|An albumen print showing a native of Spiti with a yak. An inked inscription in a period hand in the lower margin reads ‘Yak and Driver’. Judging by the other photographs in the same series, taken at Kibber, Losar and probably Hanse, all villages along the Spiti River, this photograph was probably taken in 1869 at Dankar, the principal village in Spiti,
Spiti is a remote, inaccessible district of the Himalayas, lying to the south of Tibet (nowadays a part of Himachal Pradesh, India). Separated by high mountain ranges, it is vastly different from the regions which surround it. ‘Spiti’ means ‘middle land’ in Tibetan, the name arising from the district’s location between Tibet and India. Local people divide Spiti into four regions, based on aspect and elevation: Tam (the lower region), Pin (along both sides of the Pin River), Bhar (the middle region), and Tud (the higher region), where the traditional lifestyle is still preserved today.
Only three photographers are known to have passed through there in the nineteenth century. Philip Egerton was there briefly in 1863, but only took a few photographs. Samuel Bourne passed through in the early autumn of 1866, and finally, around 1869-1870, an anonymous photographer working for the Frith Series. No other photographer is known to have visited the area until the twentieth century, at least some thirty years later.
The print measures 6.1” by 8.1” (155 mm by 206 mm) and is mounted on a cut-down section of album page that has been neatly split from its reverse by a professional conservator.
condition: The print has rich, satisfying tones, although these are slightly discoloured towards the left-hand edge of the image; the mount shows some foxing.
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