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.
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
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.
[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.
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
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.
A postcard showing Indian workers ("east Indian coolies") brought to work in Jamaica (the "West Indies") to work, part of an enormous migration of Indian labor to British colonies around the world, many of whose descendants are still living in places
"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