Caves of Karlie Musicians
GA2002HR, 20 x 16 inch
Photographer: William Johnson, Circa 1850’s
This group of musicians spans the generations with the smallest of the group playing the largest instrument! The bugle to the left is also rather large and one can only imagine the volume of the sound it generated echoing from this cave chamber. Creating a holy cacophony of sound is the role of a band of temple musicians who usually have a strong horn and drum section. In the background, colossal elephants and celestial figures can be seen carved into the rock. This Buddhist shrine cut into a cave and called a chaitya is believed to date from the first century BC. The Karlie Cave, located between Poona (Pune) and Bombay (Mumbai) in Southern Maharashtra, is the largest chaitya in India with a height of about 50 ft and a length of 130 ft.
About the photographer: In 1852, the British photographer William Johnson had a photographic studio in Bombay (Mumbai). A founding member of the Bombay Photographic Society in 1854; his photographs were published in the society’s periodical and in his own books: Photographs of Western India and The Oriental Races and Tribes, Residents and Visitors of Bombay. The latter was first published in 1863 and was the first book with photos illustrating the ethnic culture of India, which was considered to be very exotic back home in Britain. Records show that Johnson lived in Bombay at least until 1861. He was one of the first to take professional photographs in Maharashtra. Self Enquiry Life Fellowship holds a collection of albumen prints taken by William Johnson in India.
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