Gold- and silversmiths at work: Melting gold and silver, preparing the silver mounting for the coconut hookah
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of two gold and silversmiths (sonars) at work in India, taken by an unknown photographer in c. 1873, from the Archaeological Survey of India Collections. This image shows the craftsmen melting gold and silver and preparing the silver mounting for the coconut hookah. Similar images to this one were shown at international exhibitions. In the catalogue for the Indian department of the Vienna Universal Exhibition of 1873 John Forbes Watson writes: "The Sonar or gold and silversmith is an indispensable member of the Indian social condition of life; and he is to be found in every village, almost in every hamlet, as well as in all towns and cities. In the Deccan, where original national institutions are preserved in village communes, and wherever they are at present existent throughout India - the Sonar is a member of the hereditary village council, which includes the carpenter and blacksmith, the potter, and other useful and indispensable mechanics, and is twelve in number, presided over by the patell, the hereditary magistrate or head manager." This is one of a series of photographs commissioned by the Government of India in the 19th century, in order to gather information about the different racial groups on the sub-continent.