Edges of Empire

KNW 2399: Edges of Empire

Knife Grinders (1855-1862)


This photograph depicts two Indian individuals, one older and one younger, working behind a wheel grinder grinding a knife. From the title of this photograph one can deduce that these individuals are metalworkers, specifically specializing in the knife manufacturing and maintenance business. While the older individual sharpens the knife on the wheel, the younger one uses a system of axels and pulleys to spin the wheel by hand. However, while metal workers, who are these individuals? Due to the large age gap between these workers, it can be deduced that the elderly man could possibly be the father of the younger one aiming to pass down his trade to his son. Due to their trade and dress being on simple cloth, one might deduce that this duo is of the lower class, and are working to make ends meet through the knife trade. This furthers the significance of the duo being father and son as the father passing on the information of the knife trade to his son would allow his family to continue to survive.

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