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(British, active 1860–1920)
Albumen print, gold-toned
Image: 20.2 x 26.7 cm (7 15/16 x 10 1/2 in.); Mounted: 27.8 x 37.9 cm (10 15/16 x 14 15/16 in.); Secondary image: 20.5 x 26.3 cm (8 1/16 x 10 3/8 in.)
Purchased with funds donated by Catherine Glynn Benkaim and Barbara Timmer 2015.32
Probably taken by one of two British photographic firms based in Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka), this image was likely shot by a European and was definitely made for a European audience, not for the individuals depicted. It is unlikely the sitters ever saw the finished photograph. Such ethnographic portraits were collected by governments as information, by tourists as souvenirs, and by “armchair travelers” as aids to the imagination. Viewers of the era would have regarded it more as a depiction of a cultural type than as a record of individual lives. Because interiors of temples were too dark to yield an image, the photographer arranged these Thai monks and worshippers along with some of their religious objects outdoors.
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