Palkee bearers [i.e palanquin].
Photographer: Bourne and Shepherd
Medium: Photographic print
Full-length carte-de-visite portrait of two bearers standing beside a palki, one of a series of portrait studies of ethnic types and occupations taken by Bourne and Shepherd in the early 1870s. Palki or Palanquin was a box-litter for travelling in, with a pole projecting before and behind, which is carried on the shoulders of four or six men. These photographs represent a common theme of traveller’s memoirs and diaries during the period of Colonial expansion in the latter half of the 19th century. As Europeans came into contact with other peoples there was an urge to document different races, customs, costumes and occupations. The diverse racial and cultural composition of the subcontinent became a photographic genre in its own right, due to both the rising science of ‘ethnology’ and to serve the demand for ‘exotic’ souvenirs of the east.