pavilion for tiny Kouang-Tchéou-Wan, a small enclave on the southern coast of China).
Here’s two period postcards with aerial views of the exposition. The Indochina section is on the left.
Here’s a map of the exposition grounds:
And one of the Indochina section. The Laos Pavilion is on the far right, below the larger Indochinese theater.
The entire exposition grounds were cleared in the early 1920s for the 1922 colonial exposition, but the basic shape of the grounds was not changed and the land has been continuously used ever since as the MARSEILLE CHANOT – Exhibition and Convention Centre.
So if one were to visit today, where would the Laos Pavilion have stood in 1906?
Here’s a nifty animation that overlays the different maps. The Laos Pavilion is marked by the box.
And another with a tilt:
So the Laos Pavilion would have been about here:
On Google streets view, the location looks like this (Google doesn’t have any views from inside of CHANOT)…
We can tell from the angle that this view would be of the back of the Laos Pavilion, which looked, at a slightly different angle, like this (the pavilion is on the right, before the Cambodia Pavilion which has the dramatic recreation of the heads from Bayon Temple at Ankor Wat):
And roughly the same view today, at street level, from Rue Raymond Teisseire:
Pourquoi? Pourquoi pas!