Hanging ovation, C. 1910-20

Hanging ovation, C. 1910-20
'Welcome Made by Bodies on 3rd Bridge, Srinagar, circa 1910s-20s' from The Marshall Albums: Photography and Archaeology, edited by Sudeshna Guha, published by Mapin Publishing in association with the Alkazi Collection of Photography, 2010., Photo Credit: The Alkazi Collection Of Photography

Instant, evocative communication of a period

Sheetal Vyas
April 05 , 2014
01 Min Read

Pictures have a way of bypassing words. And this trick of eluding filters. Sir John Marshall, Director-General of the Archaeological Survey of India between 1902 and 1928, may have used photography to document the rigorous archaeological practices employed under his helm but it is this delightful aside that interests us for the moment.

This picture in The Marshall Albums—although incidental to the main theme—is fascinating for its instant and evocative communication of a period. The caption ‘Welcome Made by Bodies on 3rd Bridge’ is disappointingly reticent with details. We have no idea as to the occasion or who is being welcomed with such enthusiasm, except that the bandobast appears to be top-rate. The police escort is impressive, the populace has turned out in strong numbers around the Fateh Kadal (or bridge) and the barge bearing the (royal?) welcome has an ornate umbrella heralding importance.

The award-winning advertisement for a brand of chewing gum recently took Raj-era servility to an amusing extreme—or so we thought. Intriguing that a century ago, a welcome committee thought nothing of bending quite so much in greeting.

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