The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art is launching the online exhibition “Sailors and Daughters: Early Photography and the Indian Ocean World.” The event is part of the museum’s multiyear series of programming, Connecting the Gems of the Indian Ocean: From Oman to East Africa, made possible by a $1.8 million gift by the Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center in Washington, D.C. The online exhibition brings together early photographs, albums and related media from the region to a digital audience; photography was part of the flow of people, ideas and technologies crossing the western Indian Ocean at the turn of the last century. The exhibition was commissioned by the museum and curated by Erin Haney.
- Early photographs by German photographer Hermann Burchardt of Oman in 1904, scenes that resonate with early 19th-century photographic views of Zanzibar’s Stone Town and N’Gambo.
- Bayot lithograph after a daguerreotype by Charles Guillain of a Swahili coast family, c. 1846. This is among the earliest portraits of a family seated for the camera in east Africa. This portrait and others by Guillain reveal the diversity of residents living in Ras Hafun, Mogadishu, Zanzibar and Mombasa, all cities that were important crossroads of east Africa and the Indian Ocean.
- An early portrait of an elite woman of Zanzibar society, possibly a member of the royal family, c. 1890. Her attire reveals many Indian Ocean influences: marinda pants with flared ankles, thought to be a Circassian introduction, worn with a long chemise and shawls of fine silk and cotton cloth, an intricately wrapped kilemba (headscarf) and heavy, imported silver jewelry.
- An albumen print of the boat-cistern built alongside the Beit al-Sahel of the Royal Palace, Zanzibar, c. 1880–1900.
National Museum of African Art Launches Its First Online Exhibition
Filed by March 16, 2015on