Coolies

Coolie Women

Coolie Women

A rather unusual portrait of "coolie" women. While popular postcard subjects, often shown with their baskets, this studio portrait features one woman with her back to the viewer, and another looking straight into her (invisible) eyes.

A Cooly Woman, Bombay

A Cooly Woman, Bombay

The growth of a city like Bombay was largely dependent on the work of laborers who carried bricks and building materials on wicker baskets on construction sites, much like they do today, which must be part of the reason why they were such common

Railway Porter

Railway Porter

Like the backs of many Dhurandhar cards, this one bears the blind stamp and price ["A.H.W. Rs. 0-1-0," e.g. 1 anna] of A.H. Wheeler & Co., at 47 Hornby Road, the bookstall chain and contractor for advertising on Indian Railways.

Calcutta Coolies

Calcutta Coolies

[Original caption] Calcutta Coolies. The Coolies of Calcutta, otherwise porters or carriers, are men of fine physique, and are able to carry exceptionally heavy weights supported on their heads.

A Hill Coolie Girl

A Hill Coolie Girl

Although a coolie – "a hired labourer, or burden-carrier"(Hobson-Jobson, p. 249) – were at the bottom of the social ladder, and the word is said to originally come from Kolis, a hill-people in the Western Ghats, "whose savagery, filth and general

Coolie with his Basket

Coolie with his Basket

A postcard by the great Indian painter M.V. Dhurandhar illustrating an Englishwoman looking over a coolie offering his services with an empty basket. Note the cleverly positioned Indian woman with a basket on her head in the background.

The message

A Hill Coolie Girl

A Hill Coolie Girl

"The professional photographers of Darjeeling generated innumerable prints depicting those whose toil supported the lifestyles of the colonialists in their homes and businesses, and who created products they loved to consumer," writes Claire Harris

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