Delhi Durbar 1903. The last Rehearsal for the State Entry
Original vintage photograph,11.2 ins x 7 ins, mounted on half a card album leaf, numbered in the negative 146, printed letterpress title on mounted label beneath the image The last Rehearsal of the State Entry, some fading but still a very clear image, a few small surface marks and some indented lines where the image may have been placed over another at some time. This interesting and uncommon view shows the elephant procession approaching the Jama Masjid (the photographer has taken it from a higher vantage point there) the long column snaking away to wards the massive walls of the Red Fort in the background. The leading elephants bear British officials in undress uniform or civilian clothes and several women with parasols; most of the Indian Chiefs’ elephants appear to have servants in the howdahs although a few are empty. Although there are many images of the Elephant Procession on Durbar Day views such as this are much less commonly kept in albums and give a delightfully informal view of events leading up to the big day. The route is lined by British and Indian troops in field service dress giving the general salute, the soldiers with their rifles at the present: on the day itself they would of course wear full dress uniform. To the left is a British infantry band (also seldom seen like this in undress uniform) playing, its bandmaster clearly conducting vigorously, several senior mounted officers overseeing events, and in the background dozens of other elephants and onlookers. A delightfully atmospheric image. The reverse of the card has a similarly sized view No 130. ELEPHANT PROCESSION. Heralds Passing Jama Masjid. This view, rather faded from the top but still clear and enjoyable, shows the Herald (Major A G Maxwell) followed by the kettle drummer and twelve British and Indian state trumpeters: in the distance, snaking back towards the walls of the Red Fort, is the Viceregal Bodyguard and the Imperial Cadet Corps leading the long elephant procession on the occasion of the State Entry into Delhi. Unlike in the image on the other side of this leaf decorative awnings have been erected parallel to the parade route and there are crowds of onlookers beneath them and numerous carriages, ekkas, etc behind the stands. This leaf has been removed from a disbound album of Durbar photographs put together by Deen Dayal’s studios.
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