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Postcards from the Past Exhibition

Updated: Jan 4

As part of the wider celebration of World Day for Audiovisual Heritage, The Northeast India AV Archive organised the 'Postcards from the Past' Exhibition, on the 27th October, 2022. The occasion celebrates and honours individuals and institutions that safeguard and preserve audiovisual heritage, and provides a platform for such individuals and organisations to propagate awareness about the importance of audiovisual heritage and the urgent need to preserve them.

The exhibition provided a space to display postcards printed in the early twentieth century by the pioneering photographers Ghosal Brothers, and the European Christian missionaries which were printed during the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. The collection of postcards carry narratives and stories of a time and a place that we wish to understand more deeply. The spectrum ranges from postcards printed in Europe by Christian missionaries to raise revenue for the ministry that they had established in the Khasi and Jaintia Hills, to the ones printed by the famous Ghosal Brothers and other photographers from Shillong. The postcards mostly depict landscapes of the Khasi and Jaiñtia Hills, the establishments of the British in Shillong, and encapsulate the customs, annals, and surprisingly unique practices of the Khasis and Jaiñtias in the twentieth century, all of which contribute considerably to the study of the history of the Khasi, Garo and Jaintia Hills and its people. One postcard shows a Khasi man carrying another on a sling over his shoulders, as if embodying the concept of a modern day taxi. Another one shows the presence of unique vault-like structures erected in erstwhile Iewduh, which do not exist any longer. One of the most striking among the postcards is the one which depicts the stark beauty of the Wah Umkhrah (Umkhrah River) in the early twentieth century, which when juxtaposed with its appearance today, is heartbreaking.

These postcards were contributed to The Northeast India Audiovisual Archive by well wishers. Some of the postcards printed by the Ghosal Brothers were retrieved from an antique store in London, and bought and contributed by PhD scholar Gertrude Lamare.


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