Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Indian independence day

Today is the 60th anniversary of India's independence from England's colonial rulers. What started off as a company trading in spices and cotton eventually morphed into a colonial behemoth whose echoes can still be heard across parts of India. A lot of bits and ink online and off are being split in dissecting the turmoil that precedes a nation’s birth (mutiny, Jallianwala, partition) and after, and I did not think much can be gained out of me here adding to the clangor and din.

I wanted to focus a bit on a more peaceful time at this hour of celebration. It was a time of relative peace (in the 1820's), when surprisingly, a lot of amity existed between the English and the Indian. At Strand, I ran into an out of print book that contained images of a bucolic kind - the kind that existed when the visitor's from England and the local populace co-existed - albeit for a short time. It is also instructive to read some of the original captioning for the images by the unknown painter – reveals the unconscious social mores. Hope you enjoy them. Buy the book if you run into it, it contains a fabulous six piece pullout in full color that shows the Indian cavalry of the 1800's in uniformed regalia and splendor so reminiscent of the time.

A party of the 1st Irregular Cavalry or Skinners Horse. Well known by the familiar name of Yellow Boys from the color of their uniforms - a splendid corps raised by the late Colonel Skinner C.B. and at one time consisted of 3000 men

A Tangah or conveyance without cover

A Rauth or covered vehicle for ladies of rank

Nautch or dancing girls

The observatory at Delhi denominated 'Juntar Muntar'

Mode of conveying females either on a long journey or through arid countries

A Nanuck Punthee or follower of the Sikh devotee Nanuck - a religious mendicant

By the way, I found a great collection of splendid black and white photographs by an American G.I. stationed in India during the year of the partition (1947) here.


U V Umesh said...

X'cellent photographs of traditional art......

Tree said...

Love the artwork, especially the Observatory. India is so fascinating!