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'Male Somali'. Photographer: Unknown [‎50a] (1/1)

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The record is made up of 1 albumen Method of printing photographs using an emulsion of salt and egg white. print. It was created in Mid 1870s. It was written in English. The original is part of the British Library: India Office The department of the British Government to which the Government of India reported between 1858 and 1947. The successor to the Court of Directors. Records and Private Papers.

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Content

Genre/Subject Matter:

This full-length standing studio portrait of a Somali man is intended to demonstrate an ethnic or class ‘type’. In particular, this image is intended to illustrate the habits of dress as described previously by Frederick Mercer Hunter (p. 45). Hunter describes these as follows:

‘The men wear a single white garment (tobe) of cotton , about thirty inches wide and three to four yards long, which is simply folded round the body, an end being brought occasionally over the head or the shoulder. This cloth is not secured in any way, being retained in its place by the wearer’s hands, and accordingly presents the appearance of always being about to fall off, as it occasionally does, shocking the modesty of beholders […] The head is kept bare, except among the more wealthy, and when not shaved or covered with curly locks, or resembling a mop, is plastered tightly all over with a mixture of white earth or lime […] Many Somalis dress like Arabs, Indians, and even Europeans.’

The man stands in a contrapposto pose: in his right hand he is holding a long walking stick, which is partially concealed by his draping robe. Although the man is clearly photographed in a studio setting with a backdrop, at least four rocks and stones have been placed about his feet – perhaps to lend an air of authenticity to his ethnic dress.

Inscriptions:

In pencil, upper left corner adjacent to print: ‘8’

Extent and format
1 albumen Method of printing photographs using an emulsion of salt and egg white. print
Physical characteristics

Dimensions:

92 x 60 mm [portrait]

Format:

1 albumen Method of printing photographs using an emulsion of salt and egg white. print pasted to backing paper and mounted between pp. 50-51

Materials:

Silver printing-out paper, albumen Method of printing photographs using an emulsion of salt and egg white. print

Condition:

The print is unevenly hand-cut but in good condition, with some surface loss 3cm from right and 4cm from lower edge.

Foliation:

‘8’

Process:

Albumen Method of printing photographs using an emulsion of salt and egg white. print

Written in
English in Latin script
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'Male Somali'. Photographer: Unknown [‎50a] (1/1), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, T.11308/8, in Qatar Digital Library <https://www.qdl.qa/archive/81055/vdc_100023282096.0x000009> [accessed 19 December 2018]

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