‘Folk of the Salt-Spray’ by André Baptista

‘One of the lesser-known communities of Mumbai, the East Indian Christians have an intriguing history. Let’s delve into questions around their identity to understand the innate, vibrant pluralism of this community, and the many cultural nuances woven into its fabric.’ – André Baptista for Sarmaya Talks. Dr. André Baptista is an archaeologist, historian and cultural… Read more »

Plague Visitation, Bombay, 1896-1897

This album captures the arrival of the bubonic plague in Bombay in 1896 and 1897. It documents the circumstances of the time and the plague’s progression into becoming one of the deadliest pandemics of 19th century India. Acacio Gabriel Viegas, a Portuguese medical practitioner, recognized the plague in Bombay at Mandvi in September 1896. Regarded… Read more »


This photograph of the Mahar community is by William Johnson. The Mahars traditionally belonged to the lowest caste in the Hindu caste system in the Bombay presidency. This image originally formed a part of a series called ‘Photographs of Western India’ (1855-1862) by William Johnson. It reappeared in his later publication ‘The Oriental Races and… Read more »

Karnatika Brahmans

This photograph of the Karnatika Brahmins was taken by William Johnson. This image originally formed a part of a series called ‘Photographs of Western India’ (1855-1862) by William Johnson. It reappeared in his later publication ‘The Oriental Races and Tribes, Residents and Visitors of Bombay’ (1863 and 1866). The series gives a glimpse into the… Read more »

Fisherwomen of Bombay

This photograph of the Fisherwomen of Bombay is by William Johnson.  The Kolis (fishing community) are oldest known inhabitants of the seven islands that make up this city, they have lived here for centuries—some say since 600 BCE. This community may not be as visible on the city’s bustling streets as they once were, but… Read more »

Illustrations to Oriental Memoirs

The first wave of European immigrants included sailors, emissaries, merchants, and the armed forces, people who could seize the land; the next wave included physicians, cartographers, botanists, and naturalists, people who could research it. In the hope of finding new medicines and new sources of revenue, they studied Indian plants, and created or commissioned thousands… Read more »

Flowers of the Bombay Presidency

Flowers of the Bombay Presidency offers fascinating insights into the botanical beauty of the western states of India in the 1880s, with 202 illustrations of Indian flowers and plants in watercolour painting. Nearly all of the paintings are supplemented by a handwritten pencil inscription with the name of the flower (often in Latin with the… Read more »

Standing Parsi Statue and the Byculla Hotel, Bombay

The Khada Parsi statue, or the Standing Parsi Statue,  is a memorial fountain dedicated to Seth Cursetjee Manockjee Shroff (1763-1845), a Parsi businessman and educational reformer. He founded the Alexandra’s Girls English Institution which is considered to be one of the first schools dedicated to educating women in 18th century Bombay . His son Judge… Read more »

Dancer and Musicians, Bombay

This is a photograph of an unidentified nautch party in Bombay. It was taken by a French photographer Eugene Auguste Taurines who was active in Bombay from the mid-1880s to around 1901 and ran a studio in the city.  Starting around the Mughal era, entourages of dancing girls performed for rulers and chieftains, not only… Read more »