Photos of the Gods - The Printed Image and Political Struggle in India

Photos of the Gods - The Printed Image and Political Struggle in India

Product ID: 12900

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Author: Christopher Pinney
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Year: 2004
Language: English
Pages: 238
ISBN/UPC (if available): 0195669002


This lavishly illustrated book examines the history of the printed image in India from its beginnings in the 1870s to the present day. Using many intriguing and unfamiliar visuals, it shows how printed images have been pivotal to the constructions of new forms of religious identity and the struggle for political independence in India.

Drawing on years of archival research, interviews with artists and publishers, and the ethnographic study of their rural consumers, the book makes for an engaging visual and narrative journey. It sets the detailed output of individual presses and artists against the intensification of the nationalist struggle, the constraints imposed by colonial sate censorship, and fifty years of Indian independence. Along the way, it also introduces the reader to artists who trained within colonial art schools, other s whose skills reflect their membership of traditional painting castes, and yet others who are self-taught former sign painters.

Combining anthropology, political and cultural history, and the study of aesthetic systems, the book shows that the current predicament of India cannot be understood without taking into account this complex, exciting, and until now virtually unseen, visual history.

This book will fascinate general readers, art lovers and all those interested in South Asian history, popular art and culture.


This will become a well-known and highly regarded classic, of interest to all students of South Asia…and also…to readers interested in visual culture. It is an outstanding piece of work.
-Rachel Dwyer,
Chair, Centre of South Asian Studies, SOAS


The Possibility of a Visual History

Indian Images Under the Shadow of Colonialism.

Staging Hinduism: Lithographs and Popular Theatre in Calcutta, 1870-1885.

Peshwas, Parrots and Bombs: Lithographs and Politics in Western India, 1870-1885.

Lithographs and the Camera in Bombay and Delhi, 1890-1925.

Pastoral Realism: The Nathdvara Devotional Aesthetic, 1925-1935.

The Politics of Popular Images: From Cow Protection to M K Gandhi, 1890-1950.

Half-Seen in Advance: Picture Production in Independent India, 1950-2000.

What Picturs Want Now: Rural Consumers of Images, 1980-2000.

Epilogue: The Recursive Archive


Select Bibliography


A Note on Transliteration

List of Illustrations