India Through the Lens: Photography 1840-1911

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
A beautifully illustrated book, India Through the Lens accompanies an exhibition at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington, DC. Essays by Vidya Dehejia, John Falconer, David Harris, Jane Ricketts, Gary D. Sampson, Charles Allen, and Michael Gray introduce chapters that focus on the work of particular photographers or genres. Included are the work of native Indian photographers, especially Lala Deen Dayal, who photographed the architecture and landscapes of his country in detailed albumen prints that are superior to anything done since. Samuel Bourne's landscape views of isolated Indian villages were surely the earliest taken of these areas. We see the photographs of the British Raj, including those by Samuel Bourne (Bourne & Shepherd), and the delicately hand-colored portraits by Herzog and Higgins. Also included are Felice Beato's 1857-58 photographs of the Lucknow attack and the picturesque 1860s landscapes of Donald Horne Macfarlane, a talented amateur. Some of the maharajas themselves took up photography, and the son of one of them, Shamarendra Chandra Deb Burman, became an accomplished photographic chemist and photographer, winning medals in England and Calcutta. The reproductions are of the highest quality, and the readable and well-researched texts enrich our understanding of early photography in India. This book will help erase the notion that photography was advanced mostly by photographers working in England, Europe, and America. Highly recommended for history of photography and India studies collections. The Seven Sisters of India is a beautifully illustrated and highly informative book that focuses on seven relatively unexplored and isolated Indian states that border China, Tibet, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Myanmar. What results is the most comprehensive book available on the subject. The authors (not social scientists but a doctor and a musician, respectively), who have traveled extensively in Asia and done fieldwork in northeast India for two decades, have produced three other books and numerous articles on the western Himalayas. Nearly all the photographs in this book are theirs, and they are fine, indeed. The book is organized into individual chapters that cover matriarchal tribal structure, daily life, religious rituals and fertility rites, varied geographies, ancestor worship, sun and moon cults, the arts of weaving and dance, and the head-hunting practices that were the emphasis of the last book on this region 50 years ago. They also discuss Christian missionary influences. For those who are tempted to assert that no part of the world has been left unexplored or unexploited by tourism, this book is a powerful rebuttal. The authors set themselves the task of presenting a balanced portrait of the many tribes and 500 distinct ethnic groups in this isolated region, and they have succeeded in producing a first-rate book based on personal observations and delightfully free of scholarly theories and analyses. Recommended for anthropology and India and Asian studies collections. Kathleen Collins, Bank of America Archives, San Francisco Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9783791324081
  • Publisher: Prestel Publishing
  • Publication date: 1/1/2001
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 11.31 (w) x 9.53 (h) x 1.37 (d)

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  • Posted January 22, 2009

    antique photos of all aspects of pre-modern Indian culture

    The plain title does not begin to do justice to the richness and diversity of the contents. The numerous lightly sepia-toned photographs, many full-page and one a panoramic fold-out, are especially handsome as well as informative as to Indian buildings, royalty and their traditional wear, ordinary Indians, ruins, and landscapes and nature scenes. But even with these, the book is more than only a distinctive album of vintage photos of India. Essays by art historians and critics go into various aspects of the project engaged in by native Indians and colonial British to record India in all its diversity and foreignness with the new device of the camera, as if to preserve India before it would be touched by the machinery and pace of the modern world. Different native and colonial photographers were attracted to different aspects of India during the decades covered. Some concentrated on pictures of different ethnic groups some on portraits of royalty while others recorded the British administrative and military presence. With essays on several of the leading photographers, the book is also a survey of the field of photographic work done in India in the mid to late 1800s and into the early 1900s. Thus, 'India Through the Lens' can be appreciated both for its exceptional, engaging photographs and as a introduction to the subject of photography in India.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2001


    this book gives you snap shots of that period nice things about india,and sadness about colonialism

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