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Acharj, Acharya, Eastern Bengal.

Acharj, Acharya, Eastern Bengal.

Photographer: Unknown

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1860

Shelfmark: Photo 124/(12)

Item number: 12

Length: 21.9

Width: 17.2

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Photograph

Half-length portrait of a youth against a plain background by an unknown photographer taken in the early 1860s. He is identified in the caption as a priest of the Acharj class and as an 'acharya' or Hindu spiritual teacher. This type of priest performs funeral ceremonies. Following cremation, the sons of the dead do homage to him, before giving him the clothes and bedstead of the deceased. Often such such a priest was not allowed through the gates of villages as he was considered to be impure. This print is one of a series of portrait studies of individuals and groups from Eastern Bengal (modern Bangladesh and Assam). It is possible that they were taken in response to the Government of India's call for photographs representing various ethnic types from across the sub-continent.

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