Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Parsis worshipping the new moon - view E. to B.B. & C.I. Ry. [Bombay, Baroda and Central India Railway] building, Bombay, India
Photographer: Ricalton, James
Medium: Photographic print
Stereoscopic photograph of Parsis worshipping the new moon at Bombay in Maharashtra, taken by James Ricalton in c. 1903, from The Underwood Travel Library: Stereoscopic Views of India. This image is described by Ricalton in 'India Through the Stereoscope' (1907), 'We are here placed in rather an unusual position-out in the bay at low tide...We have our backs to the west where the new moon is in the sky. These men in long white robes are Parsees who are here to worship the new moon...The highly ornate building near the bay in the distance...is the office building of the Bombay, Baroda and Central India Railway. We can see see a portion of the railway station at the extreme left. It is called Church Gate Station; it is from there that a traveler makes his departure for the north of India.' The Parsis are Zorastrian, often described as fire-worshippers. However, they do not worship fire or the moon, instead they revere many aspects of nature as manifestations of the divinity of Ahura Mazdah.
This is one of a series of 100 photographs, designed to be viewed through a special binocular viewer, producing a 3D effect. They were sold together with a book of descriptions and a map with precise locations to enable the 'traveller' to imagine that he was really 'touring' around India. Stereoscopic cameras, those with two lenses and the ability to take two photographs at the same time, were introduced in the mid 19th century and revolutionised photography. They cut down exposure time and thus allowed for some movement in the image without blurring as subjects were not required to sit for long periods to produce sharp results.