There I was on the evening after Christmas in the middle of a vast stretch of tilled land on the Bengal delta where mustard will be sown tomorrow, and tomato in the next field. It was nearly sunset and these landless adivasi laborers would soon trudge nearly five kilometers to their makeshift cottages.
Recent DNA evidence indicates that ancestors of the adivasis, there are over 300 tribes spread over the Indian subcontinent, first migrated into this land about 50,000 years ago from Africa, and they might have been from the same lineage that migrated to Australia and the Americas during a subsequent ice age, when land bridges connected these continents. They seem to be genetically very similar to the rest of Asian population, but quite distinct from the upper caste Indians. The latter appear more similar to Europeans in DNA sequence similarity than to the rest of Asians. One theorizes that waves of migrants have entered the subcontinent from central asia or the middle east, each succeeding wave with more aggressive technology, and have slowly established their control over much of this ancient land, thus pushing the first migrants into the fringes of the society, taking their land, taking their women occasionally (there is DNA evidence of female contribution from lower castes into the upper caste genome but not the reverse, neither of any male contribution from the lower to the upper). We see its resonance in ancient Indian epics, like in the Ramayana, where the forest dwelling people live separately from the village folks. The adivasis had their own earthly gods and goddesses, forms of kali and manasa, for example, unlike the abstract concept of god that the newcomers had brought, which the newcomers slowly fell under the spell of, and also their own secret herbal remedies were valuable to the newer immigrants, so the newcomers 'stole' their knowledge and usurped their land. Pushed out into the forests and barren vistas, the adivasis live in utter helplessness. Persecuted by the forest service officials for encroaching, their trees harvested by loggers, their land destroyed by mining companies, drowned out by dams and reservoirs, their rebellion extinguished by violent massacers and relentless persecution through the ages, they increasingly come to the villages and cities in search of temporary work as farm laborers or construction workers. Hardly unioninized, they are open to further exploitation.
They do not have cell phone.
Critiques | Translate
designsoul (21492) 2007-01-11 21:17
There's a sense of both power and dejection in these people of West Bengal. Your note is again thought-provoking and adds much to this beautiful shot of three strong and sad-looking women. I have been thinking in the past few days how privileged many of us are... I have encountered many photos of devastated lands in my work... people hit by natural catastrophes and warfares. This shot just deepens this feeling... it is very powerful, with the composition rendering them monumental, as they are in their spirit. And again, your bw is beautiful...
Furachan (0) 2007-01-11 21:20
Tough, tough, resonant picture from you yet again, Animesh. This is stirring stuff, almost a still from John Huston's "Zapata"!
Hats off to you and your Summicron, my friend...
Salil_B (737) 2007-01-11 23:03
A picture of pathetic resignation ... one that we see everyday everywhere ...
Your note is not only informative, it is written in a touching prose as well.
Isn't the story the same everywhere? As with the Native Aericans and the Mayas and the lower-middle class of today ...
Perhaps some day a new breed will be seen travelling from town to town in search of clerical work as will the peasants of Singur and Nandigram and Bhangar be reduced to domestic helps. What a beautiful civilization coming up ...
arnabchat (7233) 2007-01-12 0:00
a very powerful photo indeed. love the composition elements in 1-2-3. the note is superb and is an asset for your photo.
Happy new year!
bantonbuju (51781) 2007-01-12 3:13
they do not nee cell phones i'd guess...
this is 100% top class te work, animesh! you feed us with a strong composition and simple image telling the story about this race...and you deliver the top note explaining the things that us, mortals, would otherwise most probably never encounter...
Luko (14000) 2007-01-12 5:44
There's something beautifully though tragically "salgadesque" (I mean from Salgado) in this shot. Like exode people into their own land, a kind of human melancholy, even if that doesn't appear in your caption.
Add on top of that that I'm very sensitive to number 3, and you'll understand my praises to this pic.
Polonaise (5802) 2007-01-12 19:42
Precious gem, Animesh.
Your note (I've read it twice). The faces of these women.
Seems to me that their situation is utterly helpless.
Either: They adapt or they'll vanish from the surface of earth.
Incredible story. For that thing alone, it's good to be a member of TE community.
I'm glad that your photo doesn't shine with some false photo gimmicks, artzy-partzy crap, just to impress the audience.
It's utmost beautiful, down to the basics, great illustration to your writing.
Nothing, but the highest respect from me to you, pal.
If I only could give more for this...
polter (7239) 2007-01-13 6:53
Well I'm here for fifth or sixth time - very moving photo. Never seen the face likke this - the mixture of sadness, exhaustion and beauty. And great composition. Of all images of three graces this one is exceptional... Greetings T.
kensimage (8561) 2007-01-14 2:58
Excellent image, Animesh--the aversion of their eyes says a lot. Perhaps that becomes the natural reaction to humanity, for a people who have been so crushed in the past. Yet your low POV gives them great dignity. It's a harsh but powerful image.
Just one thing I don't understand in your note--what does it mean that "the newcomers stole their knowledge"? When I was a child, I guess I "stole" knowledge from my teachers and my parents. And yet, by that act, my parents and teachers were deprived of nothing. So how does learning from another society, even one that you are oppressing, constitute stealing?
s10001in (0) 2007-01-15 20:31
This is again PJ work animesh..
Going very much in depth..
Strong social of photography..
Nice Informative note..
keeping apart a rule of 3 & all this..
Real core photography work animesh.
nerve (10231) 2007-01-16 12:55
another great one Animesh, a beautiful triple portrait..they look like american indians to me somehow, lol! it is quite a "Salgadesque" shot as luko says..
great note too, quite tragic story.
chc (1468) 2007-01-16 14:46
A strong portrait. Sadness and resignation are really covering the entire photograph. The three distinct levels that the DOF perfectly isolates are wonderful.
- Copyright: Animesh Ray (AnimeshRay) (9089)
- Genre: People
- Medium: Black & White
- Date Taken: 2006-12-26
- Categories: Daily Life
- Camera: Leica M6, Summicron 50mm/f2.0, Kodak TRI-X 400
- Exposure: f/2
- Photo Version: Original Version
- Theme(s): Second Cut, My Stylesheet [view contributor(s)]
- Date Submitted: 2007-01-11 18:24
- Favorites: 1 [view]