Edges of Empire

KNW 2399: Edges of Empire

Elite Society in Mexico and India

October 28, 2015 by Juan Luna | 0 comments

In the photograph taken by the Schlattman Hermanos of the Inauguration banquet of the Mexico, Cuernavaca and Pacific Railway in 1897, we get a glimpse of how high society in Mexico lived. We can see in this photograph many influential people of the time, including President Porfirio Diaz along with the Finance Minister Jose Yves Limantour. All of the men who are sitting at the table appear to be very well dressed, wearing tuxedos and bowties, which means that they are all part of high society in Mexico. Another symbol of wealth in the banquet is what is on the table. We can see bottles of wine as well as a crystal bottle, which can hold either water or liquor. All of the glasses on the table appear to be crystal and very high quality. It can be deduced by the wealth shown in the table and the important people there, that the rest of the people seated at the table must be wealthy business men or prominent politicians. It is interesting to see in this banquet filled with member of Mexican elite that there seems to be only two men who look darker than the rest of the members of the table. They mostly seem white, bearded men of Spanish descent. Is the darker color of these men a result of the shadows of the picture, or do these men have more indigenous descent than the rest of the men? If so, how did they obtain their wealth and climb up to the Banquet of Mexican elite, which seemed to be mostly comprised of men of Spanish descent?

In the picture taken of the Nagar Brahmins by William Johnson, we can compare how religious people of the high cast of India compared to t he high class of Mexico. Unlike the elite pictured in the Banquet in Mexico, the Nagar Brahmins were religious people and scholars and were part of the highest Hindu casts. The Brahmins, as we can see in the photograph, wore traditional Hindu clothing. The man standing in the right-center of the picture has a very elaborate piece of clothing over his shoulders. It has a lot of decorations with a great amount of detail. Even if you did not know what a Brahmin is, you could conclude that these men were part of a high cast because of the elaboration of their clothes. All of the men have shaved heads or very little hair and wear similar headdresses. It can be deduced that this was typical of Brahmins. It appears that there are three men that are more prominent in the picture, the three in the middle. They have more detailed clothing and have darker clothing that sets them apart from others who are just wearing white. Is this difference in clothing relevant to their hierarchy? If so, are the other men in white clothes their students or what is the difference?

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