Edges of Empire

KNW 2399: Edges of Empire

Seller of Wooden Bowls


Author: Cruces y Campa

Date: 1875

Area: Mexico City

The focus of this picture is a street vendor in Mexico City. The photo was taken around 1875 in Independent Mexico. The man is obviously of the lower class based on his lack of shoes and job as a wooden bowl merchant. He seems to be struggling to move with the large group of bowls on his back and is heavily leaning on his walking stick. A question that arises while looking at this picture is where is he going? It is possible that he is walking to the market to begin selling for the day or maybe he just walked around while selling bowls. The purpose of this photo was to most likely put the lower-class in the spotlight so that people can see the reality of the way they live instead of the many pictures taken of the wealthy in the New World. It may have also been used to classify a type of peoples. By 1875 Mexico was a free and independent country, but the problems of race and class did not end with the downfall of the Spanish. Class structures and treatment of minorities was still an issue. He had to carry all of the wooden bowls on his back probably an impressive distance and set up to sell them to provide. Overall the picture was an attempt to shed light on the many poor and exploited natives in Mexico who lived a harsh life, rather than taking a portrait picture of someone from the upper class.


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