Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Painted Legs, 1957


Above is a picture of two Kashmiris in Srinagar shot by Brian Brake in 1957. What else can this picture tell us?

I showed this picture to couple of old uncles who grew up in Kashmir and they told me this interesting bit:

The man in the background is a farmer. Obviously, because his legs are painted. The paint used to be called Ka'lim, or coal tar [or Tar'Koul, as in Kashmiri]. It was a popular practice among rice farmers in Kashmir. During sowing season [May-June, just around when Brian visited Kashmir], before getting into water-logged fields, the sower would put coal tar on his legs, as water proofing, to avoid insects and skin irritation. Of course, then for months his legs would be painted black.

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