Female prisoners winding cotton on spinning wheels in Karachi Prison
Photographer: Michie and Company
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of three female prisoners winding cotton onto spinning wheels in the prison at Karachi, now in Pakistan, taken by Mitchie and Company in c. 1873, from the Archaeological Survey of India Collections. After photography was introduced into India in the 1840s it rapidly grew in popularity, particularly as a means to record the vast diversity of people and their dress, manners, trades, customs and religions. The first official attempt to create a comprehensive record of Indian types was the 'The People of India'; an ethnographical survey edited by John Forbes Watson and John William Kaye, and published in eight volumes from 1868 to1875. This image was shown at the Vienna Universal Exhibition of the same year. In the exhibition catalogue Watson writes: "The wheel is turned by means of a handle with the right hand, while with the left, which holds the cotton, the thread is spun on to the reel."