Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Studio portrait of three Parsees and a Parbhu, Bombay.--Photographer: Chintamon, Hurrichund Medium: Photographic print Date: 1867

Studio portrait of three Parsees and a Parbhu, Bombay.

Portrait of three Parsees and a Parbhu, taken by Hurrichund Chintamon, c. 1867. This photograph was commissioned by the Government of India for the Archaelogical Survey of India and was on show in the Paris Exhibition of 1867.

The group in this view are seated around a small table on which are placed books and writing implements, emphasising their intellectual interests and attainments. The Parsees, or Parsis, are descendants of Persians who fled to India in the seventh and eighth centuries to escape Muslim persecution. The Parsees practice Zorastrianism and their communities are concentrated in Maharashtra and Gujarat states, especially in Bombay. The Parsis are often described as fire-worshippers but they do not worship fire, instead they revere many aspects of nature as manifestations of the divinity of Ahura Mazdah. The Parbhu (Prabhu) is the man second from the right. The Prabhus were one of the oldest Mumbai communities, originally from Gujarat (north-west India) and the neighbouring areas. Most are Shaivas but some also worship Rama and Krishna. The common occupation of Prabhus was that of a clerk but some attained important posts in Government.

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