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English Babu (Native Indian Clerk) Holding a Hookah

c. 1890
Secondary Support: 48 x 29.5 cm (18 7/8 x 11 5/8 in.); Painting only: 45.7 x 28 cm (18 x 11 in.)
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This is an archetypal satirical caricature of an native Indian clerk (babu), a Bengali dapper dandy whose fashion sense combines British and Indian mores with dissonant results. Imitating his British masters, he sits cross-legged on a Victorian chair, holding a hookah, sporting a Prince Albert hairstyle, and wearing European buckled shoes. His posture models popular photo studio portraits of the time. Kalighat painters ridiculed these vain babus as foppish nouveau riche.
English Babu (Native Indian Clerk) Holding a Hookah

English Babu (Native Indian Clerk) Holding a Hookah

c. 1890

Eastern India, Bengal, Kolkata, Kalighat

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