Fisherwomen of Bombay


This photograph was captured by William Johnson and is captioned ‘Fisherwomen of Bombay’.

The Kolis are considered to be the oldest inhabitants of the Bombay island. Today, traces of their original dwellings are found as hamlets, ‘gaontans’, colonies and ‘wadas’ around Mahim, Sion, Worli, Colaba, etc.

This image initially formed a part of William Johnson’s ‘Photographs of Western India’ (1855-1862) and reappeared in his later publication ‘The Oriental Races and Tribes, Residents and Visitors of Bombay (1863 and 1866). This publication is considered to be the first ethnological work on India with photographs. It gives us a glimpse into the ethnic diversity of various communities, castes, professions and sects in the Bombay Presidency. William Johnson worked as a clerk in Bombay until 1851. He started his photography career in 1852, establishing a photography studio in Grant Road, Bombay producing daguerreotypes and later, albumen prints.

To read more on photography in 19th century Bombay, click here.

Fisherwomen of Bombay
Album Title
The Oriental Races and Tribes, Residents and Visitors of Bombay, 1863
Wiliam Johnson
Accession No.
H: 23 cm x W: 17.6 cm