Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Delhi Durbar, 1911 - without mincing words

They say a picture speaks more than a thousand words. This one sure does!

This illustration is from the famous Punch Magazine, and it was published during the Delhi Coronation Durbar of 1911. 

It shows a beautiful woman - representing India - saluting the British king George V, who came to India with Queen Mary for a grand coronation as Emperor of India. 

All the so called "princely states" came to pay their respects at the Durbar, and Punch gave us a visceral look at it.

The inherent contempt of the British for the Indian "native" is visible in the depiction of the salute: it is uncultured, the fingers are splayed in a laughable bungling rustic way that invites the viewer's scorn. 

The woman is dripping with jewels, but her feet are unshod, she as submissive and inferior as can be. Contrast this with the king's polished knee-length leather boots. You can also see how George V has been represented with the usual crown jewels - the Sovereign's Orb, which shows him as the Defender of the Faith and the Sceptre with the Cross. No doubt he was doing God's will, eh.

A fine depiction indeed, of the times. A nation brought to heel.

Photo credit: Punch