Ethnographic surveys and visual documentation projects were sanctioned by the then British Government in India from the eighteenth to early twentieth centuries in an effort to maintain a record of the people, culture, lifestyle, attires and religious customs of the people from various Indian Presidencies. Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum's collection has several of these rare books such as 'The People of India' by John William Kaye and John Forbes Watson, 'The Textile Manufactures and the Costumes of the People of India' by John Forbes Watson, 'The Costume of Hindostan' by Balthazar Solvyns, 'Typical Pictures of Indian Natives' by F. Coleman, 'Indian Pictoral Education' by F. Coleman, published by The Times of India, 'Women of India' and 'Peoples of Bombay' by O. Rothfeld, illustrated by Rao Bahadur M.V. Dhurandhar.
An accompanying volume titled 'The Textile Manufactures of India and The Costumes of the People of India' was published in 1866 to guide the British manufacturers how different kinds of clothes are worn in India.
The accompanying volume has several coloured plates detailing the variety of traditional attires and modes of dressing.
The compiled fabric pieces were cut from the textiles in the stores of the India Office in London, which was a repository of archives related to the British East India Company. The volumes of Textile Manufactures include turbans, garment pieces for men and women, dhoti, saris, calicos, muslins, silks, woollens and 'piece goods'.
In 1807 Edward Orme published a pirated copy titled “The Costumes of Hindostan” in which he reproduced 60 select drawings by Solvyns and the text was provided in both, English and French. These drawings were modified and coloured in pastel shades for mass appeal. The illustrations of the artisans depict a craftsman at work in the centre of the page.
'Typical Pictures of Indian Natives' also includes an image showing a "postman standing before a rustic studio backdrop with a letter in his outstretched hand. He is clad in standard-issue clothes, 'a good serviceable blue dungaree uniform and a waterproof cape during the monsoon’" (Pinney, C.1997).
1. Watson, J.F. 1867. The Textile Manufactures and the Costumes of People of India. London: George Edward Eyre & William Spottiswoode.
2. Brij Sushan Sharma, ‘Typical Pictures of Indian Natives’, History of Photography, xii, 1 (1988), pp.77-82.
3. Pinney, C. 1997. Camera Indica: The Social Life of Indian Photographs. Pp. 56-57. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
4. Coleman F. 1899. Typical Pictures of Indian Natives (Reproductions from Specially Prepared Hand-Coloured Photographs) 4th ed. Bombay: Times of India Press.
5. Hardgrave, R.L. Jr. "A Portrait of Black Town: Balthazard Solvyns in Calcutta, 1791-1804." Changing Visions, Lasting Images: Calcutta Through 300 Years, edited by Pratapaditya Pal, 31-46. Bombay: Marg, 1990.
6. Hardgrave, R.L. 2002. Francois Balthazar Solvyns: A Flemish Artist in Bengal, 1791-1803. IIAS Newsletter #28. Page 15.
7. Solvyns, B. 1807. The Costume of Hindostan (Taken in the Years 1798-99). London: Edward Orme
8. Solvyns, B. 1808-1812. Les Hindous. Tome Premier. Paris: Chez L'Auteur.
9. Dewan, D. 2004. The Body at Work: Colonial Art Education and the Figure of the ‘Native Craftsman’. Pp. 118-134. Confronting the Body: The Politics of Physicality in Colonial and Post-Colonial India (Ed. James H Mills and Satadru Sen). London: Anthem Press.
10. Falconer, John, “Pioneers of Indian Photography”. In India: Pioneering Photographers 1850-1900, The British Library Publishing division, 2001.
11. Pinney, Christopher, Camera Indica: The Social Life of Indian Photographs, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1997.
12. Memorandum from John Forbes Watson to John William Kaye, dated 18 July 1863, discussing plans for the publication of The People of India; IOR/L/E/6/37, item 39. From Falconer, John, “Pioneers of Indian Photography” in India: Pioneering Photographers 1850-1900, 2001.
13. Hoffenberg, P.H. 2004. 'Promoting Traditional Indian Art at Home and Abroad: "The Journal of Indian Art and Industry", 1884-1917' published in Victorian Periodicals Review, Vol. 37, No. 2, The Nineteenth-Century Press in India. pp. 192-213
14. Mitter, P. 1994. Art and Nationalism in Colonial India, 1850-1922: Occidental Orientations. Cambridge: University Press.