British India

This is a photographic journey back to British India.

India in 1912 was still a colonial possession of the British Empire, the jewel in its crown. Its vast population, strategic position and resources made the subcontinent one of the Empire’s greatest possessions. But compared to other up and coming British colonies such as Canada and Australia, India was economically backwards and undeveloped. There were few industries, and most people lived an agrarian lifestyle, their traditions largely undisturbed by the British or other Europeans.

Not that the British and North Americans did not try to remake India in their own image. The late 1800s and early 1900s saw a wave of Christian missionaries from America and Great Britain go to India.

The pictures below were published in a book entitled India and Daily Life in Bengal by Reverend Z.F. Griffin, a Baptist missionary in India for 15 years. The pictures record the way life was in India in 1912. Some things have not changed that much in some of the more rural areas, while in many other ways the India of today would be hardly recognizable to Reverend Griffin.

An Indian  Boy Herding Cattle

An Indian Boy Herding Cattle

Bringing Pottery to Market

Bringing Pottery to Market

Hand Powered Saw Mill

Hand Powered Saw Mill

A Sweeper

A Sweeper

Day Labourers in Calcutta

Day Labourers in Calcutta

The Bank of the Ganges, the Holiest River in India

The Bank of the Ganges, the Holiest River in India

Temple on Bank of the River at Benares

Temple on Bank of the River at Benares

The Faithful by the Ganges

The Faithful by the Ganges

Boat used by the Christian missionaries

Boat used by the Christian missionaries

Cremation on the banks of the Ganges

Cremation on the banks of the Ganges

Hindu Devotee With Arms Rigid

Hindu Devotee With Arms Rigid

Hindu Pilgrim Preparing Cakes by the Way Side

Hindu Pilgrim Preparing Cakes by the Way Side

This devout man is traveling a great distance to a holy shrine by prostrating himself, rising, and then prostrating himself again.

This devout man is traveling a great distance to a holy shrine by prostrating himself, rising, and then prostrating himself again.

A person of means being transported in a litter on the backs of two men.

A person of means being transported in a litter on the backs of two men.

These men are returning from the river where they have washed the clothes.

These men are returning from the river where they have washed the clothes.

A wandering holy man: note the leopard skin.

A wandering holy man: note the leopard skin.


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