Edges of Empire

KNW 2399: Edges of Empire

When We Talk About Indian and Mexican, What Did We Forget to Talk About?


When we talk about Mexican and East Indian history between the 18th century and 20th century, we rarely touched on what the normal civilian were like. We learned they suffered, they endured, and they fought. However, the question of how they were living was left unanswered. These two pictures I picked were majorly focused on the difference between the lives of teenagers back to that period in these two regions.



Title: Indios. By: A. Briquet Series: Estado de Vera-Cruz

The picture above is a photo of a group of native teenagers in Mexico approximately between 1875 and 1907. It was after the independence of Mexico. It is clear from the picture that the Mexico native cloth is somewhat identical. We could not extract any more information from the descriptions, so I assume this is how it looked for most native Mexicans (Indios) during the same period. Just from the picture, it is hard to tell the gender of the second teenager on the left, but I would argue that the one on the rightmost is a female. In this case, for native Mexicans, it appeared that there were no much differences between male and females. According to their clothing, there was even not much difference between teenagers and elders, because the second person on the right is apparently much older than others, yet they wear same clothes. Also, on the other hand, it seems that even it was in late 18th century and early 19th century already, but the Indios were still living as hunters and gatherers. The female figure, as I assumed, holds a bow-like stuff. The left-most guy had a basket full of things, which could be fur or woods, on his back. Moreover, everyone seems had a water jug, which is essential for long distance travel.


Title: Mongs By: Johnson, William Series: Photographs of Western India. Volume I. Costumes and Characters.

Compare to East Asia, when we look at the second picture, it appears to be a photo of native East Indian teenagers around the same period. The people within the figure belonged to a group of Indians called Mongs. From the picture, there is a noticeable difference between males and females clothes. This indicates that there were different perspectives about males and females within their society. We can tell that Mongs’ cloth has a little more varieties. Even though this photo is majorly black and white, but we still can tell that there were differences between every one of them. About their lifestyle, within the hand of the rightmost male, it is a relatively modern umbrella. Moreover, none of them were carrying any gathering equipment. I would argue that the native Indian people were living in a fairly modern life comparing to the native Mexicans (Indios).

Some of you may wonder why I did not choose to put up some pictures of adults instead. The reason I picked the photos of native teenagers is that only teenagers can represent the essence of their culture. At teenage, there weren’t many outside influences of people’s identities, everyone is pure to their own culture. From these two pictures, there are noticeable differences between their lifestyle. I would argue that these differences were due to the different political status within these two regions. During the 19th century, India was a lot stable politically. Under these circumstances, it was wise for Indians to farm and develop professional skills, but it was not so wise for Mexicans to do the same. Unfortunately, the question of whether my conjecture is correct is left blank. It will take us lot more to discover the true reason.


P.S. For the link of the photos, just click on the photo.

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