Posted on: 7 June 2013

New Book:
Photos of the Gods': The Printed Image and Political Struggle in India
By Christopher Pinney
Published by Reaktion Books - 2004

Mass-produced images have long been produced and used in India by religious and nationalist movements – the emergence of Indian-run chromolithograph presses in the late 1870s initiated a vast outpouring that have come to dominate many of India’s public and domestic spaces.

Drawing on years of archival research, interviews with artists and publishers, and the ethnographic study of their rural consumers, Christopher Pinney traces the intimate connections between the production and consumption of these images and the struggle against colonial rule. The detailed output of individual presses and artists is set against the intensification of the nationalist struggle, the constraints imposed by colonial state censorship, and fifty years of Indian independence. The reader is introduced to artists who trained within colonial art schools, others whose skills reflect their membership of traditional painting castes, and yet others who are self-taught former sign painters.

Photos of the Gods is the first comprehensive history of India’s popular visual culture. Combining anthropology, political and cultural history, and the study of aesthetic systems, and using many intriguing and unfamiliar images, the book shows that the current predicament of India cannot be understood without taking into account this complex, fascinating, and until now virtually unseen, visual history.

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If one would like to get on to a primer about the significance of mass produced images in India, this is the text. But, my copy ordered from Amazon (US) has all it's illustrations in black and white while Google's online previews have them in color. A bit of a letdown.

almost ten years old is a new book?

Have seen some excellent yesteryears' illustrated manuscripts in some libraries and exhibitions. Would like to possess atleast one, but authentic sources are not known.

New...meaning not a rare or out-of-print book.

This book in BxW is no good. Hopefully the one available on Flipkart is in colour,

All women need that many hands and most deserve to be worshipped!

Free colour illustration downloads -

Thanks once again Ratnesh Sir :)

Researcher-Explorer. Pinney takes the pain of searching out the old printers ( Brijbasi moved from lahore to delhi to agra & now some bylanes of old bombay) & the chitrashala parishads. Building one lead over another. The other researcher-explorer whose dedication must be appreciated, is the scotsman, Ilay Cooper. To date, the only writer on Indian trade-labels ( ). And dont miss out Ilay Cooper's classic - Painted Walls of Shekhawati ( )

Ttz the image of Durga or Kali! ...But in the south she's known as Kaliama! The Goddess of VENGEANCE? ???