People of a Southasian past
By The Editors
21 January 2013
A colonial experiment in ethnographic photography offers a rare glimpse into Southasia’s communities circa the 19th century
It is 1863, barely a decade after albumen photography had been invented in Europe. In Kathmandu, capital of a country far removed from the technological advances of the West and the colonies, a young man stares intently into the lens of an alien box-like instrument. He is a Gurung, whose community has origins in central Nepal, and is probably part of the national army of the day. We know much more about the photographer, Clarence Comyn Taylor (1830-1879), a colonial administrator wounded in the siege of Lucknow in 1857. Taylor perfected his photography skills in Rajputana and arrived in Kathmandu Valley as the Assistant Resident at the very moment that Viceroy Lord Canning had put out the call for a collection of photographs of the people of the Subcontinent…
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