Hermit at Gem Lake doing penance - exposed to mid-day sun and intense fires - Mt Abu, India
Photographer: Ricalton, James
Medium: Photographic print
Stereoscopic photograph of an ascetic at Mount Abu in Rajasthan, taken by James Ricalton in c. 1903, from The Underwood Travel Library: Stereoscopic Views of India. This image is described by Ricalton in 'India Through the Stereoscope' (1907), "This man is seated under a tropical, meridian sun; that is not enough. He is, as you see, surrounded by fires of dried cow-dung which make a strong heat with little smoke-he has placed a cloth over his mouth and nose to guard against the smoke. Perspiration trickles in streamlets down his body. Here he will remain for a long period, perhaps two hours. He is doing penance...He lives in a cave a few feet away to our right. Gem Lake is close behind us...Ten years ago he took an oath of silence and since that time has not spoken a single word to a fellow mortal. For thirty years he has lived in this cave and for ten years he has not for a day failed in his self-imposed purgatorial penance." One of a series of 100 photographs designed to be viewed through a special binocular viewer, producing a 3D effect. The series was sold together with a book of descriptions and a map with precise locations to enable the 'traveller' to imagine that he was there. Stereoscopic cameras, those with two lenses and the ability to take two photographs at the same time, were introduced in the mid 19th century and revolutionised photography. They cut down exposure time and thus allowed for some movement in the image without blurring as subjects were not required to sit for long periods to produce sharp results.