April 24, 2009

1837's Madurai

World Digital Library gives a rare glimpse into 1800s Madurai
This illustrated manuscript made in southern India in 1837 consists of 72 full-color hand-painted images of men and women of the various castes and religious and ethnic groups found in Madura, India, at that time. As indicated on the presentation page, the album was compiled by the Indian writing master at an English school established by American missionaries in Madura, and given to the Reverend William Twining. The manuscript shows the Madura region's Indian dress and jewelry adornment, as they appeared before the onset of Western influences on South Asian dress and style. Each illustrated portrait is captioned in English and in Tamil, and the title page of the work includes English, Tamil, and Telugu.
Link: http://www.wdl.org/en/item/3081

But interestingly only 'low level' - like kuravan, snakemen etc represent tamil people [they come towards the end of the manuscript], most of the depictions are maharashtrians, punjabis, moghuls etc. Felt odd.

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