Exhibition of Photographs by Dr Verrier Elwin, London 2016

An Exhibition of rare historical photographs  taken by Dr Verrier Elwin during the late 1940s-1950s in the North East region of India, while he was Advisor for Tribal Affairs to the Governor of Assam,  was held at the Nehru Centre in London from 15-18 November 2016.

The exhibition presented images of some of the tribal cultures of Arunachal Pradesh from the Monpas in the northwest to the Wancho of the east, as well as some of the Naga tribes in modern day Nagaland and Manipur.  The collection captured portraits, glimpses of timeless village life and Elwin’s affection for the tribal arts, as well as a glimpse of his character, his perceptions, his opinions, his spiritual yearnings and the  sheer love he had for the people and cultures that he studied.  The captions, mostly in his own words from his autobiography, The Tribal World of Verrier Elwin,  and other publications detailed the physical endurance that he had experienced to visit these hidden, restricted areas to document these cultures during a most important period of postcolonial transition.

The Exhibition, organised by the Nehru Centre and the Adivasi Arts Trust, with support from the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and from Ashok Elwin, the son of Dr Elwin and keeper of his father’ s legacy has also been  supported by Ambedkar University and the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), for shows earlier this year  in Shillong as part of the Conference on Oral Traditions:  Continuity and Transformations – North East India and South East Asia, from 1-4 February 2016, and at the INTACH Head Office in Delhi from 10-30 March 2016.