Sunday, November 1, 2009

The GIANT Panda

The middle of August we made a trip to Billings, Montana to search for old paper. The first place that we stopped had large map drawers full of paper, but I could only find one piece of paper that really held my interest, and this is it.

Sometime in the early part of the school year of 1948, Rose Allisch, Lorette Borsheim and Donald Knudson of McCabe, Montana, wrote a letter to the Chicago Zoological Park inquiring about the GIANT PANDA BEAR. This letter is a response to their inquiry.

This year is the 140th anniversary of the discovery of the Giant Panda by a Westerner. A French priest by the name of Father Jean Pierre Armand David described the panda that had been shot by hunters in the Sichuan province of China in 1869. Until Father David described the panda in that year, the panda was virtually unknown outside of China. The world is still fascinated by this animal that may indeed not even be related to the true bears.

The envelope the letter came in is dated October 27, 1948.


  1. This is a nice post. I like Panda bears and I like Montana but right now, with this chill here in Ohio, and those wide open spaces in Montana where the wind blows forever, I get cold thinking about moving up there.

    I like this post but also the one below. What are you doing with all of these pieces of original art? I hope you got them saved on more than one hard drive for the future. Not to mention saving the originals in a safe place.

    On my Sendai-shi blog there will be photos taken by people whose name was "Turner" of their experiences in Sendai Japan. The whole photo album, meticulously put together, was found by a scavenger in the Los Angeles dump. The wind blowing the pages attracted a father who went over and picked it up. She saw my website about Japan and asked if I wanted to publish the pictures. I said yes. That was a long time ago.

    I am always telling my kids not to throw my stuff away but then garage sales are full of photos the kids no longer want to deal with.

    So protect your artwork!!!

  2. Dave, this shadowy, transclucent Giant Panda image is so, so powerful! Colored pencil, graphite, charcoal? Shaded with essence of panda? You nailed it! Bravo!! Penny

  3. Penny,

    Colored pencil. Black. The paper is onion skin, so what you see is a scan that I laid a piece of white paper behind. I knew as soon as I read this letter what I was going to put on it. As a matter of fact, I could SEE it when I bought it.

    Wierd, huh?

  4. My previous travel to Sichuan,China in year 2003, we went to Zoo to see the Panda :)

  5. Oh, I have a soft spot for the ol' Panda (hence my Panda Sneeze/You Tube post a couple of postings ago). I think the image is beautiful, Dave, if a little sad...
    Pandas do look sad though.
    You've really brought the letter alive with your illustration. I love what you do!

  6. I remember the days of paying for things with postage stamps. Wonder what would happen today if I tried that? It was hard enough paying a VISA card bill of 74¢ using pennies at the bank recently. The teller was definitely NOT PLEASED with me. Go figure!

    Nicely done, Dave, as always -:)

    ps: do giant Pandas wear giant socks? how often do they change them? are they black or white, clean or not?

  7. I love this.....growing up I will never forget watching the arrival of the Pandas in a large crate with Richard Nixon, I went to the Washington DC Zoo twice to see them. I really would love to see some Pandas again....this made me want to do that more than ever. Thanks for sharing.