City of Powder — the disappearing Hong Kong (粉末都市—消失中的香港)


What is City of Powder — the disappearing Hong Kong about?

It is an oblong-shaped book of illustrations and comics published in 2008. Stella So is fascinated by the sensory environment of the city, and the chapter titles of this memoir reflect the colors, smells, and sounds she experienced during her excursions. As with her earlier project, the drawings here are an amalgamation of the real and the imagined; a compression of time, place, and meaning.

Like Very Fantastic, this book also describes what Hong Kong people had lost during urban development in recent years. However, this book is not about a story, instead all the graphics are drawn based on Stella So’s personal experience and her memory about the old Hong Kong. Stella So likes the old Chinese tenements, Chinese restaurants and she misses “Wedding Card Street” and old Star Ferry Pier. Therefore, we can find pictures of these places in the book.




City of Powder ends with the origins and customs of the Chinese Ghost Festival; a not surprising conclusion in view of the theme of So’s book. It begins with a description of Maudgalyayana’s (a disciple of Gautama Buddha) quest to liberate his mother from hell where she has been transformed into a hungry ghost, a creature in a perpetual state of longing due to its inability to consume any food. The food offerings which are sometimes found at various houses and temples during the Ghost month relate directly to Buddha’s solution to this dilemma. The Indian elephant is a reminder of this cross-cultural fertilization; the dialog between the little girl lost and the boy, a not so subtle call to remember tradition amidst modernity.


When the boy asks the girl how she came to be lost, she replies that she couldn’t find her way home because of the rapid changes to the city. The ceremonies and offerings which make up innards of the mechanical pachyderm are reminders of an urban past, a ritual of rebirth which recalls Maudgalyayana’s efforts to ensure his mother’s reincarnation.


If you want to know more about Stella So, you can visit her website and blog for more information!!!!

Stella So’s Website:

Stella So’s Blog:

Stella So’s Old Girl Diary:


1. Honey pupu. City of Powder – the disappearing Hong Kong. Retrieved on 1 Mar 2014 from

2. Ng Suat Tong. Memories of Old Hong Kong. Retrieved on 1 Mar 2014 from

3. DrBlack. City of Powder – the disappearing Hong Kong. Retrieved on 1 Mar 2014 from


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