London, C. Whiting Beaufort House, Strand, 1868-1875
Scope and Contents:
Photographers represented include J.C.A. Dannenberg, R.H. DeMontmorency, E. Godfrey, W.W. Hooper, H.C. McDonald, J. Mulheran, G. Richter, Shepherd & Robertson (later as Bourne & Shepherd), B. Simpson, B.W. Switzer, H.C.B. Tanner, C.C. Taylor, and J. Waterhouse.
Taken in the 1850s and 1860s, these photographs portray the people of many castes, culture groups, and occupations in India, posed individually and in groups. Indian culture groups portrayed include Bhogta, Bhoti, Chero, Dombo, Gond, Gujarati, Ho, Kachari, Kishangarh, Kota, Lepcha, Mishmi, Munda, Naga, Pahari, Paithan, Rajput, Saora, Singpho, Thakur, Tharu, and Toda. Peoples portrayed are from parts of India and surrounding areas, now in Afghanistan, Burma, Iran and Pakistan, such as Assam, Bareli, Behat, Cachar, Chittagong, Delhi, Hazara, Hisar, Kohat, Lahore, Madras, Munjpur, Mysore, Palamau, Shahabad, Shahjahanpur, Sikkim, and Sind.
Occupations illustrated include barbers, blacksmiths, carpenters, charcoal carriers, farmers, fish vendors, horse dealers, interpreters, landlords, mendicants, merchants, officials, priests, warriors, and water carriers. Activities shown include dancing and knitting. Artifacts and material culture documented include books, buildings, devotional objects, tools, and weapons such as bows, clubs, shields, guns and spears.
The collection is composed of 8 bound volumes with 470 albumen photoprints mounted alongside text. Photographs are arranged by region, with culture group and region, some also with name and occupation of subjects.
Biographical / Historical:
John Forbes Watson and John William Kaye assembled this ethnologic study collection from photographs made by British photographers in India. The collection documents the caste and culture groups of India for a British India Office multi-volume publication. A graduate of Aberdeen University in England, John Forbes Watson (1827-1892) served as an assistant surgeon in the Bombay Medical Services from 1850 to 1853. While in India, Watson began to research Indian agricultural resources. In 1858, he became reporter on the products of India for the India Office in England. A year later, he became director of the India Office's India Museum, devoted to promoting trade in the British Empire. While there, he published several monographs on Indian plants and textiles. In 1867, he was appointed keeper of the museum, and served in that capacity until he retired in 1879.
John William Kaye (1814-1876) was secretary of the India Office's Political and Secret Department.
Purchase 1990 A1990.3
Collection is open for research.
The People of India, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., Purchase