Madaria Faqir, Eastern Bengal - 1860
Half-length portrait of a Muslim ascetic against a plain background taken by an unknown photographer in the early 1860s. This dervish or 'faqir' was a member of the Madaria order of Sufis who followed the saint Shaikh Sayyid Badi-u'd-din Qutb al-Madar. Born in Aleppo in before moving to India, the Shaikh established his residence at Manakpur in the Doab. Sultan Ibrahim Shah Sharqi of Jaunpur reputedly erected a shrine over his grave in the early fifteenth century, a focus of pilgrimage and devotion for his followers. This print is one of a series of portrait studies of individuals and groups from Eastern Bengal (modern Bangladesh and Assam). It is possible that they were taken in response to the Government of India's call for photographs representing various ethnic types from across the sub-continent.
Source : British Library