UCLA International Institute Article “Domesticating the Harem”

Photography of India Courtesan Circa 1870
A doctoral student in art history reconsiders ‘zenana’ (female household) imagery in 19th- and early 20th-century India.

By Gianna Carotenuto

Excerpt: “… one hundred and twenty photographs of the women of the Seventh Nizam of Hyderabad’s royal zenana (female household) were discovered in the dark storerooms of the King Kothi palace in Hyderabad, India…

Taken between 1905 and 1910 (approximately) by Raja Deen Dayal, court photographer to the Nizam and dignitaries of the British Raj, these pictures were produced at a crucial moment in the history of India and its colonial legacy…

Presented in Dayal’s photographs as an ensemble of 44 courtesans, 22 concubines, 6 premier wives, singular beauties, and mothers with children, the women confirm The Nizam’s royal status by their sheer number…”

Read more on this fascinating doctoral dissertation exploring how historical imagery has come to define Indian womanhood

PHOTO: Courtesan, photographer unknown, c. 1870

+ There are no comments

Add yours