Portraits of the Villagers


In 1969, no one in the area had a camera, and having a picture taken by the anthropologists was considered highly desirable. We gave copies to everyone as soon as we could get them developed. Although as people became used to our presence, we were able to take pictures fairly freely, what they really wanted was family portraits with everyone dressed in their best clothes. We set up specific days to do this, so that people could get ready. However, as will be seen, some people had not changed and were taken in their work clothes.

The biggest sequence is of the joint family of a wealthy Brahmin who had a number of married sons, each of whom was also taken separately with his wife and children, as well as several children still unmarried. The occasion on which many of these photos were taken was the first feeding of rice to the first grandson by the second son.

There are also photos of other upper caste villagers (Brahmins, Jaisis) and low caste, mostly Sarkis (leather workers). After much discussion with friends and colleagues in Nepal, I decided to use real names in captions on the photos, in the hope that one day some of the descendants of these people would be able to see pictures of their ancestors. However, given that Nepal is currently a post-conflict society, the caste names, which tend to indicate socio-economic status, have been omitted.