Edges of Empire

KNW 2399: Edges of Empire

A Look at Soldiers




Soldiers are individuals who devote years of their lives to following orders and fighting for a cause. Soldiers are consistently some of the most distinguished and respectable men on this planet. The same holds true for both Indian and Mexican soldiers. These men put their lives on the line for in the name of duty. In order to understand how a society functions, it is important to understand how they defend themselves and understand their art of war. In these two images, we see a select group of these soldiers. The Mexican soldiers are active and engaging, whereas the picture of Indian soldiers has them in a relaxed position. These images are taken from Southern Methodist University’s DeGolyer Library Digital Collection.


The image for Mexico, appropriately titled “Practicing Outside the Arsenal,” was taken by Manuel Ramos at Mexico City in 1913. In this image, we see Mexican soldiers in a disorganized volley formation. They seem pretty disorganized when it comes to what they are wearing, and there is no consistency for when they fire. We see one individual in the far center of the photo, and his rifle is pointed towards the sky, suggesting recoil from firing his weapon. Presumably, they are trying to perform a rifle volley. There is also one bottle at the bottom of the picture, is it alcohol? Generally, these soldiers seem pretty relaxed in the way they are firing. They are all in varying positions and varying stances.  What kind of target practice are these soldiers utilizing? Also, knowing what kind of training they receive would be helpful. Also, one of the soldiers is looking directly at the camera, is he the leader of this squad?


In Comparison, we have this image from India. Titled “Indian Soldiers,” this image was taken by Lala Deen Dayal between 1870-1889. This shows the Indian army, consisting of Sepoys in a generally relaxed manner. This shows a Sikh regiment of the Indian army, you can tell by the large facial hair and the huge turbans that they wear. Sikh regiments are generally some of the most hardened and trained soldiers in Indian army. Sikhs are genetically larger in size and a bit harder, usually due to their high protein intake from non-vegetarian foods and strong agricultural backgrounds. We see them in uniforms. What are they attempting to guard? We know that this image is part of the Bengal-Nagpur railroad collection. This is a pretty stark contrast to what we see in the Mexican image. The soldiers here look uniform and look like they have received much more training.

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.

Skip to toolbar