• S
  • William L. H. Skeen
Two Singhalese Girls

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Two Singhalese Girls about 1880
From the 1850s, photography was used in India by the British for 'anthropological' purposes, helping classify the different castes, tribes and native trades. This is an image of two tea plantation workers in Ceylon. The profile and frontal views of the two women suggest that the photographer was interested in them as representatives of a certain physical 'type.' The woven basket that one of them holds - used to collect tea leaves - identifies their occupation and position in the social hierarchy of British India.

Glossary Open


The scientific study of the behaviour and development of humans.


One of various groups that comprise Hindu society. There are many different castes in a system of social stratification based on ideas of purity and pollution.

Anthropology, Caste


  • Acc. No. PGP R 872
  • Medium Albumen print
  • Size 27.70 x 21.70 cm
  • Credit Gift of Mrs. Riddell in memory of Peter Fletcher Riddell 1985