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Group of fakirs or religious mendicants, Eastern Bengal.

Group of fakirs or religious mendicants, Eastern Bengal.

Photographer: Unknown

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1860

Shelfmark: Photo 124/(45)

Item number: 45

Length: 15.7

Width: 19.7

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Photograph

Group portrait of Hindu ascetics taken by an unknown photographer in the early 1860s. The three vertical lines painted on the foreheads in ash and sandalwood on some of the men indicate that these members of the group are followers of Vishnu, members of the Vaishnavite branch of Hinduism. In the 19th century the British Government sought to acquire information about the diverse races, customs, costumes and occupations of the sub-continent. The rising science of ethnology created a demand among European audiences for ‘exotic’ souvenirs of the East. This print is from a collection which features groups and individuals from across Eastern Bengal (modern Bangladesh and Assam), however the photographs were taken in and around the same temporary studio built onto the side of a European house.

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